Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Neverwinter Beta: Mixed Review

Overall I enjoyed my time in beta. I didn’t run into any major issues that would make me feel like the game wasn’t close to release. This is a major plus as a number of other games I’ve beta tested didn’t feel like they were ready for the public to consume. Most of the issues I encountered were in the realm of things that hadn’t been implemented yet rather than things that overall felt missing. So overall nice job.

Good Things

1. Customization in Character Creation
I really liked how much customization there was in character creation but I wasn't overwhelmed by the options. There was even a fingernail setting. The one thing I felt was missing was a decent green for my half-orc. Even a dark green. Instead everything ended up to human, even the grayer options. My Horcs are green, let them be green.

2. Action RPG
Most of the time action RPGs end up on consoles in games like Gauntlet, or the old DnD PS2 game. Having a good action RPG work online is difficult but I feel that it was pretty well done here. I enjoyed learning to dodge with their system and having enemies attacks be obvious when they show up made for a different kind of play than most MMORPGs I've been involved in. Playing was also way more active than games like WoW or SWTOR. I'd liken the style closer to what I'd expect Diablo online to be like.

3. Foundry
Although almost all of the foundry content I went through was TERRIBLY bad I'm excited to see what the future has to hold with this. If I devote serious time to this game, the foundry will be why.

Bad Things

1. Healer Aggro
WTF. I couldn't heal anyone without getting someone to want to kill me. Regardless of whether I was in combat or not. Healing aggro seems to be greater than visual aggro range so if I was healing before the next attack I'd just get jumped again. This is just going to need some kind of fix in the near future for the game to really be enjoyable long term.

2. Narrow Classes
I felt that the combination of limited class choice along with narrowly defined classes really limited my interest in investing in a particular class. With only 5 available classes and incredibly limited customization within each one, I'm not really that impressed by my options. Maybe once all 20+ DnD4 classes are available I won't feel that way. But when I compare my options to DDO I'm WAY more pigeon holed than I want to be.

3. Limited attack options
When I play an MMO I generally have 4-5 hotbars open with 10-12 spaces on each. DDO limited me to what ammounts to a single hotbar with very limited space for my abilities. I basically get to choose my 2 free attacks, 3 10-20 second cooldown powers and my "daily". This isn't really a spread of options. I can't investing a ton of energy into a character who can only have 8 different attacks at a time. Also with the encounter powers, they were entirely on cooldown timers as a cleric so I was just spamming them every 12 seconds. It worked out OK but I'm not sure my interest in doing this will last.

4. Respawn times
In the shared instances respawn times were very short. I hate this. There was always stuff to kill but clearning a path through and stopping to try to heal up would often times get you respawned on. I'm not a fan. Most of these zones could have delt with the same number of enemies and a 10-15 minute respawn timer rather than a 2-3 minute timer. Or even better yet, the use of off stage respawns like I saw in the intro quest (zombies were appearing up on a hill you couldn't get to and running down at you) would be great. I always hate the idea of orcs randomly appearing where I'm standing.

5. Class Weapons/armor
This is really a pet peave of mine. When items drop and they are almost all class specific I get really annoyed. I understand the existence of light, medium, heavy armor in a game and there being some things you just aren't proficient to use. But when the nice leather boots that just dropped I can't put on because they're Rogue only, I just get annoyed. This is even worse for weapons. If only 1/5 weapons fit my class and the rest are all junk regardless of how "good" the weapon may be why should I even bother. It might not be smart for me to put on the two hander with my cleric, but considering how often I'd wade into battle, let me do it anyway. Being stuck with a holy symbol didn't make me feel like a cleric. It made me feel dumb.

I just found out about the foundry in STO and Neverwinter last week so I was really happy to get into the beta and give Neverwinter a try. Although, without the foundry, I doubt this is a game I'd really be very interested in. The limited class options combined with the lack of flexibility in builds for my character made the game feel like something that wouldn't hold my interest at all. To be honest I felt myself more interested in going back and playing STO because at least the game let me define my own role as I leveled. I'm really interested in seeing what the Foundry can bring to the game as it was my main interest in NWN and NWN2. But how can the foundry be totally sufficient for a game that is basically lackluster. The game is better than Diablo III, it could provide some fun as something to play with some friends, but I'm not sold that this is really the next game for me. It's free to play which is always a bonus, so I'm sure to give it a try. But I doubt the upper levels will keep me attached unless the foundry locks me in.

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