Neverwinter: First Impressions

If any of you ever check out my stream, you’ll know I’ve been playing a lot of Neverwinter lately.  On April 30th, Neverwinter’s open beta started, and it soon became Twitch.tv’s new “flavor of the month” for popular streamers.  So, not wanting to miss out on the bandwagon, I downloaded the game.  What do I think of it?  Read on!

Introduction

First thing is first, downloading the game.  The game’s client downloader has been overloaded the past week, and it will take forever to download the game if you use it.  However, there is a super quick work around most people are using.  First, click this and follow the instructions.  Create a “Neverwinter” file in your program files, and download that executable file to it.  Once downloaded, run the file and the Neverwinter client will launch.  The client will then download 4gb or so of patching files.  Afterwards, you are ready to play!

Although the process of downloading the game was a bit strenuous and annoying, the “beta/release hiccups” stop there, seriously.  I guess I have become accustomed to horrible launches lately (ie. Simcity, Diablo 3, SWTOR, etc.), and Neverwinter was a breath of fresh air.  Everything is running extremely smooth and polished, especially as a game in beta.  There was a small server downtime a day after open beta launch, but it was quickly remedied.  Besides that, servers have been up 100%, with no queue times or weird bugs.

Starting the Game

Going into Neverwinter, I had zero expectations.  I literally did not hear about the game until various popular streamers were playing it.  Perhaps this has played a part in my opinion of the game; regardless, I am really loving this game so far.  Anyways, I digress.

When you first start the game you are greeted by a surprisingly well produced opening cinematic.  Like I said, I came in with zero expectations, and assumed this was going to be all low-budget type of stuff.  However, the cinematic was up to par with many World of Warcraft ones.  The cinematic will also give you a general idea of what the storyline is going to be about (as most of the players will probably not have read all 3 Neverwinter Novels) and a quick look at the playstyle of all the classes.

Next, you are ready to start character creation.  Everything is pretty customizable and interesting, but I have one complaint with the system.  As a person who has never played Dungeons and Dragons, I had zero idea what the different stats or lingo meant.  So, I googled it and found some very general statements proclaiming the best race for a Healing Cleric (the class I’m playing).  However, there was no definitive source and many people were saying different things.  So, I went with Human for the extra Feat points and decided that my base starting stats would not be that important in the scheme of things (especially at end game).

However, after delving deeper into these starting stats, they are actually incredibly important, even at the end game.  This is the one major flaw I’ve found with the game.  There is not a clear explanation of stats during character creation, and a wrong race choice can significantly “gimp” your character forever.  Our friend Kripparian put out a video yesterday explaining the dilemma:

Gameplay & Leveling

The first thing that will stand out to a seasoned MMO player is the lack of a cursor.  Yes, you read that correctly.  There is no cursor in the game, instead moving the mouse around moves the camera (think of it like you always have your right mouse button pressed).  This was strange at first, and I did not know what to think about it.  Clearly, it presents some issues for a healer.  There are no raid frames, and even if there were, you could not mouse over them or click on them.  However, this “locked in” style does make you feel more immersed in the combat.  The overall gameplay feels more akin to an ARPG like Diablo or Path of Exile than a traditional MMO like WoW or Rift.  Although I love WoW (clearly, as I write for a WoW website!), Neverwinter’s combat system feels really really fun, innovative, and fresh.  I have become so accustomed to staring at raid frames as a healer, that dashing through the battlefield casting heals on people around me is a welcomed change.

Also, the leveling experience is very fun.  I would relate the questing to that of SWTOR.  I hate questing in WoW, it is incredibly boring.  However, games like SWTOR and Neverwinter keep the questing interesting with fully voiced over quest NPCs and an engaging storyline.  In addition, Neverwinter brings bosses out from their dungeons, and into questing.  My favorite part of WoW is raiding, and killing bosses.  Perhaps the most boring part about questing in WoW is that you are constantly killing a certain number of weak and boring creatures.  In Neverwinter, you are constantly fighting big, raid style bosses in the questing.  Sure, you are playing it solo so the difficulty is not the same as Heroic Raiding, but it is still very fun.  Every 15-20 minutes of questing, you will fight a stronger foe who has a few mechanics that you need to deal with.  This might be the trick to keeping questing fresh and rewarding!

Conclusion

I could go on about Neverwinter for pages more; however, since I have more important WoW healing articles to write, I’ll wrap it up here.  Neverwinter is an amazing free to play MMO that will surprise you with it’s fresh take on MMO combat and questing along with it’s high production quality.  There is really nothing to lose but time in this new title, so go check it out now!

PS:  If you want to play with us, we are all on the Dragon-US server!  See you all in game!

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