Friday, July 3, 2020

So Stick Around : Neverwinter

Time was when games didn't care whether you came or went. If you were foolish enough to let your subscription lapse they'd make you jump through a few hoops before letting you back in and you'd feel lucky your characters were still there. If they were.

Not any more. Not for a long time. There's a farmer somewhere making a killing on fatted calves.

Even by modern standards, Cryptic's welcome mat is primped. Log in after a layoff, there's your name in lights. And "Neverwinter rejoices at your return!"

Yeah, right. Sure it does. Just give me the stuff. You know that's why I came.

It's not even been that long since I last played. The logon screen handily displays the last played date for every character. My last visit was back in March. It may have only been three months or so but I've already forgotten just about everything about the game. These things don't stick.

Doesn't matter. I didn't come to play. I came to claim those valuables. Didn't I just say so? Cryptic's twentieth is the celebration, apparently. I would have missed it only I saw Shintar flag up the freebies a few days back. I didn't want to miss out.

This is what you get:

There are similar offers in Star Trek Online and Champions Online. I could grab those too but even I balk at reinstalling a game just to get free stuff. Although I may still have STO, somewhere, even if it has to be more than five years since I last logged in. As for Champions, I did play once, very briefly, a long time ago, but it's never going to happen again.

It wasn't any of the listed goodies that got me logging in to Neverwinter again, anyway. It was something Shintar mentioned about bag space. She wrote "I was pleased to find... that my character's default bag had been increased by 12 slots". I'm all about the bag space, as is well known.

Only I couldn't find any bigger bags or bag expanders waiting for me. There's nothing listed on the claim screen and reading Shintar's comments carefully I realize she never said there would be. Looking at the wiki, it says the default bag, the Adventurer's Satchel, has 30 slots. My Warlock's has 42 and more than thirty of them already had stuff in when I looked. I guess she already got the upgrade.

I claimed the beholder pet and popped him out. He looked pretty good. I pawed through the various goodie bags. The free outfit looked spiffy so I thought I'd put it on.

The gear came in a Platinum Adornments Fashion Box. For some reason I had two of them. I opened one and looked for my new dress, hat and pants. Nothing. I checked everything in case they were in yet another box. Nope.

I checked all the tabs. Nada.

There's some sort of appearance system in Neverwinter. I vaguely remember it. I found the tab for that and clicked everything in there. No luck.

Well, I had another Fashion Box. I checked what was in it to be sure it was the same. It was. I double-clicked it, this time with my bags open so I could see where anything went. Nothing went anywhere except the Fashion Box, which vanished. Nothing took its place.

The gear's gone somewhere, I bet. I just don't happen to know where it is. Oh well, never mind. Easy come...

At this point I could have logged out. I'd achieved or failed to achieve everything I came for, after all. Only I didn't. I started fiddling about in my bags, opening this and that to see what was in it. For once I had plenty of bag space so it seemed like a good time to try. Although where I got that Greater Bag of Holding from I have no idea...

I spent a good while comparing insignia then working out how to apply them. I found a couple of upgrades sitting in my bags and put them on. After that it felt churlish not to go try them out.

I ended up doing two levels. XP seems to come fast in Neverwinter, not least because one of the insignia I slotted is a 62% xp buff. Also, because Neverwinter is fun. It really is.

Comparing Neverwinter to Elder Scrolls Online, from my perspective gameplay feels really similar. Upgrading is arcane but questing and combat are simplicity itself. All I do in both is click on an NPC and read some dialog while an actor reads it out loud. Then I follow a directional prompt across the map to an objective.

When I get there I hold down LMB until enough mobs die and/or I've picked up enough quest items. Occasionally RMB. If things look rough I hammer some number keys or Q, R or Tab, depending on game, all pretty much at random. That always does the trick.

Then I follow another prompt back, read and listen some more, get the goodies. Rinse and as they say repeat, ad infinitum.

The difference is in the entertainment value. ESO's quests, the ones I've seen, are dour, dull and tedious. Neverwinter's are sparky, sharp and frequently funny. The dialog is better-written, more naturalistic, with a lighter, defter touch and a more immediately engaging prose style. The voicework is livelier and lighter, more enthusiastic, more playful.

The atmosphere rings with adventure, excitement and intrigue. The action, the plots, they're much the same - evil cults, wicked necromancers, imminent threats -  but everything feels more Indiana Jones, less Apocalypse Now.

Every time I play Neverwinter I have fun. I don't know why I keep forgetting to log in. I expect I'll get a few more levels, miss a day or two, drift away once more. But I'll drift back.

And I'll always be sure of a warm welcome when I do.


  1. Lol, I can't blame you for being confused about where your free fashion went. The fashion system is a prime example of the horrors of stacking one system on top of another on top of another until nothing really makes sense anymore.

    1) First off, your fashion would have gone into your "fashion bag". You can find this in your inventory, the tab on the left that has a purple hand on it. (And you have to scroll down, because the top is taken up by room for vanity pets.)

    2) In there, you have to right click on each gear piece and select "Add to appearance library"

    3) On your character panel, the second tab at the top is called Appearance. With the buttons at the bottom of that, you can always swap freely between your "normal" gear look and your "fashion" gear look. Swap to fashion and select what you want to wear on your head, upper body and lower body slots.

    4) Have a drink/nap to recover from the sheer effort of putting on some fancy clothes...

    1. Thanks! I was betting on someone explaining it in the comments, most probably you!

      I found the Appearance tab and I already have stuff in it so obviously i learned how to use it before. The fashion bag, though, that's definitely not something I remember ever using. I did click on all those left-side inventory tabs but I probably only looked at what was immediately obvious, i.e. the vanity pets and didn't think to scroll down.

      Thanks again!

  2. So THAT's what Megan Trainor was singing about: those bags, not that bass.

  3. Push me up against the wall and do dirty things to me. Hey, i am looking for an online sex partner ;) Click on my boobs if you are interested (. )( .)


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