7.8 Overall Score
Presentation: 7/10
Story: 6/10
Gameplay: 9/10

For Beginners | Solo-friendly | User-generated Content

Paid Content is Expensive | Dizzying Number of Options and Currencies

Written by on July 2, 2013 in [, , ]

If it’s been awhile since you’ve played a D&D game, or you’ve never quite gotten into the MMORPG scene before, have no fear – Neverwinter is only slightly confusing (and not for either of those reasons). The beginning stages of this free-to-play game do a decent enough job of introducing you to the basic mechanics of the combat, which are fun and engaging enough to be reminiscent of games like Dragon Age II or Knights of the Old Republic. But once you’re past the initial introductions, the array of options and statistics can feel dizzying.

Neverwinter has its heart set in the D&D fantasy world, where locations are as familiar as Baldur’s Gate and enemies are as recognizable as Drow. And the most promising feature of this game isn’t what the developer has done with this universe, but that with the inclusion of the Foundry quests, players are given free rein to act as Dungeon Masters and create content of their own. Naturally, as the life cycle of this MMO continues, you can expect to see more and more classic pen and paper modules brought to life here, using the full assets the rest of the game has to offer. Of course, this being a relatively new title, there are currently some quality control issues.

The pitfalls of user generated content are inevitable, but it bears mentioning that some of the quests rated most highly by the community don’t function completely as intended. But with a little digging you’ll find worthwhile content easily enough. Though once you do, that will bring to light just what little interest there is in the main game’s storyline. Sure, the voice acting is decent and appreciated but, much like the graphics, you’ll rarely be hugely impressed.

Although there are plenty of instance dungeons (and a party/guild system replete with dice rolls to divvy up loot), for those who have never played an MMO this game caters heavily to solo players, offering a companion system that allows you to bring an NPC with you into every dungeon. Having a cleric at your side is essential for keeping the game easy from start to finish (and keeping it a little too easy, at that). But part of that ease has to do with the combat system which, as mentioned above, keeps you engaged with the action in a way that strikes a good balance between twitch based, skill-centric combat and behind-the-scenes dice rolls.

Where Neverwinter becomes confusing – even for veterans – is in trying to understand the myriad statistics and abilities influencing your character and the game. Beyond the tutorial simply not explaining what the majority of numbers do, and how they relate to actual gameplay, you’ll have to spend some time hovering over every nuance of your character sheet before feeling like you understand anything. The game does Recommend certain gear to equip when you find it, but developing your own unique play style takes some work.

After about fifteen minutes into the experience you’ll find yourself at the main city, where countless vendors abound, all trading in different currencies. Over the course of the next twenty character levels the game will fill you in on a few details, but it can initially be overwhelming. The dozens of tasks, activities and things to barter or trade for all eventually come to a point of Astral Diamonds, which are just one step below Zen – the real world currency that grants you access to premium content.

Apart from Zen items, the entirety of the game is absolutely free, so you’ll never feel pressed to spend a penny. But when you want to cut corners (like speed up training for your companion) it’s going to cost you dearly. There is a barter system which allows you to grind out and trade Astral Diamonds for Zen, but the going rate on the market is relatively absurd, making actual monetary purchases in the game more or less unfeasible. (Unless you have $40 to drop on an imaginary horse?)

Players looking for a good PvP experience aren’t going to find much here, as the options are limited to arena matches that play more like Call of Duty Domination matches with swords than anything else. From top to bottom, there’s a lot to do in this world, nearly all of which can be done with minimal interaction with other players. For some that’s a good thing, which gives the game a feeling of being a starter-MMO for those players too intimidated to jump in up until now.

But all those features which cater to the newly experienced are also ones that make the game a pick up and play sort of title, that doesn’t require much long term dedication to enjoy. Consequently, those who like feeling superior to other players by displays of force or grand armor are going to find themselves being milked for quite a bit of money, where the end result won’t really be combat superiority, but a means of keeping up with the Jones’ purely aesthetically.


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Author: Patrick Cassin View all posts by
Patrick has been playing games since the days of Pong. To support his video game habit he got his BA in English. Then he cut down some trees, put out some fires, rescued some dolphins, got paid to go to prison, and arrested someone's horse. Now he writes the things he imagines that you LOL at.

One Comment on "Neverwinter"

  1. Gustavo Ramirez July 2, 2013 at 10:33 am - Reply

    Happy Birthday you weirdo!

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