Dungeons and Dragons Neverwinter review
SG Gaming Info takes a look at Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment’s (PWE) brand new free to play action combat based MMO, Dungeons and Dragons Neverwinter.
Right after this game was announced Cryptic and PWE already had a big challenge and it wasn’t just down to the fact it was a game based off Dungeons and Dragons. No, it was because Neverwinter is based in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, a setting which has being turned into video games by Bioware and Obsidian Entertainment with the “Neverwinter Nights” series. As you can imagine both games in the series were highly praised, and as such it has left a rather tall mountain for the Neverwinter MMO to climb. So, Cryptic attempted to climb this mountain and low and behold they made an incredibly fun free to play MMO, which I could only put down to write this review.
It is very difficult to find anything wrong with the MMO. The combat feels incredibly easy at low levels, but as you get to mid-high level the difficulty does begin to rise. The story is interesting, with each zone getting their own little story. If I was to find anything wrong with the game I would have to look at the real money trading and professions.
In character creation you have a good number of choices; you can be one of eight races, with a ninth coming soon according to the character creation screen. However one of the races the Drow is currently only available to those who bought the game’s founders pack. There are five classes in the game: trickster rogue, great weapon fighter, guardian fighter, devoted cleric and control wizard. From here the character creation is pretty standard with your sliders etc. although there is an “ability score” system which allows you to roll dice to set your characters starting stats.
The MMOs story revolves primarily around the Lich queen Valindra who at star of the game is retreating after her attack on the City of Neverwinter turns in favour of the soldiers of Neverwinter. Although Valindra is the primary enemy, each zone has their own enemy. This ranges from pirates to werewolves. Honestly I’m not one for story in MMOs, but the stories you get from each zone are interesting, especially the low level zones.
The area you will visit most in-game is the “Protective Enclave” a safe area inside the city of Neverwinter. This area is the game’s hub, it has everything you need: banks, shops, auction house etc. The best thing about the hub is how it gets you to new zones. You just simply find a gate click on it, and click on where you want to go and after a brief loading sequence you are there. It might not seem like much, but after several years of WoW where you had to travel by Gryphon, fast travel like this between zones is a big plus for me.
As I said earlier the combat in Neverwinter isn’t overly difficult. Combat in Neverwinter is action focused which means you have to actively move, attack etc. I enjoy MMOs which use an action based approach because honestly I’m getting tired of the point and click combat system. While I enjoy action based approach, I haven’t run across a game that did it well, that didn’t clutter my screen with stuff I didn’t need, that was true until I ran into Neverwinter. Neverwinter’s combat is rather minimalistic with you only able to use 7 abilities at any one time. This restriction means that you aren’t overburdened with too many abilities. As you level up, you will gain more than seven abilities. This leaves you with a question. What abilities best suit this situation? As you level this question will be more easily answered as you choose your feats (otherwise known as talents).
To help you in combat, each character can summon a companion to help you in battle. The companions are a welcome addition especially at higher levels as they can provide extra damage or keep you alive with heals. The best example I had of a companion saving my life was when I ran through about 10 or so enemies which were 2 levels higher than me on my mount. When I was knocked off my mount I found myself having to fight them off. In this situation I would have normally died, but luckily I had a healing companion which helped keep me alive long enough to beat all 10 enemies. You can collect a large number of companions. At level 16 you get your first companion for free, but if you want to get more, be prepared to pay a high price or be incredibly lucky.
For combat lovers there is a great deal to do. Each zone has two instances which require a five man team. A 5-man skirmish which are usually rather short and a 5-man dungeon which are a lot longer than the skirmish. For those who like to solo there are solo instances, but these can only be accessed when you have a quest for them.
Speaking of paying a high price, let’s talk about the real money trading. I’m really in two minds about it. On first impression I hated the cash shop with all the companions, mounts, boosters and bags on sale. Some items available are rather expensive such as “Honey Badger” a purple level companion which costs 3,500 Zen (Zen in the name for the real money currency). 3,500 Zen in Euro is just over €28. Other items are expensive enough with the largest bag costing 1,000 Zen, the most expensive mount costing 3,500 Zen and service items costing between 100-600 Zen. While the store is expensive, you don’t need to spend real money to get the items. If you collect enough Astral Diamonds you can trade them for Zen, but if you are hoping to use Astral Diamonds to buy a 3,500 Zen mount or companion. However, I hope you have a lot of patience because you will need over 1.2 million Astral Diamonds to reach 3,500 Zen. Astral Diamonds are relatively easy to get, you can gain some by doing the leadership profession, praying to your god and doing daily quests.
If you just save up Astral Diamonds (AD) to trade for Zen you are going to have a bad time because Astral Diamonds are needed for equipping your gear with enchant items. The costs of putting an enchant item on a companion can range from 1,000 – 80,000+ AD, while putting an enchant item on your own characters gear can range from 1,000 – 30,000+ AD. The price is determined by the rank of the enchant item you are attaching.
There are six professions in Neverwinter: Leatherworking, leadership, alchemy, mailsmithing, platesmithing and tailoring. Each player can use all six professions. Professions in Neverwinter are rather interesting. To train your skill you need workers and materials. As you level you can hire new workers which can help you perform your profession’s task quicker. While collecting materials and using them to create an item is your standard crafting method, Neverwinter adds time into the mix. It can take between 10 minutes to 18 hours to complete any given task. When I first saw this I was instantly reminded of EVE Online’s skill system where you login pick what skills you wish to train and log off as you wait for them to finish. Honestly I’m not a fan of it, maybe I’m just incredibly inpatient, but when I realize I have to wait 7 hours to craft 8 pieces of tough leather to make some items which only take about 40 minutes I get a bit annoyed. With that said if you are inpatient like me you can spend Astral Diamonds to bypass the waiting and complete the task straight away. Some tasks require rare assets which means you have to perform a lot of skill checks. “Skill check” is where you search various kits lying around the world for assets. Once again if you are inpatient you can buy the assets with real money via the Zen market. Professions booster packs cost you 300 Zen and if you want to get more assets to help do more tasks at once you can pay 1,600 Zen for a Professions Asset Pack.
What else does game have to offer? Well if you are a fan of user-generated content, the game has the “Foundry”. This allows you to create your own quests and share them with the community. I gave the creation tool a go and I found it a bit difficult, but with a small bit of practice it should get easier to use.
Neverwinter is good game, but there are some issues which I can’t ignore. The first are the cloaks you can equip, I don’t why this happens, but every time I jump on my mount and move the cloak seems to go crazy and go through my body, you can see a screenshots of it below. I also noticed minor issues which include slow loading time (although that could be my computer) and objects phasing through walls.
For people wondering about the endgame content, I don’t have much to say since I only managed to get to level 44, but I asked some guild mates who are level 60 and asked their opinion on the end game content. Their response was, the level 60 content is though and requires a lot of thinking. From the sounds of things if you enjoy endgame content which requires a lot of effort and thinking, than Neverwinter is the game for you.
Even though Dungeons and Dragons Neverwinter has only just being released, Cryptic already has some big updates planned for the future. This includes Fury of the Feywild which will offer 2 new professions, a new elf race and more. Fury of the Feywild will be released this summer.
Dungeons and Dragons Neverwinter is a great free to play MMO which wants you to keep playing with its fun action combat system and D&D lore. The game does have a few issues, but the positives out way the negatives.
Dungeons and Dragons Neverwinter Information
Developer: Cryptic Studios
Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
Release date: out now
Website: Official Neverwinter website