Neverwinter (PC) Review
Posted by Adam Larck on 06.25.2013
See if this free-to-play MMO is worth the time inside.
Publisher: Perfect World Entertainment
Developer: Cryptic Studios
While Neverwinter just got officially released recently, like most MMOs, itís been playable for months.
During all the open beta and tweaking, Iíve been playing off and on, and itís safe to say that Perfect World Entertainment and Cryptic Studios have a great title on their hands. Sure, there are some things Iíll touch on later on that could use refinement or may turn some off, but the experience is top-notch for MMO fans.
The game is like many MMOs as far as story goes. Sure, there is a story about trying to stop the Lich Queen Valindra and save the world, but, unless youíre really interested in the universe, you wonít actually care about the storyline. Instead, youíll go from quest to quest, completing them until you finally ding 60 and start running epic dungeons.
The quests in the game are mostly the standard MMO variety. Meet a person somewhere to get a new set of quests, kill so many of something, collect items, etc. Thereís nothing groundbreaking here, but nothing never seems to outstay its welcome and become tired before a new quest pops up. Some quests do feature small instances where itíll be yourself or you and your party, which does help change things up from time to time, but most small instances just consist of getting to the end by killing everything in sight.
Of course, the meat of the game lies in the skirmishes and dungeons the game offers as you go along. Thankfully, this is one of the better MMOs Iíve seen for raiding. You donít need a group to go on, or even anyone in your party. You just need to pull up the queue, select which skirmish or dungeon you want, join the queue and wait. You can either just wait in the Protectorís Enclave, the main city, or keep questing while it searches for a group. Once oneís found, you can either select to join or, if you have a quest going on you want to finish, decline and requeue later.
Unfortunately, thereís also a few problems with the queue system Iíve seen. The queue can sometimes sit for a long time without finding a group. I queued for a dungeon and sat for two hours before queuing for a skirmish and finding one within five minutes. Sure, itís based on other people wanting to raid, but I find it hard to believe that nothing would open up after that long.
In addition, the queue automatically sets up what skirmishes and dungeons you can join based on your level. While all are accessible when you hit 60, it will just permanently remove the lower level ones and not let you join once you hit a certain level. Without realizing it, I never got a chance to run the Mad Dragon dungeon at a low level because I hit outside of its max level just by questing.
There are seven races to choose from when you start the game up (eight if you are a Hero of the North Founder. If not, the Drow class will be out in a few months). There are also five different classes to choose from: Devoted Cleric, Trickster Rogue, Great Weapon Fighter, Guardian Fighter and Control Wizard, with more coming in the future. Like in any MMO, each class has a unique play style that you can probably figure out from the class name (tank, healer, mage, etc.). The classes also have their strengths and weaknesses, and occasionally get buffed and nerfed with patches.
One system I like that Neverwinter uses over World of Warcraft is that it gets rid of a mana bar. Instead, you can cast a spell and recast it once a countdown timer cools off, meaning you only ever need to watch your health. There are also ďdailiesĒ you can use in the game, which arenít really daily at all. They simply charge over time the more you hit enemies. The game also features a dodge feature to get away from attacks, but stamina does need to recharge over time.
Keeping with the standard formula, leveling up allows you to level up a power or get a new power, and level up your feats. Eventually, the feats split into three different trees where you have to choose one. Powers will also have different groups in the future, but they havenít been added in yet.
Assisting you in the quests are your Companions, which you can have one equipped at a time. Companions range from the selectable classes in the game to wolves, dogs, panthers and more. Each companion also has a max level which will eventually be able to be increased later down the road, and runes and items can be equipped to them as well. Leveling a companion up does take a certain amount of time, but, while a companion is gone you can select another one to use and level up if you have extra companions.
A lot of other stuff in the game is the same as in most MMOs. There are mounts you can use after level 20, plenty of loot to find, guilds and even professions. However, professions act more like social games, where you just need to find the stuff needed to start a task, start the task, wait a few hours, come back, click complete and start a new quest. You can also manage professions online, meaning you donít even have to be in game to level them up and continue getting items.
Now, I want to talk about what may be the best and worst feature of the game, the free-to-play element. Iím going to start this feature by noting you can go the entire game without ever spending a dime in the game. You may not get a lot of cool things and extra space to store stuff, but it can be done. In addition, you can earn Zen (the in-game currency normally bought with real money) without spending money also. You just have to use Astral Diamonds you get from professions or daily quests and exchange them for Zen. Normally, itís around 300 Astral Diamonds for one Zen, depending on the rate that day. However, most stuff in the Zen store costs 100s of Zen, so get ready to work a long time for Zen without paying for it.
The big question is does Zen break the game. As far as weapons and armor goes, you canít buy any of that with Zen, although you can use Astral Diamonds in the auction to buy. You can buy companions with Zen, but they only help you with quests or your team in a dungeon. Mounts can also be bought, but donít make much of a difference from what you can get elsewhere. The biggest thing you can buy is a Greater Stone of Heath, a stone that features 200 charges, each one gives you a full heal. Sure, this canít be used in PVP, but can give a big advantage in dungeons against tougher bosses, making the game a lot easier than someone without it.
So, the short answer to the whole pay-to-win is that it doesnít have an effect at all on PVP, and a weapon canít just be bought to help win a dungeon. However, health items can be used to make the game a lot easier. Itís all up to you with how much you want to spend. So far, Iíve spent nothing and have had a great time with the game.
The gameís also easy to run on computers not made to play high-intensity games. As long as you have a stable connection, most computers in the last 4 years or so should be able to play the game, at least on lower settings.
Easy to pick up and play.
Dungeon system is nice to queue and quest while waiting.
Enjoyable to play solo or with group.
Some pay items can give advantage over not paying.
Canít start dungeon without five players.
Youíve seen most quest styles before.
Overall, Neverwinter is a great MMO title for PC players wanting something new. Itís easy to waste a few hours in the game and feel like youíve made progress with a few levels or a dungeon. It contains many of the MMO mainstays, but offers enough changes and simplicity for veterans and newcomers along to pick up and play.
The various areas in the world look great, even on lower-end computers.
The combat and questing in the game area great, but some of the pay options for items seem like they could have been changed or modified.
The music as you run through is good to listen to for a bit, but youíll quickly ignore it while talking to teammates during raids.
Between the amount of quests in the game, dungeons and PVP, MMO fans will have plenty of stuff to do in the game.
I had a blast with the game. Even just running around the game between quests was enjoyable. Definitely a PC title to check out.