My first exposure to roleplaying (apart from games of make-believe when I was younger, of course) was in high school. A friend introduced me to the Dragonlance novels, and I was promptly hooked. It was only after I had been reading these books that I learned about Dungeons and Dragons, as I discovered Dragonlance was a D&D setting. Intrigued, my friends and I formed a little D&D group of our very own. I remember very little of our actual plots, as we tended to derail them quite a bit and upset our Dungeon Master in the process to the point where he threatened to set a never-ending pack of wolves on our characters in order to get us to move forward.
The Dungeons and Dragons love continued through to college, where my college friends and I would meet weekly on Saturdays for dungeoneering exploits, and even after, where I participated in an online Shackled City campaign with some of my internet friends. It wasn’t quite the same, due to the lack of dice rolling, pizza, and generally hearing everyone’s voices, but it was fun nonetheless. Unfortunately, due to circumstances entirely beyond my control, I no longer have people to play with.
You see, new MMOs seem to be popping up quite a bit lately, from Star Wars to whatever else you might be able to think of. Dungeons and Dragons, however, has two to its name: Dungeons and Dragons Online, and most recently, Neverwinter. I tried DDO in the past and was unimpressed with it. Compared to LotRO (as both games are made by Turbine), the graphics seemed ridiculously sub-par, and I wasn’t entirely fond of slinging my weapons around every time I tried to left click on something.
Neverwinter, however, is a whole new ball game. It will immediately make you think of Neverwinter Nights (both one and two), and it rightly should, as they exist within the same world. I’d give you a proper timeline as to where Neverwinter falls in the grand scheme of things, but I’ve been searching for this information for two days, and I’ve come up with zip. I have no idea where this game falls in the Neverwinter timeline. What I do know, however, is that it’s fun.
Character creation is incredible. I come from World of Warcraft, where character customization is virtually nil. Neverwinter, however, takes the Guild Wars 2 approach to character customization. While you can choose a preset look to run around with if you really want to, you have the option to customize the look, therefore making your character feel like yours. Case in point, meet Kathra Mineshadow:
Kathra here is dwarven devout cleric of Moradin. She can heal, but she’ll also use the powers granted to her by Moradin to kick your butt. She’s generally unapologetic about it, but, then again, she’s also seen some things in her time. She knows she wants to keep her friends safe, and they’ll always be her priority. Well, they would be if I could wrap my head around how healing is supposed to work in this game.
The controls do take a bit to get used to, especially if you’re coming from other MMOs, but you get into the swing of it easily enough. There are a few other “drawbacks”, I suppose you could call them, but they’re mostly minor. For example, I miss a lot of the puzzles that come with playing Dungeons and Dragons in a tabletop setting, but it may be that I have yet to run into them in Neverwinter. The quests themselves seem to be a standard MMO fare, and they probably contribute to an overarching story, but so far, I have yet to see anything that links these quests to what we had to contend with in the tutorial zone. I’d really like to see all that tie together eventually, but Kathra’s only level eleven. I suppose I’ll just have to wait and see.
My favorite bit about the game so far, however, has to be a system called the Foundry. Now, the Foundry is a way for players to create their own Neverwinter-based adventures and share them with the rest of the community. I actually played a couple last night, and it was really entertaining. Mostly, I was fascinated that we could take the world and shape it as our own, if only for a little while. Not only that, but you can come across some pretty awesome bits of gear in those things, all of which seem to be randomly generated, but typically geared towards things your class can actually use.
The game itself is currently in pre-launch/open-beta-but-no-actual-wiping-is-happening-so-they-say, so if you don’t mind ridiculously long queue times, I highly encourage you to go check it out and draw your own conclusions. It’s also free-to-play, so if you’re like me and money’s tight, that’s incredibly convenient. Regardless, you really can’t go wrong with a D&D based game. Well, I don’t think so, but my bias is showing.
What about you, dear readers? Have you checked it out yet? What do you think about it? If you haven’t, are you going to?