Back in 2002, BioWare teamed up with Atari and brought us a solid RPG in Neverwinter Nights. Since its release fans have seen updates and expansion but it has been over a decade since this game came out and last time that happened I was without Diablo. For many fans of tabletop, I’m sure your excited to hear that Dungeons and Dragons is coming back into perspective, if even late or in the shadow of games like World of Warcraft… still a dominating contender and one that will not be swayed by this game.
The last Dungeons and Dragons game to take up the MMO torch is still being played today, DnD Online is a great step in a direction that takes us back to rolling 20’s, looking over our shoulder for sneak attacks and of course slaying troglodytes and goblins from the underbelly of your hometown. It’s old now, outdated in alot of ways but still remains fun.
Neverwinter is back, and instead of Ebberon, we get to explore the vastly popular world of the Forgotten Realms… Faerun. It’s where the hype and all the attention went to for all things gaming. Places like Neverwinter, the Sword Coast, Waterdeep, the three nations and the drow-ridden underdark.
Currently Neverwinter MMO is in open beta and is available for download and free play. This new game is alot like Dungeons and Dragons online. It is a free to play model, with options and upgrades at every turn, from character slots, game content to vanity and account upgrades. It is far from a perfect system but one I feel is the right choice given the economy of MMO’s at the current time.
Maybe you have never played Dungeon and Dragons, nor a tabletop game.. should you care? Honestly, yes, it is still an action RPG and one that will reward casual and dedicated players. Crafting is currently available and a unique class system will captivate most people. In case you aren’t aware, in these types of games you pick a class upon level up. It could be your primary, you can multi-class or in moderate to late levels, you can take whats called a prestige, which is more limited but powerful in its specific focus. Give it a try!
An official GWW review is underway, it just recently went open beta a few days ago. Till then, have fun!
Update: 5/7/13 –
Neverwinter is a game I’ve seen before in most other MMO’s released within the past 5 years, it isn’t anything special in terms of ingenuity but it doesn’t lack in any noticeable part as of yet as compared to those other games I just referenced. The noticeable flaw to this game and one that is blatantly obvious to a veteran of Dungeons and Dragons or really any d20 system, is the core mechanics, advancement and skill progression. I had to mention this because what felt like a great game initially has since been down graded to ‘good game’ roughly 15 hours into play.
Let me back up to character creation. In a table top arena, character creation is a daunting task, taking a seasoned player anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours to compile, research, stats and progression and someone new to the game a nearly impossible task to do correctly. I’m not saying that with empty meaning, those are hurdles most people don’t want to jump but to someone who expects a dose of that reality, it’s disheartening to come to the first hurdle only to see it utterly removed as you approach.
Neverwinter has a moderately interesting character creation screen. It does about everything a casual player could want from selection appearance to class and perhaps a bit more as you can give your PC a story or origin. One of my favorite parts to d20 is creating the attribute points or ‘stat points’. In Neverwinter, at least at this point in time, the stats are generated randomly according to core stats and secondary, leaving the remaining three low on purpose. For players interested in role playing their stats or min/max’ing, this is a blunder.
The next biggest problem I saw is the progression system. Stats in this game do not mean the same as the original tabletop rules. Feats, skills and upgrades are given freely and are very much on rails, which undermines the heart of role playing in my book. Closing this statement is also the addition of new stats that literally have no meaning, like defense and crit hit chance… they have no place in the original rules. Upgrades on gear are very similar to Dungeon Siege 3, equip whatever item has more green on it.
A saving grace though is unlike other games in this genre, Neverwinter teaches you how to play and experience the features that are active, even in Beta, like daily quests, PvP, dungeons, crafting and numerous ways to explore your character or acquire followers. The combat is also fairly good and depending on your class choice, even at low levels, combat is fun. I recommend playing the Rogue or Wizard for a slightly more challenging, albeit fun, experience.
I know it may sound as though I don’t enjoy it by what I said above and that isn’t true, I put in about 2 hours today over a couple log-ins and there are alot of aspects I wish were different but for a game currently in Beta and one that is mostly F2P, it is a fun game, even at low level. It is definitely geared more to a younger player and a novice among tabletop expectations. Stay tuned for a full review in the next coming week.