This month, I wanted to stream Tale of Toast... but their NA server was having a crisis and as a result, I had to make a last-minute change. Several of my viewers suggested Neverwinter, and with an update just released (The Lost City of Omu), now seemed like a good time to give it a go!
What Is It?Neverwinter is a class-based themepark MMO developed by Cryptic Studios and published by Perfect World Entertainment. It's based in the Forgotten Realms setting from Dungeons & Dragons, with a focus on the city of Neverwinter (thus the title). The city acts as a central hub from which you'll travel directly to other regions, somewhat like Vindictus. Zones outside of town are fairly large but feature restricted population caps to the point of feeling semi-instanced. The city of Neverwinter feels like an appropriate choice for designing a "hub town" MMORPG, though.
The D&D influence goes beyond just the lore, though. Neverwinter adapts a great deal of the 4th Edition D&D tabletop terms into character progression. Feats, stat gains and categorized powers are all here, but modified to accommodate for the much higher level cap.
As a side note, I always felt like 4th Edition was built to ease MMO players into tabletop D&D. Powers in particular seemed a lot like MMO abilities complete with cooldowns, so I find it somewhat ironic that 4th Edition D&D has been adapted into an MMO.
Roleplayers, Rejoice!Character creation is on-par with a lot of MMOs released around the same time. In addition to a variety of presets, the game includes a list of sliders to tweak your character's appearance. Neverwinter features a dozen races (two of which require some hefty premium purchases, but are really only slight variations of other freely available races) and eight classes with no combination restrictions. That said, you're going to find some races are more suited to a particular role than others, unless you're choosing a combination for the roleplay aspect.
If you happen to be a roleplayer, this game has some additional benefits. Like a few other Cryptic titles, Neverwinter gives you some backstory options, allowing you to select your home region and patron deity along with a nice blank text box for you to add any other information.
Classes Have RolesAs far as classes go, each has access to two of four roles. Defenders use protection, marks and taunts to keep the rest of the party safe (aka tanks); leaders heal, buff and debuff to support the party (heals); strikers provide the most damage (DPS); and controllers keep threats at bay until they can be dealt with (crowd control). This should mean that each class has some extra tricks available instead of just raw damage, though it's still up to the player to make use of them.
Combat StyleCombat follows the more modern reticle-based style, though I understand that tab-targeting is still included. In terms of overall speed, I feel like Neverwinter's combat is comparable to The Elder Scrolls Online. It's not as frantic as WildStar or Vindictus, but feels a little faster than Secret World Legends. It should be noted that health does not restore out of combat by default, making healers and potions that much more important.
In addition to damage, characters can also sustain injuries (typically as the result of death or a trap) that negatively affect your character until removed. It's recommended to keep a supply of injury kits on hand (or reach rank 7 VIP status where you become immune to injury... wait, seriously? Yup), as they can be fairly annoying, particularly when running dungeons.
Dungeon, Run!Speaking of which, never before has the term "dungeon run" been more appropriate than in Neverwinter. If you queue for a random dungeon (which is advised once daily to get Astral Diamond currency), odds are you'll be grouped with at least one max-level character who will be speedrunning and one-shotting everything in the instance (even with level scaling in effect). This is great if you're just in it for the Astral Diamonds, but ruins the enjoyment for anyone actually wanting to experience the content. I must've run five dungeons before I even saw an enemy (not counting the boss introductory cutscenes), picking up loot as I tried to keep up in a now-empty map.
And Now We WaitIn sharp contrast to the speed of dungeons, many of the game's other features make use of timer-based progression. Need to assemble gem shards to progress a deed? Wait timer. Invoking the blessings of the gods? Wait timer. Leveling professions? Choose from a variety of wait timers! Did your companion level up? It needs sent off for training, which means (you guessed it) a wait timer. The excessive use of timers feels lazy and uninspired, like the developers couldn't be bothered to come up with something better or were so strapped for time and resources they had no other options.
Personal ProgressDuring my first two weeks, I got my Oathbound Paladin to level 41 after roughly 32 hours of play. I've decided to go Protection (tank) with some party support buffs, which so far seems to work really well in Skirmishes. I still have a long way to go and a lot to cover, so look forward to upcoming posts on Neverwinter as I continue to progress over the month. I hope to experience PvP and Foundry missions sometime soon!
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