Not content with tackling the MMORPG heavyweights that are The Lord of the Rings Online and Age of Conan: Unchained over the last few days, OSUBoarder's incessant march to 365 Days of Gaming continues unabated with yet another MMO hard-hitter, Neverwinter.
With just sixteen days to go until OSUBoarder's mammoth undertaking is complete, if you're ever at a loss as to what to play, be sure to check out more of his 348 other entries to be found on the 365 Days of Gaming blog...
Neverwinter is a massively multiplayer online RPG set in the world of Dungeons and Dragons, created by Cryptic Studios. The game was released on June of 2013 as a free to play game with no connection to the previous Neverwinter Nights games.
Much like any MMORPG, you start off by selecting your race, class, etc. In this case you can choose from five races that are present in Dungeons and Dragons including elves, humans, Halflings, and more. From there you also choose your class, which was hunter in my case. I have never been much of a close up fighter in these types of games and thus prefer ranged combat with the occasional melee. So far nothing is that out of the ordinary, especially for anyone that is familiar with the genre. After all of that we are thrust into a stereotypical situation where you are stripped of your gear and you must scavenge and do some work. In this case we are part of a shipwreck after being attacked by a dragon and we wash ashore near the battlefield. After finding some rudimentary gear we are instantly put to work helping out the soldiers, because someone who just washed ashore is the hero that a battlefield needs, but I digress.
Unlike many MMOs, Neverwinter puts heavy emphasis on the plot. The world is still open and you can complete main and side missions at your leisure but there is more focus put on working through the story than there is PvP. You actually have to wait until level 10 to even unlock PvP areas, and even then you are only given brief information on them.
The main missions will generally stem from a certain NPC in each area that will then delegate you to other “lower ranking” NPCs who have tasks and then so on and so forth. Basically, you will be working with a single NPC for a while but some of their quests may involve you performing small tasks for other characters.
By completing quests you gain money, gear, and experience which will help you level up. When you level up you earn skill points that can be spent to buy or upgrade skills over time. You also gain something called Feat Points for completing certain feats while playing. Spending these also helps increase some ability boosts or skills. One of the most overwhelming parts for me was the sheer complexity of all of the skills, feats, and attribute trees and counters. It's no Path of Exile skill tree but it it's not far off. Luckily there are very handy tutorials and help windows that will tell you everything you need to know in order to play and enjoy your game.
A big part of any game is obviously the combat. In the last week I covered Age of Conan, that used a “Real Combat” system which used player controlled direct attacks, as well as The Lord of the Rings Online which implements a mostly auto-attack combat system. Neverwinter uses a much more interactive combat system; one that requires you to be actively engaged in the fight. Your two main attacks are bound to the right and left mouse click with secondary attacks and abilities mapped to keys that are easily within reach of the WASD setup. Some attacks like the basic ones do not need to replenish while others will have a cooldown timer before you can use them again. Most attacks require physically clicking your target, but there are some that are targeted on the ground or are broad area attacks that can hit multiple targets at once, like my hunter’s multi-shot. When you hold the button, a cone of effect is displayed on screen but it starts to shrink as you hold on until it eventually becomes a single line. A quick shot will mean more affected targets but less damage to each, whereas a prolonged attack will launch one arrow but at a much higher power.
I found the combat to be incredibly enjoyable and satisfying. There are times where you will need to dodge around, circle enemies, and kite them to choke points all while avoiding taking damage. Overall it just feels like a more dynamic and interactive combat system which I love. It is important to continuously upgrade your weapons and gear or you will soon find yourself overpowered. I was using one of the first bows that I got and was doing fairly well when I was told to go hunt down some orcs. The first time I attacked them, the bow that had been bringing death only moments before was like a pea shooter. Luckily I had a better weapon in my inventory from a previous mission and combat became more manageable. Not easy, but more of a realistic challenge.
As always with these types of games, the 4-5 hours that I just put into the game are barely even beginning to see all that Neverwinter has to offer. However, I have found the world to be incredibly immersive and I find myself getting caught up in the game even more so than with LoTRO yesterday. The world is very colorful and well designed and the towns actually feel like living towns because there are NPCs that are just walking around with no purpose, among the usual rabble of quest givers, merchants, and other need fulfilling characters on the map. The world itself is huge and each area brings even more to explore, do, and conquer as you move through the story. There is a lot to digest in this world, such as detailed lore and backstories, if you want to get into it or it can be a game that you just play for fun every once in a while. For someone who has generally never been big on MMORPGs, I have once again found myself totally caught up in the world. I keep taking on missions and suddenly I have 6 or 7 quests going and you want to know that the worst part is? I absolutely love every minute of it.