MMORPG Reviews - Neverwinter
Results so far - Rating 7.0/10.0
Dungeons and Dragons theme
Easy to reach max level
Foundry, player-designed quests
Game History and Brief Story
Started production in 2010 by Cryptic Studios, then under Atari, finished at the end of June 2013 while Cryptic was under Perfect World Entertainment.
It's a free-to-play mmorpg with heavy elements on constant action, I'd say it's even more an action mmo than rpg. It features a cursor-based targeting system, which puts more focus on action over the classic tab-based targeting system, although it can be buggy with multiple mobs or players in front of you at once.
It has a storyline that, after reading scattered scrolls throughout the world, basically depicts a major disaster in the world of magic known as the Spellplague. It was caused by the death of the god Mystra, the goddess of magic, which in turn rent the world with earthquakes, spilling plaguefire into the land. Neverwinter was the crafting and cultural center of the land, many of its inhabitants were scarred of deformed into monsters by the plaguefire. Lord Neverember came along some 10 years later, killed all the leftover scarred victims......and monsters, and fired the city back up again.
Our characters come into play as Lich Queen Valindra attacks the city with hordes of undead shown in the opening cinematic post-character selection. THUS OUR ADVENTURE BEGINS!
Neverwinter Opening Cinematic
- Guardian Fighter - classic tank with threat
- Great Weapon Fighter - lighter tank with higher damage
- Devoted Cleric - healer
- Trickster Rogue - stealthy rogue
- Control Wizard - caster
My main character is always a caster: wizard, magician, whatever, it's spiritual. Lore-wise, magic usually entails wisdom and a patience to find balance usually necessary to channel the arts. Apparently I crave this? Psychology aside, everyone usually has a preferred class, whether you want to be the dependable healer, massive tank, or sneaky rogue.
Naturally I chose Control Wizard and it's pretty fun, much of what I'd expect. For dungeons and boss fights, you better stay on your toes, enemies comes in packs and can drop you fast. In pickup groups I usually top damage meters, but that comes with a lot of annoying side effects. I do not recommend using AOEs for boss fights unless you know adds are controlled. We can actually control them pretty well with our AOEs and abilities, but you'll need to control the cooldowns well, map your potion keys =).
We get Teleport which is exactly how you'd picture it, Blink from WoW, or Shadow-step from Everquest. Wizards use it a LOT, sometimes I had spent most of Boss fights evading mobs or groups of mobs. Sadly, teleporting uses stamina, and you can only use it 3 times in quick succession. I have the Entangling Force Encounter Power which is kind of like Darth Vader's force choke ^_^. I use Repel a lot to keep enemies away from me, and my third encounter power is Shard of the Avalanche to work some AOE in, with prone as backup. Prone is pretty much a 3 second knockdown stun effect, very useful in Neverwinter, and Dungeons & Dragons in it's entirety.
I keep my Ice Knife as my main Daily Power and Arcane Singularity as my second. For boss fights I still like having heavy single-target DPS of Ice Knife, while Arcane Singularity is great for AOE add control. I haven't really "specced" for anything as far as I can tell, right now my powers and points are pretty scattered, but I dig it. I haven't been too deep in end-game, rockin' a gearscore of ~9,500 au naturale. I've done some Epic Dungeons, but experience tells me I'll need more than PUG groups for harder dungeons. I've ran into some issues where the whole group will fight to the last boss of a dungeon, wipe, and 1 player leaves group....CLINCHER, there was no random method of getting a new player, a topic for another time, PUGs usually take you so far anyway.
I've leveled a few other characters, mainly for professions. I did not sample the Cleric as I never play healing classes, ever. Trickster Rogue was a blast, aside from their obvious stealth and damage capability, they have a dagger-throwing at-will power which makes it more fun than most rogue classes I've played. He's only level 15 right now though. There has been talk of Trickster Rogues being the over-powered class, for noob groups in PVE so far it hasn't been the case.
Powers, Feats, and Skills
If you have any experience with classic Dungeons and Dragons, you'll be familiar many terms that outline the character, battle and spell system.
- Action Points - these drive your ability to use Daily Powers, which are usually you're most powerful powers.
- At-Will Power - Basic attacks that you use while your encounter and daily powers are on cooldown.
- Encounter Power - Stronger powers that have recast timers
- Daily Power - Strongest powers
- Origin - where you hail from
- Deity - which god or goddess you worship
- Racial - unique "extra" power to your character's race
- Skill - Kits that allow you to open treasure scattered throughout the game. Dungeoneering, Arcane, Nature, Thievery, Religion.
- Feats - improvements to your powers that you accrue as you level.
Energy and Mana are pretty much replaced by a cooldown and point system. You can use your At-Will Powers any time and your Encounter Powers are on a cooldown of roughly 10 seconds each, and they're not on the same timers. (10sec very general estimate).
As you use At-Will, and more-so Encounter Powers, your Action Point Gem-meter fills. Once your meter is full you can use one of your two very strong Daily Powers.
You can have up to 2 At-Will powers, 3 Encounter Powers, and 2 Daily Powers mapped at one time. Eventually you'll unlock 1 more mappable slot for an Encounter Power for a total for 4.
You you choose your origin and deity upon character selection, but sadly at this time they don't seem to effect anything.
The skill kit system was cool when I started, but now it's just too generic. Although you can get some good stuff from them, and you can stock a ton of kits so you can loot everything you see, it might have been better with limited selections, adding a little uniqueness to characters. You do get 1 "free" skill that you choose at character selection, allowing you to loot one type of skill's treasure without any kits.
The profession system is a new experience for me. I'm used to the "looting nodes while traveling" scenario. In Neverwinter you hire "Assets" which are helpers to do professions for you while you adventure. So instead of running around and collecting hides and metal chunks, you can do most crafting without ever leaving the city or while in a dungeon. The initial hiring of your helpers is quick, but hiring additional helpers takes 18 hours to complete. Additional helpers will be needed as you gain crafting levels, and you can level up your helpers for bonuses in crafting speed.
6 types of professions:
- Tailoring - style I chose. Currently level 18 of 20.
The interface reminds me of Mafia Wars in that every action is time and requirement-based. From the menu accessible at any time from the menu bar, or by default of typing "N", you can send your helper on a task to gather wool scraps, and it takes 10 minutes to get a couple scraps with a small amount of crafting experience. From there, the next action may be to weave the scraps into wool cloth, which will take another 10 minutes. Eventually you'll be making robes and armor and stuff like that.
There are 9 total profession slots, 8 of which need to be unlocked with character levels, profession levels, and qualities of items. 1 profession slot is used per action you undertake.
- Reach level 30
- Reach level 60
- Get any profession to level 3
- Get any profession to level 10
- Get any profession to level 20
- Complete a task with at least 100% speed bonus
- Complete a task and earn a rank 3 result
At this time I see professions as mainly a hobby that can make money maybe by selling crafted items to lower level characters.
**Update** Professions can be used to enhance the Epic Gear you'll eventually get from dungeons or tokens, this will require max level of the profession used. Struck my earlier comments of not being useful. Plus the hire and upgrade system of your workers will provide decent cashflow.
Currency and Item Shop
Gold, Silver, Copper - earned from defeating monsters, selling items to vendors, or trading with players.
Astral Diamonds - earned through daily quests, skirmishes, and dungeons. The auction house only deals in astral diamonds, so the items you get can be bought and sold for astral diamonds there as well.
Rough Astral Diamonds - earned through Invocation and daily quests. These can be refined into normal astral diamonds, I believe the clincher is you have to refine them before you logoff or they are lost.
Zen - Item shop currency, can purchase with real money from your web-account.
There are several points of view to an item shop and how it effects the game. Personally I don't like them and I don't often spend money in item shops. I don't have an issue paying $15/mo for a quality game, which in essence would be exactly like paying $15/mo at the item shop. Free games can usually lack quality and development though, but so can paid games. It's a pretty big conversation with good examples of both and failures of both.
The restrictions that free-to-play games place are often annoying and make the game more tedious. For me these were inventory space and bank space. With the amount of drops that occur you quickly run out of bag space. If you're trying to stick to a 100% free game you have a lot of selling to do, so I'm trying to save up for more bags while ignoring many of the drops that could help me get them =(.
An interesting thing, there is a "zen exchange" in the game where you can post ads to buy Zen for Astral Diamonds and vice-versa. At one point I was actually playing it like some kind of stock exchange, after a few days the margins disappeared, now it doesn't seem worth the try. I didn't get too much profit from it, but it took very minimal effort. Sometimes game currency can be fun to play with, I was heavily involved in the currency game in World of Warcraft, I swear I pioneered offering enchants with my mats in /trade heh.
Enchants, Enchancements, and Runestones
You can enchant your gear if they have available enchantment slots. Enchantments drop from defeated enemies and they drop a lot, so keep room in your inventory! There are three different types of enchants: Offense, Defense, and Utility. The first two are pretty self-explanatory, enhancing the stats related to those areas, while the utility enchants are boosts to gold drops, experience, or movement speed to name a few. To enchant your gear you will need to pay Astral Diamonds, a rank 5 type of enchantment costs me about ~50,000 diamonds on epic gear.
The enchanting system features an upgrade system called fusion. Using four enchants of the same type and rank, you can combine them into one enchant of the next rank up. As the ranks get higher, they get much more powerful, but also have a higher chance of failing. At this time you can start using wards which can either replace 1 failed fusion, or guarantee 1 fusion's success.
Enhancements are basically enchants for your weapon or armor that boost your output directly rather than your stats. For example, I'm working on the flame enchantment that adds a % of fire damage to your powers and adds burning damage. These follow similar fusion upgrade process, however much more expensive and prone to failure. The higher ranks of fusion make the non-failure wards very popular.
Runestones are basically the same thing as enchantments, but you apply them to your companion, increasing their stats.
Chat system isn't all that great while in the main city. There is a general Zone-wide channel, which is constantly spammed, depending on the instance you're in. You can switch instances for the zone you're in by using a button attached to the minimap to avoid some spam.
A trade channel would benefit the game imo. Neverwinter is also home to the nowaday commonplace goldspammers.
Companions are essentially weaker NPCs that assist you in battle. They have their own stats as well as the ability to wear items and equip enchantments. They have their own max levels as well as different methods of assistance: Striker, Healer, Tank, Melee, and also companions that just buff your stats, which are usually considered the best. You can pickup common companions from the Grand Emporium for 2 gold, as well as some exotic companions for much higher prices and different currencies.
- White (common) - Max Level 15
- Green (uncommon) - Max Level 20
- Blue (rare) - Max Level 25
- Purple (epic) - Max Level 30
Mounts are available for the cost of 5 gold and you may get a temporary one in your complimentary packages as you level. They come in variations of 50%, 80%, and 110% speed bonuses and a variations before being dismounted.
Revisions, PVP, items and gear, Mounts, and more to come!
© 2013 Grifter
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My Next installment: Raiding!! Molten Core at level 57 & the breakup of the guild, and the "domination" of a new server.
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