Monday, March 25

Neverwinter - A nice little dungeon crawl?

Dulcy exploring Neverwinter Woods

Beta started Friday evening for me, wasn't sure what to expect. Reports over on the forums have been bad, for a forum whose main population looks through rose tinted glasses back at anything pre-vanilla and/or sandbox that comes as no surprise. It's based on D&D, it's made by Cryptic and Perfect World, I was expecting a dungeon crawler in the same vain as DDO, it's what I got, albeit a little less complex than DDO, it has a much simpler rule set. Perfect World are no stranger to this beta player and I fully expect, as experience suggests, that the cash shop will play a little larger part than it currently does in beta, more on that later.

Sergeant Knoxx - An overly familiar face

Had no clue what class to roll, and having such a bad memory of the D&D rule-sets (gotta be at least 30 years since I played- feel old much? *ouch*) there was no synapses firing to help me choose. 'Great Weapon Fighter' sounded like it suited my mood of smashing things in the face.

Character creation was an uninspired affair, a few faces with age variables, a few haircuts and things like eyebrows which really doesn't make enough difference to be useful. The character models are pretty poor, so any fine tuning is a waste, there's not a lot of options to waste either. 

Dulcy - At least her armour looks effective.

Combat uses a reticule system, forget clicking skills, you're forced to use your keyboard, which for a clicker like me was weird at first. You have a limited skill bar with skills tied to mouse clicks (L & R) and bound to keys 1, 2, Q, E and  R, it was pretty easy to adjust to. As you level you unlock new skills to slot so you get some choice on your build, there's a feat system too.

You need to be pointing your reticule at the enemy to hit and with extremely few exceptions, you will be locked down while you attack. Only rogues get to dodge and that's the only 'actiony' thing about the combat, after being spoiled by the action combat of GW2 and TSW it felt like stepping a decade back in time. Didn't stop me having some fun though.

Foes big attacks will show a red area on the ground, since your stuck while attacking mostly its bloody annoying knowing you can't get out if it fast enough, swinging a sword stopped Dulcy moving. Once she unlocked a skill that involved movement she was a happier gal. Thankfully cool-downs aren't global, but quite long on anything but basic attacks, there's a degree of skill required for effective combat, it felt good once I got in to the swing of things. It shouldn't take you until level 15 or so to feel good about combat though.

The higher the level, the bigger the sword

Animations are pretty poor to average, the running animation is the same for both genders, doesn't work so well on women. 

There is no health regen, in or out of combat, unless you roll a healing class you are going to be spending loads on health potions, the game likes its money sinks, not unusual for a PW title. It got very annoying if you didn't remember to stock up before going dungeon crawling. At level 18 you get to choose your first companion, as a pure DPS class my choice was best with something tanky or healer, I went with a Cleric healer, things got a lot easier after that and I ended up with more potions than I needed.  Having this potion money  sink seems a needless frustration at early levels, the only way to regen health is at campfires or via portable alters (which drop from mobs and with no description it took me until level 17 to suss what they did *sigh*).

Dulcy and her healing Cleric exploring a wizards tower

Quests : make no mistake this is a very linear game, you gain no experience from killing mobs, quests are the only way to level, they are a mixture of dungeon based instances and open world. There are no alternate leveling paths, not a very alt friendly game, I will say though that the content felt fast paced so reliving it at a later date doesn't fill me with dread. The Foundry could really help here if enough passable content comes from players. there is a rating and review option for foundry quests so you can get a good idea of the quality before you partake. You can also tip the creator with coin if you're suitably impressed.

I soloed so I'm not sure how well instances scale for groups, they felt good for solo play, just the right amount of challenge for some relaxed dungeon crawling. Fun and to the point. Mob spawns out in the world were fast, great for crowded areas, not so good if your having difficulties. Lore is OK but nothing to get too excited about, I played some player made 'foundry' quests, whose writing and dungeon design was as good as Cryptics. Sadly the Foundry wasn't available for testing this weekend, neither was crafting.  

A player made Foundry quest, great quest chain which bugged out on me on the last step

Gear drops from mobs, can be bought from traders or you can use the Auction House. Some of it can have enchantments added, there wasn't any RNG in adding the enchantment (unless that happens at later levels), there is RNG if you're upgrading the enchantment. If you socket something it costs  to replace it, the currency for that has a chance to come from an hourly 'gift' you get by praying, it can also be gained by exchanging it for Zen (the cash shop currency). The same currency is used for retraining feats, re-socketing boost for your companions and  shortening training times of companions. 

Companions need to go off to train before they can level, the higher the level the longer the time, it  increased to 27 minutes for training from level 8 to 9, that's a long time to be without your companion, PW know how to make money from their CS, you will need to spend if you want to avoid frustrations. The cash shop already has superior mounts and companions, it will likely get worse post release. 

Nice sky by a floating rock with a tavern on it

Despite my cash shop concerns and it's likely impending frustrations at later levels, I had a great time leveling from 1-21. Definitely a casual game, a fun way to spend a few hours doing dungeon crawls, not a triple A title neither is it a game hardcore D&D fans should get excited about. I think there's a fair amount of RP potential if that's your thing. The dungeons have their fare share of traps, some simplistic puzzles and plenty of treasure if you have the right skill or kits, gives it that old school dungeon feel. Compared to games like GW, TSW etc I'd score it an entertaining 5/10 (the cash shop fears cause the low score), comparing it to most of its free to play competitors I'd give it an 8/10 on the proviso that its crafting is useful and is more than a heavily RNG based money sink.

I'm intrigued enough to stick with it casually across the next few betas. It was the kind of simplistic fun I needed while escaping from a weekend of mostly hard work. Looking forward to getting my hands on the foundry, some of the players creations worked very well. Seems you needed to register for a foundry beta. 

Wednesday, March 13

Quote of the ... year?

Not because that the quote is that brilliant, well, maybe it is, but more because we are not quoting a lot here on Yammob.

Bah Blizzard, we were breaking MMOs before they even thought about making one.
Joel "Nusquam" Bylos comment when somebody on the TSW forum suggested that Blizzard owned the term "soon".