Choose My Adventure: Getting started in Neverwinter

There are games that simply do not hold up past the demo, and frankly I’ve played a lot of those in Boston. Usually those are non-MMOs that promise big but don’t wind up delivering; I was excited about Rock Band Blitz, but it didn’t really pan out as being as fun as a standalone game compared to a quick demo station. So I was aware that however much I liked Neverwinter from demo kiosks, it was entirely possible that sitting down to play the actual game would be something of a disappointment.

But it wasn’t. Made you look.

Far from being less than it had seemed when I tried out the demos, I quite enjoyed my first week of time spent in Neverwinter. Not that it’s going to tear me away from all other games forever, but it’s a fun experience with plenty of things to hook you into the gameplay quickly without forcing you to dive headfirst into lore in order to find your commitment to the story.

Yes, dungeons are to be expected here.It should be noted, of course, that some of this is due to the fact that Cryptic Studios had two prior games to refine all of the elements around the game itself. The character creator, for example, is very clearly a derived form of the one from Champions Online and Star Trek Online. I like it, since it strikes an overall good balance between power and having certain guidelines for your character, but it does feel like the weak cousin of the batch.

The lack of having posing hurts it a bit, too. You can’t give your character a default stance, and that goes a long way toward defining personality just visually. Minor quibbles, really; “a weaker version of STO’s character creator” is still pretty good.

Once you’ve finished character creation, you’re immediately flung into an attack on Neverwinter by marauding undead. This, to my mind, is a good piece of storytelling. I’ve mentioned in the past that I do not care for this setting, because it’s largely generic fantasy stretched as far as it will go, but this doesn’t require you to dive into lore in order to understand what’s going on. You’re here, there are undead, pick up a weapon and help instead of being a target.

It also paints you not as The Incredible Hero but as one person who contributes to a victory, which is important but not a free pass. In short, it does just what an introduction ought to do, giving you a hook to get into the game and keep going without casting you as a unique one-of-a-kind hero or leaving you as someone without any stake in things.

Yeah, it feels weird that this is really the best intro experience out of the Choose My Adventure games I’ve played so far.

Once you’re inside the city proper, the game establishes its overall flow, which I’m a bit less enthusiastic about. Essentially, it’s the same structure as STO, which itself was mostly a series of City of Horoes-style door missions. You talk to a dude and he sums up the situation, you go to a place to start the little mini-dungeon. Then you accomplish some set of goals within that mini-dungeon, which invariably seem to involve killing everything within the map and looting items off of their corpse.

It’s not a structure I tremendously like, but it has a long pedigree of working just fine. I do hold it against the game a bit, however, because it really emphasizes the idea that every sort of quest you head on is almost entirely a solo experience. Guilt Wars used the same structure, but it also did that a decade ago; I expect more recent games to have found more diverse ways to handle zones.

Still, I can’t complain too much. I like door missions, and at the end of the day I’m having fun. Part of that is down to the Scourge Warlock itself, which is a pet class that more or l0ess isn’t a pet class. Killing enemies with the right abilities summons a temporary Soul Puppet, which will happily attack enemies and deal damage on my behalf without ever really asking for micromanagement. You don’t feel crippled without one, at least not at lower levels, but you’re always happy to have one show up.

Check out all my orbs.I was hoping for a bit more melee gameplay, especially considering the grip on the pact blade, but the Scourge Warlock is very much in the ranged damage mold. THat is, however, just fine. The core of the gameplay is spamming your abilities and then waiting for the bigger ones to come off of cooldown, but even at lower levels there’s some strategy involved. You want to use the right skill as a kill spell, for example, because that summons a Soul Puppet; you want to kill enemies to unleash a big hit when right-clicking things; you want to drain life when you can because that’s your only way of restoring health mid-combat. There’s some actual mechanical heft.

Really, the biggest actual problem I have with the game at this point is the fact the the running animations for lady tieflings look pretty awful. Once I draw my pact blade we’re all good, but until then the running animation is oddly stiff and awkward. That might seem like a fairly minor problem, but considering how much time you spend running from place to place, it comes up.

But when it comes to actually playing the game? Yeah, I’m having fun. Yes, I can see where RNG and cash shop stuff might become beyond annoying, but the actual moment-to-moment gameplay is fun, active without being overwhelming and crisply responsive. Being able to quickly use a spectral float out of the path of danger feels very natural, movement is smooth even when the animations aren’t, and my abilities feel responsive and important right from the start. All of this makes me happy.

For this week’s poll, there’s not much in the way of choices about where to go, but there is an interesting element of the game to consider. Unlike CO and STO, there isn’t really a pure subscription option for Neverwinter… but there also kind of is. You can opt to pay money for a month of benefits, with each subsequent month offering you more benefits until you’ve topped out at Tier XII. It’s an odd system, feeling at a glance more like purchased veteran benefits than anything.

On the one hand, this is clearly meant to be surplus to requirements for the game, and I can see an argument being made that it might paint an inaccurate picture of the game as a whole. On the other hand, it could also be argued that part of this column is the fact that yes, I subscribe when I play something for a month, even when I don’t have to. So rather than making the decision myself, I’m going to turn that question over to you guys.

CMA: Should I buy a VIP month in Neverwinter?

  • Yes, it's an important part of the experience. (32%, 57 Votes)
  • No, it's not really a subscription. (68%, 121 Votes)

Total Voters: 178

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As is the case every week, the polls will close on Friday at 6:00 p.m. EDT, giving you plenty of time to get your responses in. You can also feel free to let me know your thoughts down in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week will also have the benefit of me not having to rush to get in playtme before flying away for a few days, so that’s a good thing.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Eliot each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures — and you get to decide his fate. It’s kind of a pity that “tiefling warlock” is such a thing; you wouldn’t think that half-demons would be happy to do more demonic things. Maybe it’s just a keeping up with the Joneses thing.
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14 Comments on "Choose My Adventure: Getting started in Neverwinter"

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Catalin Stoian

I played alot of MMO’s and all of them got me to the point where grinding was boring and made me give up on them, or really made you do so many boring chores for some stupid guilds and so on. Neverwinter is not one of those games. You can have alot of fun just playing it, and without even noticing, you end up grinding for better gear but don’t feel so much caught in it. It just feel natural, like you want to do that. No one is forcing you to do it. And for the people that say the game keeps you interested untill around lvl 40, they should know that the game really starts at lvl 70. That’s when the real experience starts. Try to get there and then you will see. You will get really addicted.

Reader
overbyte

What the hell is wrong with the editing in this article?

There is a horrifying amount of typos and spelling errors. Surely this is by design but I can’t see a reason for it.

Terrible job mop

Shintar
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Kickstarter Donor
Shintar

I voted no because while I think that VIP is a worthwhile investment for a dedicated player, I don’t see it making much of a difference to a playthrough like this. If you do want to spend some money on the game, save it until you get sufficiently annoyed with your standard mount due to how slow it is and how easy it is to get dismounted. :P I still think that buying a better mount was the best thing I ever spent money on in that game; it made a real difference to my enjoyment.

As for the “door missions”, you will continue to find a couple of these in every zone, but the levelling content as a whole contains a lot more questing in the open world once you make it past the tutorial levels.

syriondeathwalker
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syriondeathwalker

Why pay for VIP? I played for almost a year and never payed any money. The game allows you to earn money easily for store purchases. I would buy VIP in chunks of 6 months at a time. And I wasnt even hardcore with the time I put into it. I just did my daily dungeons and just played the game.

pepperzine
Reader
pepperzine

Still wishing you would have ended up in DCUO instead of Neverwinter :(

Reader
Kickstarter Donor

I really like some aspects of Neverwinter (I think the environments are lovely, I like the D&D coat of paint, the first few regions culminating in the cursed tower instance are fun, and the combat isn’t bad), but the F2P cash-grab portion is terrible, the gameplay wears thin pretty quickly, and the storyline peters out after a decent beginning to be a random allotment of campaigns that aren’t particularly fun.

Reader
Panzerbjorne

It’s cute to see Eliot trying so much to be optimistic. Just give it time bud.

Reader
A Dad Supreme

I played this on PS4 up until about level 43, then I checked out some videos on YouTube to get an idea on how to do refining with the gems.

After watching a few of them I realized that unless you sub, this game is a gigantic money grab. While I have no problem subbing with MMOs (prefer it actually), Neverwinter doesn’t feel like a full fledged MMO but more like a lobby-ish type adventure and definitely more F2P rather than being worthy of a true sub.

Between getting almost as many lockbox drops as healing potions, not enough astral diamonds to do or buy anything and the amount of RNG involved if/when you get enough items, I just can’t bring myself to get involved in this game.

I went over to Skyforge as it’s the same type of console game imo (not really MMO worthy) but the things they offer are far more achievable as a F2P player without having to spend loads of cash shop items.

On the plus side, the Scourge Warlock is a pretty fun class to play solo.

Reader
Matthew Yetter

This really does pretty well sum things up. The game does a great job of hooking you for about the first 30-40 levels. At that point, you quickly start to run up against the paywall. You know that yes, you can theoretically accomplish most everything without spending money but you also know it’s going to be VERY painful.

Adding insult to injury, if you do pay for VIP they apparently figure that they’ve got you hooked and it’s time to reel you in. You start encountering a lot of limited time coupons for 20% off a mount, for example — but only one of the ones for sale in the Zen store. After all, if you’ve already spent some money, why wouldn’t you want to spend even more?

And that applies to a lot of the rest of the paywall stuff: You spend money to get over it, only to find out that you haven’t spent enough.

Then there are the things that are broken. The game launched with big hype about the Foundry system. Only to have key elements of the system broken at launch. And their fix? Take it offline! Sure, you’ll get a quest to talk to the Harper agent and visit the bulletin board so that you can do player-created stuff. At level 15 you’ll also get mail telling you that you’ve now unlocked the Foundry and can start creating that stuff. Yay! Except that when you try to do it, you get a message that it “isn’t available right now.” Looking online, you find out that “right now” equals “for the last several months.”

It really does feel like Cryptic is more about making a buck through various treadmills than actually creating a great game.

Enjoy it while you can. By the time you’re done with your article, you will most likely be ready to move on to the next game. But you will have had fun for at least most of your month.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Legend Of Vinny T

The abundance of door missions probably has something to do with Neverwinter’s basic gameplay design preceding Perfect World’s arrival. Cryptic was aiming for a more Diablo-like lobby and instance experience. PWE only has a “Lockbox-Funded MMO” hammer though, and NW didn’t look enough like a nail, so this is the compromise we got.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Ashfyn Ninegold

Yes, combat in Neverwinter is fun, classes are fun, skills are fun, events are fun, followers are fun. The world as designed is fun, even dungeons are fun. It certainly kept me coming back for more and more.

There’s just this thing called the paywall. And you will hit it, when suddenly you can’t advance significantly without stuff, stuff that you can either grind endlessly for or just straight up pay for.

It just took the shine off the game for me, that constant tugging at my wallet. However, if you can afford to continually pony up bucks, the game has a lot going for it.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Tobasco da Gama

I voted “no”, but mainly because I think it’s only fair for readers of the column to see what the game is like when you actually try to play it without the sub…

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