So, you’ve got your dice and character sheets. Your dungeon has been laid out. The DM is itching to throw his menagerie of horrors at you. Then you have to log out for supper.
Welcome to Neverwinter online, the newest MMO from the studio that made City of Heroes, Champions, and Star Trek Online. Cryptic Studios has pulled together a large amount of material from the D&D universe to really make this game come alive.
I had the chance to team a fair bit with a few friends that are big D&D fans and I can’t count the number of times I heard exclamations of joy at little nuances in the game world. Everything from the races to the regions comes from one edition or another of D&D as one would suspect. We managed to see content into the mid-teens level range over the weekend and so I thought I would share my impressions.
Like most Cryptic games, Neverwinter makes use of instances heavily. There are still enough open world and zone-wide missions and events that, even while just exploring, you wont get bored. However, they really stepped up their writing and story crafting for Neverwinter. Even the queue missions have interesting stories behind them and fun combat.
The biggest surprise to me was just how well the world conforms to user generated content (UGC) created in their Foundry which really lets the wannabe Dungeon Masters out there shine. Each zone has a job board that directs the player to Foundry content that was linked to that area. This makes it very easy for the average player to try out this content in a convenient manner.
My main experience this weekend was with a party consisting of two Control Wizards, a Trickster Rogue, and a Guardian Fighter. There were definitely times things got crazy and on at least one occasion we found ourselves wishing we had a Devoted Cleric (Neverwinter’s “healer”) with us. While attacks lock you in one place, a change from the more action-oriented MMOs out now, it never feels like a handicap. The combat progresses at a good pace and never feels like it drags.
I will warn you that Neverwinter’s mouse look style takes getting used to for those of us that aren’t big DCUO fans (another title that forces you to use mouse look). Outside of that Neverwinter really keeps things streamlined and easy with only a handful of powers available to you at any given time. If you find yourself by a camp fire (a healing area found in dungeons) before a tough battle or after a failure you can always switch out powers on your power tray for a new tactic.
Having a good mix of classes also helps in navigating dungeons, all of which have a variety of things requiring different skills. Throughout the game little nodes that unlock alternate paths or contain useful items can be found laying around. This makes players want to truly explore each dungeon to make sure they didn’t miss anything.
Extras & Replayability
Between the obligatory achievements as well as tidbits of D&D lore scattered everywhere you’ll spend plenty of time revisiting Neverwinter’s lower level areas. The Foundry tool-set is also very powerful, giving Dungeon Masters plenty of toys to torture with.
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