NeverWinter - a few days later

Well… compliments of a variety of mishaps, like renters not showing, the end of work assignments, etc.  I’ve had a few solid (12 hourish) days to play this game.

Some of that time was spent with a friend, some spent surfing the web, but mostly I’ve been leveling my Control Wizard (aka – the mage).  I’ve been following the information in this post, since its appears to be one of the better ones:

Since the servers are now down for maintenance, I thought I’d take a few minutes and post, a bit about game play, a bit more on “Free to Play”.

First, a teaser:  On a scale of 1 to 10, with Wartunes a 0 and Tera a 10, I’d give this game a 4.5 in regards to your ability to play for free (Eve gets a 8.5).  I’ve made some progress, my Mage is level 38 (of 60) now.

Second, a bit on the economy:

Zen – Perfect Worlds Inc universal real money unit.  $1 = 100 zen.  Bought on their website, then permanently transferred to a server.  A player bidding system exist to convert Zen to/from Diamonds.

Gold, Silver, Copper – earned from selling gear at merchants.  Useful for consumables like healing kits, potions, crafting supplies, etc.

Diamonds – used to buy companions, remove gems for reuse, and to buy things from the Exchange (more on the Exchange later).  Also used to buy Identification Scrolls (more on those in a bit too).

The biggest source for diamonds in the game are the dailys (2000 for running two PVP session, and similar payments for running skirmishes and group dungeons).  You can also make some crafting.

The Zen:Diamond ratio is running about 1:300, so 1M diamonds requires 3333 Zen, which would cost $33.33 (actually $50, since that is the next purchase tier up).  The biggest sink for diamonds in the game is removing gems from armor.  You can either throw the gems away when you sell a piece (player bound equipment is not tradeable) or retrieve them, or avoid the heartache and not use them.  e.g.  Don’t benefit from the extra stats and drag your toon down.   Its pretty clear that those that focus on PVP are using gems, which means they are either not saving up diamonds, or are spending Zen.

The Exchange – a place to offer up unwanted armor, weapons, etc.  An alternative to selling things at the market, but there is no real demand for most of the stuff, at least at my current level.  I have a few hundred diamonds a day from the Exchange, vs. many thousands from quests.

Identification Scrolls – you wouldn’t think of these as a main economy driver, but they are.  They drop fairly frequently, but not at the same rate unidentified equipment drops.  Merchant prices for unidentified equipment is about 1/10th that of ID’ed stuff.  So… spend diamonds on ID scrolls to make gold (or to be a bit selective on what you offer on the Exchange), or make less gold.

Third, where you might spend Zen (aka “Real Money”):

1)  Companions.  The sooner you get one, the sooner you can start leveling it.  Leveling takes time.  As mentioned in the previous post, I bought a tank for glass cannon.  At level 16 (where you get a free companion) I selected the cleric, and am very glad I did.  The cleric really helps in PVE and I find myself swapping him in for a few minutes whenever my health gets low.  My tank is leveling slowing and is currently level 17, while the cleric is maxed at 15.  Yes… the totally free companions max at level 15…  I have my eye on a cat, which is suppose to be the ultimate for a Wizard, but that cost close to 1M diamonds, which will take me a month or three to earn (at current rate of accumulation).  The cat, like my paid for tank, maxes its level at 30.  So… given that as a goal, I have a choice of earning the diamonds in-game, or using the Zen exchange to convert real money into diamonds.  Companions cost anywhere from 1500-3000 Zen, depending on what you want and any current sales ($15-$30).

2) Mounts:  A free one around level 20 that will increase your travel speed by 50%.  Not bad, although mounts are not used as much as you think – mostly they are handy at quest turn in times, or for running through the large cities.  However, Zen purchasable mounts will boost that speed up by 80% or 110%.  So whats a little time?  Well, its more than that… the Zen mounts also take more damage before your dismounted.  This is huge when running through areas you just don’t want to bother slaughtering your way though, and huge in PVP where you sometimes want to run past your opponents to get to their tower.  I believe the best mounts were 2000 zen ($20).

2) Inventory bags, Bank slots.  Yes you can play, at least to level 20 or so, without extra inventory bags.  After that, when you start getting socketed armor, your going to want to start savings gems (4 lowers can be fused into 1 better), and your going to need a place to save them.  The free bank is a teaser, with only 16 slots, it fills up fast.  You get a 2nd, small bag around level 10, which helps, but its just not enough.  The best bags cost 1000 zen ($10).

3) Resets.  As you play, you allocate points into your basic stats (Int, Cha, Wis, etc.), into Powers (basically skills – with limited flexibility – although the skill choices you make for which are active is important), and into Feats (think of them as passives – a lot of flexbility – really how you tune your character the way YOU want to play it).  Play for a few days and your probably going to want to reset for 400 zen ($4).  I view this one as totally acceptable.  Reasonably priced, and very useful.  The developers do have to eat after all.

4)  Zen -> Diamonds.  Weeks if not months of constrained play or spend another $50 to “enjoy” the game.  Easy choice if you have the $50… but I suspect you will spend hundreds if you start down this path.

5)  Crafting.  Crafting is different in Neverwinter.  Closest match I know of is skill training in Eve, with the requirement to gather some fairly easily obtained items.  Its a Real Time thing.  Now, here is the rub…  Want to level crafting?  Well, you spend 6 hours and get 50 leveling points… or you can buy a “bag of gems” (presumably with Zen) and get those points in 15 seconds.  BOO!!!!!

And then there is straight cash payments…

A “Founders Pack”, for $199.99, provides you access to a special race, the Drow, get a special spider mount, a fighting companion, some cosmetics, 2M diamonds, 3 extra character slots, a small bag, titles, priority access to the game if the servers are overloaded, etc.  All good stuff, but $200?!?!?  This reminds me SO much of Wartunes that I had to look… Yep. Its a Chinese company.  That explains it.  I’ve never seen a Chinese free-to-play that I thought was not money grubbing – they don’t care about their players, all they care about is the players cash.

Well… it was fun, but I think I’ll cut my losses.