Initial Impressions of Dungeons & Dragons Neverwinter

As you can see to the side, I’ve played a few hours of Cryptic’s new Dungeons & Dragons Neverwinter which is published by Perfect World. Early access started on April 25th for “Heroes of the North” which looks to have cost about $199, April 27th for “Guardians of Neverwinter“, and on April 30th for non-Founders. I am part of the latter category and didn’t start until April 3rd.

For a little context, I did not really keep up much with the development of this game and, as of writing this, I’ve only put in about 4 hours so this is really just first impressions for me. I was surprised to see only a few classes. Right now there is the Rogue, Guardian, Wizard, Cleric, and Fighter. There looks to be at least another one “coming soon” but there seem to be a few missing so unsure what it is. Bard, Druid, Ranger, Sorcerer, etc. I’ve only just hit Level 13 so maybe there is some form of multiclassing that goes on to create your own archetypes and the first 6 are just base classes.

I decided to go with a Half-Elf “Trickster Rogue” named Tarrant the Pale on the Mindflayer server. You customize your character a bit and then choose what city you come from (unsure if the latter is just flavor or will lead to something more).

If you want to go straight to my opinions, just click here.

The Walkthrough

The beginning starts simple enough and is there just to teach you the general mechanics – moving, looting, equipping. I did find it odd that the first scene on the beach the elf didn’t move his mouth… but they do later. Not a big thing, but just weird.

You get normal quests, they will tell it to you but you can also read it. The voice acting isn’t bad. No Jennifer Hale but I’ve heard worse (a lot worse). The walkthrough is going from the beach where you wash-up to fight your way to the city via the bridge. It’s pretty linear and easy to do but I imagine this part of the game is just to get you familiar with the mechanics and flavor of the game.

The City

Once you make it across the bridge, you make it into the first major hub of the game (or maybe its the only one, unsure at this time). It is that time it become apparent that it’s an MMO. Or, at least that you’re playing with a lot of people. More on my thoughts of the “MMO” part further down.

You get a few delivery quests but the first real quest line I got was the “Theft of the Crown” where you first try to save the crown (and fail) and then are being led through other zones in pursuit of the crown.

I was expecting to get stealth early on but didn’t get it till I think Level 10. Your initial abilities are pretty much combat oriented. You have a general slash, throwing knives (of sorts), a blink into the air and then hit people for above (sometimes dazing them), a blink behind them, and then this big dagger-like spell that pierces the entire side of the targets body. You also get a special and the first one you have access to is essentially blinking around the battlefield stabbing people for a short duration. You can find my second play session on Twitch.

I participated in a few skirmishes which look to be an instanced “protect the hill” kind of adventure. Essentially you and a few people must hold a location against a few waves of creatures. It’s a quick-fun kind of thing if you want to play with some people.

Player vs Player

I also tried out PvP. Wasn’t great at it but I did’t completely fail…

I popped in at I believe Level 12 and had it increased to Level 19. My guess is they are done in brackets and everyone is pushed up to the top level of that bracket to make it a little more level/fair. The map I played in felt very much like the domination maps in Unreal Tournament, but with less hold points. You essentially had yours, a middle one, and theirs. And why it reminds me more of UT than WoW is for the simple fact that it would say “Your team dominates” so often.

Your team spawns in at once side, the other team on the other side, and you butt heads in the middle for the most of it. I didn’t know anyone on my team and wasn’t using VoIP so I didn’t coordinate very well. For the most part, I would try to jump in on the target my team was trying to kill and then would find myself being the focus of a fight (which isn’t a good thing when you’re a rogue). You get points for holding an area and the first to I believe 1,000 points wins. At the end, a score board would come up and show how well (or bad) everyone did. The fight ran about 15 minutes and it was simple fun.

My General Opinions

So far, I haven’t paid a cent. Had a paid $60 (or $200), I might not like the game as much. But considering I didn’t have any cost of entry and haven’t felt like I’ve had to pay to compete, it’s been a fun game. The art is not amazing but it does give me the old Neverwinter Nights look ‘n’ feel-ing. The sounds aren’t bad at all (I turn down my music so I can’t speak much to that). I like the Races they offer to start with (yeah, you can’t be a Drow right now unless you fork over the $200 but you do get it in a few months) although I did find the class selection to be limited.

If they were “base classes”, I could understand it but I haven’t really seen a system for real diversity in the long-term. Sure, you can train up your abilities with each level but even then, you seem to be gated on those. You can train them up to Level 2 and cannot get up to Level 3 until you’ve spent X enough of points… but at Level 14, I see to have all of my skills trained up to Level 2 so far. You also start to access feats at around Level 10 and you get three lines for that but they seem to be bonuses, not changes in play style. Maybe it gets more limiting or diversity at higher levels but right now, not seeing it.

Maybe that is when the Paragon Trees come into play. I see I can be a Saboteur, Scoundrel, or Executioner but haven’t been able to spend anything in them yet. It looks like I need to spend 20 or more points in my feats till I can so maybe it shows up around Level 30 or so.

The combat is fun. For the most part, I start a getting the group [of baddies] all in front of me and “Dazing Strike” the lot of them then basic attack (“Sly Flourish”) them. If one is a caster or someone with a special attack, right before the do it, I “Deft Strike” and blink behind them so it misses me. When the target warrants it, I do pull out the “Lashing Blade” which essentially is a big direct damage. And when there is a big fight, I use “Lurker Assault” which does extra damage and lets me use stealth more or I swap in “Bloodbath” where I flash around slashing targets. It’s fast-paced, you get to use some tactics and strategies for certain targets.

The one thing I don’t really understand is why is this an MMO? I mean, I do see people running around and I know I’m not the only one playing. I’m just unsure why this was made into an MMO instead of more of a lobby-type game. I like the skirmishes and PvP so far, but again, easily done in a lobby mode. And I’d like to group up with some friends, but again, could of been done in a lobby. I’ve yet to see why this is instead a persistent world. Then again, I guess I could say the same about a lot of MMOs as of late. They feel more like massively single-player games (yes, I do realize the irony in me saying that).

Overall, I think this is just a fun little action RPG. I could see me playing this with my daughter or a few friends. Not something I’d go all hardcore MMO into, but I can see myself playing it when I have a little downtime. I will probable end up spending a little cash just to see if it makes a difference but, so far in that aspect, it feels a lot like GW2 were I never felt like I had to spend real money (which is an issue with some F2P where you pretty much need to).

I’ll probably post a few more videos and maybe another update when I’m deeper into the game. But if you have the free time and looking to dabble into something new, I recommend checking it out (but I’d play before buying any of the packs):

http://nw.perfectworld.com/download

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