Choose My Adventure: Getting started in Neverwinter

This land, which we shall call... this land.
Oh boy, Neverwinter! I am legitimately excited about this cycle’s Choose My Adventure pick, in no small part because the only reason I have not yet played Neverwinter in any serious capacity is because I am an idiot. Or cursed with more enthusiasm than with actual free time. It’s kind of a fifty-fifty split, here.

See, I still remember first seeing Neverwinter in person at PAX East one of these years. (All of the PAX Easts kind of blur together in a mess of overcrowded convention halls, Boston weather, and occasional hotel stays.) I have more or less no attachment to the original games in the franchise, and frankly it looked like it was going to be pretty great. I was really looking forward to playing it myself.

Instead, I think I just played a lot of other games and never actually even installed it. I’m sure I had my reasons. I’m not sure they were good reasons, though.

Neverwinter is part of the triumvirate of games from Cryptic Studios, alongside Champions Online and Star Trek Online. It also has the interesting distinction of having always been designed as a free-to-play game, while its other titles were initially designed as subscription games and later converted to the free-to-play model. Also, it’s the heir to a series of titles that managed to thrive and earn a lot of love due to extreme modding flexibility, which is why it launched with player-made content built into the framework.

I couldn’t tell you at this point how relevant that still was, but I’m sure I’ll have some idea by the time this particular jaunt is over.

When I played the game, I was very impressed. For one thing, it had some very fun and responsive action combat, something that always earns a few nods and appreciative glances from me. For another thing, while it’s based off of the almost universally loathed 4th Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules, it did journeyman work toward making those restrictive rules work for the game rather than against it. It’s almost like those rules were intended from the start to work well with a video game.

Plus, tieflings. I like tieflings a lot.

Of course, then you get reminded about the setting.

The only real downside I saw was that it’s yet another D&D game set in the Forgotten Realms. I don’t like the Forgotten Realms. The Forgotten Realms are the fantasy setting you come up with when you’re a kid and think that Middle-earth was cool, but what would make it even cooler was seven million different dragon subtypes with different elemental abilities. It’s the poster child for the game’s Gygaxian roots, where everything is really meant as a short hop and skip into another dungeon crawl with a new set of beasties to kill. Trademarked generic fantasy, in other words.

There’s a whole essay to be written about that, too, but it’s rather tangential to this column at the moment. And hey, it’s not like there were a whole lot of options; the eponymous city was in the Forgotten Realms, so we couldn’t just hop to Planescape or Dark Sun or even Dragonlance without some pretty big question marks. Not to mention that the original Neverwinter Nights bothered to make the collections of baddies to beat up have, like, motives and goals and wants.

As long as we avoid any noble Drow shunning their ancestors, I think we’ll be all right. (Not that I expect to actually have that option.)

In other words, while it’s not exactly my first choice for a setting, or even in the top ten, it’s not really a deal-breaker. What kept me from diving into the game wasn’t the setting; it just came down to time and availability. And now I get to dive into it. Hooray for ongoing community polls.

Neverwinter also occupies an interesting position of clearly making a good amount of money for its designers while simultaneously having a large number of detractors who follow the game with a fervor. Remember how I mentioned above that it was designed as a free-to-play game from the start? Yeah, that means all of the stuff I don’t like about Cryptic’s free-to-play model has been on full display since day one. And that’s something I’ve never really encountered personally, simply because their other games are ones I’ll subscribe to when I play.

Subtle changes.

What’s Star Trek Online like when you play for free? I have no idea; I don’t play it that way. I know that the lockboxes as loot drops irritate me, but seeing as how I’m being fed a steady string of in-game currency and can refine plenty of Dilithium for more, I don’t really have an organic picture of the free side of the game. Not so in Neverwinter; I’ll be on the level with everyone else, swimming in the same free waters.

Of course, I don’t think Neverwinter lets me drop $50 on a bunch of spaceships, but that’s more of a genre shift. (Let me know if I’m wrong; I won’t say no to having a Romulan ship to use on an ancient blue dragon.) The point is that there are no real workarounds here, or at least not like they exist in the other games.

But the game does well. It makes money, it keeps a steady stream of content going, it’s available on consoles, and when I played before, I had fun with the basic mechanics. So I’m looking forward to this, and if I turn out to be wrong, we can all go ahead and point and laugh at me.

Obviously, this being the first week, I need you all to determine a thing or two about my character. Specifically, I need to figure out what class I’ll be playing. There’s a remarkably small list, I find, but we can work around that. Since this is one of the rare times when I don’t know much about the classes, I’ve had to rely a wee bit upon looking things up. What are my options?

Monster is not an option, of course.

Great Weapon Fighter – You all know I have had endless amounts of fun with this class name. Let’s be real, though, this also does fall into the wheelhouse of classes I like to play. You know what’s better than spending years of arcane study mastering spells to warp the very elements? Rendering all of that study useless with a well-placed sledgehammer to the face.

Hunter Ranger – This is actually a bit outside of my wheelhouse, but you know what I think is pretty cool? Classes which are both ranged and melee. I like when you have classes that don’t lock you into a specific range but let you move back and forth as the situation warrants. And hey, it’s a good thing for me to move a bit outside of my comfort zone.

Scourge Warlock – See above about experimenting with new things, but add in the fact that I am actually really curious about this class in general. Lifestealing, summoning dark horrors, and implementing horrid curses? I can be down with that, it sounds pretty fun.

Trickster Rogue – This would be the class I actually played through in those demos so long ago, and let me tell you, it still appeals to my love of sneaking around and dual-wielding. I appreciate having a rogue class focused more on agility and nimbleness than just dropping in and out of stealth, to boot.

So which class will I go for? Inquiring minds (me) want to know!

CMA: What will my class be?

  • Great Weapon Fighter (18%, 54 Votes)
  • Hunter Ranger (21%, 61 Votes)
  • Trickster Rogue (15%, 44 Votes)
  • Scourge Warlock (46%, 138 Votes)

Total Voters: 297

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The poll closes on Friday at 6 p.m. EDT, so let me know what you think here and down in the comments. Feedback is welcome before and after the poll concludes down in the comments below or via mail to

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. He had the presence of mind to delete a lengthy digression talking about how Dungeons & Dragons has a number of interesting settings, none of which are the Forgotten Realms. No one really wants to read all of that chatter about Planescape.


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Paola Rosa

One of the best classes available for DPs is GWF, if you want to top the charts end game I would definitely go with the GWF as first choice and SW or CW as second choice. I have a CW and enjoy the class alot very easy to do tons of damage to multiple enemies at once.

Dolnor .

Neverwinter Community Twitch Broadcast – The Driftwood Tavern #3 – 11am PDT – May 12 –

Everyone plays the Scourge…so I picked something else in the poll.


Kickstarter Donor

A couple of points for Eliot and anyone playing this game;
1. There is a subscription (of sorts), where you can get a daily reward from an NPC.
2. Inventory space is at a premium, and at least when I was playing this, the lock-boxes become very intrusive (different types of lock-boxes, all taking up space)
3. Companions are important, come in tiers and (again at least when I was playing) could be completely overpowered (a fully levelled-35 companion from a ‘main’ when taken out by an alt character could kill everything for you)
4. Daily logins and a favor system were the key (not sure if they still are), it was important to ‘pray’ on cooldown, and collect the experience/buffs/rewards.

Bruno Brito

Sounds really pay to win. I know the PvP was a mess, but i was hoping things would be a bit better nowadays. I feel a great urge to pick up this game again.

Welp, back to GW2 and WoW pservers i guess.


I like my Warlock, its fun as fuck. I love the power and movement in combat, trumps my trickster in a lot of ways.

Robert Mann

NW… isn’t bad except for things like mounts, companions, and getting certain consumables or stronghold stuff done with a smaller group. That’s where the cash shop comes firmly into play.

They did allow a system for people to buy from those spending the money, but in many cases that same currency is something you could get other cool stuff from. The player made content, well, they have shifted their focus away from it over time it seems.

Matthew Yetter

Sadly, they shifted their focus away pretty much at launch. There were quite a few bugs in The Foundry at launch and I don’t believe a single one of them has ever been fixed.


I could never get past the animations of this game


I could never get past the publisher.

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Kickstarter Donor
Paragon Lost

Like DDO, ESO, I could never get past the UI. :(


Every time I think about playing NW, I just say “Cryptic Studios” to myself. After which the spell is lifted, and I shuffle off to play games by reputable studio’s that don’t price gouge the crap out of me.

But I wish you the best of luck!! :)


Don’t forget “Perfect World”, they just as bad or worse than Cryptic. Those 2 together is like The Perfect Storm.


Gotta love the irony in that name right? =)


There are 8 classes, why are you only listing 4? Also can we choose race with that too?

Kickstarter Donor

I suspect race is already chosen as a Tiefling, based on

Plus, tieflings. I like tieflings a lot.


I’m glad NW won, especially since i re-installed it just yesterday. It’s been a while since i’ve played, but it was relatively easy enough to jump back on my Cleric and continue going through the campaigns. Speaking of campaigns, from the first look it seems like there is a crap ton of content ahead of me (only at lvl 26), so i’m excited about that.

One thing that’s bothering me is the sheer amount of currencies and the monetization model. The system is very convoluted and overly complicated to digest. It really makes me appreciate the minimalistic model of ESO when it comes to handling microtransaction currency.


I voted for Scourge Warlock cuz it was the button closest to my cursor.

I was hoping for Cleric or Tank.