While I didn’t have access to play in Neverwinter’s recent beta weekend, all of the press the new Cryptic Studio’s MMORPG been receiving has finally pushed me to read up on the game. Though Crypic’s titles have never held my attention for more than a month at a time and promises of free to play inspire even more hesitation, Neverwinter looks like a game worth following.
Neverwinter is a more action-heavy MMORPG set in the Forgotten Realms setting of popular tabletop game Dungeons & Dragons. You may remember Forgotten Realms as the setting for the previous Neverwinter Nights games, the Baldur’s Gate series, and the Icewind Dale series. As is typical for the license and really the genre at large, players make a character by picking a race and class. However, the gameplay is where this title diverges from most of its D&D licensed predecessors. Each class has access to a limited but varied set of special abilities, two of which are bound to the left and right mouse buttons, and another (called a Daily Power) which works as a very powerful cooldown.
The game’s most recent class reveal, the Devoted Cleric, is the trailer that really made me the most curious:
The visuals are nothing amazing, but they are clean, well-animated, and feature nice effects and backgrounds. More importantly, the Devoted Cleric looks like a fun blend of support with some need for damaging enemies as well. Assuming the group encounters will have more depth than MMOs not named World of Warcraft, it should be fun. The limitation on the amount of abilities you have access to may be problematic, but unlike similar approaches in Guild Wars 2, the clear and specific roles of each group member should help keep player’s focused.
The real potential for innovation with Neverwinter does not come from its gameplay. Instead, I am more curious to see how their Foundry system plays out at the game’s release. Foundry is a way for players to create their own content (such as quests, zones, and dungeons) for other players. It’s through the Foundry that Neverwinter will be most recognizable by fans of Bioware’s Neverwinter Nights, which featured a powerful editing tool. I am interested to see how they blend Foundry with typical F2P microtransactions. My worry is that it is either too open and deep for anyone but the most dedicated to take advantage or too shallow and simple unless you pay a lot extra to unlock things to add to your creations.
Still, it’s good to see more games focus on allowing players the tools to create content. Even at its simplest in games like Everquest II, creating dungeons is a fun hobby to take up, especially when it allows you to challenge friends and strangers to unique content. If the rest of Neverwinter can combine fun, accessbility, and varied encounter design/design possibilities, then we may have a free-to-play MMO worth keeping installed.
I am certainly more excited now for Neverwinter than I was a few months ago!
For a more detailed hands-on with actual beta experience, Rock Paper Shotgun has a post up right now for your perusal!