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.