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Review

Neverwinter - Launch Review

  • First Released
  • Reviewed: July 10, 2013
  • PC

Neverwinter's combat is very good, but not quite good enough to carry the thin game built around it.

Neverwinter does one thing particularly well: combat. This Dungeons & Dragons-themed online game wants you to feel the clash of steel on steel, and the impact of magic missiles on Orcish flesh. Forget the tab-targeting so common (but increasingly less common) to games of this type: hover your targeting reticle over your foe and then swing that sword or fire that arcane spell. Like Tera and other action-focused MMOGs before it, Neverwinter wants to feel like an action game, and while you need to consider role-playing tropes like skill cooldowns, it succeeds at making your key presses and mouse clicks translate immediately into sword swings and healing magic. In Neverwinter, it's fun to go to battle.

If only Neverwinter had applied a similar amount of cleverness to its other features. From a structural standpoint, this is as shallow as MMOGs come, leading you from one waypoint to the next with as little fanfare as possible, and showering you with so much experience that you could blow through the main quests and hit maximum level in a matter of days. There is a bare minimum of developer-provided content, layered into a network of overworld areas and winding dungeons that never coalesce into an enticing world. If you have played Cryptic's previous games, such as Star Trek Online or Champions Online, then you will recognize Neverwinter's segmented design.

It's not that a highly directed theme park-style MMOG is inherently bad--it's that Neverwinter's quests don't benefit from diversity of action, great writing, or any element of surprise. You do all or many of the quests in a zone, get your rewards, and then move on to the next area to do the same basic things all over again. This is a familiar trope, of course, but most similar games make valiant efforts to overcome it, mixing up the rhythm with interactive weaponry, puzzle elements, explorable landscapes, and so forth. In Neverwinter, there is no disguising the monotony: you are just killing wolves, collecting objects, and flipping switches, with no greater sense of purpose, and with too little diversity to goose the proceedings.

Eat my arcane bolts, vile beast!

Neverwinter has some tales to tell, and most quest-givers are fully voiced. But few of those tales are compelling on their own, and most of the voice acting is mediocre at best, so you'll probably find yourself taking the quest and trotting off without reading the lore-heavy text or hearing the NPC finish his or her verbose tale of misery. The good news is that other players are there to take up the slack, thanks to Neverwinter's foundry, which allows amateur designers to create their own quests and send you towards adventures unknown.

The game makes it easy to discover the best of these adventures, or to find ones with local entrances, and while there are some clunkers, many of them are a cut above Neverwinter's official quests. One user-created gem has you investigating the theft of some foul-smelling cheese, and dealing with the unhealthy repercussions of finding it. Another features a role-playing game within a role-playing game within a role-playing game. Still another has you traveling through time to participate in sepia-toned memories. It isn't impossibly difficult to create a quest yourself, and finding great ones is a delight. It's too bad that the game's own creators couldn't infuse the main quests with similar amounts of wit.

A cool and mysterious quest? Must be a player-crafted one.

User-made quests scale extremely well to your level, so you never need worry that you're leaving any interesting player-created content behind. Much (if not most) of this content is tailored to solo players, and the main quests are perfectly soloable as well, though you'll typically have a single AI companion with you. You can accumulate a number of companions. They come in a number of forms (animal, human) and can assist you in a number of ways (magic, melee), but don't expect an impressive display of artificial intelligence from them. You cannot assign them passive or aggressive behaviors as you often can with pets in other MMOGs, though you can periodically send them off to training so that they might learn new skills. Companions never seem like much of a boon in combat, however, and as a result, the most popular and effective companions are those like cats and floating gems that don't participate in combat at all and instead offer passive bonuses.

Once you're far enough along, training your pets takes a matter of hours. You can summon one of your other hirelings during this time, or if you're in a hurry to get your beloved panther back into the fray, you can always complete the process immediately by spending astral diamonds. Those diamonds are a currency in limited supply, and typically, you must refine them before you can use them. Furthermore, the amount of diamonds you can refine in a day is fixed, thus limiting the activities you can use the diamonds for. And they are used for all sorts of mundane tasks: removing armor enchantments, making auction house purchases, or hurrying along the gathering of materials for crafting, which is performed by unseen hirelings you send off into the wilderness with the click of a button. (If you like, you can use your web browser to manage these profession tasks without running the game client, which is a nice touch.)

Tired of the easy questing? Try proving your worth in PvP battles.

And so astral diamonds are valuable, given how important they are to everyday tasks. Furthermore, it's hard to look at the 17-hour timer on hiring a new mercenary and not want to click that "Finish Now" button and spend 71,000 diamonds on completing the process immediately. It should be no surprise, then, that you can buy publisher Perfect World's currency, called Zen, with real money--and then exchange some Zen for previously refined diamonds. Buying Zen is a great lure considering how scant and repetitive the content is that you must grind to earn astral diamonds without dropping the cash. Other items, like companion slots, bags, and mounts, can be just straight-up bought with Zen. Even others require you to make sense of a ridiculous number of different currencies: gold, celestial coins, trade bars, seals, and more.

You can, of course, play Neverwinter without spending money on such conveniences, though you might not feel as effective as you'd like without the best gear possible, whether that be from the auction house, or from vendors that accept seals or ardent coins. Fortunately, even if you don't feel like you're the most powerful mage or fighter in the Forgotten Realms, it's entertaining to fling spells around or carve up Ashmadai cultists with a razor-sharp blade. The combat is loosely (very loosely) based on D&D's fourth edition rules, and gives you a set number of slots for various types of skills. As you level, you earn points to spend on new skills, possibly choosing to replace one skill with another when it becomes available.

Mounts are handy, though zones aren't so big that traveling through them is all that time-consuming.

And Neverwinter is all about that combat. Your alignment, your chosen deity--these Dungeons & Dragons staples mean nothing. It's all about which of the five classes you choose, because that choice is what determines how you annihilate spiders and pit fiends. Combat is at its most robust in dungeons and action-focused scenarios called skirmishes, if only because the pace of group content has momentum that overworld content lacks. Hearing the metallic swipes of your daggers and watching them carve noticeable slashes through the air makes monster encounters enjoyable; a mage simultaneously flinging shards of ice enhances the pleasure. While the large majority of Neverwinter's content is on the easy side, some of the later dungeons can get tricky. A giant boss called Ethraniev Marrowslake summons shadow wolves to her side, for instance, which leap about the battlefield and harass the team, forcing you to devise a team tactic--something you probably hadn't needed to do up to that point.

Until around level 40 (out of 60), you find that just hammering on enemies and healing your teammates from time to time is a perfectly reasonable way to triumph in these five-person instances. Sadly, there are no large-scale raid dungeons, or rather little of anything that you could call large-scale in Neverwinter, aside from the eerie Dwarven city of Gauntlgrym, which brings max-level, guild-affiliated players together for a 20-on-20 player-versus-player bloodbath. To get to the PvP fun in Gauntlgrym, however, you must slog through a bit of nondescript monster battling first--and if you want to show off your PvP prowess before you reach level 60, limited five-versus-five battles are the only way to do it.

Another great quest from the foundry. The game's developer would do well to learn from its audience.

Those 10-player battles are plenty colorful, and the battle system is entertaining enough to make PvP fun for a time, but one competitive mode on two maps--one of which is in the rotation far more frequently--isn't a lot of content to keep you invested. You could say the same about Neverwinter in general, actually: there just isn't much substance here. After 40 hours or so, you've traveled the howling corridors of The Chasm, battled across Rothe Valley's autumnal meadows, and fought winter wolves atop Icespire Peak. It's a shame that the journey doesn't leave you more epic tales to tell.

The Good
Entertaining combat system
Dungeons and skirmishes feature some challenging encounters
Foundry gives rise to some wonderful player-created content
The Bad
Incredibly dry, predictable world structure
Mediocre writing and lack of diversity make for boring questing
You can run through the central content in a matter of days
6
Fair
About GameSpot's Reviews
Other Platform Reviews for Neverwinter

About the Author

Kevin VanOrd loves role-playing games, Pepsi products, and cats, and refuses to let you judge him for those things!

Discussion

347 comments
yasaswy
yasaswy

This game somehow drags me back into it. And I spend a lot of time in combat oriented games like Dota 2(~6K Hrs sinece 3 Yrs) ..Graphics are ok to play not terrible.. I love the Combat feels.. Ofc we need to shuffle spells from AOE to Single target according to enemy but whatever spell we choose if feels good to execute.. Haters can hate and waste their life while players can have fun..

mixalisss13
mixalisss13

FOR EVERYONE THAT SAY THIS GAME SUCKS GUESS WHAT ..ITS FREE ....!

ferna1234
ferna1234

i find it so lame that all newer MMO RPGs kind of turn you into a powerhouse within the first minutes of gameplay. there's no need for new weapons or armor, since you're always going along well with what you're given, there's no point in collecting money to buy/craft/trade items because you don't actually need them. there's no craving for exp for level ups, and skill increase because you're always in "the right area suited for your level" so killing monstes is never a challenge.
what wow did right is that it makes you start from the bottom (at leas before the newer expansions) that's what makes a game interesting and addicting. Noticing how you're slowly growing up with your efforts, not just sitting there and watching the whole thing go along almost by its own.

LaStOfThE
LaStOfThE

So it's crap. Too bad, too bad.

whtever86
whtever86

Not good for casual players. They lied about everything for sale with real money being only cosmetic and not giving players advantage over others. They stated that in an interview pre-launch. Things for earned in game currency are so high that it would take a casual player far too long to be able to purchase what is needed. Everything in the game that makes it fun also costs real money otherwise its generally boring. Game play is restrictive, classes do not have good symmetry making dungeons a real pain. Horrible class imbalances in pvp as usual. Cryptic's attempts at trying to fix it have been few and far between resulting in disaster.  Can't change specs with out spending money so it's either pvp or pve. When I left the game 2 months ago there was no way to re-q a dungeon group with one or more bosses killed if a member dropped. No way to add players to a pvp battle in progress if one dropped out. Terrible bot problems. Cute in appearance but should have taken all references over PG rating and ability to chat out and just made it a kid game like Wizzard 101.

OblivionsFlower
OblivionsFlower

I'm about to give this a try, since it's f2p.


I get the feeling I'll be rapidly returning to Path of Exile for my action style RPG fix, though : /

moldyspud
moldyspud

Who in their right mind would say that this combat is good?? This isn't the worst, but it isn't good by any means! The gameplay is horrible, clunky, laggy, and boring. Why would they say this crap? It's completely inaccurate! I just don't understand how anyone could like this and find it addicting. You have to stand there and get hit in order to attack, it's pathetic. Why do I have to stop to swing? Pretty sure I can move while swinging, yeah, I have watched enough UFC to know that you can be pretty agile... 

I can't believe that WoW is 10 years old and they still can't make a game that even comes close to the combat system. They keep making these terrible clumsy combat systems... there is a reason that final fantasy didn't change much in most of their games because it worked really well. Get a clue you retarded developers, try making games fun to play instead of lame!

I understand the game is free, but so is getting into a car accident. I guess I would prefer that... 

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

ya I wasn't too impressed by champions or star trek online, and when comparing this to neverwinter nights ive heard people say they aren't even close.

afraid im going to have to skip this one.

PinchySkree
PinchySkree

Copy and paste generic game with thin content and a pay to win system. Lasted one week of casual play.

UnclePuddle
UnclePuddle

And the lesson for the developers is: try developing NWN3 instead of the usual, messy, sloppy, boring, annoying, despicable, predictable, F*****G clone of WOW!

MegamanX2011
MegamanX2011

Next failure in MMORPG coming soon: Elder Scrolls Online


You heard here first from Megaman X.

lostn
lostn

Had high hopes for this game. Such a shame.

Darkfall_05
Darkfall_05

Made it to lvl 60. Upgraded epic PvP gear with Rank 5's. Had some fun in PvP and now time to retire... at least for now

Fursnake
Fursnake

This game is so overhyped.

syllvanas01
syllvanas01

two years ago or so (yes, i still remember all that vividly...) when NWN's fans outrageously protested on facebook to cryptic studios to not change NWN's classic style of gameplay and instead stick to the good old single-player & story-oriented formula, cryptic studios ignored their comments and instead started a new thread titled "what color do you like on dragons?" and now look at what happened to the name of Neverwinter Nights...

lonewolf315
lonewolf315

You forgot that you're going to spend a large chunk of the game looking the same. I got up to level 16 and the only variety I found in the cosmetic appearance of my gear is that I found one version with a shoulder pad and another without. Though when I played it was still open beta about 2 weeks before the game went live. Trickster Rogue was king and dominated pvp and Great Weapon Fighter was just horribly bad. Apparently the developers decided that the GWF should do pretty good AOE but terrible single target damage. Because. You know. Two handed swords don't do any damage.

ferna1234
ferna1234

mmo's should try to got the other direction, instead of going wow.
i could keep trying to be geroge clooney but i will always fail cuz im not him.

Sheepsquad
Sheepsquad

I'm so glad i resisted the urge to spend real money on this game. I enjoyed playing through the game's single player a lot. During the character selection screen, there are a dozen different cities of origin. It would have been nice to have multiple starting areas. Didn't seem to entail the same open worldness and choice mechanics I've come to enjoy from D&D games. If they release more content, i'd defn come back for a taste. I haven't come back since it came out of beta though, heard the new raid zone or something is pretty neat.

Speranza318
Speranza318

Good review - I tried this game during beta and it was fun - but gets very dry quickly.

ilagas88
ilagas88

As always, Kevin never fails to give me a good review.. 

Bendinux
Bendinux

I disagree with this review. Rating should be at least 1 point higher. Neverwinter deserves 7.0 at the VERY least. I'll score it 8.0 myself.

Disappointed by this "professional" review.

ertai222
ertai222

i knew this game would fail. played in the beta and was like this game is going nowhere but down the gutter like most new mmo's.

Yomigaeru
Yomigaeru

User-created content that's more interesting than official content? That basically summarizes the entire series for me. That said, it's not really a knock against the official modules; it's just that the community comes up with some truly wild and awesome material.

Then again, I suppose that's a large amount of the appeal of PC games.

Janpieterzun
Janpieterzun

This review is spot on, the game felt so generic, even with the fun combat.

darktimoros1
darktimoros1

was preferable to deal and
development > nwn 3
and not to destroy our prestige successfulgame series


lostn
lostn

@Fursnake Really? Because I didn't see any hype for this game at all. It wasn't like it was topping GS's daily top games or anything. Few people even knew about this game.

midnightmidway
midnightmidway

uhh look what happened with NWN2...that was a piece of SHITE compared to the first one, and it ran like crap

thorn3000
thorn3000

@syllvanas01 still...the color of a dragon is a valid question, I prefer mine black and evil...

lostn
lostn

@ferna1234 What is the other direction exactly? Could you be a little more specific with examples?

lonewolf315
lonewolf315

@Bendinux I have the opposite opinion. I think he scored it too high. Maybe a 5 at best. Perhaps if they had spiced up the content, made a greater variety in gear appearance, made in-game currency actually worth anything, and paid more attention to class balance instead of creating a FOTM Rogue class I would have stuck around.

Bowser05
Bowser05

@Bendinux You are perfectly capable of disagreeing with the review, but his reasons are perfectly validated on why HE thinks it's worth a 6.0. Professional or not, a review IS merely an opinion. Myself? I'm going to try the game with some friends in a few days and judge it for myself. I never trust ANY professional reviews with MMOs because there is too varied a crowd that plays them to really cater to them all with a single review.

RuskoE
RuskoE

@Janpieterzun The most amazing graphics and fun combat I've seen in a generic game.  This game is well worth the purchase price!

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

i played the betas of both as well and even a bit more of sto but they never quite made it to the minimum imo even with a friend going back recently and trying to let me know all the new stuff they have done.

Heck even your own page shows that you rated sto a 1.0 out of 10 man.  that doesn't exactly inspire the concept of 'awesome' either dude.  and you obviously know of something that im talking about how these games all suck.

Kakashi_101
Kakashi_101

@lostn @Fursnake comments a bit old but this game had HUGE hype on most MMO sites like mmorpg.com and stuff... just saying...

Bendinux
Bendinux

@artmonmster

I tend to believe in meta critics or checking several reviews to make my opinion before playing a game.

In Neverwinter's case, average review is 71/100. So gamespot's review note is lower than average.

Back to this game : even if it's "thin", big pluses are 

it's FREE (and you can access to all the content)

It's polished (graphics/sounds/designs)

it's Fun 

Also, game is "gold" for just 2 weeks so give them some time to add more content.

Assertonsin
Assertonsin

@artmonmster Lol Gamespot and "pro" don't come together at all. One of the worst reviewing sites in my opinion because their reviews are all over the place and generally don't make much sense at all. Very inconsistent reviews. If you look at the metacritic score of every review they do, they are usually way off that number.

Verityrant
Verityrant

@RuskoE @Janpieterzun Ignore RuskoE, he is an employee of PW I am pretty sure.  No real person gives the itemized lists of attributes about a game ( the floating numbers can be turned off, the grass and trees are the best, try the foundry, what other free game, blah blah blah) like he has done on this thread.  Like corporate marketing bullet points.  Sad really. PW should spend money making the game better, not here trying to convince folks Neverwinter doesn't suck as much.  

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

@artmonmster and did you ever try and make your own levels in sto?

its an overly simplified gimic to the first degree.

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

@artmonmster sto used to be one format and they tried to change that format over to something else.

Its becoming more and more grindy, and half the decent missions in the game have had their rewards removed.  and many of the remaining challenges are repetitive and boring when they needed to be expanding on it not closing it down these options.

and theres still no real contribution or point to the game.  clans are a joke and more depend on raw numbers to gain access to different tiers of stuff.

maybe if they can ever iron it out, but sto is a mess as it stands.  Its not what it used to be, and its not what is trying to be.  its somewhere in the middle and you can tell when you play the game.

alikk013
alikk013

@Bendinux @artmonmster Also its not "polished" - the visuals are buggy as hell and really repetitive areas and monsters. And ofc lets not forget the awesome "Server not responding"  laggs in bgs dungeons and even the open world...

lostn
lostn

@Bendinux @artmonmster It's not free, it's freemium. You can choose not to pay, but you're going to be frustrated if you don't. If you choose to pay, you're going to pay a lot, because the minority who pays has to subsidize the majority who does not pay, which means paying more than you would normally pay for a pay-to-play game. It's the only way it can work.

ggregd
ggregd

@Assertonsin @artmonmster "If you look at the metacritic score of every review they do, they are usually way off that number."  

Exaggerate much?

lostn
lostn

@artmonmster @Verityrant That's the WoW effect. 60 is the magic number, and you have to be able to get there casually in a week, or people will think it's too slow and lose interest then leave.

 MMOs used to take 6 months to get to max lvl. Now 6 days is too long.

Maoxx
Maoxx

@RuskoE I think your just too happy with mediocrity, but hey you like what you like no?

RuskoE
RuskoE

@Verityrant No, I'm not. Now you have just lied about someone whom you know nothing about.

As I have said in another reply to you, I am simply an old gamer who has played a lot of games and I just happen to disagree with this review.  It deserves at least an 8.  I gave it an 8.5 when I first commented on this page.

Edit:  Why is it, when someone tries to point out positive points there are negative people that want to try to knock them down.  That's what's sad.

Neverwinter More Info

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  • First Released
    • PC
    • Xbox One
    Neverwinter is a fantasy-themed Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game from Cryptic Studios that takes place in the Forgotten Realms setting.
    7.1
    Average User RatingOut of 376 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Cryptic Studios
    Published by:
    Perfect World Entertainment
    Genres:
    Role-Playing, MMO
    Not yet assigned a final ESRB rating. Appears only in advertising, marketing and promotional materials related to a game that is expected to carry an ESRB rating, and should be replaced by a game's rating once it has been assigned.
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