Face Evil Wizards in Our Neverwinter The Cloaked Ascendancy Review

By Jeff Francis
Neverwinter The Cloaked Ascendancy review

The city of Neverwinter is a place where chaos and uncertainty are a constant, which of course makes it the perfect place for mmo players. A new danger has reared its head in the form of a trio of powerful wizards who wish to lay claim to the city in The Cloaked Ascendancy update. It naturally falls upon the player to sort out the truth and keep the city safe from harm. Is Lord Neverember the rightful ruler of Neverwinter? What dangers lurk in the new River District? Find out in our Neverwinter The Cloaked Ascendancy review.

Let's begin our Neverwinter The Cloaked Ascendancy review with the backstory. The update begins with the player asked to take part in a ceremony honoring the memory of Makos, the powerful mage who passed away in the previous update. This ceremony takes place in the newly re-opened River District, which was once home to the wealthiest families in Neverwinter. However, things go awry as a trio of wizards appear, saying that Lord Neverember is not the rightful ruler and that Gyrion, the leader of the wizards, is the truel heir. This is followed up by a horde of Nashers showing up, of whom the player has to fight off to allow civilians to safely flee the area. Lord Neverember then tasks the player to find out the truth and to put down The Cloaked Ascendancy.

The Neverwinter The Cloaked Ascendancy update adds quite a bit of new content to the game (which you can play for free here). There is the new River District for the player to explore, a new campaign tree to complete, and the new Illusionist's Gambit skirmish. I'll start off this The Cloaked Ascendancy review by touching upon the Illusionist's Gambit skirmish. This is a pretty fun skirmish that features up to three rounds of combat, each of which is comprised of several waves of illusionary enemies. What makes this skirmish interesting is that a number of random factors come into play for each round, such as falling rocks, exploding corpses, or the floor being covered in ice. The sheer randomness that can occur makes this a skirmish that doesn't get stale with repetition. You can read a fuller review of the Illusionist's Gambit here. If you're looking for a quick way to farm fleece, then just do the first (bronze) round of the skirmish and then vote to leave as that's the minimum required to gain the fleece (and you don't get more for doing additional rounds).

Neverwinter The Cloaked Ascendancy

Now let's turn our Neverwinter The Cloaked Ascendancy review to the actual story of the update. Personally, I really enjoyed the narrative told by this expansion. There is some interesting interaction with Lord Neverember, who comes across a lot more overwhelmed than previously shown, and there are some heartbreaking stories behind some of the other characters. The wizards of The Cloaked Ascendancy were torn from the game world's plane and managed to survive at a terrible cost. I found it very intriguing to hear Lord Neverember say how precarious the financial resources are for Neverwinter and that the real reason why the River District was re-opened was to basically loot it for capital to keep the city going. Another welcome aspect of the update is the return of the Nashers, who were a perennial source of trouble for players in the early stages of the game. The sheer number of Nashers reinforce the seriousness of the situation as it seems that there are never-ending hordes of them. I also have to point out that I really like how the player can choose the order of which wizards to currently pursue via the update's campaign system. This method allows a less-linear approach to the update's storyline being told.

The River District itself is probably the most important facet of our Neverwinter The Cloaked Ascendancy review. The new zone continues to reflect the recent zone design by the developers in that it's pretty open and not linear, which is a design philosophy I full endorse. There are distinct areas of the River District for players to explore. The main area is the hub that offers a safe haven for players to pick up their quests and buy/sell goods. The docks are full of Nashers but is also home to the treasure ship (which features a heroic encounter). There are three other zones, each of which is ruled by a wizard of The Cloaked Ascendancy. What is really cool is that each zone reflects the nature of the controlling wizard, such as the area controlled by Kabal featuring fire, burned out areas, and monsters associated with flames. There are the usual daily and weekly quests to be found, as well as a number of heroic encounters. The player has the luxury to choose from a list of quests as part of their dailies, such as entering a crypt or killing a number of specific enemies. Some new features introduced into the free mmo with this update include the guard outposts and the ritual countdown. A player can expend resources gathered to push a ritual back, but when a ritual is completed, the corresponding wizard launches an attack across the entire zone. The guard posts are an interesting feature as the player can beef them up by expending resources accumulated in the zone by defeating enemies. Each guard post has a corresponding dig site that the player can enter in a couple of ways, such as using a map or buying an hourly pass. A dig site can lead to a sewer, crypt, or dungeon (the type is shown on the overall zone map). The dig sites are a great way to finish the daily quest as each one counts for a full 20% towards completion. Players can also find treasure maps within dig sites as well.

Neverwinter combat

So, what's the verdict in our Neverwinter The Cloaked Ascendancy review? I have to say that this is a very strong update to the mmorpg, and I'm really enjoying it. The storyline is pretty compelling, and the new River District is a great zone to run around in. The new mechanics (such as the guard posts) add new wrinkles to the gaming experience, and the new skirmish is also well done. The campaign offers players the chance to decide on what order they wish to tackle the three wizards, and then there's the inevitable new gear that players are grinding for. I really enjoy taking part in the treasure ship heroic encounter as it's crazy action. All in all, The Cloaked Ascendancy continues the string of quality updates that Cryptic has rolled out recently.


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