Friday, June 29, 2012

Neverwinter interview

The Forgotten Realms have always been a location writhing with great stories to tell and horrid monsters to slay. We've enjoyed a multitude of games taking place in this world, but we have yet to enter that defining massively multiplayer game taking place in that environment. Neverwinter, Perfect World and Cryptic Studios' take on the famed Jewel of the North could very well be that title.

Neverwinter interview


MMORPGs are something I've been conflicted about for some time now. The last MMO I sunk an untold amount of time into was, of course, World of Warcraft but that's a relationship that's been done for over three years now. Since my detachment, games like The Old Republic seemed to be the way of re-entering the fold, but the more I played the more I realized it was the same thing but with a new coat of paint. After basically giving up my search, Neverwinter came along and literally shocked me.

Neverwinter E3 cinematic trailer


Taking place 100 years after something called the Spellplague devastated the land, a massive call is put forth asking all able-bodied men and women to help rebuild the great city of Neverwinter. It's a typical premise for an MMO nowadays but this is Dungeons & Dragons we're talking about, so all is definitely not what it seems.

We took a look at Neverwinter back at PAX East and, as we expected, a whole lot has changed. For those that aren't aware, Neverwinter is a free-to-play action-based MMO which means you're going to be actually using your skills to fight your way to victory - not tab-targeting and auto-attacking all day. Akin to what some may have seen in TERA, Neverwinter's combat system is a testament to the gameplay and what Cryptic wants for its players; complete control. If you're expecting to hit a monster with your moves, you better be aiming that spell at them. If an enemy is getting ready to unleash a cataclysmic strike, you best be paying attention and roll out of the way. Clearly, Neverwinter is a game that wants every situation to matter, which is all the more reason why having 100% control means so much.

Ahem, this guy is actually a merchant. Nice guy. Really.

Getting some hands-on time with the game, I can definitely say that Neverwinter is just as responsive as any third-person action game, and it needs to be. With all of the traps and strikes your enemies will be throwing at you, paying attention will be the key to victory. One element I found most refreshing was that Neverwinter doesn't support regenerating health. You heard me right. That means if you're not paying attention, you could find yourself out of health potions, your healer's reserves emptied and your luck completely dried out. Each character has various escape possibilities, but when you can't run, Cryptic's excellent combat system comes to aid you.

Playing as the Control Mage, I found myself in a couple of situations where my group wasn't retaining control of the situation to my liking. Since control is in my name, I was able to pick out individual targets that were causing the issues and disable them enough for my team to get their senses together. If you're a sensible player, every class will have something similar and if that fails, you can always use the environment to your advantage. Playing much like an action-game, I noticed some enemies were dangerously close to a ridge. Generating an ice storm that knocks enemies back, I was able to quell the threat by literally pushing my foes into the chasm. Yeah, it was pretty awesome.

If you fail to evade here you can tell all your friends what lightning tastes like.

Great as the combat is, you can expect to see a huge focus on the typical MMO mechanics that make a game, well... an MMO. Instances will be very group dependent, but will also drop the best loot, trading systems, skills trees, it's all present in Neverwinter, but the game does bring something particularly exciting to the table.

User generated content is a focus of Neverwinter. While I don't know exactly how it works, players will be able to create their own dungeons to share with their friends and more importantly, the world. I can't wait to see how this mechanic is going to work within the game and hopefully we won't have to wait too much longer. Neverwinter is slated to go into beta sometime soon and should come out before the end of 2012. Hopefully that timetable is spot on because with this kind of quality behind a free-to-play game , I can't wait to see if it holds up in the final release.

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