Neverwinter at First Blush

With the summer hiatus upon us, we have begun looking at other games.  Gaff and I have been back in Middle-earth.  Potshot, on the other hand, was keen for fresher, if maybe not greener, pastures.  He has been been poking his nose into Neverwinter.

Ah, Neverwinter.

A new MMO-ish sort of game based on the Dungeons & Dragons campaign environment of Forgotten Realms.  What is not to love?

Well, there is the Cryptic Studios factor.  I haven’t liked their last three games.  Two of those were super hero games, City of Heroes and Champions Online, and super heroes are not my thing.  But then there was Star Trek Online, which I really, really wanted to like.  And which I cannot bring myself to play.

So my approach to Neverwinter has been half-hearted.  I did download the client during the first weekend of open beta.  And then I proceeded to let it sit untouched until last weekend, when it was just I and the Potshots on to play.  So I got into the game at last.

And, for the moment, it reminds me a lot of Dungeon & Dragons Online.

Certainly the parallels are there.  Character creation shows you in an epic armor set.

Meet Epic Sven Sverdsk

Meet Epic Sven Sverdsk

And then the game tosses you on a beach and forces you to scavenge for equipment in what is becoming the video game equivalent of the of starting your D&D campaign in an inn.

Why can't I get the stein?

Why can’t I get the stein?

You get some gear, learn a few of the game mechanics, finish up the intro quest, and end up in town.  This is where I met up with Potshot, in the guise of Fergorin, the dwarf guardian.

Sven and Fergorin

Sven and Fergorin

And, continuing the DDO parallel, the town is pretty much a lobby.  There is no world to explore.  Rather, the game is made up of a series of instances and shared zones.

Where Neverwinter starts to break the parallel is in how good the game looks.  DDO is into its seventh year and the graphics, especially the character models, were really feeling their age the last time I played.  For Turbine, DDO was the game before LOTRO, and while I love the Middle-earth environments, the character models were never award winners, and they were an improvement on DDO.

Neverwinter though looks marvelous.  Character models look good, environments are rich, and animations seem to be mostly spot on.  My warrior’s first attack animation seemed to go off without his weapon a good portion of the time.  He would whack somebody with an invisible sword first, then his giant two-handed sword would materialize in his hands.

As a group we ran through the first instance together, clearing out a vault in town.  Adventures seem to be built in stages.  You fight your way through some bad guys, avoid some traps, and make your way to a camp fire, where you heal up and start the next stage.  Okay as far as it goes, though the camp fires do show up in odd spots.  who builds a fire in the middle of a vault.

Game mechanics took some getting used to.

Neverwinter combat is very active.  Common MMO style combat is face the bad guy and press buttons.  Neverwinter ends up closer to the Diablo series, where it is click to kill.  You primary attack abilities are mapped to the left and right mouse button, and movement is in the FPS style, where you steer by aiming the camera.  You also have to aim your character at an enemy to attack.

That meant me stumbling over the controls for quite a while, and even when I started getting used to it, I still kept setting of secondary abilities that were mapped to the Q and R keys, because I use those keys to strafe left and right normally.

We made it through the first instance.  The game is good about showing you where the loot it.

Treasure chest highlighted

Treasure chest highlighted

That done, we decided to go see what The Foundry had to offer.

The Foundry could be the big draw for Neverwinter, as it allows people to create their own campaigns.  We picked one that was rated high and which had several stages and gave it a try.

Overall it was well done.  It had indoor and outdoor segments.  Things looked good, including some very nice lizardman models.

Now THAT is a lizardman!

Now THAT is a lizardman!

And there were even good, old fashioned traps, highlighted in red once detected or tripped… in our case it was mostly tripped.  We should have brought a rogue.

That was a painful room to cross

That was a painful room to cross

All in all, the adventure we chose, which had a few follow-on segments to continue the story, was very good, to the point of not being obviously different from the initial quests that the game itself offered.  I am not sure if we chose from a particularly talented author or if the tools offered by The Foundry are just that good, but it seems to bode well for the game.

Which brings us to the inevitable catch.

I am just not feeling it.

And I cannot tell you exactly why.  I just do not feel any big pull to go back and play.

Maybe I just haven’t played enough.  I am past about the three hour mark (Raptr says I have less than that, but it didn’t notice I even had the game installed until after our group night), which is not a lot of time.  But I have been hooked on games in far less time than that.

Or maybe it was the lack of edge to the game.  At no time did I feel my character was in any real peril.  He seemed to be able to kill stuff as he was.  He got a couple of item upgrades along the way, but I couldn’t tell how much of a difference they made.

Again, it is too early to call the game “easy.”  We were just doing starter things, which should be on the easy side, and Foundry stuff with a group of three, which may have been too many.  I don’t know.

And then there is the lack of worldliness.  I appreciate the game getting us straight to the action.  You jump into an instanced adventure and it is go time.  But, while I complain about pointless or repeat travel at times, at times travel has been part of the adventure.  Even out short time with Neverwinter Nights 2 involved some tales of the road.

Anyway, that is where I stand at the moment, though the jury is still out.  While I am not hooked on the game yet, neither am I fed up with it and ready to move on.  We shall see where I end up in the next few weeks.

11 thoughts on “Neverwinter at First Blush

  1. pkudude99

    Try a different class. I have one of each now and the Great Weapon Fighter is *by far* my least favorite.

    Here are some links to my own thoughts on my experiences with NW over the past couple of weeks:

    May 13th Post

    Today’s Post

    Overall I’d say that the Control Wizard is the most fun for me to play, followed closely by the Trickster Rogue. 3rd place is the Devoted Cleric. Guardian Fighter is a distant 4th, and you can’t even see how far back the Great Weapon Fighter from there. Yeah — it’s that bad.

    So yeah…. try a different class and see if that makes a difference.

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  2. Asmiroth

    Neverwinter follows an inverse bell curve of fun. The start is good, you gain access to a lot of toys by 15 and the game is essentially open from that point. Then you repeat the same things for 40 levels until 50 and gain some pretty game changing skills.

    60 is a different game than before. Like WoW in the BC days of there being two completely different games. Epic dungeons at 60 are quite hard and complex. Tier 2 dungeons, I don’t think most people will finish them as-is. There is depth if you want it. But if you never set foot in a group instance (skirmish or dungeon) then ya, it’s just a popcorn game.

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  3. tithian

    You definitely picked the wrong class to start. Warriors in general are a bit crap, so if you want melee action I’d say go Rogue. But definitely NOT Great Weapon Fighter.

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  4. Mekhios

    Neverwinter is a popcorn game. There is no sandbox (unless you count the Foundry), the action combat is very fun (if you choose the right class), and lurking behind the entire game is a massive cash shop that has some very cruel psychological methods to try and get people to spend real money.

    Having said that I enjoy it a lot. I turn my brain off and have some pure fun playing my Trickster Rogue. I’ve also really enjoyed the Foundry content. This, KSP, and EVE are dominating my game time this month.

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  5. Telwyn

    It’s a fun game, but I only really have time for one game at present and a second go at SWTOR is keeping me happy. I’ll come back to NWO in a few months I think; there’ll be more foundry content and hopefully the hacking/economic woes will have died down by then.

    I really like the devout cleric, but agree with others that control wizard can be great fun to play as it defies the “spam buttons to win” style of Diablo games. The wizard class is so squishy that you have to start using crowd control intelligently – at least you do if you want to avoid guzzling healing potions constantly.

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  6. Solf

    Err… nobody mentioned it yet?

    In my opinion NWO is quite different from DDO in terms of quest design — there *are* open world quest areas where you get to meet random people killing the same stuff as you do, etc.

    In fact, ‘open world questing’ is the mainstay of NWO. It’s just each zone is probably smaller than ‘average’ and the game limits severely the number of people in the same zone instance.

    Your impression probably comes from the fact that you’re just doing starter line of quests which is indeed instanced for some time. You do get instanced solo-quest-areas later on as well, but they are not the main course.

    Also some of the latter zones involve quite a bit of travel from the entrance to the farthest reaches (I do have a suspicion that this has to do with selling mounts).

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  7. Aufero

    Been playing it a bit myself.

    The graphics are great, I’m seeing some decent stuff come out of the Foundry, (which I suspect is going to be Neverwinter’s big draw) but the classes are ludicrously unbalanced. There’s no reason to ever take a Great Weapon Fighter or Guardian Fighter along in dungeons at level 60, and there don’t seem to be any plans to do anything about that anytime soon.

    Rogues are crazy single target dps, Wizards are crazy AE dps and CC, and Clerics end up tanking everything due to huge healing aggro. (Boss fight mechanics inevitably involve wave after wave of adds, all of which instantly focus on the Cleric.) Play one of those three classes and you might have a better time.

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  8. Wilhelm Arcturus Post author

    Oddly, the Great Weapon Fighter class didn’t really bother me. We seemed to be quite over powered as a group even with the two dud classes.

    Still, if we are going to play as a group of three, we should probably pick the three viable classes.

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  9. Vatec

    I found the Great Weapon Fighter’s animations to be a bit silly … or “over the top.” Spinning around like the Tasmanian Devil cartoon character? Slamming the ground so hard it cracks? Fine for a superhero game, but out of place in low or high fantasy, especially at low levels.

    On the plus side, those animations reminded me of just how much fun I used to have in Age of Conan (with its slightly-less-silly fatalities), so a couple of my friends and I loaded that up and started new characters. The game recently got a new director to replace the one whose poor decisions drove me out of the game, so I figured I’d give it another chance now that it’s F2P. We’ll see how that goes.

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