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. 


  1. A quick review of Neverwinter

  2. This D&D MMO is based on the current P&P ruleset, (either D&D 4 or NExt, I foret what it's called, there's a new one coming out sometime next year) and most P&P players don't like it much as it's taken a bit of a paradigm shift, mostly towards more CRPG / MMO style combat / advancement systems and the accompanying accusations of dumbing down.
    The class "Great Weapon Fighter" is an example. It kinda makes me crinch to hear it, though it's probably a good fit for an ARPG these days.

    I suspect most old skool D&D fans would feel more at home with DDO, except that Faerun is the preferred background for those, not Stormwind. Probably why DDO came with the Underdark expansion last year, the Underdark being the most popular Faerun zone and the most famous next to Neverwinter. They had to compete with the upcoming Faerun MMO.

    I'm not sure I'm interested in this one to be honest. If a Beta key were to fall into my lap somehow I'd probably give it a whirl, especially if there's a Geeky buddy to Beta with. But otherwise I'll probably not bother. For me D&D on the computer & online would ideally be something like a weekly static group and for that I think DDO is the better choice. I could be wrong though.

    As it is there's plenty of want to plays out there with SW:TOR altfest sucking up most of my time.

  3. Nice write up, Geek! It all sounds pretty positive, and worth checking out. The game sounds pretty similar to Kingdoms of Amalur. Except that is a single player RPG, and NWN is a single player MMORPG with a cash shop.

    The foundry could be what makes the game worthwhile. It should at least give endless new content. But it would only works for me if I would like my character enough to take to random unrelated locations. From your description that might be a bit of a problem since the CC is basic, and movement rather poor.

    I'll give it a try. Maybe it is something we could try to do on the side as a static trio?

  4. I found this review on NW that talks about experiences with the Foundry:

    Sounds a lot like Architecture Missions in CoX which isn't surprising when you consider the history of the dev team making NW and their conenctions to Paragon Studios.

    The author appears miffed about the random generated mission rewards for Foudnry missions, I kinda see how having them not be random but author directed would be an issue though.

  5. Yeah, the problem with user created content is that it will always be 90% junk. Finding those really cool adventures is hard. Especially at the beginning on the game's life cycle I fear it will be mostly 'miss', and little 'hit'.

    I spend quite a few hours trying to create my own Architecture Mission in City of Heroes. And that still only got me half of one decent mission. There is a lot of witty text to write to make an adventure more than just a queue of mobs. There are not that many players that have the combination of skill, time and drive to do it.

    All this talk does make me want to see it now. I will definitely try it out once the game goes live and I get full access.

  6. Random generated mission rewards is deffo there because of the high likelyhood of exploiting the system for the loots. Played the Dweomerkeepers Foundry quest chain myself, was nicely done, shame it bugged out on me on the last step, Foundry obviously still needs some work but no idea how far we are off from release. I'll probably spend several hours in the foundry myself and coming up with little of worth no doubt :) Hoping there are those with the imagination and that the system allows enough creativity for content that will make playing an alt less repetitive.

    I actually found myself wishing i could play it for a couple of hours last night, it's a nice flowing little dungeon crawler, nothing amazing but does its job well enough. had loads of keys for last weekends beta, mine was sent from Cryptic, if keys come up again then we should deffo try and hook up for a little group questing.

    I've been testing something else for a couple of months now, NDA forces my silence but once the lift happens expect a long review here. Neverwinter is my preferred out of the two. It has its charms for sure.

    turns out that skirmishes also rewarded the Astral gems for companion training and re-socketing etc, reports are the reward is quite generous so we'll have to see how much the cash shop becomes a requirement. I'm not opposed to paying to support a game at all but I get put off by deliberate money grabbing, it's negative motivation, I'm sure I'm not the only one that feels like that. optional always makes me more generous. TSW has a kinder cash shop and they've had plenty from me.

  7. Mhmmm, I just noticed that IGN sent me a Beta Key for Weekend 3.
    I suspect that was the event you took part of Geek?