Neverwinter officially entered public “open beta” yesterday. It might as well be called launch because everyone can get in, and characters won’t be deleted. I jumped in and began my foray into the Sword Coast as a Half-Elf Devoted Cleric.
I’m disappointed by the gameplay. Everything feels like it boils down to mass mob slaying. Everywhere I go there are clusters of 3-5 mobs a level above me that I just nuke down in seconds. AoE’ing packs of mobs and doing nothing but slaughtering bandits, rats people, skeletons, etc., eventually (read: quickly) gets old.
So far leveling has been a quest grind. Kill 12 mobs, sample the sludge, go burn some crates, go to this sewer and slaughter your way through it mindlessly until you get to the end then come back for some experience and silver. Killing the mobs is fun at times; I like the aiming mechanic, although I hate my cleric’s spear spam ability. Playing one of the 2-handed warrior guys was a lot of fun swinging my axe around. There’s no auto attacking, and everything is ability/click activated. Combat feels solid. really connected, and smooth. If you can find a class you like I can’t imagine there being many reasons to dislike combat.
The world is really truncated/disconnected because of the instancing. That’s not to say it visually looks bad, or that it doesn’t have a nice atmosphere. All of the zones I’ve been in are really pretty, and the art style is pleasant. I don’t like being in City 1 or 46, or clicking on a door and teleporting to a location that I wish I could walk to and see a world.
Battlegrounds are average. I’m not a fan of them in any game, but I think WoW does a better job creating a ‘battleground-like’ experience. Neverwinter isn’t a game you play for PvP.
The cash shop is… well, a cash shop. There are mounts, bags, potions, clothes, companions, progression items, and the typical F2P offerings. I don’t have an opinion of the cash shop other than my own personal belief that with a cash shop no game can ever exceed the limitations imposed upon it by having one.
One feature that I really, really like is the player-made content. In a game like this, being able to run quests made by other players is a nice touch. I ran a few quests earlier which had like 10,000+ reviews. Players can rate the content and even leave a comment. I think this makes perfect sense for a content-grind game. The content integrates nicely with Neverwinter, and coming in at 20-30 minutes each (the ones I did) they were a really nice change from the 1-5 minute quests I grind from NPCs.
I can see some fun clearing dungeons with friends, and as I said before the combat is fun, but it feels more like an Action-RPG or a game that shouldn’t be called a MMO. Suddenly when I think about Neverwinter as a game that isn’t a MMO, I can forgive the disconnected world. After all, Neverwinter Nights is the same way. Action-RPG’s are all about slaughtering massive waves of mobs. But it’s not being marketed as an Action-RPG, and there is an extremely tedious and generic quest grind.
Neverwinter isn’t a horrible game, but I can’t see it being more than a short-term, generic jump-in for free and kill some time game.