Latest news
PAX East 2012: Neverwinter preview and interview
by Andrew Whipple III

Massively multiplayer online games are a dime a dozen these days. As exciting as a game may seem, it's incredibly tough for me to get excited about the next up and coming MMO.

You could probably blame it on the genre's inability to expand beyond what it knows, refusing to evolve in ways that we're seeing in contemporary games. However, there are some titles out there that are trying new systems and taking risks to reinvigorate the genre; Neverwinter is one of them.

Neverwinter interview

You might be aware of other games set in the Neverwinter region, but you shouldn't compare them to Cryptic Studios and Perfect World's title. Neverwinter Nights was pretty good, sure, but Neverwinter is a full-fledged MMO experience that will not allow you to pause combat whenever you wish (A pause whenever you wish MMO? The trouble we could have avoided if it were true). Having spoke to the enthusiastic developers about their game at PAX East 2012, Neverwinter is an attempt to meld the fast-paced, skillful play of an action title with the addictive longevity of a true MMO in a Dungeons and Dragons universe. It sounds ambitious, but from what we got to see, it looks to be coming along nicely.

As far as setting goes, Neverwinter will follow a 100 year advancement in its own timeline. The region was hit by something called the 'Spell Plague' which literally ripped continents apart. It's going to be your job, along with your fellow role-players to jump into this desolate land to try and piece back together what was once considered one of the most prestigious locations around, the Jewel of the North.

I failed to mention how incredible the environments look.

Perhaps the most exciting feature located within the code of Neverwinter is the emphasis on combat. The first thing we noticed during our session was how we actually had a cross-hair in the middle of the screen. We were scared at first and it's true that the best way to describe the gameplay is that Neverwinter plays like a traditional third-person shooter. However, for a MMO you'd be surprised how liberating it feels. While moving about, you actually have to target individual monsters if you plan on doing anything. No more of this, sit back and wait as you auto-attack the vicious orc-beast to death. Cryptic wants you to get right in there and fully waste your opposition.

If you had to compare it to any game out there right now, it would be En Masse Entertainment's TERA, but there's a few problems with that comparison. While both games share a dynamic combat system, TERA still follows the traditional million-skills and tabs game. Neverwinter focuses the amount of keys you need to press down to an agreeable number. According to Craig Zinkievich of Cryptic, they know how confusing it can be when you have a ton of skills. They wanted to lower the amount taken into each battle, not to dumb down the experience, but to make fighting more inviting and explosive.

One way the combat becomes involving is the use of dodge mechanics. Being an avid twitch game player (Ninja Gaiden, Bayonetta, Dark Souls) finding ways to evade strikes is rather important to me. I never liked just taking hits because I'd just regenerate it later. By pressing the shift key, you can jump out of the way of an incoming strike in a flourishing fashion. No more hit boxes the size of small buildings. Oh, and regenerating health? It definitely doesn't exist in this game. That means potions, healing spells and the cognitive capacity to avoid damage is paramount to your success. Sounds interesting, no?

Involving combat is the key to victory. Just don't use water elements against a water elemental, alright?

One of the playable classes we got to see was the Control Wizard. This particular class excels at keeping enemies out of the fight by disabling them in a variety of ways. Let's say a pack of 10 goblins comes running at you. Assessing the situation, by moving your mouse over specific targets, you can lift the more threatening targets off of the ground, effectively terminating their damage while you focus on the other cretins. Remember the whole tab targeting thing? That's starting to become a thing of the past real quick.

I should also mention that there is absolutely zero mana in this game. Abilities rely solely on cooldowns and your normal click-attacks. Craig quickly reminded me that skills will be carried out manually, meaning if you're a rogue you absolutely must get close and behind a monster to backstab them, not from 10 yards away. Each class also has a special daily ability that replenishes as you defeat enemies. This move is unparalleled and can save you from insurmountable odds, which also means it takes a long time to get back. The Control Wizard's daily took all surrounding enemy weapons, clumped them into a sphere of death and propelled them back at the targets. What was cool about this move (besides killing everything) was that if the enemy didn't die from the attack, the weapon was actually taken from their hand and destroyed. Attention to detail my friends, Cryptic is no slouch in that department.

Neverwinter will also feature a feat system that works much like you'd expect it to. We didn't get to see much of it, but you can bet the typical D&D skills such as cleave and finesse will be in full use. Cryptic was also mum on a full class and race list, but they did tell us Humans, Elves, Dwarfs and Drow will be in the game. We also didn't get too much information about the end-game content, but there will be instances of all sorts. Right now Cryptic said the usual instance will be five man groups. Once we know more, we'll be sure to deliver the information.

Neverwinter is certainly a surprise, especially for a free-to-play MMO. I haven't had much luck in that department, but I can definitely say that when this one hits I'll be exploring it in full force. Expect Neverwinter to drop sometime later this year.

Labels: , , , , , ,

- Andrew Whipple III

Discuss this article in our friendly forums

Sign up to our community today and discuss our articles, debate over upcoming games and organise matches and playsessions with like-minded people just like you.

Liked this? Spread the word - share with your friends!

Done? You might also enjoy these!

All comments are subject to our commenting policy

GGTL Classics
Some of the very best articles dug out from deep in the GGTL archives, written by some of our past and present wordsmiths alike.
Your continued use of this website and/or any others owned by Gamer's Guide to represents your acceptance and indicates your full understanding of all of our legal policies and terms. Our legal policies and terms are legally binding. If you in any way disagree with or refuse to be bound by any part of said legal policies and terms, you are advised to leave this website immediately.