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Neverwinter Beta Impressions

11. March, 2013Tags: MMO Blog, Neverwinter, Preview

Neverwinter Beta impressions reviewGames based on the Dungeons and Dragons IP tend to be at least passable (and occasionally fantastic) RPGs, and that’s what I was expecting from Neverwinter, from Cryptic and Perfect World Entertainment. Maybe there’d be an occasional glimpse of promise, a hint at something unusual that might be built upon in future content updates. I’m glad that what Neverwinter actually offered was something far beyond what I’d hoped for. This is a game that plays like some of the great PS2 RPGs (in the vein of The Summoner), but on a bigger multi-user scale. It’s also very, very addictive.

Neverwinter Gameplay Video - Beta Weekend 2 - HD

Find more Neverwinter videos in our extensive Beta Weekend coverage.

Neverwinter Beta Impressions - The Good

Retro RPG – There’s nothing that feels old about Neverwinter, but exploring caverns deep and cities wide has a real retro feel to it. Not only have Cryptic managed to capture the Dungeons and Dragons feel, but they’ve also managed to make Neverwinter a homage to the RPG genre as a whole. Mix that with a masterful blend of MMO, and you’ve got something that’s not entirely like anything else I’ve ever played. If for no other reason, the unique blend of traditional and massively online gameplay makes Neverwinter worth checking out.

Neverwinter Beta 2 Screen 32

Graphics – While not on par with something like Guild Wars 2, I’m still largely impressed by the visual state of Neverwinter. It’s probably one of the strongest free-to-play games on the market. There’s also got to be a mention of the excellent level design. I was worried, at first, that the dungeon running might end up feeling a little repetitive or stale, but on the whole it manages to always offer something new to look out for.

Dungeons and Dragons – I can’t say I’m a huge fan of Dungeons and Dragons, but I know enough theory to get by. All of the staples seem to be there, from the classes and races through the stat rolling and useless origin stories. Of course, there are going to be differences, but you can recognise it’s a Dungeon and Dragons game almost from the first few moments. The 2008 documentary The Dungeon Masters had a group of table top players slowly converting to World of Warcraft. I’d be interested to know how they find Neverwinter.

Neverwinter Beta 2 Screen 33

Fight Club – The battle system in Neverwinter is very intuitive and much better than the average MMORPG. It’s not a million miles away from the system found in DC Universe Online, but the controls feel a little smoother and buttons are mapped a little better. The mouse is used for your main attacks, then various buttons around the WASD keys allow you to use your side attacks. How nobody has ever realize that the numbers 1-0 stretch your hand and that there are other keys available, I’ll never know, but Neverwinter does it right.

Neverwinter Beta 2 Screen 34

Neverwinter Beta Impressions - The OKs

Linearity – I played in the last beta for several hours and really enjoyed myself. I downloaded the beta this weekend and found that my character had gone. Not a problem, I wanted to try out the other classes anyway. There had been content added – a surprising amount actually – but it was basically the same story. When the full game comes around, I’m worried there will be little replay value, although I’m reserving my judgement for now.

Item Search – Neverwinter is definitely going to be a game for hoarders. You get a sense for the importance of items within a few hours of playing, and you almost certainly get the impression you’ll be returning to the places you explore. This isn’t a bad thing in and of itself, but there will be people who are perhaps put off by the need to search endlessly for specific weaponry.

Neverwinter Beta 2 Screen 35

Bugs and Bugs – I’ve been fairly happy with Neverwinter, its beta status accepted, and so when I logged in today and found my character was moving of its own accord, I reported the bug and moved on. I logged out and tried again, same problem – almost as if my character was walking against me. I quit the game completely, but the issue continued. It took a full reinstall to curb the problem. It’d be nice to think Cryptic will fix all these unusual bugs before release and I’ve got every confidence they will.

Neverwinter Beta Impressions - The Bad

Repetition – I’ll be honest, I think Neverwinter is an absolutely stunning MMORPG, but it took only a few hours for me to start to feel like I’d seen everything I was going to see. I was happy to continue, because I enjoyed the combat, but I can feasibly see myself becoming bored by following the story after around the ten hour mark. Anything after would be forced.

Neverwinter Beta 2 Screen 30

For the sort of person who loves dungeon runs, rare item hoarding, levelling up with friends and all the other things that tend to be exclusively in the realm of the MMO, check out Neverwinter. I do get the feeling that others may find fatigue setting in sooner rather than later.

Neverwinter Beta - The Verdict

Neverwinter is a game that you should play. It somehow manages to feel like a single player RPG and an MMO all at the same time, and does both to a very high standard. It doesn’t feel like the store system is going to be overly important to the game overall and Cryptic really deserve to be reward for their efforts on this one.

Neverwinter Beta 2 Screen 31

I don’t doubt for a second that anybody with an interest in MMOs is going to find something to love about this game. What I’m wondering is how long that love will last, and what the developers are doing to ensure the player isn’t left feeling the Neverwinter burn.

Games like Neverwinter

Dungeons and Dragons Online, DC Universe Online, Star Trek Online.

What do you think?

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