Wednesday, May 8, 2013

First Impressions: Neverwinter

Just to be clear, I'm not talking about the older Neverwinter Nights games; I'm talking about the new Neverwinter MMO. Also, I've only barely started playing. I have one character at level 11, and that's it, which means there's a lot of the game I haven't seen yet.

But I'm liking what I'm seeing so far. The combat system is more dynamic than most MMO's I've played; constant repositioning is necessary in order to avoid area effect attacks, to take advantage of flanking bonuses, and to get clear of melee opponents so that you can take out the ranged opponents who are slowly killing you. Also, the look-to-aim system and the pace of combat is exhilarating; it's a thrill to race my cleric into the fray, blasting folks with holy light left and right, occasionally calling down a satisfying blast of divine wrath from the heavens.

The powers are loosely derived from the 4th edition D&D rules, and will be familiar to 4th edition players (Lance of Faith, Healing Word, etc.). As might be expected, the at-will/encounter/daily power frequencies have been replaced by more real-time frequencies, where you can get an encounter power off around once every 10 seconds, and a daily power off whenever you accumulate enough power points (for big fights, you might accumulate enough power points to use a daily power more than once in the same fight). This is a pleasant nod to players of the tabletop game. During one particular skirmish, a menacing-looking enemy came onto the screen, and I found myself trying to guess whether I should burn my daily power on it or hold the daily back until later in the scenario -- just like in the tabletop game.

The Foundry system that allows players to build their own quests is something I'm really looking forward to trying. I ran through one Foundry quest, and found a number of promising features, including dialogue trees, sub-quests, and even scripted events. Only players who have a character at level 15 can build quests in the Foundry, though, so I'll have to wait a little longer for that privilege.

The game is microtransaction-supported, with the typical options to spend real money to buy mounts and special clothing and such. So far, though, it looks like you get get quite a lot of play without spending a penny.

Once I get into the professions system and the Foundry, and once I've had a chance to participate in a few more multi-player parties, I may have more to say, but at this early stage, I think the game is well worth a look.