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Posts : 1478
Join date : 2011-06-30
Age : 46
Location : Right here.

PostSubject: Neverwinter   Wed Jan 04, 2017 9:21 am

Since getting the PS4, I've tried a variety of MMOs... Destiny, Division, Star Trek Online... and this is in addition to games such as DC Online and Champions. For one reason or another, they all have gotten boring (for the lack of a better word). They're grindy, there's a lot of back-tracking, and they're massive money pits.

To be fair, I've only played Destiny a couple times and the Division once, so I may not have given them enough of a chance. These two seem okay, but that's about it, okay. There wasn't enough of a draw for me to come back day after day. With Star Trek, I like the universe setting, but the controls were awkward; going online, I found that many people had the same issues I did as far as completing a certain mission, and that boiled down to controls (I think this game was overly ambitious, trying to do too much). And while I liked the creation aspect of DC and Champions, there wasn't much in the games themselves; lack of substance, I think.

And while there are other MMOs out there, those seem to be geared for co-op play. I'm fine with that, I suppose. I'm not a regular gamer, more casual than anything. I don't want to feel as if I'm being forced to participate in group battles or shooters where it pays to pay, pay to win, pay pay pay. Nope, no, de nada.

But with Neverwinter? Oh my, this seems completely different. Part of me wants to say it's because of the setting (D&D Forgotten Realms), but I don't think that's it entirely. Character generation is pretty tame, customized appearances are almost non-existent. BUT, there's enough found loot and equipment where you can dress up your character the way you want, there's enough accessories and enchantments where you can gradually make the character you want, and the ability / skill tree (along with the feats) is tailored so that you can have a goal as to how you want your character to develop. All without having to pay a single dime.

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of opportunities to spend real money, but most of these are cosmetic. Why buy weapons for your character when you'll be leveling up, with access to brand new more powerful weapons? Why buy equipment when you can enchant them and create something grander? Why buy a mount when two are provided for free? For extra benefits?

As an example, equipment... weapons, armor, accessories... have level requirements. If you are level 15, you cannot equip something that is level 16+. Certain areas of the world have recommended levels, with those ares dropping items that fall within, say, a five level spread (the docks is recommended for level 5, will drop items at levels +/- 3). Not all the items are the same, they'll have different boosts. Go to the next area, get higher end stuff. When you hit the level in which you can add enchantments to your items, you'll find that you can create new boosts, or benefit pre-existing ones. So right here, you can see that spending real world money isn't necessary at all.

Another example would be a companion. You'll hit a level where you acquire a companion, each with their own benefits. You do have available slots to hire more, but there is no need. I see the extra companions as buying your own party, so I suppose you could go dungeon crawling by yourself (if you have enough hired hands), but believe me, "join party" invites are plentiful.

The one thing I have found that might require purchasing would be extra storage bags. You do have two bags, but you also have two other storage areas that don't count towards your inventory, so I suppose you really wouldn't have to if you keep up with the selling of items you don't need. Hell, I have picked up so much loot and sold so much, all without even having bought anything with the game currency, that I've gotten to the point that I can freely ignore dropped items.

So yeah... Neverwinter, a free MMO where you really don't have to spend real world currency.

Gameplay is excellent. Everything runs smoothly, no lagging or server resets or connection issues. There may be some slight choppiness if you're walking around the town square and there's a lot of players around, each with their own mounts and companions, but when you get to the actual gaming areas (or hell, even if you step away from the market, the very slight choppiness is gone; and in truth, the choppiness isn't even a hindrance. Controls are great, and there's even a few button combos that duplicate one another (L1+left arrow brings up inventory... but so does pressing Options... and so does pressing the touch pad).

Speaking of buttons: L1 would essentially be the shortcut menu button, when combined with the D pad; R1 switches you from main weapon to secondary; L2 is one attack, R2 is the other; either of the attack buttons, when pressed with one of the ^ O X or [] allows for a special attack; D pad gives access to targeted items (mount, healing potions, scrolls, etc); Option button brings up a menu allowing accessing to your character, abilities, professions, inventory, quests, journals, blah blah blah; the touch pad cycles through the different on-screen displays.

Character development. Oh how I wish I discovered this sooner. The game does mention it, but I didn't play with it until last night. You'll sometimes find items that are grouped as "profession". When you open the profession menu, you'll see a series of extra tasks that revolve around these items. You'll be asked to hire a merchant (for example), to work with some of the items; if you don't have the item, the task cannot be completed. Completed tasks give you additional items, or boost your character's stats (leadership skills, for example, or crafting speed). Know how some RPGs have a list of skills that you can improve by 1 point each time you perform a task? That's what this is.

Regarding your companion, he isn't your basic henchman. His skills and level increase as well. You do have to send him off for training when he hits his experience point limit, but then he comes back, a level higher and with potentially additional skills.

About the game itself, there is plenty to do by yourself that you don't even need to be part of a group. The main story doesn't even allow group participation. Each area has numerous quests, some of which may be geared for levels higher than your current one; likewise, there will be area specific quests that do recommend group participation. Needless to say, there is plenty to do, without worry, without interest dwindling.

Earlier I mentioned that areas do have a recommended level. This does not prevent you from going to them. In fact, the game will ask if you are sure, because the likelihood of failure or death will be higher. Me, I am currently level 18, and the next stage of the main story involves me going to an area where the recommended level is 20. Pfft, only a two point difference? No problem, right? Umm... while I can do some of the contests and roam about the general area, entering other areas have proven troublesome. So do pay attention to level requirements, but know that you can still join if you want.

I guess the only negative I have about this game is that character customization isn't as extensive as I'd like, but from what I have seen, that's where the real world money comes in. Also wish there was an alignment feature, where you can have more options regarding missions, but oh well. Oh, also a free account allows for two character creations, but that seems to be the norm from what I have seen of MMOs in general.

Now... about my character. Funny how I land up making the same one. Did it in Fallout, did it in Oblivion, and it seems I'm doing it here as well. I am playing a wood elf ranger; with my abilities and feats, I can walk through an enemy camp without being detected (depending on the enemy levels), my armor grants regeneration, and my weapons give me life drain (I heal when I hit an opponent). Strike at range as primary, with dual daggers as secondary. You know, normal stuff. My companion is the Master at Arms (a knight), so he bum-rushes the enemy and engages them in hand-to-hand while I shoot from afar (picked him for the defensive capabilities).

Oh! Your companion does not die, and does regenerate as well. And speaking of death, while you can die, you respawn at the last checkpoint without losing anything. There are plenty of camp areas within each world area or dungeon, so don't worry.

Since I started playing this, I've pretty much ignored the other games I bought. Haven't gotten bored yet, and I look forward to each next gaming session. Well worth the download!
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