Saturday, March 9, 2013

Neverwinter Beta: D&D Goes Diablo, Rangers Get the Shaft AS USUAL

I always buy from this merchant, because, you know.
Because the gaming world needs another WoW-like MMORPG: Neverwinter!

It's beta weekend in the land of... wherever-Neverwinter-is, and yours truly has been gallantly clicking his mouse and keyboard, delving into dark dungeons in search of hidden gold and long-forgotten treasures (which conveniently pop, pinata-like, out of defeated foes for easy collection.)

Let's start with the really bad:

Rangers, that oft-maligned, viscerally hated and persecuted refugee of the gaming universe, will find no refuge in Neverwinter. Usually, MMORPGs wait until release to begin the slow process of repeatedly fucking Rangers over. Cryptic has got them all beat, though: there's no Ranger class at all.

I'm going to be a Ranger anyway! :p
Yeah, a D&D game without Rangers. I should have just hopped onto my roflcopter and left right there.

But I wanted a new MMORPG to play. And I think they said a Ranger class would arrive "sometime after launch". And they did do a few things right. And I'm a Ranger (an E-Ranger!), and we have low self-esteem. So I stayed, and hence the cycle of abuse begins again. Well played, Neverwinter. Well played.

Now for the bad:

So, we've established that this is a D&D game. Remember spending the better part of an hour creating your PnP D&D character? So many decisions, so many possibilities. Your background, motivations, resources, stats, companions, abilities, etc.

Well, in Neverwinter, you choose a class. That's about it. Oh, and you do a fake-ish dice-rolling thing for your THREE stats. And you look really carefully around the screen for the hidden "Ranger" button.

Because Diablo was too complicated.
Okay, so character creation isn't a big thing in Neverwinter. Life goes on. It's not as though you can't customize your class and make it your own as you level up, right?

Yeah, about that. The customization options in Neverwinter are, shall we say, limited. By "limited", I mean there aren't any. As in, all your abilities are chosen for you as you level up.

Yeah, a D&D game where you don't actually choose your skills and powers. These guys really made City of Heroes? I wonder.

Now for the good, I guess:

Cool guys don't look at pretty, moon-lit castles.
It's pretty. It can be a little rough around the edges in places, but the overall art direction is better than most MMORPGs I've seen (that's not saying much, but still.)

Combat in Neverwinter is actually pretty fun, too. It's a lot more visceral than your standard "swish-swish am I actually hitting something?" fare. Hits connect, satisfying noises are made, you get to knock people around. It's fairly Diablo-like in that respect, which is not really a bad thing. If you like Diablo.

Dungeon-crawling in Neverwinter is also somewhat similar to Diablo. Kill packs of foes, pick up all the loot that (literally) pops out of them, equip the Cool New Thing, continue. That was the most fun part of the game for this particular adventurer.

But overall, I'd say that Neverwinter fairly sucks, although I'm sure some people will like it (I can't think of what demographic that'd be, but I'm sure they're out there.) For those of us who loved PnP D&D, UO, EQ or even WoW, "meh" is going to be a likely response. Which also sucks, because this is the second D&D-based MMORPG, and probably the last we'll see in a while.

A Dungeons and Dragons game with no Rangers. Huh.
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  1. Seriously dude? Did you not play past level 4? It only picks your skills for you to establish your baseline, and level 5+ you pick your own and decide what you'll use. Oh did you mention it's still in beta? With races and classes still to be released?

    You didn't even mention the crafting system, which is completely original (as far as I've ever seen). The PvP is pretty good too. It's a D&D *based* game, sortof an "easy mode" of DDO.

    If you're going to do a review of a game, you really should play past level 4. Half of what you said makes you look stupid because of it.

    As far as my expectations go, this game has risen far above my expectations and is the one mmorpg that I actually enjoy playing. My wife loves it as well.

    We both are PnP (AD&D, Rift, Vampire) players who went to UO when it came out in 95 and then to EQ in 98 (beta test). I've played almost every single MMORPG that has come out, EQ being my absolute favorite of all time, this game is in my top 5. (Did I mention it's free to play model is NOT pay to win?)

    Next review, please actually do something in the game before dragging it through the mud.


    1. Yo Phantasm- I guess I'd look more stupid if what you're saying were true at the time I wrote the review. It wasn't. At that time, you had no choice over what abilities you received. About a month or so later, they changed powers based on exactly the kind of feedback I was giving here.

      Dev Blog: "One of the biggest pieces of feedback we got was that, although a lot of other elements were customizable, D&D veterans wanted to have more say in the powers they got at each level. Previously, powers unlocked or upgraded at certain levels; players got to choose which powers to equip, not which ones to learn."

      No ability choice and no Rangers was (clearly) a game-breaker for me (leveling past 4, which I'm sure I did, wouldn't have helped.) So, crafting etc. didn't matter. Glad they listened to the feedback.

    2. Just so you know, Rangers WILL be in the game, just not at launch. I love the Ranger class as well. Us Rangers will just have to be as patient as a... well a Ranger I suppose!

    3. You are correct. I might take another look when they do actually add the Ranger. The insult, though - you must acknowledge - is strong. I'm sure they're counting on our well known self-esteem issues.