May 26, 2014


The other day I saw an ad for the game Neverwinter, a free-to-play MMO based on Dungeons & Dragons and set in the Forgotten Realms universe. Seeing as I had nothing to lose but time, I decided to give it a try.

Developed by Cryptic Studios, Neverwinter bases its mechanics strongly on the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons, which, while admittedly not my favorite edition of the game, always had a very “video game-like” setup to how its rules worked. This actually made me more interested, as it was the feel of being too much like a video game that pulled me away from the game. Maybe as an actual video game it would work? Unfortunately, no, but I will get into that a little later on.

First, let’s start with what is good about the game. Actually, it’s very pretty. The characters and settings are very well designed; the monsters are distinguishable and even recognizable from the actual pen-and-paper version of the game. Likewise, the powers are strait out of the books. You get a good selection of races to play from, an incredible amount of customization in their appearance, and a solid line-up of classes. The voice-acting, although somewhat sparse, is good, and the idea that this game follows along with earlier, single-player D&D video games like Baldur’s Gate and, more directly, Neverwinter Nights, games that I absolutely adore, made me invested at the starting gate. Going into this game, I was surprised at just how excited I was getting for it.

And then I started playing it… and I got bored within the first few minutes.

I have played a number of MMOs, and this one takes the cake for the most boring of all of them. Your characters are locked into using a single weapon – greatswords for two-handed fighters, the holy symbol for the clerics, a floating sphere for the wizards – and until you start getting into higher tiers of the game, you cannot expect your character’s look to change in the slightest. I wore “tattered chainmail” from level one to level 12, getting really excited when I finally found a suit of +2 Fortified Breastplate, equipped it to my character, and slumped in my chair when absolutely nothing changed about how they looked. Your selection of powers are insanely limited. Are you a wizard? I hope you like ice magic, because that is pretty much all you have. Well, that and a few force-based spells. Where is my fireball? Where is my resilient sphere? Heck, where is my wizard staff? Why am I lugging around this stupid, floating, magic 8-ball?

All of the quests turned out to be “find and kill X number of Y” with no originality in concept. The only dungeon I did required me to do nothing but stand in place as wave after wave of orcs charged forward blindly. “Protect the gates,” the non-player characters called out. No problem, considering the orcs did not even try to attack the gates and were content to let me spam my area-attack in their midst, waiting patiently as my character leaped off the screen to perform some outlandish dive-bomb attack.

I tried very hard to give the game a fair shake, playing up two characters – a two-weapon fighter and a wizard – to around mid-level before I finally threw in the towel and deleted it from my hard-drive. So disappointing. I wish I had some better news for you in regards to a D&D video game.

Although, an old high-school friend of mine did recommend I try out DDO…

As always, thanks for reading and I wish you all good gaming… but not in Neverwinter.

Image Credit: Cryptic Studios

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