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Spawning from the fantasy world of the 1970’s, Neverwinter is the new title in the MMO fantasy world where many titles vow to grasp the MMORPG crown of millions of subscribers. Now with the free to play model the market is becoming saturated with a vast amount of titles and Neverwinter is no exception. Created by Dungeons and Dragons (original fantasy role player board game), we take a delve into the world to see if Neverwinter brings us enough to jump in to the world of Dungeons and Dragons again.
I come into this feature with a fresh head. I haven't played a MMORPG in the past three months (my first period off in about 7 years) and have been concentrating on other games to change up my feelings towards other titles. So when I heard Dungeons and Dragons had a game out I was mildly excited even though I wasn't alive in the 70s to fully appreciate the appeal of the board game. Then I heard it was free and the excitement rose a little. Then I heard it was open beta and that was enough to make me jump onto the website and bring up the installer which was a seem-less process and within 30 minutes I was creating my character.
Neverwinter takes place in a time when the eponymous city is plunged into chaos after the disappearance of the last Lord of Neverwinter. In the aftermath of the Spellplague and the rage of a Primordial Fire Elemental almost destroying Neverwinter, as seen in the novel Gauntlgrym the remaining citizens form factions and struggle for dominance over the populace as the dead begin to rise and attack "the city they once called home."
I jumped in straight away for the magic option (I always do) and chose the mage style character known as the “control wizard” with the default character model even though the choices seemed to be quite in depth with a plethora of facial and body customizations though these did look a little dated and flat. I entered the game and instantly found that the combat style was not so much different from other MMORPGs, which I suppose is a good thing due to the method being tried and tested to death. You target mobs and NPCs with the reticule of your mouse that is permanently fixed in the middle of your screen and for the Wizards ranged attacks that is barely different from how a caster plays in World of Warcraft.
The questing in Neverwinter is nothing to write home about and honestly fall a little short of games like Star Wars: The Old Republic where you are embraced into a cut scene and storyline. You will being doing the usual “kill X mobs or collect Y items or to go to place Z.” One thing that is interesting is that every zone is instanced, but some are shared between many players, while others are just for you or your group alone. There is a sparkly path showing the way to your next quest objective. You follow the path and fight some mobs, get loot from them and treasure chests, and do pretty standard questing stuff just like you would in every other MMORPG. Besides treasure chests, there are different nodes which you can open with the right skill. For example a cleric can open religion node, a rogue would be able to open thievery nodes etc. These seem to mostly hold crafting stuff. You can open nodes that aren't for your class with a consumable kit, but those appear to be not abundant.
One thing that does stick out are the graphics. The game is quite gorgeous and although the model does feel a little outdated like WOW, it doesn't need to have top end graphics such as Vanguard. It just needs to look good and play good for those people with mid-low end machines. The whole fantasy feel is fully incorporated with a heavy focus on magic around the lands which blends well with the rich colors and fantasy music which is blends in perfectly with the games theme. I would say this is the game's strongest point and really draws you in to the world and its environment.
Overall I enjoyed the first beta of the game. It did follow the standard functions of any MMO, so there is nothing here to make you want to drastically change over to this game. Its saving grace is the wonderful graphics and music which are great strengths to the brand. Neverwinter is still in beta and there is a lot still to implement. The real money transaction process could be a game changer if they get it right and don’t make players pay over the odds for end content. Dungeons and Dragons may also rekindle fond memories from those 70s kids, but only time will tell as to whether the game will bring enough to lure players away from the established MMORPGs on the market today.