Free to Play MMO Neverwinter… Is Awesome!!

Neverwinter MMO Video Review

By Lance Alexander


I’ve previously played the ‘new’ D&D MMO, Neverwinter, but decided against reviewing it because at the time I wasn’t really impressed by the game. Recently however, I was peer pressured into giving it another chance and honestly, my opinion has radically changed.

The key to this change was playing with friends. Which you’d think would have occurred to me the first time around considering that it’s an MMO, but no. I’m apparently more addle brained than anyone had previously assumed.

But lets put my obvious mental handicaps aside for a moment and talk about the game.

It has fluid game play, simple to master controls, diverse and interesting classes to play. The Lore is rich, the crafting system is simple, yet has enough depth to be addicting. The PvP is fun, though again simple enough to not be overwhelming and while challenging enough to be an adrenaline rush. And the amount of detail the developer Perfect Worlds put into this rendition of the realm will have long time D&D fans overwhelmed with feelings of nostalgia. As is, I’m prone to moments of ecstatically squealing and clapping my hands like a giddy little kid. And I don’t think that’s anything to sneer at, since I’ve become so burned out by the gaming Industry recently that most of the time the only emotional reaction I’m able to muster up is a sort of frustrated disappointment.

Again, I digress.

So first things first, the playable races. Since it’s a fantasy game, you get the typical pick of Humans, Elves, and Dwarfs. It also has the option to play a Half-Orc, Half-Elves and of course, Halflings. I’ve seen more characters with Lord of the Rings names running around than I can shake a stick at. But since it’s D&D you also get to play as some Lore Exclusive races, the Drow and Tieflings. For those of you not familiar with D&D lore, the Drow are essentially ‘Dark Elves,’ who live in vast underground metropolises. And The Tieflings are a race of ‘Half-Demons’ with red skin and horns, and they’re exactly what you’d expect from a race of ‘baddies gone good.’ In the video you’re watching, my character Raska is a Tiefling and frankly, I absolutely love it. Those horns? Oh baby!!

Anyway.

At launch (which will be on June 20th) you’ll also get to pick Wood Elves as a playable race. But because they’re being play tested in a closed beta, I haven’t really gotten to tinker around with them yet. Additionally, the Drow are only immediately available to play if you’re a ‘Founder’ in the game, meaning you payed $200 before the game went ‘live’ for an Armored Spider Mount and the option to play the Drow out the gate. While I’ve seen the Armored Spider Mount quite often, I haven’t seen Drow players. My understanding is that ‘Founders’ will be able to make their Drow characters after the 20th and the rest of us will presumably be able to purchase the Drow as a playable race about 2 months down the road. Which I will be doing. Drizzt Do-Urdan Clone, Here I Come!

As for classes, you get your typical MMO mix. ‘Guardian Fighters’ are your tanks, ‘Great Weapon Fighters’ are one of your melee DPS choices. Trickster Rogues, which are, obviously, rogues and have maddeningly amazing abilities to quickly kill you in PvP are the other. You have your ‘Devoted Clerics’ as your healers. ‘Control Wizards’ are your ranged DPS, damage over time and crowd control players. And if the rumors are true, at launch you’ll also have ‘Rangers’ as a playable class, but I won’t be able to confirm this until the 20th.

The games Crafting system, or ‘Professions’ as they’re called in-game, is pretty strait forward. You have your Armor crafting in Tailoring, Leather Working, Mail Smithing, and Plate Smithing. Each one benefits a particular Class, so Tailoring is for Control Wizards who wear ‘light’ armor, Leather working is for Rogues and presumably Rangers, Mail smithing is for Great Weapon Fighters and Devoted Clerics, and Plate smithing obviously goes for Guardian Fighters since they’re the tankiest. You also have ‘Leadership’ which the Neverwinter Wiki describes as being a way to earn additional Gold, experience points, Astral Diamonds (a form of currency in the game) consumable items such as potions, and finally gems and other resources usable in other professions. And as is the pattern, at launch the ‘Alchemy’ profession will become available, and as you’d imagine, it will allow players to craft special potions for personal use or sale. As a whole, you can think of the ‘Professions’ as a sort of mini game reminiscent of games like ‘Mafia Wars.’ It’s there, it can be fun, but really it’s just a time sink for when you’re puttering around between quests or dungeons.

The questing system is also pretty strait forward. Your selected quest has a sparkling trail (aka, fairy farts) for you to follow to your objective, which you’d be familiar with if you’ve played any of the Fable games. Quests are sometimes the MMO staple of ‘go here and kill this many of the things,’ or ‘gather so many of the things.’ But occasionally they are inspired, interesting and wonderfully strange.
The dungeons are fun, and varied. They start out easy, but as time goes on they get harder and harder. Level 40 plus dungeons can especially get frustrating, especially if you don’t have the right composition of classes in your group. Several time’s I’ve been forced to rage quit a dungeon because my group has lacked a tank, or if we had a tank, they were so inexperienced it was painful. But that is, of course, what happens when you play a free to play game with a pick up group. You’re bound to have a bad time.

Neverwinter also has these instances called ‘Skirmishes,’ which are like dungeons, but less demanding. While a dungeon can last anywhere from 40 minutes to two hours (yes, two hours, and I was very very angry about it) a Skirmish typically only lasts about 20 minutes. And Skirmishes don’t require you to have ‘pre-made’ groups to win them. The gameplay you’re watching me play right now is a Skirmish for 50-53 called ‘Gate Crashers,’ and it’s just one of the 12 instances you’ll gain access too as you level.

But the real crowning achievement for Neverwinter is the Foundry system. The Foundry is a tool that allows players to craft dungeons and missions in the world. Sure, some of the dungeons are awful, but more often than not, they’re great. They can be fun, with crazy plot lines, lots of combat and if the ‘Author’ of the Foundry mission has a sense of humor, some genuinely hilarious content.

There is even a DLC that’s going to launch on the 20th as well, called ‘The Caverns of Gauntlgrym’ which will be a level 60 expansion that will include a 20 vs 20 PvP arena, which will grant the winners access to a ‘Tier 2′ dungeon, and the losers a ‘Tier 1.’ According to the website, players will be able to summon golems to fight for their side in the PvP match, as well as craft Catapults to pummel their enemies into submission. I’ll do another video on Gauntlgrym when it releases and I have a chance to goof around with it.

Honestly, that’s about all I can think to say about Neverwinter right now. It’s fun, it’s addicting. And because it’s a free game with absolutely no subscription model, it’s worth your time to check it out and get addicted to it’s nerdy goodness.

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