Review – Neverwinter
Just the name Neverwinter conjures up such strong and vivid memories in most D&D lovers that it’s almost synonymous with dungeon crawling goodness. And D&D lovers are in for a treat, as that is exactly what this game is full of and at a price that most people can’t argue with – Free!
First things first: the price. Yes, it is free and yes you can play the entire game from start to finish without ever spending a cent. You may not have the same mount as someone who bought one, or the same pet, but from what I can tell, you won’t be overly disadvantaged if you choose not to spend a dime. In fact, some of the best gear I’ve found has been dropped.
If you want to pay real world money for items, however, the option is available to you. The game uses Zen coins, which are bought with real money and can then be used to buy items like mounts or potions or backpacks. I have no issues with spending money in games that are free – developers have to make money somehow. But the items are a bit pricey at the moment, which is a shame. Alongside Zen coins are Astral diamonds (AD), which seem to be the “real” in game currency. Astral Diamonds are given as rewards for completing quests, or praying at alters, or are traded in the auction house for items. You can trade Zen for AD and vice versa but in game gold is largely useless. You’ll end up with a lot of it and not much to spend it on – I mostly used my gold to buy potions and that was it. There are other currencies like the Manticore coin or Phoenix coin, but as I haven’t seen any gear that uses these currencies that’s worth getting over items you receive in random drops, I’m left wondering what their use is. Thus, the currencies are in need of consolidation and reworking.
Now we are over the money part, on to the real question – is it fun? Yes! In fact that’s a hell yes with a double side of fun! This is an action MMO so it’s faster paced, utilises a more limited button set (6) and requires targeting and positioning with a reticule. The mouse cursor disappears when you play and is replaced with a reticule, and whilst this seems odd at first, after a few minutes it really shines. I’ve been playing a Trickster (rogue) which means lots of damage but limited armour, and it requires me to dodge a lot and position myself in boss fights. It’s a fantastic class to play, which is odd for me to say, because I have hated every rogue in every MMO since their inception.
The main story quests are standard stuff and follow a similar formula for most of the game – turn up to an area, get quest to kill or collect something, get another quest, rinse and repeat to the culmination of a dungeon at the end, kill big boss, collect phat loot and go onto a new area. The areas are all amazing to play and are different enough from one another to make it worth playing. Moreover, the enemies change and present a challenge. Mobs become more difficult towards the end, with greater health, bigger attacks and more armor. I needed to adjust my tactics in order to progress.
If the main game becomes a little too boring for you, you’re in luck – you can play foundry missions! These are player created content made using the foundry, which anyone can use to make quests for the game. The foundry quests auto level, so you are able to complete them whenever you feel like it. It’s an excellent idea, and in utilising it, Neverwinter has pulled off something I didn’t think possible and extended the life of the game by using dedicated players – brilliant!
In addition to PVE the game also supports PVP. Here, battles are set in small arenas where you have to capture points on the map by waiting next to a pillar while it converts to your side. While you sit there and wait, the other team usually tries to stop you, or vice versa. On the whole, PVP seems to be all about crowd control or shutting down abilities, or breaking free from these effects.
There are also Epic dungeons you can complete once you hit level 60 – and these require a certain gear rating to do. As a result, players will need to start on the small ones and work their way up based on gear rating. I’m still to do the epic dungeons at this stage, but the normal versions you do as a group before 60 (the Epic dungeons are just these, but harder) are great fun. The action with a group seems to be almost non-stop, the mobs are much harder, and you get a lot of great loot. These dungeons are so much fun, in fact, that I completed several with random groups because I was having a blast.
Finally, we come to crafting. Usually, I hate this particular game mechanic. But Neverwinter crafting is different – here, crafting is a simple process of selecting a minion to go off and complete a task. You wait, and your minion returns with either money, an item or experience. Crafting is therefore easy, hands free and means I simply click a few buttons and things happen whilst I’m offline. Take note other MMO’s: THIS is how you do crafting!
All in all, I like this game. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I haven’t had this much fun with a game for a good 12 months or more. What makes the game even better is that it’s free. And whilst I did spend money on the game, I did it because it was worth the price, not because I felt that I had to. I’m now onto my second character, something I’ve never bothered to even consider on other MMO’s once I reach top level. The game is not without flaws and bugs, but the devs are fixing these promptly.
Neverwinter scores an 8 out of 10. To experience Neverwinter for yourself, head to the game’s official website.