Given past history, I was a bit worried about the imminent release of U19, aka the Shadowfell Conspiracy. I mean, c’mon, there are still plenty of unresolved bugs – sorry, “unintended features” – from LAST year’s expansion, Menace of the Underdark.
Well, color me impressed. Even if U19 added nothing but the Storm Horns wilderness, I’d be pretty darn happy. Turbine, when you get it right, you REALLY get it right. The Storm Horns are GORGEOUS all by themselves, with amazing new mobs… satyrs! Harpies! Owlbears! Pseudodragons! GRIFFONS! Oh, oh, OH, the griffons! Please, please, please release griffon companions, because I don’t think I can live without one much longer (she sez, studiously NOT looking at the 42 – yes, really, 42 – companions she already has on Thelanis).
The rare encounters in Storm Horns show ample evidence that there was actual thought put into them, and probably even by someone who plays the game. While the “wounded soldier” in the above pic was out of Acanthia’s reach (and doesn’t seem to do much no matter which option you choose when he’s at ground level), there’s an ice dragon way, way high in the mountains, and a red dragon who seems to be the twin of Micahrastir (that mean guy who likes to blow you off his perch in Underdark, and blow the bridge away so you can’t get back to him). There’s a rare owlbear, a rare wood woad and a rare giant. There’s a poacher who lets you bargain for loot – one to three chests depending on how many gamey venisons and fox tails you have. There’s a tame owlbear who’ll follow you around and fight for you if you give him some venison and pet him.
And there’s my personal favorite, the one where the satyr elder wants you to dance with him. I’ve had a couple different outcomes to this one; sometimes I’ve ended up having to fight him, sometimes not. He usually ends up asking if he can cast something on me and assuring me “it won’t hurt a bit;” most of the time it’s been Otto’s, but once he buffed me with Good Hope.
Likewise, the quests show some creativity. The first one I ran was “The Tracker’s Trap,” with Baz; it was so much fun I ran it again the next night with Annie. The end fight is cool, not just a straight boss beat-down; I won’t give too much detail so as not to spoil it for anyone who hasn’t run it yet, but I’ll just say that Acanthia spent a lot of time unintentionally flying through the air. *snicker*
Yes, there are bugs. It’s new content; some glitches are to be expected. But – at least to me – they don’t seem NEARLY as prevalent as when MotU was released (or, for that matter, even as prevalent in the new content as they are in MotU stuff still). Acanthia was rather startled to find that Rise of the Phoenix can apparently now raise one’s enemy, although despite the description, it does NOT work on one’s friends. She hasn’t had the opportunity to see if it works on herself yet, but that would be pretty cool… although I think she liked it better when she could use it as much as she needed to raise her partymates and/or hirelings rather than just once per rest.
I’ve heard people complaining about light monks getting nerfed in the update. My experience has been just the opposite. Acanthia gained a few HP, and the devotion aspect to healing ki means her light-light-light finishing move can actually do some real good, especially to anyone with a decent amount of heal amp (she hits herself for 120-150 HP). I also like that, instead of having individual moves for remove blindness, remove curse, remove disease and lesser restoration, now I can change her stance to automatically apply the desired effect with her healing ki finisher. This is a HUGE boon in CitW. Get a couple of light monks up there mashing on Lolth, and the melees can save their curse pots. Her DPS is at least as good as ever; it actually seems a bit better, but not sure if that’s U19 or that she finally pulled Antipode the night before the update.
As I’ve only really been running Acanthia this week (with a bit of playing time for Even, Jall and Meren), it’s too soon for me to tell for sure how the update will affect everyone, but overall I’m pretty darn happy. Even picked up about 30 HP along with raising her AC, PRR and intim. Jall – who I was already pleased with – added some HP as well, and her aura now hits herself for about 15 points more than it did before. When I logged Vic in Monday night, she’d somehow gained 70 HP, which makes my squishy, gimpy, 28-point first-life trapmonkey quite happy. She did lose a few points of rogue skills across the board (don’t think it’ll make THAT much difference, as she was at 75-80 on most of them pre-update), and I only managed to fit in one tier of Faster Sneaking, but… Vic with almost 700 HP? HECK yeah, I’ll take that.
Dissy lost one song – not a big deal, as she went from 42 to 41 – and maybe a few spell points, also not a big deal as she’s a spellsinger. She likes having Sustaining Song now, and like Jall, saw a nice increase in her positive spellpower; I think she’s a truly legitimate backup healer and could probably handle main healer duties in a well-built group.
Char seems to be about the same, HP- and SP-wise. While as an AA she’s primarily ranged, she DOES switch to dual scimis for melee, and I’m curious to see what effect the update has on her melee DPS, given the total lack of attention to TWF and THF builds. Meren also picked up HP and positive spellpower; I certainly never expected to have her over 700 HP at level 22. She got herself flagged for CitW entirely solo; I really need to have more faith in her. I did the flagging quests mostly on norm, but after her performance I think she could have easily handled hard.
I wish I’d done a lot more in Wheloon before I’d ever gone into Storm Horns, because… Wheloon just can’t measure up. Oh, the quests are fun, and the wilderness is mostly good – it just doesn’t compare even remotely to Storm Horns. Shade beholders and undead purple worms are cool, and Shadar-Kai – while scary with those chains whipping around (hey Turbine, any chance Sere, my new Shadar-Kai rogue, could get a set of those?), are pretty darn awesome.
But if there were just one thing I could change about Wheloon – THE DAMN PINK FOG MUST GO. LYK RITE NAO. Seriously. You can’t see anything, it’s freaking LAGGY as all hell, and… prison dungeons should NEVER BE PINK. What, did the Netherese lock up Strawberry Shortcake for tax evasion? No? Then NO MOAR PINK. And no more fog; the lag is UNREAL. Maybe something like the Xoriat madness in Delirium, but in a suitably sinister color. And for the love of Khyber, make that damn priestess spawn already so I can get Journal No. 8 and clear my map.
And, long overdue… as promised to Empress Mizzaroo herself, here’s a shot of her on her elven arti (far right), Comic (left) and Yttsie (center) chillin’ in Smugglers’ Rest with Wee Yip Yip (far left, just in case you were thinking Comic was a kobold). While real life sadly intervened and prevented us from being able to do a Cove run together, we still had lots of fun rampaging through the wilderness killing stuff, even though Yttsie was 4-5 levels behind them (and was the only one who did not die, LOL – just hadda throw that in!).
So, this is the first I’ve blogged in a while. Real life has been a doozy for the past few months, and seems likely to continue being a doozy for the foreseeable future. It’s cut into my playing time a bit, and into my blogging time a LOT. But, at Shin’s urging, I’ve designated Wednesday as Neverwinter Online Night. Sadly, NWO does not offer a monk class, but the NWO version of Acanthia – a TWF trickster rogue – is still a lot of fun. She’s nearly level 11 already, and one of these days I may even get used to having to use mouselook and pressing V instead of F to talk.
(And no, I don’t know what’s up with her abnormally long hands – maybe it’s a rogue thing.)