It seems that it was very sunny last Saturday, at least in the part of the world that my physical manifestation calls home. Honestly, I didn’t notice it that much. To my great surprise, Cryptic’s newest title Neverwinter was able to captivate me for most of my free Saturday, to a point where my girl had to text one of my housemates to check if I was still alive, since I hadn’t replied to any of her messages. Yeah, Neverwinter is that distracting!
Being distracting is one thing, but is it also good? Well, you’re about to find out in this short review!
In the beginning…
Like every other Cryptic title, Neverwinter is also Free-To-Play. You can download the client from their website, and if you already have a Perfect World account, you can drop right into the game without any hassle. Like in every fantasy MMO, you have to create a character by picking a race, class and some background features that won’t impact your alter ego on a mechanical level (like his place of origin or deity). As I mentioned in my previous post about this game, the character creator offers quite some visual customization. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like Champions Online, but it’s more than, say, World of Warcraft. Though most races look really neat (with the Tieflings being the best looking. Horns and tails for the win!), races like the Halfling and Dwarf look just a bit…weird. While Dwarves compensate their just too broad shoulders with cool beards, Halflings look like misformed, short humans. Not that I mind, I wouldn’t roll a midget anyway.
When it comes to classes, you can be a Devoted Cleric, Trickster Rogue, Control Wizard, Great Weapon Fighter or Guardian Fighter. I really don’t like the naming convention, though I know it’s based on builds of classes from D&D’s fourth edition. Why can’t I just play a Fighter, and give me the option to be a Guardian or Great Weapon Fighter? What makes this even more annoying is that many items are restricted to one class, which makes your cool Guardian Fighter look rather stupid if he’s unable to use a sword that his Great Weapon Fighter colleague can use. I’ll deduct points here, Cryptic.
Powers by any other name
Anyway, once you’re past the character creation and through the short tutorial, you are welcomed in the city of Neverwinter, the setting for this game. For an F2P title, the visuals are really impressive. Textures are great, and the special effects of class abilities are great too. Talking about class abilities, the game sticks to the terminology from the tabletop RPG it’s based on. On your left and right mouse button you’ll find your at-will powers (no cooldown), the buttons Q, E and R are reserved for your encounter powers (short cooldown), and buttons 1 and 2 give room to your daily powers (marvelous powers that can only be used when your Action Point bar is filled). The use of this terminology is again stupid, though I understand again why they use it. Still, it doesn’t invoke anything, and feels more confusing than cool. If it’s called a daily power, why can I use it more than once a day? Why not just call it “Action Point Powers” or something like that? Again, I’ll deduct points for using stupid descriptions.
Look at what I made!
Alright, I’m really nitpicking now, so let me focus on two things I did enjoy so far: the general gameplay and the Foundry. First of all, the game plays really smooth. Combat is fun, with lots of movement and cool-looking enemies. While all quests seem to be the standard “kill ten rats” and “fetch twenty bear dung” type, they are not too long and keep the rewards coming. It’s acceptable and enjoyable MMO gameplay. What is more than that, though, is the Foundry, Neverwinter’s toolkit to create your own quests and campaigns. I have played a few of these user-generated adventures now, and I have to admit that some of them are better than most Cryptic-made quests. If you want to level with some cool quests, play Foundry content like “A Hidden Blade” and “I Am Slayer”. You will not be disappointed.
So, to sum it all up, Neverwinter is a good-looking, simple fantasy MMO with weird names for its classes but a great tool to make your own content. For the mere cost of zero bucks, you can give it a try. So far, I didn’t have to make use of the cash shop (which has, in my opinion, absurd prices), so your adventures in Neverwinter won’t be hindered by the lack of money in your pocket.
What’s your opinion of this game so far? Any stories you want to share related to your trials in Neverwinter? Feel free to leave them here in a comment!