Annnnnd…. Part 3! Let’s see if I can finish up my thoughts concisely, so I don’t keep you all waiting even more. I’m not sure I’ll count on that though, as circumstances beyond my control have left me averaging 4 hours of sleep a night for the past week so I am running very low on rational thought. At least I’ve been filling the time I’ve had to be awake the past few days with Neverwinter though, so it’s been fun and I get to inform everyone all about it!
So hit the jump, and let’s see if I can finish up!
I can’t possibly leave off a preview without touching on the community. It’s just so important to an MMORPG. Even if you’re someone who likes to wander on their own and solo, you’re still stuck interacting/dealing with the other people around you. Community is absolutely vital to a successful MMO, and I continue to be amazed that dev teams don’t put more effort into building and creating a positive social experience for players, particularly new players.
But wait! I’ve been playing this for a short period of time, with other press people, what could I possibly know about the community? Alright, I’ll admit – not much. The people I’ve interacted with in game have all been very friendly, but it’s been a very small, limited group. What I’m going to focus on here are the tools the game provides.
Grouping in Neverwinter is fantastically easy.
When iTZKooPA and I started playing this, we were grouped up and running through a dungeon together in minutes (once we were on the same server, heehee). A part of that was that we knew we wanted to group up and were looking for each other, but a big part of that is the game’s design as well. The intro tutorial is fast, and gets you into the real game quickly. I actually never felt like I had to go through the “killing rats” period that is common to most MMOs. I was up and running through what felt like real dungeons, for all that they were designed for level 4 characters, almost immediately. Great stuff.
But what about grouping with people you don’t know? Again, that’s fantastically easy. Every time you log in, the home panel opens up, displaying the popular Foundry missions, the current events that are running, the upcoming events, and the dungeon for you level range. You can queue up immediately just by clicking. If you’re just wanting to quest, open up the social panel, and it lists out all the players around you, displaying the quest they are working on. I’m oldschool and view random group invites as completely rude, but you can invite someone from there, or send them a whisper (which I recommend doing – I always refuse random group invites from people who haven’t tried to talk to me first).
If you want to roleplay, there has been a lot of thought put into it. This is probably one of the most roleplay friendly MMOs I’ve ever seen. LoTRO beats it out in that regard due to things like playable music and social consumables, but it’s still a solid RP friendly game. Many NPCs provide information through conversation, there are spaces all over the game that look to me like perfect places to hang out and be social, and they’ve even put in roleplay friendly ways to access the foundry via barmaids, Harper agents and job boards. I mentioned previously in the character generation section that there is an entire chunk of character generation devoted entirely to setting up a character for roleplay – so in that regard, it does beat out LoTRO. And in fact, when I first logged in there was a guy running around inspecting people, and being sad that no one had taken the time to create a biography.
Sorry, roleplay guy! I wanted to get into the game as quickly as possible since we had a limited window! But don’t worry, I’ll put more time into it at launch!
But There Must Be Something…
Ok, so what don’t I like about Neverwinter? There must be something, right? There are actually a couple of somethings. I am actually trying to close this preview out, so I’m going to throw them together into their own section.
The first thing that disappoints me is the class selection. Currently there are 3 classes; rogue, cleric and fighter. Come launch there will be 4 with the wizard – but it’s awful late in the beta process (it seems to me, anyway) for an entire class to still be missing. But even with it, that’s still … pathetic. Especially when this is a D&D game. Where’s the bard, ranger, druid, barbarian, paladin, monk…? Where’s multiclassing? What’s D&D without multiclassing? They’re working on it, and we’ll be getting more post launch, but for right now, the class choice is very disappointing.
Point of contention number two is travel. So far as I’ve been able to tell, the zones are level locked. You travel via the map. Go to a gate, click on it, a map opens up, and you select the zones you want from there. But thus far, the zones stay locked until I reach the level of the monsters inside the zone. This makes me a very sad panda. I will say that there is – thus far at least – quite a lot to do to keep you busy so it’s not that big an issue. But unless I am missing something – and admittedly I’ve been having so much fun I haven’t taken the time to look more carefully – explorers will have to content themselves with exploring level appropriate or lower zones. It’s not as bad as it could be – really they put a lot of focus into providing lots of hidey holes and things to discover, much more than any other game, but it’s still disappointing.
I wish I could come up with something else to complain about. I love it when I can review a game well, but I always feel like I am viewing the game through some sort of unrealistic, unsustainable rosy haze when I can’t say much other than glowing praise. But I really am enjoying this game that much.
In conclusion… should you play? Oh, absolutely. It’s free. All content is available for free, so there is no reason at all not to check it out. I would normally throw out a bunch of “if you like this, it’s worth a try, if you like that, you may want to pass” type things. But it’s an excellent game! And it’s free – so you can give it a try once it launches with no financial burden or effort. If you don’t like it, just uninstall it and come back here to flame me for praising a lame game. :)
If anything I’ve said in any of these previews sounds good to you, you might even consider purchasing one of the Founder’s Packs. Neverwinter is a very solid, very enjoyable game, with a lot to offer to a wide variety of player types. Roleplayers will find a haven here, it’s good for casual and more intense play, creators will have the Foundry to play with – which means a steady stream of new content for everyone. But even if you don’t want to purchase before you’ve played – it’s well worth playing once it’s available!
I so rarely feel comfortable unequivocally recommending a game, but in this case I think it’s done just that well, and there is absolutely nothing to lose by giving it a try.
Once the game goes live I will be starting up an article series, which I am very much looking forward to doing! If anyone does try it, I’d love to know what you think!