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Neverwinter General Article: Thoughts from Beta Weekend 2

By William Murphy on March 12, 2013

I spend a decent bit of time this past weekend enthralled between two games.  One was SimCity, when it was working.  The other was of course Cryptic’s Neverwinter which just wrapped its second of three announced beta weekend events.  I dabbled, as did Suzie, with the newest class available: the Control Wizard.  What we’ll do in this little editorial is sort of go through the ups and downs and questionables of the title after a second weekend in Sword Coast.  The TLDR? Neverwinter is still one of my most anticipated titles this year, but there are some questions as to just how long it’ll hold my interest.  Read on for why.

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THE GOOD STUFF

The first thing I noticed this weekend was that the tutorial was new, or at least partially.  Now, instead of being thrust into the middle of an attack on Neverwinter, you find yourself crash-landed on the shores of the city, just outside the gates.  Right off the bat, this is a better experience, because instead of being solo in an instance, you’re in an open world.  It’ll definitely help a new user realize that Neverwinter, while compartmentalized into various zones and instances, is an MMO all the same.  It also has a bit more dramatic flare, with a story leading you through to the same major bridge encounter, albeit tweaked a bit so that you fight the two bosses at once instead of separately. 


I also enjoyed my time with the Control Wizard, though I longed for the days of earlier PAX demos when he could move, jump, and cast all at the same time.  I understand the need to reign them in because they could basically just kite everything in PVE and PVP, but still.  Overall though, I’ll put more of the CW in the “Not So Good Stuff” column, because compared to the other classes so far, this one definitely feels the weakest and least useful in groups.  But more on why later.

Additionally, the overall stability of voice chat really has improved a lot.  I didn’t get to test it with Suzie this weekend (she had the most issues last time), but it certainly seems in a much more reliable state, and I didn’t crash once either.  Definitely improvement there.  And another thing that really continues to impress me about Neverwinter is just how much content there seems to be.  A lot of the quests may be familiar territory, but between the open adventure zones, the storyline quests, the skirmishes, PVP, and player-made content? Neverwinter is a treasure trove of activity that’s only going to get more and more layered with time.

THE NOT SO GOOD STUFF

Let’s start with the Control Wizard.  He’s not unfun.  In fact, all of NW’s classes have been a blast to play so far thanks to the action-packed combat and different mechanics.  But of the four I’ve had a chance to tinker with, the biggest letdown is the CW.  It just doesn’t feel powerful enough, or “controlling” enough to be worth the effort.  Mind you, I only got into the early 10s, so Kelethar might be the better player to ask (see stream embed below).  But to me, I feel like early on the CW’s stuns and slows should be more pronounced and effective, and he could use a handy AOE that’s not reliant on being a daily.  It’s too easy to get surrounded and you spend most of your time dodging in and out of range... or kiting, for the lack of a better term.  He’s a glass cannon that fires meatballs.


I also didn’t enjoy, on further playing, just how limited gear seems to be.  Not in the amount that drops, but rather its looks.  Cryptic is known for their visual flare in games, and I expect a lot of what will make your character unique will cost astral diamonds or some other sort of currency that can be purchased with real money.  Or at least I hope so.  As it stands now, dying armor different colors is the only thing that can change the silhouette of your character, and that’s not quite enough when everyone looks the same.

THE WAIT AND SEE...

The biggest thing about Neverwinter for me will be how crafting comes into play, and how the community takes to the Foundry.  I’m loving the game as a sort of casual action-MMO, but I’m worried it doesn’t have legs to get lost in on a day-to-day basis.  The leveling is brisk, and you’ll wind up at the cap before too long.  Kelethar was in his 30s last I checked.  That’s not bad, by any means.  But for my own personal taste, I like getting lost in a single game world for months, even years.  But that’s a rare quality these days.  However, if Neverwinter’s players really take a shining to the Foundry content and the good storytelling shines through, I could see myself spending a lot of time here.  I’m also curious about the PVP, the crafting (as stated above), and the other classes for future playthroughs.  As it stands now, it seems the general storyline is quite static, and without many different paths to go by, so leveling an Alt purely based on the developer-made content could prove rather boring.  But with the Foundry?  Well, it could be a whole other ballgame. 


Read more Neverwinter coverage:

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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