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I participated in the Neverwinter beta last weekend, and will participate in the third and final beta next weekend. I also get a five day VIP headstart on the official launch, though no date has yet been announced. I'm really happy with the game so far, though it's obviously no City of Heroes. I've put some of my thoughts below in case anyone is interested in checking it out.

- It will be free to play with a microtransaction model. I've already purchased their goodie packs, which may or may not only be available during before live launch. They haven't said yet whether the goodies will be for sale after launch. They have the Guardian pack for $60 and the Founder's pack for $200, each of which comes with exclusive goodies and items to help your characters on their adventures. However, you will be able to play the game for free forever, should you so desire.

- Neverwinter fantasy instead of comic-book based, set in the city of Neverwinter (of D&D fame), many years after the spellplague. (I think it's supposed to be 100 years since the last neverwinter/baldur's gate games, but I'm not sure.)

- No side-kick/exemplar system yet, and I'm still not sure if missions/quests scale to party size and level. More testing. I am hopeful that a sidekick system will come soon.

- When you die, you respawn at the last camp fire you were at. I think you're supposed to lose progress on your mission, or maybe lose XP or something, but I faced no adverse concequences last beta. I could run through the mostly empty mission to the end and defeat the guy who had killed me. I also didn't find myself facing death very often, so they may end up nerfing the classes or making the mobs harder.

- The quest and journal system are really great. It's easy to know what I'm supposed to do and where I'm supposed to go, the journal is informative without being obtrusive, and if there's a limit to the number of quests you can have at once, I didn't hit it.

- Speaking of "informative without being obtrusive" - that describes the whole UI. I haven't experimented with chat tabs yet, but so far all of the elements are easy to use and make sense. The "sparkling breadcrumbs" trail that leads you places is wonderful. It leads you to the selected mission, or a place you've clicked on the map. Again, informative without being obtrusive, and you can turn it on and off with the Z key.

- As you level up, you get access to more powers. You can't fit all of your powers into the tray at once, but you can switch them out any time, to customize your build for a given encounter. The powers also have added effects or do subtly different things if you are in your class's "special mode", adding more variety and utility.

- Your gear determines your appearance, and right now a lot of the gear looks the same as you level up. However there's a "vanity" screen where you can equip non-combat costumes. I think you're supposed to be able to play in these costumes and still get your armor bonus, but it may not have been working properly last weekend. Also there's not much to choose from for vanity clothes yet. You get woolen peasant top and pants early on, and then there's nothing else in the game. We're all assuming more clothes will be added before launch.

- A lot of the NPCs are voice-acted. It's not the best voice acting ever, but it's still pretty cool, and continued at least until L20 (the highest level I've yet reached). I Will see next weekend how far the voice acting goes in the game, but it seems to be persistent. Again, not ALL NPCs and not all mission text is voice acted, but a lot is.

- The mouse is tied to camera look, and this cannot be changed. I thought this would be a show-stopper for me, but I got used to it pretty quickly. There's no way to target something by clicking on it or selecting it, so single target healing a moving ally can be difficult, but otherwise I didn't run into issues. (Whatever is within about an inch of the reticle in the center of your screen is going to be targeted. If you want to target something, you have to look at it.)

- You can press and hold the mouse button to continuously execute your at-will powers. (one on each mouse button.) So you don't have to repeatedly click the mouse button, you can just press and hold. If any enemy is within about an inch or half inch of your targeting reticle, the game will move your line of sight to be centered on that foe, and that's what you target. When that foe dies, if you're still holding the button down, the game will try to re-center on a nearby bad guy and fire at him. I'm probably not explaining this very well.. but let's just say there's a very slight built-in boost to help you target stuff correctly, but you can't ever actually "select" something (like you would select a teammate or enemy without executing any powers in City).

- Companions (pets) were handled very well, IMO. You get a companion mission when you hit L16, and you get to pick a companion from a limited pool. You can buy other companions in the game's stores for either in-game gold, or real money. All companions are "combat" style, meaning they fight, heal, and buff along side you, depending on what type of companion you get. I'm not sure what they did to let the servers handle the load of every player having at least two character models out all the time. (It's also supposedly going be serverless, all one server, so that's a lot of load!)

- You can only have one companion out at a time. As your companion adventures with you, it gains experience. You then send your companion away for training (they just won't be with you for a number of minutes, it tells you how long it will take to train them). You can also enhance your companions with runes and items.

- Mounts are also cool, though you don't get one for free. Mounts also gain experience, and I think they can be equipped with runes and things too. Not sure yet. You get access to mounts at L20, and I did get one, but I didn't do much with it before hopping on another character.

- Anyone can name their character anything they want, because all characters are coded as "charactername@handle". So every player can roll up a toon named Bob, if they so desire. You send emails to charactername@handle, and you can attach up to five items per email. Unfortunately to send or claim emails with items, you have to be near a courier. I wouldn't mind so much except I've only found one courier in the game so far.

- The Foundry (Neverwinter's version of Architect Entertainment) is heavily tied into the rest of the game. Job boards posted in every zone, as well as "Well Informed Harper Agents" give you access to foundry quests, and several in-game quests have you go check out the foundry too. You get real in-game rewards for foundry content (instead of the equivalent of tickets). I haven't played any foundry missions yet, but I've heard there are some really good ones already.

- The event queue system is great. You bring up the event/queue screen (K), browse through available content (including foundry missions, raids, and so on). Every time I entered a queue in beta last weekend, I was on a team and entering the mission in under a minute. It's easy to use, fast, and fun.

- Some of the rewards are bugged, but that's being worked on. I really like how rewards are handled. As you run around in a team-based raid event, anyone can loot a dropped item. Then a window appears asking everyone: NEED, GREED, PASS. The item icon is red if you can't use the item, so I personally usually pass on those. The norm seems to be to GREED everything, for most people, though. Mobs also drop gold. If you're solo, no one can pick up your gold, in fact they don't even see it. (or your loot drops.) They can literally be standing on your gold pile and they won't get it. When you're on a team it's different - anyone can run over the gold and get it. But someone on the forums said it looked like the gold was being divided among teammates, so that too is cool. Then at the end there's a chest with something cool (supposedly), and this is also supposed to be a NEED/GREED/PASS roll. But right now whoever gets to the chest first, gets the item. They're working on it. There are also some raids where EVERYONE gets the item in the chest at the end, and in those cases, everyone is able to open a different instance of the chest and get their item.

Overall I am excited about the game, and I'm ready to invest my now-free COH time into NW. It's definitely not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but hopefully NW can fill the hole for a few other CoH folks too.

Cross posted to the City of Heroes community.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 17th, 2013 04:07 am (UTC)
Sounds promising.
(Deleted comment)
Mar. 17th, 2013 01:43 pm (UTC)
While I love the fantasy setting in general (for movies and books), the only reason I'm playing Neverwinter is because it's Neverwinter. I've loved and played in the Forgotten Realms since I was a teenager, on tabletop and later PC and PS2&3. If it were any other setting it wouldn't interest me; I've tried Guild Wars a couple of times and just don't care for it.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )

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