One hundred years have passed since the Spellplague forever changed the magical and mysterious lands of Faerûn. Mighty empires fell and great cities toppled, leaving only monster-haunted ruins and survivors struggling to rebuild.
The city of Neverwinter, the Jewel of the North, seemed blessed by the gods. While the rest of the Sword Coast was devastated by the event, Neverwinter survived largely intact. But this was only a temporary reprieve from its inevitable doom. Nearly 75 years later, a volcanic eruption rained fire, ash and molten fury upon the city, annihilating everything in its wake.
Today, Neverwinter has restored much of its former glory. Lord Neverember of Waterdeep has taken the city under his protection and put forth a call to all adventurers and heroes of the Savage North to help rebuild Neverwinter in the hopes that one day he can lay claim to her throne and crown. But evil forces conspire in the dark places of the world, seeking to undermine all…
Set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, Neverwinter is a 3rd person MMO that focuses on an open-world environment and a mixture of races, backstories, and classes. I had the chance to really grind through some levels before the open beta release, and as a person with little to no knowledge of MMOs, I had a blast.
The races and classes are introduced in an eye-catching way that really makes you focus on the type of character you create. I am a massive fan of customization, particularly in games such as this, and Neverwinter provides you with enough resources to create a character in the image you desire. While I’m disappointed in the fact that there aren’t more customization details to use, it ultimately isn’t too important as you will be focusing more on missions and leveling, and less on the color of your character’s eyes.
The gameplay is solid and smooth, integrating a mixture of point-and-click for your normal attacks and hotkeys that activate more powerful abilities. Your WASD keys allow you to move and dart away from enemy attacks, making it easy and intuitive. As a Control Wizard, I’m grateful for the fact that I can flash away from enemy mobs, especially since my combat style is ranged compared to classes such as the Trickster Rogue and the Great Weapon Fighter.
While leveling was my main focus, there are other qualities and activities that you can spend time in, such as professions, PvP, guilds, and the auction house where you can spend and earn astral diamonds, the in-game currency. To me, the astral diamonds seem almost pointless beneath the shadow of Zen (pay-to-own currency), which the game highly promotes and urges players to buy. Even though you can trade astral diamonds for Zen (if you have a shitload), the looming ultimate currency almost creates a pay-to-win scenario that really frustrates me.
[EDIT] – Since I received some disagreeing statements about my P2W impression (trolls also smell like shit), let me clarify (especially since I’ve played more). For a first impression, the zen currency system and the items available made the game appear to have a pay-to-win system. And while a part of me still feels like reiterating the same statement, I understand that it’s not completely true. What does annoy me is the fact that players are urged to spend their pocket money in order to experience the game in a deeper context. And while you can convert your astral diamonds into Zen, it takes a while to save up a decent amount (excluding the people that bought the founders packages). Even though this is pretty miniscule compared to the other things offered in the game, it’s a burden, and to many people it could be discouraging. If you’re like me, leveling gets a bit too tedious and boring after a while… being able to enjoy other aspects of the game without worrying about payment would be a nice thing. But then again, you have the right to agree to disagree.
But even with those downsides, Neverwinter has proved to be a solid and entertaining experience, and I’ve found myself to be pretty damn addicted to it. If you are a fan of MMOs and do not mind devoting time to shape and level your character to the cap, then Neverwinter should definitely be a game you check out. Neverwinter is available as a free open beta download. And if you decide to play, make sure you choose the Mindflayer shard and add me!