Most of the time when I’m beaten over the head by an MMORPG’s meta, I tend to thumb it in the eye and tacitly ignore it. In the case of the Neverwnter Bard and the overwhelming player opinion of choosing the Songblade paragon path, I would have made the same choice and gone with the Minstrel instead just to be contrarian.
Mercifully, all of you fine poll-completing folks saved me from myself and voted in favor of the Songblade, and boy am I glad that you did, because this has made the class even more interesting and more entertaining than it already was before.
Before I could get to that, I had some zombies to deal with first.
Once again I was being tossed headlong into another spooky locale being attacked by the undead and honestly I was getting real sick of the matter. Yes, Velindra is a lich (I think?) so using undead foes would be her stock in trade, but the drum has been well and thoroughly beaten by this point, and I found myself smashing the 1 key in order to blitz past the dialogue and pick up my assigned tasks.
Even if the quests, their objectives, and the location that they took place in started to get very boring, getting a sense of how to manage combat as a Bard continued to keep me invested. I started to get a better handle of target priority, made better use of my target lock hotkey in order to focus fire, and all the while continued to fall in love with how the Bard feels like it has an answer for nearly every situation. Granted, I was kind of getting beaten up and had to heroically chug potions, but even as soft as the class felt, I was still growing ever more comfortable in my Tiefling shoes.
At last, I got to level 11 – the paragon path level – and immediately got done with talking to Sargent Knox so I could get to the Songblade. Almost immediately a few new layers were added on that refreshed the Bard for me, starting off with the fact that my character now got a regular attack that saw her simply pose and make flames swirl around her.
Pairing this attack move with one of the songs that I regularly use made the spicy posing (my name for the attack even if it’s called something else) already interesting, but then I also got a new song that changed it to a column-shot flame tornado. Once again, my Bard was getting an answer for almost every situation.
I was more than eager to see how well this all worked out, and so I made my way along the path to the next questing area where I had to deal with goblins and ice trolls. I have to say that this area was a welcome change of pace considering I had been up to my elbows in undeath to this point, so bringing some new buttons to push in a new area with new enemies definitely woke me back up.
The Songblade almost immediately endeared me to it. Having another song to learn was great, being able to swap between spicy posing and spicy tornado throwing felt incredible, and best of all the damage output felt excellent enough that my generally soft character didn’t seem to matter too much. This zone also gave me a pretty wide variety of enemies to take on from both melee and range, meaning that I was able to assess the situation and adapt as needed. This made combat highly engaging.
As I moved through the zone, it only got better. I got another level that granted me another song as well as a choice of one of two feats; I went with the one that buffed my healing song. This new song once again modified my regular attack from a swirl of flame to a giant magical rapier that swings in a cone before me, and while I’m not sure whether that move or the spicy posing is better, I suspect I’ll have to learn along the way. That means more song playing, more stance swapping, and more adaptation to combat as things come along. And I can’t wait.
I know that reads like things are kind of frantic on paper, but there are a couple of important elements that should be kept in mind. First, Neverwinter’s active combat model doesn’t really require too much precision in aiming, particularly at melee range, and most of my attacks were hitting in big cones anyway.
And second, when it comes to DPS classes, I tend to gravitate to the ones that require a lot of “homework” – in other words, the ones that have to manage a bunch of resources, have skill combos, or have some manner of stance dancing to shift along with the flow of battle. I hate being a glass cannon bipod that just plants his feet on the ground and blows things apart; sure that means I tend to play the less “optimal” classes sometimes, but then I also have way more fun.
Also, see the earlier reference to thumbing the meta in the eye.
As much fun as I’m having working through the layers of complexity (such as they are) with the Neverwinter Bard, I do have to admit that the rest of the game’s on-rails feeling is beginning to wear me down just a little bit. I’m sort of hoping that the taps open up at some point later, but considering the adventure journal I peered at previously, that doesn’t seem to be the case. That also, of course, presents a problem with this column’s format, as being on a pre-determined path doesn’t really grant me too many polling choices to ask of you lovely folks.
To that point, I’m going to kind of repeat myself here with this week’s poll. I am having a great deal of fun with the Bard and wouldn’t mind continuing on with her, but I still remain curious about what the level 20 Paladin is about, and on top of that I also am curious what one of the other classes feel like. I do apologize for the rehashing of poll choices here, but I hope you’ll all appreciate how I’m trying to keep things generally fresh as this month moves along.
What should I do next in Neverwinter?
- Stick to the Bard. And stop asking us this question. (57%, 27 Votes)
- Reintroduce yourself to the Paladin. At least for a little bit. (19%, 9 Votes)
- Roll a new class. Slake your curiosity. (23%, 11 Votes)
Total Voters: 47
Polling will once more close up at 1:00 p.m. EDT on Friday, April 14th. I’ll be putting the game on the shelf in the meantime, but I have to admit that the Bard is doing a lot of heavy lifting in terms of making this MMORPG entertaining.