I was never in a top world guild in World of Warcraft, but I did spend some time in one of the best guilds on my server. I've spent time being upset that people could use exploits to get things easier than I could.
Now, as I spend time on the official forums and in other Neverwinter communities, all of the other players' crying is interesting to me. Sometimes it makes me sad to see people saying a game that I'm loving so much is "a pay to win piece of shit" or "dead on arrival." I mean, I like it, so what are they talking about, right?
So here's the secret to loving Neverwinter, for anyone who is on the fence: Think of it as a video game.
That may sound odd. I mean, it is a video game, how else would you think about it? But let me explain.
Orcs Must Die! and Defense Grid are two amazing tower defense games. I love them both and according to Steam have played about fifty hours of each. Both of them have a rating system for how well you do on a map, based on your defense combined with how efficient you are with your resources. In Orcs Must Die! it is a 5 Star (or Skull) system while in Defense Grid it's a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal system. Apart from just getting 5 Skulls or a Gold Medal, the higher the points you have at the end the higher your position on the international leader boards.
On a few Defense Grid challenge maps I'm around 400th in the world on the leader boards. Whenever I'm bored I load up the game and play some more.
Why don't I load up Orcs Must Die, a game I love just as much? Because this is the first level of Orcs Must Die!'s leader board:
Your average player might get around 25,000 points on their first play, maybe 200,000 when they go back and know what they're doing. Exploiters own the leader boards in both Orcs Must Die! games and so, while the game itself is amazing, there's really no reason for me to go back and keep trying to get better when any leader board recognition is completely unattainable.
Both games are equally fun but the actions of others negatively impacts my view of Orcs Must Die! substantially.
And here's where we tie this back into Neverwinter. It's hard to play an online game and not think about the actions of others, what others are doing, and if things are fair. But try.
Exploits will happen. It's not because PWE is necessarily a bad company, it's not because the game is supposedly pay-to-win. Encounters ages in the making in big-name subscription games are subject to exploits. Ideally the exploits wouldn't happen, and of course we should strive to report bugs and help the developers fix problems. But if you play an online game where players can feel a competitive spirit there will always be some way for the unscrupulous to get ahead.
People who worry extensively about 'RAWR WHAT IS PWE GOING TO DO ABOUT THESE EXPLOITERS' and say they will quit the game because of the cash shop are cheating themselves out of an amazing game.
Don't think about "When I reach max level how am I going to be better than the next guy if he can pay more money than me?" Think about "When I sit down and do a quest do I enjoy the experience I had?"
Because that's all it is: It's a video game. Pixels telling a story to entertain you for a time. I'll avoid using some form of "Are you not entertained?" reaction gif here, but understand that the game is what you make of it and if the only enjoyment you get out of playing a video game is knowing you're better than other players then, well . . . you're a dick.
Play the game, enjoy the story. Do some fun Foundry quests, revel in the creativity of your fellow players. Neverwinter is an amazing game if you see it as that: A game.