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Taking the Control Wizard for a Spin

Suzie Ford Posted:
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Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment hosted the second beta event this past weekend for the forthcoming D&D-based title, Neverwinter. Previously, beta testers had been limited to a trio of character classes: Trickster Rogue, Devoted Cleric and Guardian Fighter. This weekend, a fourth was added in the form of the Control Wizard, a class that many have been eagerly waiting to find out more about.

According to the D&D Wikia, the Control Wizard “exert(s) control through magical effects that cover large areas—sometimes hindering foes, sometimes consuming them with fire.” In addition, CWs’ “powers are all about affecting multiple targets at the same time—sometimes two or three foes, sometimes everyone in a room. In addition, [Control Wizards] are the master of utility spells that let [them] avoid or overcome many obstacles, from flying across chasms to halting the flow of time.”

Suffice to say that a lot of interest in the Control Wizard, and even concern over the class being overpowered, has been generated due to such heady descriptions.

It is important to note that, while I did indeed play the CW, I am generally not a caster-type, preferring instead the more direct approach of a Guardian Fighter or Great Sword Fighter to squishy magic. Let’s just say that micromanagement isn’t my strong suit. Regardless, I had a good, if more difficult time, playing the Control Wizard over the weekend.

The Basics

The Control Wizard starts the game with a pair of “At Will” skills that are pretty handy and, while not great damage dealers, at least give the feeling that the player is doing damage.

Magic Missile is an old D&D standby for wizards and it’s no different here in Neverwinter. It’s a handy skill that, as it levels up, can hit multiple targets. It’s the primary attack for the CW and levels the first time at 8.

Ray of Frost is a nice skill, at least on the surface. It’s a beam of ice that is shot out at a single target that, if it can be maintained long enough, will ultimately freeze an enemy in place.....for all of one second. The description indicates that it can slow enemies down but, at least at the earliest level, I didn’t see much of a difference. Still, with a single enemy, that one second allowed enough time to teleport away.

Teleport is an inherent skill and one that every Control Wizard needs to learn to master. It gives players the ability to move away from attackers, at least a short distance. The caveat here is that targets are forfeited and there is a short 1-2 second delay before casting can start again, often allowing the enemy to close the gap again. But there is little or no cooldown so jetting away and hitting in short bursts becomes a way of life.

Daily Skills

The two Daily Skills I gained the use of were both good tools though I found that the level 4 Ice Storm was more to my liking in many ways.

Ice Storm surrounds the Control Wizard with an exploding ring of ice that blasts enemies away and deals massive damage. I found that this was a great tool to use in boss battles in particular to do some significant damage to the boss while simultaneously wiping out the minions (until they respawned a short time later). It was, in my opinion, well-worth the wait.

Oppressive Force is an interesting skill as it locks the target in place and draws every object in the vicinity to “stick” to the attacker. After a short time of suspension, the whole thing explodes to deal some pretty hefty damage, though not as much, I felt, as Ice Storm.

Encounter Skills

All of the Encounter Skills that I utilized were useful and worth the cooldown time to use again.

Chill Strike is a good basic hit ‘em and hit ‘em hard skill. The Control Wizard winds up like a Major League Baseball pitcher and flings a ‘bolt’ of ice at an enemy. The strike deals decent damage and levels up over time.

Entangling Force to me was a mixed bag. The skill lifts an enemy into the air for a very short time but does stop any attacks. In groups, this can be useful to take out weaker enemies. I did find, however, that the timer was very short and that a lot of enemies were immune or avoided it.

Conduit of Ice became my favorite skill. Casting CoI on an attacker surrounds it with a swirling ice storm that does decent damage to the target but also damages nearby opponents. It was particularly handy in a group.

Repel, as the name implies, pushes a target a significant distance away. While a great skill for a Control Wizard, it’s arguably not the best skill to use in a group as it will disrupt AoE skills and force melee fighters to chase down a target. On one’s own, however, it’s essential to help break up a crowd.

The Good

There are things to like about the Control Wizard for those who like casters, in particular the focus on elemental skills. The ability to teleport is crucial to success of the Control Wizard, at least at the earliest levels and it’s nice that it’s included as an innate skill.

When grouped with other players and being able to stand back to cast, the CW’s spells are very helpful to melee fighters. I got particular kudos from a pair of fighters for the Ray of Ice At Will skill by freezing their enemies in front of them to blast into the netherworld.

Over time, it will be interesting to see how the CW develops and if it indeed becomes overpowered because....

The Bad

Honestly? I felt very weak as a Control Wizard. It’s not that I didn’t finish quests or really even had a hard time with them. It’s just that they took longer and it seemed that every enemy was an up-close-and-personal melee fighter. Having to teleport around the room and peck away at the more formidable foes was just annoying. Weak minions were no trouble but anything tougher than that could present a problem if not for teleport.

Perhaps its my inexperience with casters that causes my overall dismay with the character class but I’m not completely convinced of that. There’s just something off about it in a way. Lastly, what is up with the two fingers sticking into the frickin’ air? I’m sorry but that’s just ugly.  Why is that the default stance for CW’s? I have to say it: I HATE IT.

Bottom Line

Folks who love casters will love the Control Wizard though I’ve seen rumblings on the official forums that people feel CWs are much too weak and that the spells they are forced to use are not the most group-friendly ones. This thread, in particular, was quite interesting.

I don’t know that I’ll play a CW again. In addition to preferring melee classes over casters, I believe that the CW needs work somehow to fulfill the potential it has in the D&D 4th Edition Rules.

What about you? Did you enjoy your time in the beta this weekend? Did you try out the Control Wizard? What did you think? Let us know in the comments.

Suzie Ford is the Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. Follow her on Twitter @MMORPGMom

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Suzie Ford

Suzie is the former Associate Editor and News Manager at MMORPG.com. Follow her on Twitter @MMORPGMom