Over the weekend, I decided to give Neverwinter, now in open beta, a test drive and see how it was playing and how the gameworld was shaping up. Apparently, I’m liking it… a lot…as a good chunk of my weekend got sucked into running around city and surrounding environs!
In true D&D style, I began by rolling up a character, a cleric in my case, and fortunately for me and my horrible luck with any kind of randomness, I had the option to keep tumbling the dice until I was happy with the weight distribution of my stats. I picked some presets on the skins, and jumped right into the game.
The controls are akin to Tera, in that you have WASD for forward/strafe movement, but your turning is done by mouse. Number of abilities are limited as well, a trend that seems to becoming more and more popular, although you have a wide range of skills to choose from as you progress, as well as latent talents that provide buffs to stats and skills. It’s been a real boon to be able to swap skills in and out depending on whether I’m soloing or doing group play.
I was thrilled to see text for quests again. The questgiver will be happy to regale you in audio with the same information, but it’s lovely to be able to run up, read a quest, and keep on moving instead of being transported into some 30 second cutscene. Quest directions are still liberally painted all over your screen from the maps to a glowing trail of goodness that makes it almost impossible to lose your way while you travel. Even when you have to change districts within the city, there’s a pretty blue arrow that lets you know what quests you have that are continued in which district, so if you’re as bad with names as I am, you don’t have to write yourself notes because you can’t access your quest log.
In addition to questing, there’s plenty of things to do. Crafting comes to us in a SW:TOR model where you send your happy minions off to craft/collect materials, although you can also collect materials in the world if you have the right kind of kit and/or personal skill to harvest the various types of nodes. Dungeons, skirmishes, and PvP are also available and you can queue for them simultaneously or individually depending on what you’d like to do.
One of the most innovative and D&D-esque feature is the ability of players to create user content, called The Foundry. These quests are available in-game via bards and message boards, and quest-creators can cash in on their creativity with rewards from players. Foundry quests aren’t modded, and thus must conform to the game rules; however, that is part of what makes them so interesting. You begin foundry quests/campaigns in-game, and the characters/scenes act as any quest that you gain from the developer created content–no heading out to the menu or warping off to some obviously “created” environment. While there are still bugs associated with play in Foundry quests, the potential for a really hands-on environment is just stellar.
And one of my favorite features? No hiding your UI when taking screenshots. Just click “Print Screen” and it’s all taken care of folks.
All in all, Neverwinter looks like it’s got a lot of great things going for it, and with the free to play model, it’s gonna be a no-brainer for me to have this one in the library.