Neverwinter: Choosing companions

Companions are simultaneously one of the most intriguing and one of the most frustrating aspects of Neverwinter, not to mention a subject that I’ve been pondering for a few days now.

They’re a cool idea, if not utterly unique to this game.  Every player can equip a companion to help round out his or her combat style.  Some companions tank, some heal, some DPS, some crowd control, and some merely buff stats.  Every companion levels up, can be equipped with gear, changes appearance at certain level milestones, and gives players a specific buff when equipped.  You can build up a stable of companions to rotate through, which is a good idea since the time spent training them can get lengthy.

Cryptic knows that companions are a big money maker for the game, which is why you can only buy basic (white) companions for in-game gold.  These only level up to 15, versus level 20 for green, level 25 for blue, and level 30 for purple.  Getting up to level 30 is attractive because it opens up a third companion skill that’s often quite helpful.

So the way Cryptic makes money on these is multi-fold.  First, to upgrade a companion’s quality to the next level takes a huge chunk of astral diamonds, which can either be graaaaadually ground out or paid for via Zen.  Then, there are companions that cost both astral diamonds and Zen, and naturally these are pretty darn good (although a purple companion on the Zen store is around $30-$35, so yeouch).  Some companions only come with Finally, special companions are a major attractor for the lockboxes, since you can’t get those any other way.

Now I’m pretty much a cheapskate when it comes to this, which means I’m the type of player that Cryptic probably hates: Invested in the game but very unwilling to drop money unless it’s a special occasion.  I did purchase a ghost companion for my rogue, but now that I’m working on a cleric, I’m not as inclined to do the same.

Fortunately, I have options.  I’m fortunate to have my account flagged as the hero of Neverwinter thingy, so every character I make gets a purple-quality panther from the get-go.  It’s a pretty straight-forward attack pet, but I am not complaining about getting a free purple.  Then I get the free white companion at level 15, which I chose a tanky guard.  I don’t think he’ll be useful in the high levels unless I can upgrade him, but it might be nice to have when I’m facing certain bosses.

I’m looking forward to the holiday event starting Thursday, since two of the rewards you can earn are companions (including a frosty mimic chest which looks awesome).  That’ll be my goal, since I missed out on getting the skeleton fighter from the Halloween festival.

For upgrading purposes, I’m being very diligent with both praying twice a day at altars (since you get two chunks of ADs that way) and working on my leadership profession on two characters.  I’m up to 69,000 ADs, which isn’t a ton, but at 300K I can take a white to a green.

While the animations and attacks by companions are cool, I do wish that they’d banter a bit with you a la SWTOR.  Maybe that’s too much to ask for this game, I don’t know.  More than that, I hope that some of their AI would get fixed.  Sometimes my companions just take too long to get into a fight, showing up right as I deliver a death blow or completely ignoring other enemies.  That’s less good.

Anyway, while companions might be a money pit — or a money web — a little patience in this area pays off.  At least there are options instead of a hard wall that only money can climb.

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6 thoughts on “Neverwinter: Choosing companions

  1. I didn’t know you got chunks twice a day. I thought it was only once! Do they have to be ~12 hours apart?

    Also, just as a side note, have you heard of Bing Rewards? Bing is the Microsoft search engine, and it’s not as nice as Google, but not bad. Anyway, Bing Rewards offers “points” for doing web searches, 16+ points per day. You search for one thing, and clicking on the related searches list, maxing out the daily takes about a minute. At “Gold” level, one of the rewards, a $5 Rixty card, costs 475 points (~30 days). Rixty is prepaid game cash, and there are a lot of games on their list, including all PW games. So, $5 Rixty = 500 zen = ~200,000 AD. It’s a small trickle, $5/month. But, for the effort, it’s not bad, and gives a little boost for games you’re not willing to crack open the wallet for.

    I did a small, quick, spam-sounding writeup about it here: http://casualaggro.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/how-to-earn-mmo-store-credits-just-by-web-searching/

  2. I haven’t made it to Neverwinter yet, but this kind of thing makes me not want to play. STO’s RA-level ships being for-pay only was bad enough, but at least they have mostly the same stats/slots as the free ships.
    Does your white companion being stuck at level 15 mean they can only use low-level gear? Or can they equip gear that matches your level (a la SWTOR)?

  3. @ChaosConstant I’m pretty sure you can equip them with whatever level gear you can find. So far, I’ve seen no restrictions on that, but I could be wrong. Most likely, the gear has to match your level.

  4. What really grinds my gears about the Companions are:

    1) No cosmetic customization, just a handful of alternate skins you can unlock every tenth level. The Bridge Officer companions in Cryptic’s STO (built in more or less the same engine) are fully customizable, using the same editor as PCs.

    2) After you shell out real money for a companion that can reach level cap with you… you have to spend a couple of weeks leveling it up to be useful. A revolutionary new concept in monetization – “Pay 2 Grind.”

    NW’s companions are just a big ol’ stack of Nope to me. I stuck with the purple preorder wolf on all my characters.

  5. The consensus (on the NW forums anyway) seems to be, all these companions are fluff. They are nice while you level, but at the higher levels they die too fast and their DPS is too low. So it implies the best “companions” are actually the ones that can not die, or rather ones that do not enter battle (the cat and the stones) . All they do is increase your stats.

    Either way , from my personal experience. I also got a purple wolf from the founder package on all my characters. Very useful, DPS isn’t really great, best feature is his interrupt every now and then.

    The most useful companion for me so far is the White Cleric, i also bought the purple healer companion (Lillend, looks like a snake person playing a harp) because its cheaper than upgrading the white cleric. Just a quick note, it’s like 1.6 million AD to upgrade the white cleric (or any white companion) to purple vs. buying something like Lillend on the AH for 1 million AD. So if you do a few more calculations by converting AD to ZEN, you might find buying a purple companion in the Zen store is still pretty much CHEAPER than trying to upgrade the white companions!

    Still, the constant healing companions is useful , not so much IN short combat stints, but more keeping you topped up. I can immediately see i need to pop potions constantly between battles when my Wolf is out vs. being topped up all the time when i got a healer out, even at lvl 45 with a lvl 15 maxed out cleric, it’s doing the job just fine.

  6. Also just want to add, check out the Auction House for companions. If you REALLY want a companion that comes out of a lockbox (or some special random package) , go look on the AH! You can buy those Rust Monsters and stuff right there without spending a dime on playing roulette with the lockboxes.

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