Neverwinter: The continuing first impressions

Tipa at 26
Tipa at 26

I’ve played Neverwinter for a couple of weeks, now, casually — and I still don’t feel I understand the game.

It’s not that I don’t know how to play the game; there’s no big trick to that, it isn’t vastly different from the MMO norm. You see mobs, you use abilities against mobs, you collect loot and gain experience. Stripped of all its flair, it scratches the solo dungeon crawl itch, quite well. The battles — at least for my rogue — are somewhat tactical. I like that. But, the “molo” play-style — soloing with a mercenary — is nearly identical to play in both of the EverQuests. So that’s not it.

There’s no real story to Neverwinter. The EverQuests, World of Warcraft and others have strong stories that weave a zone’s quests and missions together, usually a bunch of smaller encounters telling bits and pieces of the story. Neverwinter doesn’t really rise further than groups of enemies standing around for no particular purpose.

Neverwinter even has gear score; I’d missed that entirely, despite it being right in front of me on the character screen. So, I started working on that, until I noticed that substantial upgrades were being ranked lower on the gear score than the inferior stuff I was wearing. So I stopped trying to make that number go higher.

Making numbers go higher. That’s the core of the modern RPG. There are numbers — levels, experience, power, health, gold, what have you — and through dedication and hard work, those numbers can go higher. When they are high enough, you win.

I love that game! But after awhile, the numbers stop going up fast enough, and I start looking for other things to do. I’m not sure I’m going to find those other things in Neverwinter.

There are plenty of other things to do — PvP is kinda fun (but, there are battlegrounds in most MMOs these days). There’s the quick skirmish runs, and the slightly slower silent dungeon runs. Went on one run that had three rogues and two wizards. Next one had four rogues and one wizard. We were so desperately in need of a tank and a cleric, but — no, actually, we did fine. Everyone brought a mercenary, and they were able to handle some of the tanking and some of the healing. The dungeon runs are silent because everyone turns off their microphones as soon as they enter their first dungeon and accidentally hear someone else. Silent because dungeons (as in almost every modern MMO) move far too quickly to waste time with typing.

The game would probably be more fun with a static group, especially if the level designers creating custom dungeons began tuning their adventures for full groups. The Foundry dungeons I have run so far have been pleasant enough; some even have a good story behind them.

I play the game, I like the game, but I don’t know why. Game just _confuses_ me.

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11 thoughts on “Neverwinter: The continuing first impressions”

  1. I like it because I find the combat genuinely fun, which is actually pretty rare for me in an MMO. I go out of my way to fight groups of enemies because doing so is fun for me.

    I’m not sure I’d feel the same way paying a different class though.

  2. Combat is the same fun — I’ve got all the abilities I’ll ever have. Nothing will be changing there. Stealth, sneak up, drop a bait and switch which resets my stealth, get combat advantage with the dummy, big stab, keep stabbing until all dead. The dungeon bosses don’t get tricked by the dummy, and this is where the strategic part comes in, which I do like. But, combat is solved.

  3. I know what you mean. I like the game, it’s clearly included a lot of modern systems (like the henchmen and facebook-esque crafting), there are lots of callouts to classic D&D and it’s fun to play with a group. I just can’t see it holding me for long.

  4. I guess since it IS F2P that it’s okay to take breaks, even long ones. Crafting is kinda unique, but I’ve gotten to the point where it can’t make useful items for me, and the leadership activities involve waiting for 18h at a time between actions.

  5. I think the feeling has more to do with the concept of story vs lore. I’ve written a bit about the game so far, but that’s the one topic I’m still trying to wring out. When you compare to almost any other game, there’s an underlying purpose to your actions. A big boss, the appocalypse, etc.. That Neverwinter doesn’t have this, and I mean at all, is jarring. Just goes to show that the non-combat portion of an MMO themepark is still important in today’s world of NOW. The Foundry has promise though. Old Jerry’s Saga is a perfect critique of this issue.

  6. Story vs Lore — yes, that’s a PERFECT way of putting it. Neverwinter has no end of lore, but no story. I think of Neverwinter as something like Lankhmar, setting for Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser series. The story is in the characters in that series, and the setting is such that it allows almost anything. Neverwinter is Lankhmar’s clear heir, but is setting enough to drive a game? Not really, and maybe it will be the Foundry missions that do the trick.

  7. If the Foundry really is the key, wouldn’t Neverwinter Online be the perfect counterpart to Neverwinter Nights? I mean, the campaigns there were pretty run of the mill. But there’s been a ton of activity that continues to this day with homebrewed “modules” and “campaigns.”

    I admit that as a long time DM, the idea of building, not just a “dungeon” people can run through but a whole storyline, a whole sequence of “modules”, that sort of thing is very tempting. Use their setting and engine, make your own stories.

  8. Jonathan, I believe that is exactly they are hoping will happen. I’ve run through several of the missions, and many of them are good fun. The Foundry isn’t quite there yet, but it is being continually improved and should be a heck of a tool, when done. I’ve started a character to group with a friend, and we’ll likely be doing many of the Foundry missions.

    User-generated content is becoming a really big deal, now that the tools have progressed to a point where regular users can produce great results. EverQuest Next is likely to take this to a whole new level.

  9. I think they did a good job with incorporating the lore. I don’t think there needs to be a single over arching story line. The feeling they are trying to convey is that there are many different factions each trying to take over the world in their own way. It makes me want to dig out my old copies of Forgotten Realms novels and re-read them even though I always preferred classic Dragonlance over Forgotten Realms.

    As for combat, as a Trickster Rogue, it is a bit too twitchy for me at times. I’m starting to get the hang of dodging but still get totally demolished in PvP.

  10. I do pretty well in PvP, the little I’ve played. Being able to teleport around the field makes rogues the most mobile of classes, combined with insta-invis and a powerful ranged attack… when the heat’s gotten too much, I go ballistic on whomever is sneaking around home base. I haven’t done this tier’s battleground yet, though.

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