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The latest expansion, The Cloaked Ascendancy, for the Neverwinter online rpg adds a nice chunk of new content for players. There is the new River District zone, as well as the new campaign and storyline to complete. A new skirmish was also introduced in the expansion: the Illusionist’s Gambit. Does this new skirmish deliver action and fun? Can we make our save to disbelieve versus illusions? Find out in our Neverwinter Illusionist’s Gambit review.
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Let’s begin our Neverwinter Illusionist’s Gambit review with the background for the skirmish. Lord Neverember has heard talk about a wizard performing weird experiments of an illusionary nature in the city’s sewers. Even some of the seedier elements of the affected neighborhoods have actually fled due to this crazy wizard. It’s up to the players to march into the sewers and figure out what’s going on. As always, the player just has to open up the queue window to sign up for this madcap adventure. On a side note, the queue system for dungeons and skirmishes is one of the best features of Neverwinter (which you can play for free here).
Now let’s turn our Neverwinter Illusionist’s Gambit review to the meat of the skirmish itself. The players appear in the sewer, where they are met by the wizard (shown in a cutscene). He then casts his first round of illusions, which is signified by the visuals getting all swirly and eye-watering. This happens between each round of the skirmish. The Illusionist’s Gambit is composed of three rounds, and each round features multiple waves of illusionary bad guys and bosses. If the players make it to the end of each round, they push the reward level up. Winning the first round gives bronze, the second round silver, and defeating the final round (and boss!) yields gold. Players can choose to continue on after the first two rounds or decide to leave and take what winnings they’ve already accumulated. (To be honest, I never voted to leave as I felt it would irritate my party members.) The third round ends with the player fighting the mad wizard himself, Lukan of the Mystic Veil. At the end of the skirmish, the players get their reward, which may contain items, astral diamonds, and some The Cloaked Ascendancy campaign currency.
The most important feature of the Neverwinter Illusionist’s Gambit skirmish is the number of different effects that can come into play. Each wave of combat can host from one to three different effects that really change up the gameplay. A list of the effects I encountered include: the floor covered in ice, exploding corpses, random enemies getting stronger, enemies that randomly reflect damage, exploding runes, falling rocks, a rotating fire wall caused by an item spewing fire, being light on your feet (jumping and being knocked back really makes you fly a bit), moving spheres of decay, players randomly being turned into chickens, player powers being randomly turned off, and the floor being on fire. Needless to say, the number of combinations of these effects is quite large. These effects really affect how you move around and fight, and the various combinations can be quite crazy and fun. Fighting a mob of mimics that reflect damage while a rock falls on your head can lead to a quick death when you activate your AOE in the middle of them. The fire wall is very interesting as you have to keep an eye on it, and it does not affect the bad guys (which means that they love standing in it). The floor being on fire was the most irritating for me as my Trickster Rogue would somehow roll up into a burning patch on a regular basis. I did manage to get turned into a chicken for a few times, which I found quite funny but necessitated me running away from the monsters.
So, what’s the verdict in our Neverwinter Illusionist’s Gambit review? I honestly think that this is the best skirmish that the free mmo has to offer. The combination of all the effects and different monsters makes it quite fun to play, and each run can be wildly different from the previous one. I really enjoy the different environments and monsters, but the real kicker is the many different effects, along with the many possible combinations that players can face. Overall, the skirmish features non-stop action and some interesting challenges while also being really fun to play. I give the Illusionist’s Gambit a hearty thumbs-up.
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