Over the past few years there has been an influx of MMO/MMORPG games that have come to the PC in hopes of stealing some of the magic that has made Blizzard studios in to a multi-million dollar industry, specifically World of Warcraft. We have seen Tera, Lord of the Rings, Guild Wars 2, Star Wars, Rift and others take a shot at luring away the between 6-10 million monthly subscribers. Honestly, I have played every one of these games almost from inception and there seems to be one common statistic among them, they all fizzle after coming out of the gate quickly. The monthly subscriber model seems to only work on World of Warcraft as many become free to play games with in game purchases. Now the original RPG game, Dungeon’s and Dragons has brought us their attempt at the MMORPG in Neverwinter. After hours and hours of playing it, I have come to the conclusion that not only is this game enjoyable, it does do enough things differently to keep me coming back again and again.
I do want to make this disclaimer up front, I reviewed this game on its own merit. I did not play this game to replace World of Warcraft nor will I review it as “is this better than WoW.” If you are looking for a new MMORPG to play then you need to put all of your comparisons to WoW aside. We are all aware, especially if you are a player, of the addictive nature of MMORPG games and our desire to only compare them to WoW is dooming a lot of good MMOs.
Let’s just go ahead and say it, unless you are some hardcore storyline fanatic, the whole storyline aspect of Neverwinter about trying to defeat the Lich Queen and restoring order in the universe means absolutely nothing. Aside from the initial obligatory introduction cut-scene to inform us about everything we are about to embark upon, it really does not come in to play again. You know what though, it’s just fine that way too. You will spend too much time questing to hit level 60 so you can start rolling through epic dungeons, skirmishes, battlegrounds and raids.
The gameplay itself is simple. You have eight races to choose from all with their own back stories. Once you have selected the race you want you select from Devoted Cleric, Control Wizard, Great Weapons Fighter, Guardian fighter and Trickster Rouge. All of these following the continued model of DPS, healer, tanks, and ranged. The one difference is that there really is not a true hunter class as you have various companions you can buy, each with their own trainable abilities.
I chose to play as a control wizard and absolutely loved it. Unlike some of the other more common MMO’s there is no mana bar to monitor you spellcasting, there is just a cooldown timer that appears with each cast to indicate how long until that particular spell is ready to use again. I also enjoyed the fact that there are only 6-8 command keys to utilize in the game as opposed to 3 different screens of 12 with add-ons and hotkeys. You will figure out as you play that just like any other MMO there are specific orders in which to attack to maximize your stats. Once you figure it out, the game becomes extremely enjoyable and challenging.
The game is a free-to-play with opportunities to buy various mounts, companions, weapons and more using Zen and astral diamonds as income. You can opt to purchase Zen via their website at relatively reasonable prices and ,unlike other free-to-play games, you do gain an advantage over other players in the game by purchasing these items. I will say that I did become irritated by the constant darkhorse treasure box drops (rare item treasure box) that requires you to spend 125 Zen to get the key for. The entire time I played this game there was not one alternative way to get these keys but to buy them. It’s frustrating when you have 6 of these containers in your bag knowing you need to spend almost $30 to unlock them.
The game has many positives. The graphics are acceptable with no lagging. You can make out the differences between gear changes and classes without any confusion. The boss battles and dungeons and raids are nice to look at and do not appear thrown together. The dungeon system is easy to pick up. Upon logging in you just pick what you want to do and queue up for it and wait. You do not need to pick up a group of friends or wait for a full group in order to enter. The loot is constant and the game is probably one of the easiest to pick up and play. If you have any problems there is a good amount of players in the game to talk to.
Unfortunately, for me the game comes up short in quite a few areas. First of all, the enchanting system is confusing. Apparently you can forge enchantments using multiple methods and mats but there is really very little explanation of how to do so. As a result you end up with a sack full of these runes with very little understanding how to use them without breaking them. Another issue I have with this game is the chat section. Rather than being broken up over worlds, everyone is in essentially one large chat room which causes your statements to be lost very quickly. While I did enjoy the dungeon play, if someone drops from your group that position is not refilled by another player and you have to continue with 4 or less until you choose to disconnect yourself. The queue times in the dungeons can be extremely long, upwards of an hour or more sometimes and as little as 10 minutes others. Another issue is that the instances and quest lines are very similar to almost every other MMO. I understand they are not trying to reinvent the wheel but at least make some good changes to what can be expected. My biggest complaint is that until you get in and play for a while you will be confused about fast traveling, relocating back to home, finding the auction house and actually using it. It is a tinker and toy style of MMO. There is very little in terms of instructions so you have no choice but to tinker and toy around with the game until you are comfortable.
In the end the positives of this game far outweigh the negatives. The game is similar enough to other MMOs to seem familiar and allow veterans of the game to jump in and play immediately while still being simple enough for newbs to start and play from the get go. Unlike other MMOs on the market, you will not need a top of the line system to fully experience the game. The requirements are fairly standard for any run of the mill pc with a dedicated graphics card to enjoy the game. You can get by without buying anything with real world money and still enjoy the game which is extremely important. I would recommend you download this game asap and start enjoying it tonight. It is one of the best MMORPG games out there and I look forward to seeing where this game progresses to in the future. Now if you will excuse me I have another toon to push to level 60.
Final Score: 4 out of 5