Port to XBox One Done Right
Hey there MMORPG fans, Terry here, coming at you with a review of Neverwinter on the X-BONE. Full disclosure, I have a couple of hundred hours logged into the PC version of the game, so there is not a lot here that surprised me, as far as gameplay and plot goes, but that's really a GOOD thing, because it means that the 'port to Xbox was done right!
The first thing I look at when being forced to play a PC game on a console is: how well do the controls translate? In this case, they translate very well, actually, the Xbox controller has an innate natural pairing with any game that has an action-oriented combat system. Cryptic has done a fine job of getting all the PC shortcuts to seamlessly fit into the console controller's various buttons, and while it is not quite as intuitive as using PC controls, it works very well. It took me very little time to adjust to the controls, and I am a life-long PC gamer; I am sure that those of you who are more naturally inclined to console controls will have no difficulty with the controls in this game.
Combat is smooth as silk, the controller feeling very natural, the only snags I ran into were the occasional laggy combat, which, in an action-combat game is B-A-D bad. Like getting you killed with no recourse bad. We will talk more about this later, but thankfully, in my experience, it didn't occur very often. The games difficulty ramps up slowly, level by level, as more skills and gear is introduced to your fledgling character, with plenty of time to practice with your new skills and develop a feel for them. At no point did I feel overwhelmed, though the first five levels or so are pretty easy. It's only about level ten-ish that you need to start paying close attention to how skills work and interact, as the combatants grow ever more skilled and intelligent.
It appears all the classes and races that are available on the PC version, except for the Paladin, which was only very recently released on the PC, has made it into the Xbox version, which is nice. Also, though I didn't make it past level 20, it appears all the quest content, items, crating systems systems, everything has made the trip as well, all the way up to Tyranny of Dragons, which, it seems, can be accessed around level 26. The newest Elemental Evil stuff, which introduces Paladins on the PC, is in the pipeline, and will make it to the Xbox as well. You can also link your PC account to your Xbox account, and, should you choose to do so, Cryptic will reward you with a Renegade Illusionist companion, so that's always nice to get.
Yet, despite all the good things about Neverwinter that made it through the porting process intact, all the annoyances made it through as well. The constant broadcasting of what people found in their random boxes, the need to purchase lots of keys to open loot boxes that you earned through playing (you find some keys, but you find LOTS of boxes, far more than you could ever open on your own). I understand that games need to generate income to support themselves and the studios that develop them, but there are better (far better) cash shop systems out there, ones that aren't as intrusive, and offer better value to the player. On a scale of one to ten, Neverwinter is about a six, as far as the cash shop goes. However, despite the annoyances of intrusive cash shops, they are honestly not REQUIRED to enjoy the game, they only grease the wheels, so to speak, so if you really don't want to spend money in the shop, you don't have to.
The only other problem I experienced was the lag/frame rate issue. It's obvious that the technology driving the Xbox Neverwinter experience is not quite at the top of its game yet. To be fair, I didn't experience a ton of lag, as I tend to play at odd hours, but there was a discenrable difference as the busier hours took their toll on bandwidth. This is to be expected, as the game is only recently released, and I expect performance to get tighter and smoother as the team gets some more experience with the system.
At the end of the day, Neverwinter on the Xbox One is a fine example of porting a successful PC game to another platform done right. Vets of the PC version will quickly adapt to the control changes, and will surely enjoy being able to play a high end MMO while relaxing on the living room couch, and newcomers will appreciate the shallow learning curve, the action-based combat, and the incredible depth of story and gameplay that this game provides. A triumph for fans of the Xbox system, as Neverwinter is an MMO that really pays off (it's free, get it?).