One of the problems with having siblings is that, even as you reach adulthood, you never know what to play. You need a game that pleases everyone. When there’s three of you plus one extra person, it’s even harder. For example, two of you might want to play Overwatch while the other two want to play Team Fortress 2. Or maybe three of you play Warframe but one of you flat out refuses to touch it ever again. Perhaps you could all play Borderlands 2 but everyone’s sick of that damn intro area. Someone might suggest a new game and half your circle rolls their eyes because they have no money and can’t afford to buy a new game, or because they tried it and hated it.
This conundrum was the reason why I downloaded Neverwinter. We needed a four-player game to play, a free game, something coop-based that didn’t take too much disc space and that we’d all enjoy.
Neverwinter is an MMO based on Dungeons and Dragons, with all the right trademarks and everything.
After a long cutscene showing off the various classes, you get a small collection of humanoid races to choose from, nine classes and the ability to roll dice to set your basic D&D stats. Because strength, constitution, intelligence, wisdom and all that are part of making your character. You can give your character a name, pick from a large number of locations as part of your backstory and write a small bio for your character. The choice of species is actually pretty good, with humans, half-orcs, dwarves, three types of elf, half-elfs halfings and tieflings to choose from, but there’s also a couple of purchase-only races, most notably Dragonborns. Except you can’t seem to just buy them right there and then and that annoys me. Don’t dangle a race of magic metal dragon people in front of me and tell me I can only get them as a rare chance in a box!
The cool thing though is the character creator. You can actually make quite a nice character using Neverwinter’s system. I mean, it’s not Black Desert Online levels of deep and customizable, but for a free to play game and an older one at that, it’s pretty good. Of course, if you’re playing with others, you always have to wait for some one to finish messing around with their character.
Actually, the art in general is rather nice. It’s not super detailed or anything but there’s a consistent art style and it certainly is pleasing to the eye. The female characters though look way nicer than the male ones. There’s tons of cool-looking creatures and monsters as well, even if you’ll be murdering many of them in groups together. It’s a fantasy setting and everything looks the part.
What is nice though is how big and lively the hubs are. Or at least how lively Neverwinter itself is. Lots of NPCs wandering around.
Anyway, onto the gameplay. The gameplay is… uh…
I’ll be honest, the gameplay is that of any fantasy MMO. You have an attacking weapon, you have some abilities or spells that are gated by cooldowns and you have a super powerful ability that needs to be charged up in some way. It’s very standard, everything’s just been given D&D-related named. It’s all pretty standard, you just need to figure what’s strong and what isn’t. I took the Cleric so I could heal things, and the Cleric was mostly alright, definitely playable and useful. But I could have picked some way more fun-looking classes, like the Warlock or the Rogue.
There were some things I found interesting though. Like how most experience I earned was earned by doing quests rather than just killing things. The Rogue on our team though quickly raced ahead as he could earn experience by disarming traps and the rest of us hadn’t quite found our own useful perks yet. Oh and there are missions that only people of a certain class or race can do, which is kinda meh when two of you are Drow and the other two aren’t.
In terms of loot, well, it’s not always even. Only quest rewards are given to each player, everything is dished out in a handful of ways, from “need or greed” (those who need the loot roll for it) or everyone just rolling and whoever gets the highest score wins. Some items require “identification scrolls”, consumable items to see what the loot actually is. Sometimes though you’ll end up with loot you can’t use, and since trading is locked away behind some quests and level 15, you have a choice of letting it clutter up your limited inventory space or selling it.
But frankly, the early game in Neverwinter is really forgiving. Not only are the enemies pretty easy and the missions straightforward, but it periodically rewards you with increasingly better loot for your class, so you improve slowly.
Neverwinter also gives you a horse to run around with really early on. Which is fucking amazing because walking is really fucking slow. Okay, if you’re playing a rogue or something, you can roll. But good luck if you’re playing a slow-ass dwarf. The horses are basically a necessity because the maps are pretty darn large. Especially the hub area.
Overall, did I enjoy playing Neverwinter? Yeah. Would I play it in the future? Probably. But would I get invested in it? Probably not. It’s fun and pretty but it’s a pretty standard MMO.
Then again, I’m not really a fan of MMOs…