Unforgotten Realms: A Preview of Neverwinter's Beta Weekends

| 12 Apr 2013 21:30
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The questing system in Neverwinter is fulfilling but pretty standard. The game features voice-overs for most of its quest givers, and even if you leave a dialogue, the quest giver will continue to read aloud, meaning you're never sitting there waiting for a dialogue when you'd rather be slaying orcs. Often quests involve going to a location and finding an object or killing a certain amount of monsters, then returning to the quest giver for some money and an upgrade item. Speaking of orcs, monsters at all levels also have interesting abilities that feel very much at home in the 4th edition D&D universe. Orcs have a raging ability, where they will deal high damage in a visible cone in front of them. Using Deft Strike as I described above, I had little trouble avoiding the attack, but in groups it became quite an enjoyable challenge to avoid incoming attacks while still dishing out damage. The fact that each enemy has some kind of unique ability I think bodes well for the long term health of Neverwinter. Even at the very low levels, the gameplay was interesting and exciting. MMOs often get stuck in the mindset where only boss fights should be challenging or compelling in any way, but Neverwinter breaks that mentality right off the bat.

Neverwinter
Neverwinter
categories: 3d, fantasy

It's been over century since the Spellplague forever changed The Forgotten Realms. Now, explore the city that's been at the center of a thousand adventures: Neverwinter. Adapted from the real Dungeons and Dragon's ruleset, Neverwinter will feature action-oriented combat and storytelling unlike any other MMO. Take the world in your hands with the Foundry toolset and make your own tales. Make your mark in this legendary world.



One thing that I was a little put off by was the constant instancing of single player content. Although content instancing makes for a more realistic and consistent game universe by removing the thirty other people killing the same bandit king as you, it decreases social interactivity between players. This makes the game world feel empty at times, and it prevents players from forming pickup groups, which is one of the core strengths of MMOs. The world map is also instanced, and players need to either walk to the zone doors or find scrolls that allow the player to teleport back to town (these town portals are very rare, but can be purchased via the in-game store).The longish periods of walking time feel somewhat dated in the current era of instant travel (taxi travel, waypoints, etc.), but my guess is that this is a stylistic approach, forcing players to interact with the game world, rather than just teleporting to where they want to be.

Neverwinter manages to bring the heart of D&D into the MMO genre in subtle but very tangible ways. Although some of the cross-over elements are in name alone-my auto attack ability was deemed an "At-Will" power, whereas my longer cooldown abilities were titled "Encounter Abilities"-- Neverwinter does a great job creating the spirit of Dungeons & Dragons. The game highly encourages D&D-like play, including exploration, by leaving small resource bundles (which could be collected via kits or through class skills such as Dungeoneering or Arcana) or even loot chests off the beaten path, and dungeons have bonus rewards for players with a keen eye for suspicious-looking objects lying around. The developers at Cryptic really succeeded in making Neverwinter's Faerūn feel like a D&D universe, and there is tons of flavor in even the minor aspects of the game. At one point during my ventures, I stumbled upon an uncommon crafting resource for medium armor, a holy symbol of Moradin, the god of Dwarves. Now, this may be just a minor detail, but small effects such as these draw players in, and make the universe feel consistent. An insignificant aspect of the game such as the name of a crafting material is the perfect place to add universe flavor, and I applaud Cryptic for its creative use of story integration. Dungeons & Dragons fans will also be thrilled to hear that many of their favorite monsters have managed to make it into the game, including mimics, Illithids, and of course, dragons.

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