Undermountain: Neverwinter's Biggest Expansion

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Alphastream
Posts: 294

Tue Feb 19, 2019 4:00 pm  

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The trailer for Neverwinter's next expansion, Undermountain, was released and it is huge news:

  • Neverwinter's biggest expansion ever, an all-new campaign spanning 5 new adventure zones!
  • Level cap increased to 80! What?!!!
  • Complete class overhauls, leaving behind the 4E D&D model and moving to the 5th edition design of D&D
  • Takes place in Undermountain, the massive underground dungeon of Halaster the Mad Mage, found under the city of Waterdeep.

That's a lot to take in, but there is more news on the dev blogs!

Developer Blog: Classes Intro
  • "While we had been working towards balance with smaller changes in each update, we decided there were enough changes needed that the pace was too slow to get balance where it needed to be and that it would be best to tackle the majority of the changes in one big push."
  • "With this update we are moving away from the 4th Edition D&D pre-defined build classes. Classes will now be known by their core names that are very familiar to anyone who has played D&D." Cleric, Fighter (was Guardian Fighter), Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Warlock, Wizard, Barbarian (was, somewhat, Great Weapon Fighter).
  • More detailed dev blogs are coming
  • "The Feats tab on the character sheet is no more and Feat Trees no longer exist."
  • Each paragon path now has: 2 unique At-Wills, 2 shared At-Wills, 5 unique Encounters, 5 shared Encounters, 2 unique Dailies, 2 shared Dailies.
  • Each paragon path will have 5 pairs of feats where you get to choose one of the two feats in each pair to customize your play. With this change we can offer more unique choices that have a distinct impact in play instead of sprawling feat trees where the majority of the feats have no real impact on how you play your character."
  • They will have better queue tagging, with most classes having two roles. Ranger, Rogue, Wizard all are 2x DPS. Paladin (Tank, Healer), Cleric (Healer, DPS), Fighter (Tank, DPS), Barbarian (Tank, DPS), Warlock (Healer, DPS).
  • Power Points are being removed. Full access the moment you level, and gain powers at full potency.
  • Healing has been changed to account for the removal of Lifesteal, itself done to fix the current situation where players self heal and it's either full health or totally dead from bosses or mobs. Paladins and Clerics how spend Divinity on healing and have new Divinity earning mechanics. Warlocks use Soul Essence (previously Soul Shards) and have mechanics for earning that.
  • "Paladin, Fighter, and Barbarian all have a redesigned guard which provides a shield equal to their maximum hit points. Their guard absorbs damage until it is depleted at which point the damage hits the player directly."

Developer Blog: Item Level & Scaling
  • "Item Level was not consistent between sources and has not performed well as a measure of player potential due to item level being different depending on the source it is coming from. Undermountain was our chance to make item level far more consistent and therefore make it a more accurate gauge of player potential."
  • With the Undermountain expansion, 1 Item Level = 20 rating points.
  • "This change will adjust some stats players already have, but it should be an overall gain."
  • "The overall goal of all of these changes is to make it so that if two players are 12,000 Item Level, they are very close in terms of their overall potential."
  • Scaling: This is also meant to improve scaling. In particular, scaling down so characters have more challenge than in the past when being scaled to lower-level content.

Developer Blog: Level Cap Increase
  • Undermountain will have zones above level 70, taking you to 80.
  • Each class has at least one new Daily, Encounter and At-Will, but that is just the surface of what is in store for our classes. (See Classes Intro above.)
  • New gear ranging from levels 71-80, new seal gear, new dungeon equipment, and higher IL artifacts.

Developer Blog: Stats & Mechanics
  • Devs explain that the game had a fundamental problem of gamers having maxed the stats of the game. Options were a nerf or redesign. They chose the later.
  • New math is using opposing rolls between player character and foe.
  • % gain = (Rating –OpposingRating) / 500. for every 500 rating points you are above your opponent’s opposing rating gains you 1% to a stat.
  • "Let’s look at an example where you have 10,000 Critical Strike and the opponent has 7,000 Critical Avoidance. Critical Chance = (10,000 – 7,000) / 500 = 6%."
  • New stats have been added to be the opposing ratings. Devs removed other stats to improve balance and simplify. Main ratings: Hit Points, Power, Critical Strike, Critical Avoidance, Combat Advantage Bonus, Awareness, Deflect, Accuracy, Armor Penetration, Defense.
  • Utility stats: Action Point Gain, Recharge Speed, Stamina Gain, Critical Severity, Control Bonus, Control Resistance, Movement, Gold Gain, XP Gain, Glory Gain, Companion Influence, Incoming Healing Bonus.
  • Removed stats: AC, AoE Resists, DoT Resist, Regen (players now have a set value of out of combat regen speed), Recovery. Also looks like Lifesteal. They say, "The removal of the Lifesteal and Recovery ratings are the two most significant. Lifesteal was problematic in that it invalidated most sources of healing and created a situation where a player’s health bar was typically in one of two states: full, or dead. For this reason Lifesteal was removed as a rating and there are only a couple of specific sources of lifesteal in the game going forward. Recovery was problematic in the fact that Encounter and Daily powers had become used almost as frequently as At-Will powers could be. That left us with two options when fixing the balance: Drastically reduce the damage of Daily and Encounter powers, or make it so that Daily and Encounter powers would be used less frequently, but be much more meaningful. We went with the latter of the two options and that meant recovery needed to be removed. As with lifesteal above, there are fewer and more specific sources of AP Gain and Recharge Speed going forward."
  • "Enemies will have the same value for all of their ratings, and all of the enemies in a given zone/dungeon will all have the same rating values. To use the first area of Undermountain as an example, all of the enemies have 16,000 for all of their ratings (this number could change before live as we continue to adjust numbers from feedback and testing)."
  • Critical Strike gets a bonus 5% chance by default. My example up above showed how any given set of opposing ratings work, but since Critical Strike gets a 5% bonus, the player would actually have an 11% chance to crit instead of a 6%. Critical Strike is now capped at 50%.
  • Deflect also now caps out at 50%
  • Combat Advantage Bonus gets a 10% boost by default and caps out at 100%.
Playing:
Dagdra Deepforge: Dwarven Cleric
Garla Shieldbreaker: Half-Orc Great Weapon Fighter
Zendra Soulseeker: Moon Elf Warlock
Jalazea Shieldborn: Tiefling Paladin
My Dungeons & Dragons blog can be found here!

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Alphastream
Posts: 294

Fri Mar 01, 2019 4:05 pm  

The Devs have added a bit more info, and some heroes have added content to the Unblogged site to review the info so far.

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Developer Blog: Updates to Boons
Boons will now be all in one single screen and, importantly, are one progression. When you get points from any campaign, you then can choose from any of the bottom-row (what used to be left-most) weaker boons. You have to max out the one you choose, and then you unlock the second row and so on. The final row is those capstone boons, but they don't cost points (you unlock them with the last step). It is a bit unclear, but it sounds as if you can repeat this process when you get more points? Or is it really just once?


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Developer Blog: Cleric Changes
As in the previous dev article on classes, they stress that Healing is the focus. Divine/Empowered powers are gone! Divinity is now a pool of magic used to cast encounter powers. Healing powers like Bastion of Health and Daunting Light now cost Divinity to cast. These have no cooldown. Divinity regenerates over time or when you use a new "Channel Divinity" mechanic to pray to your deity while in combat (interesting... stop casting to regain Divinity!). Enemies are less deadly, providing Clerics more time to reach and heal.

One of the 2 Paragon Paths is specialized in healing - the Devout. More powerful heals, more heal-over-time, and effective divinity management as compared to Paladin and Warlock.

The second Paragon is the Arbiter, focused on divine retribution (DPS). You can now queue as DPS when you have this build. Deep damage rotations, with new powers providing strategic choices. Could be interesting. I've always enjoyed that the Cleric was about adjusting to the combat, vs my GWF that literally uses the same rotation no matter what.


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Developer Blog: Paladin Changes
Paladin will retain the ability to play as either a tank or a healer depending on their paragon path. The article again notes that healing is more important in Mod 16. Paladins have a reworked diginity resource, like the Cleric, with a pool of Divinity with which to cast Encounter powers without cooldown. This includes spells like Divine Touch and Smite. Divinity runs out (see cleric above) and regenerates over time. Healer paladins can pray and tank paladins can use their shield, both of which can regain Divinity (tank is based on damage blocked, interestingly).

One Paragon Path is the Justicar. This is the tank/defense build and smites foes with some limited healing.

The second PP is the Oathkeeper. Healing and mitigation to shield allies. Many powers have been heavily reworked. Divine Touch is a powerful targeted healing, Smite a distance concentrated radiant damage. New spells also are provided.
Playing:
Dagdra Deepforge: Dwarven Cleric
Garla Shieldbreaker: Half-Orc Great Weapon Fighter
Zendra Soulseeker: Moon Elf Warlock
Jalazea Shieldborn: Tiefling Paladin
My Dungeons & Dragons blog can be found here!

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Alphastream
Posts: 294

Fri Mar 01, 2019 10:14 pm  

And the test servers are live!

Cross your fingers and hope for the best, and if of stout countenance you be, dive in!

(If you don't know the process for the Test server, here is the process:
Go to http://www.arcgames.com/en/my/character/copy/nw#~ and copy your character. You then have to go back to the login client and choose the Preview server instead of the live server. There you can alter your character to your heart's content and test under true battle conditions. Note that on Preview there is no Stronghold/Guild, and no Stronghold boons.
Playing:
Dagdra Deepforge: Dwarven Cleric
Garla Shieldbreaker: Half-Orc Great Weapon Fighter
Zendra Soulseeker: Moon Elf Warlock
Jalazea Shieldborn: Tiefling Paladin
My Dungeons & Dragons blog can be found here!

User avatar
Alphastream
Posts: 294

Fri Mar 01, 2019 11:14 pm  

Some of the bug report threads have additional info.

Refinement (also companions)
Undermountain brings with it a few additions and changes to refinement.
  • There are new enchantment ranks.
  • There is now an option to need to have a ward slotted to upgrade. We added this from many player requests asking for such a system to prevent accidently losing reagents. This option can be turned off in the option menu.
  • There is a new option to try until succeed. This was another often asked for player request to eliminate clicking numerous times on lower chance upgrades. Once you click to start this, it cannot be cancelled due to how it fires off behind the scenes.
  • This will stop when it upgrades, or if you run out of wards.
  • There is now a streak breaker on upgrades. Each item will have a streak breaker value assigned to it. When this number of attempts is hit, the next upgrade will be 100% chance of success.

Also:
  • Insignias can be upgraded to Legendary level, requires 25,000 RP and lower ranks of the same insignia (ha, they brought back the original refinement system!)
  • Bonding Runestones are now for all companions, including Augments! There is a dedicated slot for them. They no longer give direct Power/Defense, just the stats of companion at a %. Companions no longer have offensive/defensive runestones on them directly. Eldritch runestones no longer have any function and thus there is a free exchange to make them into bonding runestones.
  • For some time, can exchange enchants in PE. Same rank to same rank and same number of stats. For example, rank 12 dual-stat for a different rank 12 dual-stat. It looks like there will be weapon and armor enchant trading too. Not yet in preview.
  • There will be some kind of "runestone choice pack" that allow you to exchange enchants for.

Companions
The thread doesn't currently have much info, though the devs may be sharing info soon.
There are clearly some bugs. It sounds like, in addition to gear and enchants now being specific to companions only, the companions also now have a revamped screen and only some will provide active bonuses. It isn't clear how it has changed.
Playing:
Dagdra Deepforge: Dwarven Cleric
Garla Shieldbreaker: Half-Orc Great Weapon Fighter
Zendra Soulseeker: Moon Elf Warlock
Jalazea Shieldborn: Tiefling Paladin
My Dungeons & Dragons blog can be found here!

User avatar
Alphastream
Posts: 294

Mon Mar 04, 2019 4:08 pm  

Developer Blog: Challenge Campaigns

A new dev blog introduces Challenge Campaigns. No idea when it goes live (presumably with Mod 16?), but it moves older campaigns into a grouping called Challenge Campaigns. The screen shot provides a list:

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"The first week you might get a quest to complete Heroic Encounters in the Well of Dragons. Another to complete quests in the Dread Ring. And a third quest which has you kill enemies in Chult. Every player will receive the same quests on any given week allowing for you to group together with your friends and guildmates."

"Completing each of these quests will grant you currency for their campaign as well as grant you a Hero’s Medallion. These medallions can be exchanged for a variety of items that will aid you in your adventuring. This is the current store listing (there could be changes before launch):
  • Ultimate Enchanting Stone
  • Ultimate Mark of Potency
  • Superior Enchanting Stone
  • Superior Mark of Potency
  • 50,000 50% Bonus Rough Astral Diamonds
  • Companion Upgrade Tokens


But wait there’s more! On top of the normal rewards you will receive from those weekly quests, you will also get to choose a Bonus Campaign. Whichever bonus campaign you pick will grant you bonus currency to that campaign when you finish a quest."

That is very interesting. On the one hand, I think the Devs don't at all seem to understand the currency of TIME. I like that current zones like Dread Ring are easy, because I can actually get that stuff done quickly and without any worry. Fun, done. On the other hand, I like the idea of earning the stuff they propose. It just really hinges on time. If it takes us a really long time to do HEs in WoD, quests in Dread Ring, plus Chult kills... then it isn't worth our time.

The "bonus currency for one campaign" is not bad. You could make the choice based on coffer donations? Or, I guess you can pick one that you push towards AD or something like that. It's interesting. Dread Ring for fueling NDemo and such, vs WoD for Tiamat keys, etc.
Playing:
Dagdra Deepforge: Dwarven Cleric
Garla Shieldbreaker: Half-Orc Great Weapon Fighter
Zendra Soulseeker: Moon Elf Warlock
Jalazea Shieldborn: Tiefling Paladin
My Dungeons & Dragons blog can be found here!

User avatar
Alphastream
Posts: 294

Mon Mar 04, 2019 5:52 pm  

And now we get news that you just have to wonder why they waited this long... officially, the Foundry is dead.

Foundry Sunset - April 11, 2019.

As Bardok said, this date does make one wonder... does that mean the new mod will launch on that same date?
Playing:
Dagdra Deepforge: Dwarven Cleric
Garla Shieldbreaker: Half-Orc Great Weapon Fighter
Zendra Soulseeker: Moon Elf Warlock
Jalazea Shieldborn: Tiefling Paladin
My Dungeons & Dragons blog can be found here!

User avatar
Alphastream
Posts: 294

Mon Mar 04, 2019 9:57 pm  

Rainer has been posting some great videos breaking down the previews.

In this overview video he reviews the changes, and shows off some of the new gear. New weapon artifacts can provide more than double the stats of the previous ones, for example!

Enchants and Runestones now go up to level 15.

Weapon/armor enchants also get one more rank. A new Mark of Potency is introduced and required for these final ranks. (So much of "ultimate" being the ultimate!)

Enchanting stones now have names that include a rank number (Greater Enchanting Stone is now Enchanting Stone, rank 4, and the new one is rank 7).

Mount Insignias now can go to Legendary/orange, and basically double the benefit.

The benefits from ability scores have been changed (for example, Dex used to give a damage boost and now it is Strength with a Physical damage boost and Int with a magical damage boos).

Basically every power has changed. Buffs/debuffs we were used to are basically all changed/gone.

Stronghold Boons have not changed and are still on their own screen. No change to Stronghold levels or the like.

XP tomes only work until level 70, so you can't use them to get from 70 to 80!

The game is overall harder. You can't just go to the old zones like Barovia and solo it easily without work.

Rainer's guide on companions is also a must-watch!
Companions have changed greatly. You now always equip Bonding Runestones, regardless of augment or non-augment type, plus 3 equipment... but the equipment is now only Companion Gear. You can't slot normal gear (no Gravestriker rings, no MW gear, none of your old gear, etc.). Further, in companion gear you now slot Runestones, not Enchants. This makes Runestones far more important (and is why they have skyrocketed in price).

The Companion screen is now more like Mounts. You now don't see the 5 companions in the main screen, just your main one.

One good thing on companion gear: Before Mod 16, each companion has three gear slots (ex: ring, ring, sword knot). With Mod 16, you have three slots for any companion you slot, and it's the same 3 slots and they accept any type of gear. So, equip your best three companion items, with your best 3-6 runestones and 3 Bonding Runestones, and this applies always to whichever companion you make active.

Your active/summoned companion gives you a power for being summoned, shown in purple. 5 other slots have types (offense/defense/utility). The types come from your class! These are filled from your Companion Roster. Any number of companions can be stored, each has an Enhancement Bonus and a Player bonus. The player bonus is from one of the types (offense/utility/defense) and can be added into a slot. The companion power is what you get if you summon it.

Having up to 5 legendary Companions used to provide a bonus. Now, the bonus is for each category of companion (mystical, creature, invoker, etc.) and the top qualities of each category provide a "Bolster". The total bolster boosts your companion's stats. So, more companions for that category that are leveled up (not overall!) will boost your summoned companion's stats.

Many bad companions are now good, and some good ones are now bad. Active powers have changed, some companion powers/attacks, etc. Rainer posted this Google Spreadsheet with the new advantages.

Finally, this video reviews changes to Insignias and Mount Bonuses. The basic summary is that many have changed, so things that used to be popular (such as Assassin's Covenant, Artificer's Persuasion) are now not strong at all.
Playing:
Dagdra Deepforge: Dwarven Cleric
Garla Shieldbreaker: Half-Orc Great Weapon Fighter
Zendra Soulseeker: Moon Elf Warlock
Jalazea Shieldborn: Tiefling Paladin
My Dungeons & Dragons blog can be found here!

User avatar
Alphastream
Posts: 294

Wed Mar 06, 2019 6:03 pm  

The forums continue to hum with activity. Some of it is becoming more positive as people warm up to the new ways of play and the strategy behind all the changes.

Here is an official dev thread on Tanking and Healing, which does a good job of summarizing changes.

This post by an Alpha tester is a good read. They add some great bits here:
  • They say the new Undermountain campaign is solid, with cool looking new areas.
  • ID scrolls are gone, removing a useless step.
  • Being able to swap enchants and insignias really helps players adjust
  • More companions are now viable and interesting for different situations and it's easier to swap companions since gear is decoupled from companions. It seems you can use any companion gear in any of the 3 slots!
  • The game is harder. More challenge, but can be annoying for grind aspects.
  • Group content now needs a healer, but isn't 1 DPS + Buffers.
  • Scaling seems buggy and it means formerly easy areas aren't fast and easy.
  • Character creation has been oversimplified. Stats are dumbed down and now the same for all classes, making it hard for some classes to be good at what they want to be (dealing damage, etc.). Boons are dumbed down too, with fewer real choices. Feats are similarly not great choices.
  • Professions are almost useless. MW crafting is practically useless for now, unless new recipes are introduced. From what devs say, it won't be until Mod 17! (This continues a horrible trend where most players can never catch up with MW to make money on new recipes before they become outdated.)
  • Healers are required, but few aspects of the game boost healing. It may be hard to find people to play healing.
  • Others add that combat overall feels slower. In some areas playing solo is fine, in others it is hard to solo, even described as "painful." Even in groups, you have to kite and keep moving. DPS can need to run away until powers recharge, etc.

I don't know if I mentioned this, but there are two new seal types, and, as with previous updates, our current seal type is being moved to be an older type and a newer type becomes standard. This also makes previously hard-to-earn gear (Seals of the Crown from Barovia) now easier to earn to equip your alts. Not a bad way to operate, and gives players more flexibility - you don't have to chase the latest gear each mod, because eventually you can earn it just doing dungeons.
Playing:
Dagdra Deepforge: Dwarven Cleric
Garla Shieldbreaker: Half-Orc Great Weapon Fighter
Zendra Soulseeker: Moon Elf Warlock
Jalazea Shieldborn: Tiefling Paladin
My Dungeons & Dragons blog can be found here!

User avatar
Alphastream
Posts: 294

Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:05 pm  

Playing:
Dagdra Deepforge: Dwarven Cleric
Garla Shieldbreaker: Half-Orc Great Weapon Fighter
Zendra Soulseeker: Moon Elf Warlock
Jalazea Shieldborn: Tiefling Paladin
My Dungeons & Dragons blog can be found here!

User avatar
Alphastream
Posts: 294

Mon Mar 11, 2019 6:09 pm  

Two new Dev blogs detailing classes, the Fighter and Warlock.

The Fighter blog talks about the fighter's blocking a lot, which is no revised to use up stamina and prevent hit point loss. The choice of paragon path is between Vanguard (stronger tank) and Dreadnaught (DPS). As a Vanguard your block is all about damage prevention, plus "Dig In" is a class mechanic that lets you block from any direction. Various factors draw in foes, but Marking is gone and most taunts seem to be gone. The Dreadnaught blocks and while doing so long enough generates Seethe (instead of Dig In). Seethe boosts damage for a while.

The Warlock blog starts by reviewing the Soulweaver paragon path, which now firmly makes on branch of the warlock a healer. It's an interesting choice, since it doesn't at all reflect the D&D tabletop game. You take Soul Essence from damaging enemies to heal/cleanse allies. As with the Cleric and Paladin, the Warlock has some encounter powers that lack cooldowns and instead use Soul Essence. Essence Drain is a new mechanic (similar to the new one for Clerics and Paladins) to restore Soul Essence and HPs by focusing.

The other path is Hellbringer (DPS) and you summon demonic forces and curse your enemies as before, including summoning a soul puppet (so it seems they merged those trees).
Playing:
Dagdra Deepforge: Dwarven Cleric
Garla Shieldbreaker: Half-Orc Great Weapon Fighter
Zendra Soulseeker: Moon Elf Warlock
Jalazea Shieldborn: Tiefling Paladin
My Dungeons & Dragons blog can be found here!

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