I'm not wanting to pointlessly vent or level criticism. I'd like to describe what the playing experience is like, where the game is at, and find out what the DEV intentions for what the game are.
I'm really focussed on the end-game, where the vast majority of us spend the vast majority of our time, though I appreciate that the DEVs have to deal with a much broader landscape, and other distractions.
I'll start by saying that in terms of classes, the game isn't what it claims to be. There are Neverwinter classes advertised on the web site, with defined roles, backed up with restrictions for public queuing, and with paragon options and feat trees that make claims about the role you will have in MMO parties. For many classes, these things are incorrect.
Over recent NW history, we'd got to a point where power creep had rendered playing content boringly easy, and where the balance between classes had become very fractured.
Balance, or more specifically the relevance of your class to a group forming a party to run the latest content, is super important. Neverwinter is a place where you grind hard, or pay handsomely, to get AD. Over time earning AD has become harder and harder. By *far*, the most enjoyable and quickest way to earn AD is to get your character early into the latest module release runs, and get the shiny new drops which will earn big AD in the AH - as well as get you the best, latest gear.
So, your class being relevant to forming successful groups for the newly released modules is critical to your enjoyment of the game - and this is where module 12 starting really fracturing things.
It brought the hard content, but without the class balancing. I watched TONG party compositions constantly, using "Search", and module 13 was a great windfall for DCs, OPs and GWFs. It was pretty bad news for TRs, SWs and CWs (although those willing to change to support did eventually start getting runs).
A statistical analysis by PWE of party compositions for the first few months of module 12 (when drops are at their most valuable) would show the most incredible class discrimination that you could ever have imagined.
As a CW, I noticed that fellow CW friends reacted in different ways:
- Left the game
- Abandoned their preferred class to go play a DC, GWF or OP.
- Temporarily abandoned their class to get the cross-class gear they needed.
- Switched from "hero" to "beggar", getting carried by friends, once the "meta" figured it out enough to carry them. For me, that's a "no thanks".
- Stayed with their class, playing the same old boring T2 content, accumulating the newest gear in very slow fashion - generally frustrated.
So, I'm happy for all those whose preferred classes who got to spam the latest content, get the latest gear, and even walk around now adorned fully in Rank 14 enchants (like our prime DC), but I'd really like to know what the DEV attitude is to those players that have missed out badly.
What was the intent? Were we supposed to go play an alt until our favourite class maybe came back in style? Did you expect that we'd be happy playing the game as a 2nd rate class carried by friends? Was there simply too little opportunity to try and fix it?
Moving on from module 12 to 13, it looked like you were keen, at least, to fix the 2 x DC meta. Well, it's still a thing, but it's not mandatory by any stretch. The thing that seemed enticing about mod 13, to those of us who had been marginalized by the meta, was a 10 person run would allow more space for marginalized DPS classes to participate. Right? Not really, only sort of...
This is where I'd REALLY appreciate you giving us guidance on how the game SHOULD work.
The reality is that the Nevewinter gameplay is now dominated by buff/debuff. The players have got it down to an art where you can stick even a 2nd rate DPS at the front of the buffs and easily defeat TONG (being there, as a CW, that didn't even have a companion with bonding stones). The player focus is now all about quick completion focussed on the best DPS, whether it's 5 person, or 10 person.
So, there's a bunch of DPS classes, but most of them are still generally not wanted. Parties want to form as buffs around a prime DPS.
And the DPS contenders are, in arguable order:
- the GWF, way out in front
- the GF, supposedly a tank, but very readily displacing many classes that are supposed to have a DPS role
- the HR (big gap)
- the TR (looks like players have finally figured out it's potential)
- the CW (will generally get asked to play support, rather than the role he likely prefers)
- the SW (needs to take refuge in alternative roles)
Go back to your design as articulated in public queues, with an intended ratio of 3DPS+healer+tank. Reality is far from this - more like 1 DPS buffed by everyone else.
As I said, a buff party can get anyone to be the DPS, but as a game genealization, there are really big gaps working down that list. That's a lot of people not getting fair and early access to the latest content, and/or playing the role that wanted that was advertised by the class.
So, please DEVs, if you can accept the above as a reasonable generalization of how the game has evolved and how it's affected different players - just tell us what your actual intentions are for how the game should look when you get a chance to make the adjustments you'd like.
I know that you don't generally engage us with that kind of information. I saw the last Foss "State of the Game" presentation that pretty much ignored the elephant in the room, and frustrated players trying to yell out "balance".
Let's pretend that there's an exciting release of a rival MMO around the corner. Something that seems to be offering players the opportunity to play their characters on a fair basis, with the role that they actually want. Let's pretend it'll have a good focus on PvE dungeon runs - in other words, a genuine rival contender. If that were the case, you might want to give frustrated players here some direction of intent. Some indication of how the game will look when you get a chance to make it what you'd like it to be.
Thanks in advance.