Neverwinter Beta Impressions
Recently I spent a few days in the Dungeons & Dragons world of Neverwinter during the closed Beta stage on Xbox One. Neverwinter is an MMO that is coming to Xbox One as a free to play title from Arc Games, and having spent some hours exploring this world I can honestly say the developers are putting a lot of work into the console version of this RPG. As with all RPG’s you expect to be tasked with creating your character first, and Neverwinter is no different in that sense. You can pick between nine different character races, and for each of these there are seven more classes including Rogue, Cleric, Ranger, Warlock, Wizard, Great Weapon Fighter and Guardian Fighter. The character creation is vast and you have the ability to tweak everything from the type of hair your character is sporting down to the size of the mole on their ass (joking), but you get the picture when it comes to creating your very own unique looking character to travel within this fantasy world. After you have finished creating a mirror image of yourself, you then have to pick an Affiliation and each of these will boost your stats in certain areas such as strength or dexterity. Finally, after all that creating, tweaking, adding scars, scary makeup, and a massive sword I was ready to enter the world of Neverwinter.
Your story starts when you are stranded on a shoreline near Neverwinter, where you are asked to help in the fight against the evil Valindra. Your first set of quests are menial enough, requiring you to collect arrows or help survivors, eventually leading to where Valindra is, but she disappears before you can confront her. You are then asked to go to Neverwinter and report to Sergeant Knox, who sends you on a quest to retrieve the lost crown of Neverwinter. There is so much lore and story to Neverwinter it really would take books to write about it all, but this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the factions you encounter and the quests you must go on in your adventures. Fighting the Undead or legions of Orcs is common place in this fantasy world where you will spend days just exploring certain areas of the environment. As with all RPG’s your character levels up as you battle the enemies and you will be able to upgrade certain powers with the points you earn. Loot is also abundant throughout the land, and finishing quests will reward you with some special items to equip and use. I am not a massive MMO fan but I have to say that coming across players in Neverwinter and just joining in on the fun was easy, as I was able to just tag along and do my own thing when I wanted. Recently, Dragon Age has brought me back into the RPG fold, and playing this Beta has peaked my interest in this genre even more.
Neverwinter has been around on PC for a while now and the lore surrounding the Dungeons & Dragons world has been vastly explored in all forms of media, but I have to admit this is my first time experiencing it first hand. At the start I found the enemies rather dumb and stationary with few of them actually attacking me when I approached. As I leveled up and started to meet enemies that were of the same level they started to become more of a threat and would attack on sight. However, most of the enemies I encountered posed little in the way of a challenge, apart from the odd boss or leader of a faction. Even when they attacked in groups I was easily able to vanquish them with little effort and found it took hardly any skill on my part to kill them all and continue on my way. The environments are well constructed and are vast enough to allow you to explore quite a bit, and are generally filled with other players going on their quests, or enemies spawning around every corner. Neverwinter also had some PvP and Team events during the time the Beta was running but I was far too focused on my quests to sample what these had to offer. I was totally enthralled in discovering more and more of the vastly different environments and enemies that were on offer. Neverwinter is one of those game that you sit down to play in the evening after a hard day, just for an hour, only to find your alarm clock going off to tell you it’s time to go to work again. It can drag you into a lore filled fantasy for days without even being aware the real world exists.
Graphically at the moment it may not be the prettiest game you have ever seen but for the amount of players and what is happening on screen at any one time it handles the pressure well. As this was the first Beta, and a closed one at that, you have to expect some bugs to appear and they did. I was kicked from the server on numberous occasions and there was occasions of lag, but overall it worked wonderfully. Neverwinter is going to be a free to play title, but as we all know these never come without some kind of payment structure. I know little about how this will be handled for Neverwinter, but I can hazard a guess that it will revolve around expanding on the main story or quests into stranger and more dangerous worlds, not forgetting the premium equipment that these games always offer gamers from day one. The fact is, I can see many gamers, including myself, paying happily to expand this world to dig deeper into it’s vast lore. Neverwinter is definitely worth playing even if you have no intentions of ever spending any money on it, simply for the way you can lose yourself into the mythical world that surrounds the Dungeons & Dragons stories. With only a few short days to explore some of what this title has to offer I am excited for the next Beta and eventually the release that is due to happen later this year.