I’ll freely admit that I’ve never played Neverwinter. It’s an MMO that has always been on my radar, but one I’ve never dived into. There’s lots of reasons why, but mostly a case of right game, wrong time. I don’t always get to choose what I write about, and for the first time in a long time, not only have I an opportunity to dive in, but I genuinely want to.
Despite the Heart of Fire update being the 15th for Neverwinter, there’s little else I know about it. I did question whether or not I wanted to read up on what’s due, what I’ve missed and what has changed, and although it’s fun to go into any new MMO blind, I thought some due diligence would be worthwhile.
Heart of Fire, as noted above, is the 15th update of the Dungeon’s & Dragons MMO. Module 15 is heavily influenced and themed around Acquisitions Incorporated, the incredibly popular Penny Arcade Podcast (featuring the characters Omin Dran and Jim Darkmagic). Besides this collaboration, there’s tons of extra stuff.
Not only does the game still look great, but the starting experience is brilliant.
Major class balance changes, a new Workshop system, story campaign and event system make up the bulk of the improvements, with the Campaign starting out at level 15 for new players. It’s a large amount of content for those just diving in, or for Veterans, and with me sitting well and truly in the beginners camp, I’m genuinely excited to dive in.
For anyone who knows me, I tend to gravitate towards races that are small, and classes that dabble in dark magic. Considering Neverwinter not only has a Necromancer, but also a halfling, the game has already leaped in my estimations. After my love of Dark Age of Camelot’s Lurikeens, I’m already getting similar vibes, and admit I came close to rolling a ranger (they look awesome with their little cloak on).
What surprised me the most about Neverwinter after diving through its character customisation (I settled on a blind necromancer with far too much makeup), is the fact it doesn’t play anything like I anticipated. While the shell is undoubtedly a traditional MMO, it genuinely does have brilliant combat and a raft of systems that are exceptionally well designed. Right from the start, not only does it throw you in headfirst, but you feel powerful.
If I were to compare World of Warcraft’s early levels to Neverwinter’s, I’d side with Neverwinter all day long. The Warlock is painful to level from 0-60 until you get the majority of your abilities, and even then, only tends to sore at level 120 with Azerite gear. In Neverwinter I feel incredibly powerful right from the off, while wielding spells that not only look great, but have serious umph and originality. Bombarding enemies that are surprisingly fast, and which react together (there’s no single pulls here) is something I never anticipated.
Even if the quests are akin to many other MMO’s (kill this, fetch that, escort them), they’re undoubtedly fun. Not only helped because of the brilliant combat, but also because there’s genuine atmosphere, and a littering of clever design. Camp fires to rest at (I see you, Dark Souls), the fact enemies are a genuine threat, that NPC’s have voice acted, and a skill system I’ve still not gotten my head around.
I’ve played many MMO’s in my time, having invested thousands of hours into the likes of WoW, Guild Wars 2, DAoC and Warhammer Online, and I have to admit that Neverwinter in its own way, eclipses many of these. Considering it took Guild Wars 2 years to get a full action camera, having it by default in Neverwinter instantly transforms combat. If you also factor in that it’s quicker and snappier than the likes of Elder Scrolls Online, and more skill-based than World of Warcraft, there’s no wonder folks stick around.
With the early leveling zones bustling with new players, I got chatting to a handful. Many were re-rolling, some were as clueless as me, while others were returning thanks to the Heart of Fire update. Most were all in agreement that Neverwinter feels different to its peers. As a new player, and as a free to play game, that’s hard to quantify. However, I do get it. Were I to make comparisons, Neverwinter gives me Guild Wars vibes, combined with a sprinkling of Warhammer Online (right down to its UI). That’s a good spot to be in as far as I’m concerned.
While my adventures in Neverwinter are only just beginning, and I’ve already been distracted at the need to try all the classes that are on offer. If the Necromancer is so good at level 1, I’d be mad not to. It might be too early for me to judge Neverwinter as a whole, but I’m hoping this diary series - which sees me level through the game and Heart of Fire - should provide a solid foundation for reaching a decision on the game.
As for early signs, I’m shocked at how much I’m already enjoying my time in Neverwinter and having already leapt towards the Ranger (honestly, it was inevitable), you’ll know my thoughts on the class and further leveling in the next few days.
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