Can Neverwinter Save Me From Gamer Shame

Chances are that if you were to play Overwatch with me, you’d hate me. You’d think I had never played a first person shooter before. But I am not a n00b. I am a gamer in my 30s who has been tooling around in the gaming space for 25+ years, which means I was breaking bricks and collecting coins before a huge portion of the gaming community was even born. But I suck. I used to play Super Mario Bros on Nintendo after coming home from kindergarten. That turned into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles after 4th grade, Twisted Metal in 6th, and so on to the present day. However, in the first 20 years of my gaming life I never once ventured into the PC gaming space. I heard rumors of “open worlds” and “raids”, but never knew what they really were. Levels? I lost friends to WoW, Diablo, and Everquest while I was still playing outside like a regular plebe. I stuck to consoles til my mid 20s, and when I finally attempted to go for it on a PC. I quickly found myself getting smeared across the virtual pavement in {insert popular game}. I still do. It didn’t take long to realize that I had traded a controller for a keyboard and mouse way too late, and playing catch up was feeling damn close to impossible.

My first real jump from console to PC began only 5 or 6 years ago, and at 31 I’ve never had the reflexive instincts of my peers who have been l33t since the original release of Everquest in 1999, which of course puts me at a disadvantage when it’s LAN party time. There is an audible groan in the room if you get stuck with me in Team Fortress 2, DOOM, or whatever else. This inexperience and lack of instinctual knowledge has carried over to become a source of insecurity for me when gaming online despite the fact I cut my teeth slaying all opponents in shotty-snipe matches in the original incarnation of Halo. Yet since I didn’t make the jump at the right time, I either find myself left behind by my teammates or forever running head first into certain death before respawning just to meet my doom again seconds later. One may ask, how is it that I still enjoy something so frustrating when I am seemingly destined for absolute mediocrity in online gaming? Because I am a gamer, that’s why.

I once got my ass kicked for a whole summer by the Foot Clan in the 4th stage of the original Ninja Turtles for Nintendo before you could save a game. Imagine that you babies! Having to start from the beginning of a game every Single TIME you turned it on. In fact, my older sisters would turn off Mario in level 8 because they wanted the TV, and guess what? NO AUTO SAVE! I’ll be damned if some 14-year old with a fast left click is gonna get me down just because I don’t know when to properly use Reinhardt’s ult.

That said, I’ve had a really hard time playing online recently. Maybe it’s because I’m too busy frolicking in the fields or climbing the sheer rock cliffs of Hyrule in Zelda: Breath of the Wild; or maybe it’s that nagging sense of anxiety and dread that lingers over me as I key in my password to any game, knowing that I’m out of practice and not that good anyway. Spoiler alert: it’s both.

However, for me, there has been one game that doesn’t fill me with dread and panic attacks, Neverwinter. Honestly, I had little to no interest in this game before I played it. A few years back, we here at LoreHound interviewed the Neverwinter team at PAX East, at which time I had never touched the title. Full honesty, so no judgement, when I saw the DnD logo I dismissed it entirely. A few months later I had been talked into giving it a try. I created a half-orc ranger class character and was dropped into the bustling castle town of Protector’s Enclave. I was sucked in almost immediately.

As a casual fan of fantasy books like Lord of the Rings, and someone who would tell you that Skyrim is my happy place, Neverwinter offered a wide world of options and quests for me to embark on and explore. Admittedly, I don’t login as much as I’d like to since parenting can be tough when wearing a headset, but when I do get the chance to stay up late and get some gaming in, Neverwinter is my go to. It’s a game that reacts to how you play it, and I like that. If I want to go questing or get into some deep story-driven missions, the option is there. If I want to stay close to ‘home’ and run mundane errands for others to level up quick, I can do that. Or if I want to get out into the world and fight the good fight against hordes of undead baddies, done. I figured that because of the connection to Dungeons and Dragons, Neverwinter would be a game beyond my skill set – dice rolls? – or that I’d get lost in a story I was wholly unfamiliar with. Neither turned out to be the case. Though I game only casually from time to time these days, I find slipping back into Neverwinter to be a fairly easy thing. Once I get my bearings on where I’m at in the story, everything else falls into place.

We’ll be back in the world of Neverwinter for Instance Gratification this Saturday, June 24. We’ll be doing giveaways live on and would even be happy if you jumped on the crew. Other giveaways are super sekrate, but not really.