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An Unbiased Neverwinter Online Review

Characters fighting

Fierce fight between players in Neverwinter

Originally released in June 2013, Neverwinter was a long time in the making. Although it comes from the same publisher, it is not meant to succeed the Neverwinter Nights games series. Rather, the game is more influenced by the stories of RA Salvatore, along with other authors of the Forgotten Realms. With the game’s high fantasy setting, there is a fair amount of violence, alcohol and blood.

Cryptic and PerfectWorld have advertized Never Winter online as a MMORPG that is full of action. Clearly, fighting is the game’s main focus. The fights are reactive, dynamic and energetic.

Like Guild Wars Two, the fights do not depend on skill spamming, but rather on active engagement. Blows from the enemy have to be actively evaded, blocked or dodged, and correct positioning is vital. To score the most blows, the character has to face his enemy, and will require lots of space to move to avoid taking any punishment.

This effect is further enhanced with the small scale skills bar. Throughout the process of leveling, characters can learn many fighting skills. However, they only have instant access to seven at any one time. The skills can be changed around and substituted for other skills of the same kind, and the character has to spend his skill points on improving the skills he wants to use.

Consequently, any two characters in the same class may play entirely differently, and accomplish different effects using a different range of slotted skills. Thus, players can approach the game however they want.

PvE questing follows a more conventional pattern. Players go to quest hubs, complete tasks in the wilderness, then go back to the task givers to claim their reward. The storyline is standard Dungeons and Dragons material — a sorcerer called Valindra threatens to unleash hordes of the undead on Neverwinter city. Nonetheless, the actual storytelling and questing is rather lackluster.

Needless to say, this is a game of action, so combat (rather than talking) is definitely the focus. This is somewhat of a shame, because each of the primary quests are completely voice acted. One Neverwinter online review reports that most players just click through and ignore the story.

Notwithstanding, the above observations only apply to the main story — or the parts built by the developers. It is a completely different proposition, once you begin getting into the Foundry’s user created content. Foundry missions range from hardcore role playing, to slash and hack dungeon crawls, to dialogue only novellas.

The Foundry does have its’ disadvantages though — there are no spellcheckers or quality control standards, and the tool set is rather limited in scope. However, as one Neverwinter MMO review pointed out, the fact that players can generate the type of adventures they wish to play, compensates for these shortcomings.

In terms of graphics, Neverwinter is an attractive city, and the Cryptic designers have done a good job of bringing that attractiveness to life. The character models are rather basic. However, one Neverwinter PC review notes that the characters’ armor is appealing.

gamingjobsonline160x300Reportedly, even at the lower levels, the armor is elegant and glistening, and suits the cartoon like characters quite well. The attack effects and monster and character animations are fun and flashy. Overall, it is fair to say that the designs look nice, and the endgame gear is very impressive.

The game soundtrack is understated, but atmospheric. It does not detract from the dialogue or action by being too raucous or brash, but it certainly sets the ambiance for an area. All the primary story line’s NPC quest givers are fully voiced. Bits of the vocal acting are rather weak — however generally, it is acceptable. Several of the vocal actors are entertaining.

With regards to the multiplayer options, Neverwinter MMO keeps with the proven approach of solo leveling, alongside instanced group content. However, as some Neverwinter online classes have shown, the main difference is a rather reduced dependence on the conventional MMO combination of Tank, Heals and DPS. This does not mean that the traditional kind of group balance is redundant in Neverwinter.

However, the standard play styles linked with these roles do not really work here.

For instance, in spite of their heavy shields and armor, Tanks are supposed to circumvent damage, rather than absorb it. Obviously, group skirmishes and dungeons work better with a well balanced group. Nonetheless, at low levels, players have to complete group content in really strange, unbalanced groups.

Instanced PvP combat zones are used in Neverwinter. Presently, there are just “Domination” maps, holding and taking control points. New PvP maps are made available to level sixty characters by Gauntlgrym. Neverwinter is totally free to play, with no applicable subscription fees to speak of. All in all, the game is engaging and enjoyable, and well worth spending some time on.

Blue dragon

Impressive and intimidating dragon in Neverwinter.

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