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Neverwinter Beta Review (2013)

Neverwinter Review 2013

  

  My generation is the generation of nostalgia and gaming companies are well aware of our craving for everything old as evidenced by the release over the last few years of so many sequels to classic games (Star Craft II, Diablo III, Sim City, ect.).

 

  The first Neverwinter game (Neverwinter Nights) was a true classic that I spent way too many hours playing.

 

  Based on the classic role playing game Dungeons & Dragons. Neverwinter Nights had an amazing single player campaign that was further bolstered by the ability to design your own modules to create mini expansions or independent stories for the game.

 

  The latest reincarnation of the series sees a shift in creative focus to create a hybrid style F2P MMO designed by Cryptic Studios (who were acquired by Perfect World a few years ago).

 

  I would say this is a huge change considering the studios that were involved in the previous incarnations of the game, however as I have stated in other articles that I have written, the studios of old are no longer what they once were.

 

  Neverwinter has the DNA of the old Neverwinter games and yet at the same time it has a very arcade or console feel to it, this is an action based MMO that will keep you moving and actively participating in your own defense.

 

  Like previous Neverwinter games there is a soloish campaign mode to play through along with a tool set called The Foundry for creation of user generated content.

 

videogame-math-neverwinter

Place in bowl and mix well until smooth.

 

  Neverwinter is loosely based on the soon to be dropped 4th edition Dungeons & Dragons rules set (the 5th edition rules set is currently under development) and while I did not enjoy that particular revision of the Dungeons & Dragons rules in its table top form it was clearly designed for easy transformation into an Online MMORPG and thus lends itself nicely to the conversion from table top game to videogame.

 

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition soon to be extinct I remember when 2nd edition was brand new...

 

  So what classes can we expect to see in Neverwinter?

 

Classes

 

Guardian (Tanking Class)

  The Guardian is you standard heavily armored sword and shield fighter, who is designed to keep enemy mobs off of the rest of the party

 

Great Weapon (DPS Class)

  The Great Weapon is a fighter who specializes in the use of two handed weapons.

 

Control Wizard (Caster Class)

  The Control Wizard is your typical mage class.

 

Trickster Rogue (Stealth Class)

  The trickster rogue is a master of stealth and will be a critical ally in most parties when the need arises to get around deadly traps.

 

Devoted Cleric (Healer Class)

  The Devoted Cleric specializes in healing and holy damage, as in all MMO games with a healer class, it is always nice to have one around.

 

  When you consider all the great classes available from the source material this list feels very small indeed, like 4th edition D&D the classes come across as very generic with very little variation on the builds available to a player. One fighter is pretty much the same as another fighter.

 

Neverwinter screen shot 002

 

Races

 

Human

  Humanity as in the real world varies greatly, humans in Neverwinter are heralded for their adaptability. Human racial bonuses: Versatile Defense, Ability Score Bonus, Heroic Effort.

 

Elf

  Elves live in harmony with nature and hail from the forested lands scatter across Toril. Elf racial bonuses; Elven Accuracy, Ability Score Bonus, Wild Step.

 

Half-Elf

  Half elves are descended from a union of elves and humans. Haf-Elf racial bonuses; Dilettante, Ability Score Bonus, Knack for Success.

 

Dwarf

 Dwarves are a race of master craftsman and warriors, in Neverwinter most dwarves hail from mighty mountain strongholds although there are some who have grown up in the urban centers of man. Dwarf racial bonuses: Stand your ground, Ability Score Bonus, Cast-Iron Stomach

 

Halfling

  Halflings are known for their nomadic lifestyle as they travel far and wide across the land, halflings are known for their bravery and resourcefulness. Halfling racial bonuses: Nimble Reaction, Ability Score Bonus, Bold.

 

Tiefling

  Tieflings are descendants of humans who once made dark pacts with infernal powers, as a result of their tainted bloodline the Tiefling race has a very devilish look to it and as such most people treat Tieflings as outcasts. Racial Bonuses; Bloodhunt, Ability Scores, Infernal Wrath.

 

  All of the races above come as part of the free to play package, for those willing to invest in the game as founders an additional race of dark elves known as the Drow is available.

 

  For a free to play game I find it a bit staggering that the founders pack for the game is $199.00, while it comes with a lot of nice bonuses it seems like a really steep price for what amounts to digital fluff for the game.

 

  Cryptic Studios is known for their rushed to market MMO games (see Star Trek Online), they are also known for their amazing character models. I found the avatar models in Neverwinter to be surprisingly limited compared to the ones that I have seen in other Cryptic Studio games. It really felt like the studio took a small step backward this time.

 

   Following the trend of most modern MMORPG's, Neverwinter utilizes a mix of voice acting and text in their questing system, the voice acting is very hit and miss but what really holds back the non player characters who offer you quests in the game is their animations.

 

  When an NPC is speaking to you I often found that they were staring off into dead space, in fact they kind of reminded me of the animatronics that you would see down the shore on the board walk.

 

Bad NPC animatoion demotivational

Creepy NPC is creepy.

 

  The quest system uses a shiny bread crumb trail to keep you on track, this reminded me a lot of a similar system that I had seen used in a few other games. A nice feature if you find yourself lost all the time.

 

Neverwinter screen shot 001

Follow the yellow brick... er... I mean follow the glitter dust road.

 

  As I have stated in previous articles I love videogame music, the music in Neverwinter does invoke a very epic tone but it also feels out of place in the way that it is used.

 

  Music should reel me into the world not break my immersion in it.

 

  One of the things that I think could use more tweaking before the game is released is the user interface. Some aspects of it work just fine and other parts of it seem to be more of a distraction than they are helpful.

 

  Take for instance the bow shape meter that is used by the Guardian, well its bow shaped, for a melee class, and it cannot be moved.

 

  I found this meter exceptionally distracting and would have enjoyed an option to move it or at least have it reconfigured to be part of the main UI at the bottom of the screen.

 

  Keep in mind that this is a Beta review of the game and that the finished release candidate may differ greatly from what I experienced in the game.

 

  Cryptic like every other game studio out there is trying to cash in on our nostalgia with mixed results, the game does become more fun the deeper that you get into it, I am just not sure of the long term viability of this game as a traditional MMO.

 

  If Cryptic relies on the Foundry to heavily for future content then they will be far from offering us a perfect world to play in.

 

  Final Verdict for Neverwinter:  6.5/10 Setting aside the nostalgia factor of a new game in the series and my personal distaste for the 4th edition Dungeons and Dragons rules set, I did have fun playing Neverwinter, however there are quite a few components that just seem a bit off that keep me from wanting to invest in the game long term.

 

~Professor

 

 

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