Expanding the Sword Coast
As the days pass and the launch of Cryptic Studios’ Neverwinter approaches, more and more thought is being given to facets of the game that, at least at this point in time, are not yet announced. One topic that has garnered its fair share of discussion both here and on the official forums is the number of races and classes that will ship with Neverwinter, a seemingly small pool given the overall depth of both in the D&D 4th Edition Ruleset. It is a worthy discussion, then, to opine about what might be coming down the road given the sheer volume of possibilities presented.
Before starting the discussion, it’s worth a few moments for a basic primer on D&D 4th Edition Rules for those who, like me, may not be old-time tabletop players or less than educated about what is included in the 4th Edition.
The Basics of Character Creation
One of the things that seems to cause a bit of confusion for less ardent D&D fans is the newly included Role system. Every character, regardless of race or class, will choose a role to fulfill within any given group. These roles are pre-assigned to classes so there’s no freedom of choice. Still, gameplay style becomes as much a factor as a preferred class in some ways.
The roles that can be chosen are:
- Controllers: Area of effect high damage dealing characters preferring offense over defense.
- Defenders: Tanks wading in with high defense thus allowing the squishier caster and ranged classes to do what they do best DPS-wise.
- Leaders: The protection characters with healing and buff abilities to assist the party.
- Strikers: High damage dealing very mobile characters but with a squishier side.
Once a role is chosen, then it’s on to picking a class.
What’s Included & What Would Be Nice
So far, Cryptic Studios has announced the five classes that will ship with Neverwinter. There are representatives of each of the roles noted above. So far, Neverwinter players will be able to choose from Control Wizard (?) (control), Trickster Rogue (striker), Devoted Cleric (leader), Greatsword Fighter (defender), and Guardian Fighter (defender).
But there are so many more that must make an appearance in Neverwinter to make the game truly feel like a Dungeons & Dragons game, even for those who refuse to acknowledge that 4th Edition Rules are truly D&D.
- Controllers: Druid and Invoker
- Defenders: Warden and Paladin
- Leaders: Bard, Shaman and Warlord
- Strikers: Avenger, Barbarian, Ranger, Sorcerer, and Warlock
Judging by the list above, the Striker role has definitely been short-changed though, in fairness, it contains the largest number of possibilities in the Player Handbook and Player Handbook 2. Still, how can a D&D game truly be deemed as such with something as basic as a Ranger for Pete’s sake?
The point here is that there is a huge variety of classes within each role. To be ‘stuck’ with only a single choice per role is much too narrow. It’s understandable that for launch only a limited number could be included but two per role would have been nice. Cryptic has stated that there are already several other classes waiting to be deployed ‘soon’ after launch. Without the addition of new classes, people will quickly tire of the game and leave, perhaps to return later as the game expands. All that isn’t necessary, however, if soon really means soon.
While we’re at it, what about multi-classing, a staple of D&D game play? Will we ever see multiclassing included in Neverwinter? Let’s hope so. For the time being, we’ll table this discussion for another article but it’s certainly something else to consider.
The Races of the 4th Edition
While we’re talking about expanding the number of character classes, we should also consider the topic of the rather limited number of races available thus far in Neverwinter.
Neverwinter is currently scheduled to ship with Human, Dwarf, Elf, Half-Elf, Halfling (?) and an as-yet unnamed sixth race, currently expected to be the enigmatic Drow. There have also been rumors of Halflings disappearing and Half-Orcs reappearing. Regardless, six are a mere drop in the bucket of what the 4th Edition allows for: Deva, Dragonborn, Drow, Dwarf, Eladrin, Genasi, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goblin, Goliath, Hamadryad, Kalashtar, Shifter, Minotaur, Mul, Pixie, Revenant, Satyr, Shadar-Kai, Shardmind, Thri-Kreen, Vryloka, Warforged and Wilden. (Source: How to Create a 4th Edition D&D Character) (Edited for cagey maybe - maybe not inclusion-exclusion)
Obviously, it would have been a Herculean task to have included all of those but there’s nothing to say that some, if not all, should be included over time. At the very least, it would be nice to see Gnomes, Half-Orcs (?), Dragonborn make an appearance in the game. All the other “half” characters are included so why not Half-Orcs, though ostensibly they will make an appearance according to some? The possibilities cause dizziness and we can only hope that Cryptic has a good handle on the 4th Edition Rules and is already looking to the future for more races to be found adventuring throughout the City of Neverwinter.
On a More Personal Note
I realize that it’s very unpopular to make comparisons between Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter the MMO. But it stands to reason that many who played Bioware’s NWN will be interested in checking out Cryptic’s Neverwinter. But many of those who played NWN will expect to see a more expanded set of classes and races included in the game. After all, NWN and the Aurora Toolset made allowance for almost limitless creation of game worlds and adventures that included all D&D classes and races based on the then-current D&D ruleset. If they enter the game as it stands and things do not expand soon in terms of new classes and races to try out, they will leave in disappointment.
As with everything, it is incumbent on Perfect World and Cryptic to keep old-school and new-school D&D players interested and excited about a pseudo-MMO like Neverwinter. To do so means a quick turnaround on new ways to play the game in the form of new races along with their attendant racial abilities and new classes for variety in gameplay.
What about you? What races and/or classes would you like to see included in Neverwinter’s future? Let us know in the comments.
Suzie Ford is the Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com.