Finally! Dungeons and Dragons comes to a console (and Windows)! For years, I have made fun of those people that play Dungeons and Dragons so I was a bit self-conscious to play and review this game. Is this what Dungeons and Dragons is all about? Am I going to actually like it and feel bad for all those players I have made fun of in the past? Let’s see if Neverwinter was able to persuade this gamer to come to the dark side.
Blue Ball Score: 17 out of 25 balls
So, I must admit, that I did play Runescape as a young lad… I know, I know. Why am I making fun of Dungeons and Dragons when I played Runescape? Fair enough. But, Neverwinter did remind me a lot of Runescape (as a whole).
The controls were a bit complex to say the least. As a disclaimer, I played on the Xbox One so keep that in mind for this section. Regarding the controls, to jump, you had to press LB+A. Often times, your spells would be two button combos (like jump above) and when you are in the heat of battle, trying to remember all of these things could be nearly impossible. “Click this button to dodge,” then “Click this button to jump over this barrier,” then “Click these 100 buttons to get your attacks going.” By doing this, you could use more attacks, but nevertheless, the controls would take a significant amount of time to learn and master.
One thing that was a major pain in the ass was the navigation in general. Sometimes you could quickly access it from within the game, but to equip other things you had to navigate to the “Start Menu” and go through a million different menus to get to where you needed to be. So, as you are acquiring these items throughout your quests, you will spend a significant amount trying to find them and determining where/how to use them. It was extremely confusing and frustrating.
Although the controls and navigation was overly complex, once you learned the basics, the game became a lot more fun. Running into battle and casting spells made you feel like a bad mother f$%&@#. If you were to spend a lot of time on this game, then these things would come much easier, but the learning curve is extremely high. In conclusion, gameplay receives a 3/5 balls.
Let’s start off with the quests. There was plenty to do. It reminded me a lot of Runescape. There were a ton of missions you could do at any given point. There different “realms” that you could explore and access, but the way Neverwinter designed it was quite interesting. Essentially, each realm was a harder level. So, once you did all the missions in that “realm,” you were a high enough level to safely progress to the next one. If you were feeling confident, you could travel to that realm as a lower level, but be prepared to get p0wn3d quickly. Most importantly, all the missions had the same underlying theme of “Save the Kingdom.” So, plot consistency was perfect.
One complaint here is that after a while it did get redundant. The scenery may have changed, but the battle systems got a bit redundant and old. Sure, it got harder as one may expect. You may have to battle more enemies or larger types of enemies, but the combat itself got repetitive after a few hours. One thing that helped to alleviate this boredom is acquiring new combat skills (spells in my case). Overall, it was like a person you would pick up at the bar; it could’ve been better, but it could’ve been worse too.
There were several ways to upgrade and customize your character. You could get better armor, equipment, weapons, and even companions (such as horses, flaming beasts to ride on, etc.). Regarding character customizations, there were several different types of characters (races) and even different classes within those races. This helped the gamer to get the exact character type they wanted. We will not go into much depth about customizations here; let’s leave that for the hot topic.
Overall, the campaign was extremely good. The variety of characters, enemies, surplus of quests, and plot consistency led Neverwinter’s campaign to receive a 4/5 balls.
Let’s start off with the MMORPG. The campaign is done alongside other players that are online. Maybe I have mentioned this before, but it felt a lot like Runescape. As you are doing your missions, you may see players ride past you on their black steed, or a demonic spider, or even a flaming beast. Also, there are some missions that recommend having a group. So, Neverwinter forces you to interact with other players and team up for certain missions. To help you with this, they have guilds which is a really cool way of saying clans. So, if you join a guild, you get access to a stronghold area which unlocks additional quests and you can expand your stronghold by doing these quests and tasks. To some players (lone wolves I am talking to you), this is a drawback of the game, but overall this is a nice addition because it forces you to be more diverse within the game.
The second aspect is PvP, which stands for Player-vs-Player. I did not play much PvP because it isn’t really my style. I’m a lover, not a fighter. But, with my PvP experiences, it was hectic and chaotic. Players were usually battling in one central area and all you saw were bright flashes, spells going off, swords flying in the air, and a lot more. It seemed to be like a “Let’s all run to a central location and just button smash all our attacks to create the most amount of chaos possible.” Personally, I am more of a strategic fighter so Neverwinter’s PvP wasn’t much of my style. But, the fact that PvP was offered is just another mode offered to gamers to help keep the experience spicy and fresh.
One complaint I have is server and connection speed – especially with the PvP. For a free game, the servers weren’t terrible, but there were times when the frame rate seemingly dropped, the game lagged, or the world needed additional time to load. When you were in the PvP arenas, the amount of chaos and explosions caused my console to seemingly freeze.
Overall, the online experience was good. With the exception of some lag and server limitations, the open world co-op style, group missions, and PvP kept the game fresh and new. There was always something new you could do and if you were lucky enough to have a single friend, you could quest together! 3/5 balls.
The audio? Let’s talk about the soundtrack. The soundtrack wasn’t bad. I fell in love with the main menu’s song. I don’t know what it is, but something about it really got my gears going. Besides that, the music played throughout the game was really good and fit the situations/environment you were in. What about the sound effects? Those weren’t bad either. As a half-elf control wizard, I expect the magical noises to be, well, magical. And they were. The chilling sound of freezing an enemy was realistic and not over-done. Kudos to you Cryptic Studios.
For these reasons, Neverwinter gets a 3/5 balls for the graphics and audio.
Best place to start – the beginning. As mentioned above, you have several different races to pick from, and within each race, you can choose a class. Each race and class offer their own advantages, but the point here is that each race is unique and each class within that race is also unique. So, if you can’t find a character that suits your fancy, then you are just too damn picky.
What about upgrading your character? You can also upgrade your character in a variety of ways. It was a bit too complex for me, but it still wasn’t too overwhelming. You could get better armor, equipment, and weapons, but you could also enchant these items to make them stronger. So, how you wanted to upgrade was left up to you. Perhaps you wanted to keep your armor and enchant it? Or, maybe you just want to do a hard upgrade and say to hell with enchanting? Whatever you wanted to do, Neverwinter offered it.
But, there is a catch! There always is right? One thing I noticed was the pay-to-play feature(s). As you know, Blueball Reviews is 100% against pay-to-play. The BigWhiteAngus and I both yearn for modern games to return to their roots where skill was the way to upgrade and better your character. Regarding Neverwinter, as you level up your character you get coupons for “discounts” at the Zen market (pay-to-play currency). So, it seemed like Neverwinter was almost pushing you or trying to subconsciously persuade you to spend money within the game. Some upgrades/unlocks could not be used unless you spent money to unlock them (that is the quick summary in a nutshell).
In conclusion, the upgrading and customization system was solid, but the seemingly “in your face” pay-to-play really hurt things here. I know it is a free game and they need revenue, but shame on you Cryptic Studios! Besides that, the upgrading and customization system was awesome! I swear man! Thus, it gets a 4/5 balls.
As you can see, Neverwinter is a decent game. It isn’t perfect and has a long way to go, but it is a solid game and definitely worth it (Get it? Since it is free?). I would venture out and say that if you like Runescape, then you will probably like Neverwinter. Unfortunately, I can’t say whether or not it is like the Dungeons and Dragons table game because I don’t play, but if it is, I don’t think I will be making fun of these people anymore. Although the seemingly inevitable pay-to-play, shaky graphics, and complex controls were hard to overlook, an interesting and consistent plot, good audio, fun co-op open world style of play, and solid upgrading system lead Neverwinter to receive a grand total 17 / 25 balls.