D&D Neverwinter Preview

Games in this Article: Neverwinter

D&D Neverwinter Preview

By Gui

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Most of us RPG fans hold nostalgia and prized memories from going through the Neverwinter Nights games and experiencing the rich and diverse setting of the Forgotten Realms. At last, the setting returns, although under very different handling. After many years of development and its release being pushed back on numerous occasions, it is now being developed by Cryptic Studios, produced by Perfect World, and it will be within our reach within a few precious months. With that said, we had the privilege of getting access to a press preview and beta weekend for a fresh, though slightly buggy look at this interesting title. So, what’s it looking like so far?

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Back on Nostalgia Avenue

Well for starters, this certainly is the setting we’ve grown to love – the vast, bustling streets of Neverwinter have never been brought closer to life than in this iteration. It looks good – really good, and also very polished.  Citizens run about, taverns are thriving, and the background ambience is strangely reminiscent of other traditional top-down RPGs (think Baldur’s Gate 2 urban areas).  The interfaces look simple yet smooth, without unneeded complexity, but also without being dumbed down. Characters look good too, and it should be no surprise that all the expected races are there, with some extra additions; namely the tiefling, a half-human half-demon hybrid, and the underdark’s drows, staples of the popular Forgotten Realms novels. The character creation is pretty good too, boasting a good deal of features for each race. Needless to say, a real (but enjoyable) nightmare if you’re uncertain of what to play! Each of them has specific traits that may or may not benefit you in your class choice. There were only a handful of open classes during our preview, but we got to test a new one: the Devoted Cleric, a very flashy yet efficient healer class with an arsenal of both offensive and supportive holy spells.

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Action Cleric!

The action actually feels really good and interactive, featuring a soft-targeting system that encourages you to dodge, and time your moves carefully. There’s no cursor going back and forth across the screen here, it’s all hotkeys and fast action. Even our try at the cleric had us speeding across the screen like a Megaman character (except with more holy crosses). Though the action felt a bit easy for most of the play through, even during the dungeon areas, it was most definitely crisp and intense. You basically have one attack set to the left mouse button, a few set to hotkeys, and one massive special attack. All of these can not only be changed, but there’s also quite a few of them, giving you ample choice as for how you want your character built. Progression seems to be built around skill trees divided according to your desired role – a strange thing to say considering the game classes are already based on specific Dungeons & Dragon roles. In any case, there seems to be an offensive, defensive and support tree for most classes, and even a pet system with a variety of potential pets that can fight alongside you.

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Dungeons & Dragons & Orcs

We had the chance to try out the Cloak Tower dungeon, one of the game’s early raid instances, which is basically an orc infested tower. There’s nothing too flashy there (apart from neat orc armor loot), but it provided a good example of how classes interact with one another. As an example, clerics do not directly heal their allies, but instead are focused on area buffs, and enemy debuffs which in turn heal your allies. This is most likely to resolve the lack of easy character targeting. It’s not all sunshine and daisies however, as the quest system was disappointingly average. You guessed it, it’s just like most other MMORPGs out there – meet NPC, go there, do that. It’s simple, familiar but not all that fulfilling. There also seems to be a lack of diversity in creatures throughout the few areas we’ve seen, but it’s still quite too early to judge. There were also some game crippling bugs and crashes during the preview event, which leads us to hope that Cryptic will be able to stabilize things before the release.

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Forgotten Realms Await

As for the free-to-play related details, well, we’ve had few details on the intricate workings of their freemium model, but we did catch a glimpse of what was already available, ranging from a few relatively affordable pre-order packs, to a stunningly (insanely?) priced 200$ version which allows you to get access to a special race, a spider mount, and a truckload of other goodies. The preview was an enjoyable experience, and we’re very eager to see if the full product manages to make the experience last long enough to be memorable.  All in all, we’re very pleased with what we’ve seen so far, and Neverwinter seems to be shaping up to be an impressive iteration of the setting most of us know and love.

Head over to the Neverwinter Game Profile for more information, screenshots, and videos!

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