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Neverwinter Previews: The Devoted Cleric Smites

By William Murphy on February 07, 2013

The Devoted Cleric is Neverwinter’s primary healer, but don’t let the role fool you: this guy can do some serious smite-tastic damage, and the satisfaction you’ll get from seeing green numbers fly across the screen at the same time is just extra incentive to do your job well. Of the five classes available at launch (with more to come after), the Devoted Cleric is one hell of a versatile class but also one of the most necessary classes for party-based dungeon delves (which we’ll cover a bit later today).  In combination with the other two classes available to us (Suzie will go over the Guardian Fighter and Garrett will cover the Trickster Rogue), we made for quite a viable group.  But I can’t wait to see what it’s like to have the Control Wizard and Greatweapon Fighter in the mix as well.  Both were unavailable to us for this beta event.  And while those are the five classes we’ll see at launch, we were told quite bluntly that there are plenty more to come after launch: including a more traditional ranged fighter.

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THE BASICS

The basics are pretty straightforward. The Cleric is a holy warrior, and true to the rulebooks the Devoted Cleric is a ranged healer, which some pretty spiffy attacks that help him hold his own.  There are three main stats to help the Devoted Cleric perform his role aptly: Wisdom primarily, then Charisma secondary, and Strength tertiary.  As Suzie pointed out in her lengthy preview, you actually will roll dice and select your racial stat bonuses at character creation.  But every so often as you level you’ll gain more stats to add on as well, so keep that in mind.

Combat in Neverwinter is really action-packed, so healing isn’t going to be a practice of health-bar babysitting like you’re used to. Playing a trinity game again after months of Guild Wars 2 was a welcome return to the familiar, but man was it hard to target my party mates with my direct heals.  Luckily, several of your skills help you out.  We’ll talk more about those in a minute. You’ll also earn Feat points as you level, which are akin to Skill Points or Talents in other games. It’s here, along with stats and which powers you use, that your character will differentiate itself from others. Each path focuses on a different aspect of the class, and leads to a different Paragon Tree for the Cleric. Virtuous is more about damage dealing to heal and protect, Faithful is about straight-up healing, and Righteous is about using tactics and shifting between stances to be effective.  Oh, I didn’t mention the Cleric’s stances?

Check the video out for the Cleric in action.

One of the key mechanics of the Devoted Cleric however is the Channel Divinity power.  After some time spent leveling, but before too long, you’ll gain access to the ability to toggle between normal and Channeled Divinity with your Cleric.  By pressing Tab you’ll switch over to Channel Divinity, which increases the strength of everything you do as a cleric. Your heals are bigger, your attacks are more potent, and your AOEs might even have a knockback effect.  The catch? You have to actively switch between Channel Divinity and your normal stance to recharge the divinity energy you expend.  As you can see in the embedded video here, my dwarven friend Begud learned to love the toggling ability, but it definitely doesn’t allow you to rest on your laurels and sit back firing off heals.  You have to be a good shot, and quick with your fingers.

THE SKILLS

Every class has the ability to use two at-will powers at any given time, assigned to the left and right mouse buttons. These don’t have a cooldown and are your main attacks. The Guardian Fighter uses right click to block, but that’s a mechanic we’ll get into with Suzie’s class preview.  The Devoted Cleric’s main attack is a ranged shot of light from his holy symbol, while the secondary attack is a seal that makes it so that anyone attacking the affected foe is also healed.  Plop the seal on a bad guy, and watch your friends reap the green healing numbers in.  There are other at-will powers, but these were so useful that I didn’t even bother looking at them during the test. When channeling divinity, they act as massive DPS beams of light, and direct heals on a target respectively.

Additionally, you have three Encounter Powers you can assign as well. These are more powerful, but have longer cooldowns between uses.  There is no mana or anything like that.  In fact the only bar you need to worry about is your health and the stamina bar which lets you dodge incoming attacks (with a directional double-tap or press of the shift key). Here are a few of the skills you’ll use on the Devoted Cleric:

ENCOUNTER POWERS

Sun Burst: My go to heal, this sucker gives off an AOE heal that burns enemies and restores plenty of HP to myself and allies.  It has a 12 second cooldown, but it definitely comes in handy during boss fights, as you can see in the video.  The divine version knocks enemies back, which really comes in handy with adds.

Healing Word: This one is great for more directed healing.  But man, in the heat of battle, it’s tough to pinpoint your target.  You can’t control your friends, and you never know when they might move. It has three encounter charges before you actually see a cooldown, and recasting on the same ally more than once will extend the HoT.  When you’re channeling divinity, it directly heals the target plus the HoT, and stacks with the non-diving version.  So a far better healer than I will do some great things for their tanks with this one.

DAILY POWERS

Guardian of Faith: Dailies are like your “limit break” powers, filling up a 20-sided dice meter to use it (as opposed to actually waiting a day between uses).  The first one the Devoted Cleric gets is a doozy. You call down an angel directly on your targeted foe, dealing insane amounts of damage and knocking them down.  As the Angel goes back to Heaven, it heals your allies.  It’s absolutely nuts.

Hallowed Ground: I only toyed with this one a little.  As opposed to a single-target attack, Hallowed Ground hits a targeted area of your choice, does a truckload of damage to anything in that area, and heals allies in the process. 

THE GOODS

The easy ups of the Devoted Cleric? It’s the most fun I’ve had being a healer ever. It’s active, it’s fun, and I don’t feel like a wimp either. Your heals really do matter, you can be very effective, and you can dole out the damage as well. Its daily powers feel really powerful, and you know there will always be room for you in parties, even if you might be a target in PVP matches.

THE BADS

The down sides? You’re pretty squishy, even with chainmail, you won’t hang tough in a toe-to-toe fight, but your healing ability might make up for it. But I’ll have to play more solo to see if the Devoted Cleric works as well alone as he does in the group we played with.

WOULD I PLAY THE CLERIC?

Emphatically, yes. The Devoted Cleric might just be my main come launch day… that is if the Control Wizard doesn’t surprise me later in beta.  It’s odd too, because I’m very much the melee sort of player.  But the Cleric feels right. It’s a testament to the smoothness and ease of control in the combat.  The only thing that worries me is healing my targets directly.  It’ll take some getting used to, as opposed to clicking on party icons, since there is no tab-targeting. But I’ll definitely be keen on seeing how the Cleric evolves.

What about you? What classes do you like in Neverwinter so far from our previews?

William Murphy / Bill is the Managing Editor of MMORPG.com, RTSGuru.com, and lover of all things gaming. He''s been playing and writing about MMOs and geekery since 2002, and you can harass him and his views on Twitter @thebillmurphy.

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