Marching Through the Cold in Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter

E3 2012: We take a fantasy-laden gander at Cryptic Studio's take on the D&D universe, which should not be confused with BioWare's Neverwinter Nights.

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Sometimes it takes a certain something to stand out in a puddle of free-to-play mass multiplayer games. Whether it's taking cues from Borderland's art style like Firefall or just being a sequel to a classic like Tribes, developers just need that edge to get people's heads turning and forget about the supposed bad reputation the F2P model has. Cryptic Studio, the same company that did the Star Trek and City of Heroes MMO game, definitely has that something: the Dungeons & Dragons license to play around with.

Based on what we've experienced in Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter, it's definitely being faithful to the tabletop RPG's ethos of forcing you to stick together towards completing a campaign. Most MMO games do that, we concede, but the way it's done here is not only in real time and fast-paced, but also action heavy and tactical. Lead producer Andy Velasquez said that future open-air dungeons and instances will require one or two groups of five classes banding together since they will be impossible to conquer in a group consisting of just two classes.

The build we checked out had the guardian fighter, the control wizard, and the trickster rogue up for playtesting. All three were self-explanatory: the fighter acts as the tank and up-close damage dealer, the wizard pelts enemies with spells from afar and gives buffs, and the rogue sneaks around and deals maximum damage from the shadows while not getting hurt. We used the rogue because stabbing people in the back is fun. In addition to our standard melee attack composed of five hits, the rogue can teleport behind someone instantly and slash him or her from behind.

The rogue can also turn invisible (not within the line of enemy sight), throw daggers at mid-range, and launch a decoy to distract enemies. While we had no trouble tackling the current quest by ourselves, we were told that having more players inside will boost up the rewards as well as scale enemy levels accordingly.

For our playthrough in a ruined temple located within an unnamed mountain area, we had to collect two amulets to open up a door to a crypt. Our adversaries were wolves, archers, and warriors dressed up as wolves, and shamans who can summon wolves to do their bidding (pretty obvious pattern, yes?). Powerful enemy spells will have red lines and shapes on the ground showing where they'll hit. Velasquez said that this is to ensure that enemies don't come off as cheap; the grids will usually show if the spell packs a deadly wallop. He compared this to the telegraphed attacks from bosses in Devil May Cry and Bayonetta.

As short as our playthrough was, we came away pretty impressed with its presentation and core mechanics. While we couldn't ask in time why Cryptic Studios went for the free-to-play model, it really didn't matter in the long run. It feels polished and easy to get into within a few minutes thanks to its reaction-heavy action, provided you understand the basis of the role you pick. The game will obviously thrive from its brand alone (and possibly from people mistaking it for the next iteration of BioWare's Neverwinter Nights series), but it's nice to know that the actual gameplay isn't something whipped up at the last minute.

D&D: Neverwinter will be out this year and will be free to play. A closed beta session will be happening in the coming months.

Discussion

12 comments
Arcturuss
Arcturuss

So.. Its not actually a DnD game?

bblotus
bblotus

I've always been a self described hard core gamer but these days my attention wanders easier and I will often put a game down. Then randomly come back to it months later. Aion is a monthly membership. Recently I thought "Hmm I feel like playing Aion for a few days..." but then realized paying $20+ for a couple of days wasn't worth it. Now I play League Of Legends instead. When I buy something, it's mine to keep forever, waiting for me to come back and play whenever. And all the skinns, champions, etc. I haven't bought - doesn't make me feel like I'm mising out on something.

 

Actually between Civilization 4 and League Of Legends are the best values I have ever gotten for my money. I have nothing against F2P when it's implemented correctly. All these whinners are just such cheap asses. Maybe it's because we are in the age of pirating media. But I have no problem paying for decent quality entertainment whether the price is all up front, or just the parts that I want to use.

Viktormon
Viktormon

Been following this since I'm actually a fan of Cryptic's previous titles, it's nice to see that it seems to turn out good. What'll definetly do the deal for me is if the Forge, the dungeon creator, is easy to use, and not too restricted by the F2P, because if there's something that annoyes me, it's when playing free feels like a big restriction. The free play should be used to get a taste of the good of the game, and make you want to pay for it.

gix47
gix47

f2p=vomit

loved the 1st NWN,disliked the 2nd and will pass on the 3rd, i have seen nothing that makes it unique or worthy of being called NWN, just another cash cow

Kaiinel
Kaiinel

They probably went with the F2P model not to end up like SWTOR.

Seraphim212
Seraphim212

@Arcturuss No, and its made by a questionable company.  Not Cryptic, but Perfect World Entertainment.  The company has a BBB grade of an (F).  

TsingTaoBeer
TsingTaoBeer

@Arcturuss This game is made by a fraudulent company that defrauds its consumers, Perfect World Entertainment.  I know the developer is Cryptic, but doesnt change the fact PWE intends to use two trusted US brands to enact their fraudulent schemes.  I didnt believe it either.  Go see on Facebook "Neverwinter Alert".  The companies fraud is fairly evident.

Nalrune
Nalrune

@Arcturuss It is a DnD game, hence it's called Dungeons and Dragons: Neverwinter

It's just not made by BioWare once.
It's not made by the founders of DnD twice.
It's made by Cryptic Studios thrice.

pinching_perry
pinching_perry

 @gix47This may be a spiritual successor to Neverwinter Nights, but not in regards to Gameplay, other than their shared name. This is not a continuation of the Neverwinter Nights series. 

Petnos
Petnos

 @gix47

 I think what he meant by ''Not to be confused with Bioware's Neverwinter Nights'' was to not confuse it with Bioware's Neverwinter Nights.

Also don't hate so much on F2Ps, in the end you get a hell of a lot more that what you pay for for most games...

In fact, most F2Ps would actually be relatively decent if not for the horrible communities they seem to attract.

jmmijo
jmmijo

 @Petnos  @gix47

 Hmm, you said it yourself, the horrible communities that F2P seem to attract is one reason not to like these types of games.

 

Everyone will have their own opinion on games as in Art, Music, Movies etc., each to their own tastes.