Neverwinter Impressions

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.

Neverwinter Sword Coast
The world is traversed by clicking on a new location and instantly traveling there.

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.

Neverwinter MMO
Player-made content, group content, and events make Neverwinter a content-rich experience.

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.

Neverwinter Keen
AoEing mobs on my Cleric.

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.

  • Well thanks for the heads up.. Grind, boring quests and instancing?
    Yeah pass.

    Got Injustice today for the PS3. Only played it a bit thus far.
    It plays faster then the vids I seen online.

  • The further you get in Neverwinter, the better it is. The difficulty in some of the later areas is extreme.

  • The difficulty was really picking up around level 12’ish for my Cleric, although I still never struggle since I can heal so much.

    It’s very apparent how healing is more passive right now and I have a lot of offensive abilities; perhaps giving everyone the ability to solo was important.

    When you say it gets ‘better’ the further you get, how far are you talking, and in what way does it get better?

  • They advertised it as an MMOARPG, and since the term “MMO” in this day and age means “requires internet connection to play” I think it lives up to expectations.

    In all seriousness though, it is based off of DnD, which is a quest-driven game. So I expected grinding quests. I expected being in a small party doing those quests. Overall I am having a good time. I guess it just depends on what you logged in expecting that first time.

  • I agree with your assessment. So far it’s pretty meh. The combat does seem to be getting a bit better as I level so I’ll keep playing. I don’t have high hopes that I’ll be playing for too long however. It just doesn’t really do anything that stands out. A lot will depend on how the player made content turns out.

    PSO2 really needs to get released soon. I want a go-to arpg/lobby game and I have fond memories of pso on the dreamcast.

  • I jumped in and was very quickly feeling bored. It may be burnout with the MMO genre in general, but I felt when I started playing not that I was starting out on some new, exciting, full-of-possibilities world, but that I was stepping into a linear, adequately-written RPG.

    Admittedly I’ve only played an hour or two but I’m not feeling any real sense of character investment. I think there’s a couple reasons for that.
    -First, the random roll thing. I know it just swaps between pre-set point distributions but seriously what. Started me off on the wrong foot entirely.
    -Linearity of experience. I’m aware levels 1-10 in MMOs aren’t generally places where you give the players broad amounts of agency over the character builds, but I still don’t feel like I made any important choices at all.
    -The glowy line. I can’t criticize it as a quality-of-life improvement. If you’re grinding quest after quest it’s amazing. But it really pulls back the veil on it BEING a quest grind.

    I suppose the only reason to play this over WoW would be the combat. Which is, I must admit, really well done. But it feels that the combat is the only thing that would make it worth playing.

  • @Rawblin: I disagree with your statement of D&D being about quests. I think it’s about going on epic adventures, but hardly about questing.

  • I’m having a blast in Neverwinter. The combat feels so much better than anything else I’ve played in years.

    If you don’t like the story quest content, you can spend all your time in the foundry instead.

    Can someone give me an example of quest content that isn’t boring? I mean literally, your character can basically only move and fight. So it is any surprise that quests are based around killing things or moving to places to gather or talk? What other quest objective can you imagine that doesn’t fit into that mold?

  • @Prunetracy: When you break it down that far, nothing breaks the mold. But MMOs can be about more than moving and fighting. Even quests can be about more than walking 30 feet to click a box and get experience. Quests can take days to complete, and adventures can take you deep within dungeons. Gameplay doesn’t even have to be quest based. Heck, even with cookie-cutter quests they don’t have to be this generic.

    I agree that the combat is a lot of fun, though, especially swinging around a huge 2-hander.

    @Michael Whitt: I agree. I didn’t get a D&D vibe either. I think it was a weird hybrid feeling for me to be in the Sword Coast, yet feel like I was playing a WoW quest-grind game, all the while having this different kind of action combat.

  • @prunetracy I don’t know if you have played wow in vanilla or at least early tbc, but this is what I will bring as example of quest I like. The Onyxia chain, the Videre’s Elixir chain and even the noggerfoger quest chain. Generaly I like the long quest chains that have great story behind them and send you into an epic adventure around the world. The key maybe is the traveling, the feeling that you go to the corners of the world to unveil secrets and gather important artifacts. Quest hubs that give you 4-5 quests, to move 5 feet to the right, kill some mobs and then complete and go to the next quest hub (Like Tera for example or the new wow quests after revamp) are boring as hell. Lotro is still has some interested quests in vanilla version and Moria but after that it goes the “new way” of “quest hub – lot of 1 minute quests-next hub”

    On Neverwinter now, I did not played the open beta but I ve been in close beta around 2 months ago and I didn’t liked combat at all. It wasn’t “responsive” into my eyes, it felt clunky. Did they fixed that?I guess I have to try but to be honest, even if they fixed the combat part, I am not very interested in the instanced MMOs..I may play a week out of curiocity but thats it.

  • @John: While I agree that the quest instance hubs are boring, I can see why they went that way in many games… because it is more efficient and quicker and MMO’s unfortunately have now been made where the real game doesn’t start until max level… and so they try and make it a chore to get there but still make it as quick as possible. Which has never made sense to me because why not just let people choose to make a max level character with the equivalent of basic quest gear or choose to level if they enjoy that then?

    Sadly I miss the days where MMO’s would create interesting and involved quests even if it meant you leveled slower due to travel times.

  • @Drathmar I don’t think that if they give players the choice to get an instant max level char anyone will go the leveling route. As much as you like leveling, efficiency will always win in an MMO. Is the same argument with fly mounts and instant teleports..while you have the option to go with ground mount or not take the teleport, doesn’t matter because you know others will skip their way and you have to do it too.

    Even in the old quest designs, people still seek for efficient ways and they always find. But that is the fun try and find efficient ways to do something inefficient/difficult. And that sometimes promote grouping and socializing. Because group/friends always make things more efficient.

    What the developers do now is not to offer an efficient way of leveling, but to instantly give people the efficient way without the need of them to try and find it themselves. And that often result to unsocial/solo mmo gameplay

  • I have been dabbling with the game the last few days and have found it runs very smooth on my system and the interface and visuals are well done.. but the I find the depth of the game lacking so far.

    I am only playing as a Guardian so far and like the idea of an active blocking ability that I can use in fluid combat but it does, as mentioned above, seem to become a kill the mobs rinse and repeat grind. That I can deal with though, I play MMOs and that is almost impossible to escape from entirely.

    What I am really having a hard time with is the leveling of my character. The first few levels I simply earned new skills that I had no choice in but now I am at the stage of dropping points into powers and I still feel that the variety is lacking. DDO at least had a semi-deep skill and feat system that felt like it defined my character… Neverwinter is not doing that for me yet.

    I am hoping to get my Guardian up another 10 levels this weekend and hopefully things will become more involved but at this point I do not see me spending hours upon hours in this game.

    Am very interested in the player content in the foundry of course, I think that is the most appealing aspect of the game.

    As for the cash shop and the F2P nature of the game I think there has only been one instance of an NPC mentioning it and that was in the very beginning in the almost tutorial like section of the city. I can deal with that. When every other quest involves a locked item that I have to use a cash shop item to open that is when I check out.

  • @Keen Epic adventures are quests 😛

    Just like any decent fantasy novel, there is an overarching quest driving the story of RPG games, and a bunch of smaller quests/objectives that pop up along the way that the hero must either solve or deal with or whatnot in order to get closer to achieving the main goal, the overarching quest.

    MMORPGs simply incorporated this as “Kill da mobs” and “Deliver this cause I’m a lazy NPC” because those are easy to add, and fast for the player. A truly epic adventure (quest) could take years or months to complete. Obviously gamers don’t want/aren’t expected to want that by devs. So we get the continuous small quests instead. But there is still the overarching storyline driving the character on their journey.

    I expected questing in dungeons in a DnD game. And that is what Neverwinter delivers. Sure it isn’t sandboxy, or even very strict on adhering to DnD dogma, but it works and is fun to play for something I spent absolutely no money on. The combat is fun. You can’t imagine how happy I was when the first ability I had as a cleric was throwing divine javelins into mobs’ faces. Sure I don’t get my trusty shield I’ve always had before in other games, but I throw freaking javelins of LIGHT! Was a pleasant surprise, hehe. PvP is absolutely unbalanced. And that is something ANYONE that even knows a bit about DnD should have expected. Classes designed with PvE in mind absolutely bork up a PvP system.

    Overall, I say install this game if you have the HD space. If you think of it as an ARPG with MMO elements, you should have fun. No cash involved, not really any drawbacks. Don’t like? Simple to uninstall.

  • Right, you can call them quests, but you can’t say its based on D&D which is a “quest driven game” when the implication is that Neverwinter’s generic “kill 10 bandits” are even in the same ballpark as a D&D Campaign.

  • “…with a cash shop no game can ever exceed the limitations imposed upon it by having one.”

    Great stuff Keen, exactly. I just hope the sub game isn’t gone, just reinventing itself. It was good to see Camelot Unchained reach its goal. What’s scary is just how important it is to the genre that they create a fun, playable game. I’m hoping for ’em 🙂

  • Minor observation for myself: F2P causes me to be totally uninterested – not because I am against F2P (I am not) but I guess if I have to go out and invest at least something in a game – I will at least give it a chance and try to enjoy it. There is a committment hurdle that I need to overcome. If it is just “free” – it seems like, who cares…and I dont even bother considering it. Maybe it is just the CU hype fallout…

  • I’m a bit bored with MMO’s after playing WOW for 4 years non-stop. I did all the quests, all the dailies, all the dungeons and raids by now. Neverwinter is nothing new, its a nice snack-game, like Angry Birds friends, which i play everyday when i come home from work, but it doesnt get my full interest 😉 I just play it because i’m bored, tired, don’t wanna think about work anymore. I’m just fed up and i want to smash on my mouse like a madman! 😉 Ok, maybe time to find a new job. Overall, i’m really happy with my life 🙂

  • Been playing it today, got up to like lvl 8 in the story then did some grindy foundry quests just to see how bad the player made content is in exploiting to level faster and found… its not that bad really. Foundry mobs seem to scale with your level, and the mob types can be difficult for lower levels. On a rogue I found from 8-15 took me about 2 hours or so, but the last 2 levels took almost an hour by themselves because of how much it slowed down.

    I think the only great thing about this game is the foundry, the combat is decent, but the skill and feat system is subpar unfortunately. I have looked at the foundry though and it seems people are actually creating D&D like campaigns through it to play with… so there might be some hope there.

  • This game is really growing on me. Combat is amazing – once I started looking at it as diablo-like but with over-the-shoulder camera – it just clicked. This is a total Action RPG combat – fast kills, simple attacks. Animations are smooth and performance is flawless.

    PvP is same-old on the surface but has some interesting mechanics that have not been all that much talked about but have a potential to be game changing experience. Combat Advantage for example, which gives a huge damage buff to 2 players if they surround another makes you dance on the floor like no other game I’ve seen.

    Quests is another ballgame all together. Foundry is just awesome, I can’t believe we have not seen it in AAA titles (at least I haven’t). I just sent 20 min running around in Blood and Sand recreation and it was just beautiful. When I got jumped by Gannicus and Doctore I almost died because I could not stop laughing. Crixus, Ashur… they were all there. Give people tools and they creativity will shine through, after Foundry I don’t know if I will ever be able to go back to dev created content, although those do seem to become more interesting around lvl30 or so.

  • The game is starting to grow on me as well. I’m surprised how good some of these early founder quests are. Healing as a cleric is incredibly fun. Everything is getting better as I level.

    I still doubt I’ll be playing it a few months from now but I can see myself getting a character to 60 and throwing some money at the game because I had fun. Having said that I would have preferred this as a B2P title with a little more unlocked up front.

  • Someone actually remade a adventure that my table top group had ran a few years ago. It was awesome.

  • “once I started looking at it as diablo-like but with over-the-shoulder camera – it just clicked.” -Farquaad

    Ding ding ding! That is it in a nutshell 🙂

  • Doesn’t that seem odd, though? Maybe it’s only odd to me. I don’t buy a coke to find out it’s milk but say “oh if I just think about it as milk then I’m fine.” I wanted a coke. Milk is fine, really, but if I went in wanting a coke and got milk there’s still room for disappointment despite liking both.

  • Yea that would be dissapointing lol. I don’t know how all of you got the idea that it was a generic MMORPG though. Somebody somewhere misled you.

  • I am playing it and loving it. It’s basically what I had hoped GW2 would be.

  • @Keen I remember you where once excited for the Marvel heroes game.

    There was an open beta weekend this weekend. I am not sure if its under NDA, but if not. What is your experience?
    Might be an interesting blogpost.

  • @Zyler: Yep, Graev and I are both excited for Marvel Heroes. We’re waiting on the NDA to drop. If it already dropped, we’ll get some content up around release time.

  • I didn’t pay any money so the only investment I’ve made so far is time. Played about 7 or so hours over the last few days and, while I cannot say this is my favorite game or going to win any GOTY awards, it’s a fun little game.

    For the most part, do not think of this as an MMO. Really not even sure why they decided to change directions and go that way (it was originally scoped out to be a 5 player dungeon crawler) because it really doesn’t feel like a MMO to me. It feels like a lobby game. Something closer to Diablo 3 (multiplayer) or if the original Guild Wars and Neverwinter Nights had a baby.

    Outside of the “MMO-lite” aspect of the game, I have found the starting classes to be a little more limited than I would have expected with the D&D labeling on it. It looks like Paragons don’t come into play until much later so a “Trickster Rogue” is a Trickster Rogue most of the way through. Even the upgrading points don’t seem very deep. I get to fine-tune a little bit but most everything is getting maxed out. That said, I am only at Level 15 so I haven’t even scratched on the elder game.

    Combat is fun but simplistic. I have a few strategies and tactics I use for certain enemies but most of it feels more Diablo-eque where I just hack through stuff. Not that I dislike littering the floor with my enemies. I just don’t feel very “trickster” or “roguish” yet.

    I wrote up my own take-aways: … but really most of the above is in that with some videos and extra flavoring.

    If you’re looking for a small little time-sink and not an MMO, try it out. Just when you do, I recommend going the free route first and then later decide if you want to spend anything or not.

  • This board reminds me of Heroin addicts looking for that first time fix again….

    The market is flooded with games trying to break the mold, and whether you like it or not some do.

    Fact is that first time feeling will never happen again. Our cherry has been popped and nothing will be like the first time.

    As soon as we realize this the better.

    Now as for Neverwinter, I think it brings some interesting idea to the MMO world. It re-affirms the target combat, and not the tab target number crunching style of combat that failed so many games so far. (TSW I am looking at you). The second thing this game does that BREAKS the mold is the Foundry. Unless I missed an East Asian game with in the last 5 years.. no game on the market lets the player make content for the population of the MMO. The third thing is a online portal. I can craft at work or on vacation, work the auction house also.

    So this game does bring some new things to the table….but also I am sad to say relays on old broken ideas. I don’t like the massive instancing of every zone. I understand why they do it. I have played every class to 20 and it feels like the tank and healer are not “Needed” for instance running. DPS can power through 5 mans so far. I think its more of a balance issue.

    In the end of the day I think its a good game for a FTP.
    Funny thing is 7 years ago I can see this game as a monthly sub game. 10 years ago this is a game changing game…now its just a good game….like so many others.

  • “now its just a good game….like so many others”

    When the original “Dungeons and Dragons Online” came around, I was hotly anticipating a digital version of a pen-and-paper campaign. I hadn’t truly done any research, and so I was woefully disappointed when it turned out to be “yet-another-MMO”