Neverwinter – Doing Dungeons and Dragons Right

See why Cryptic may have translated the magic of Dungeons and Dragons to the digital entertainment world better than anyone else to date.

Before you start reaching for pitchforks, torches, and other assorted
implements of destruction, take a deep breath and hear me out. Is Neverwinter
the end all, be all of Dungeons & Dragons goodness? Does it uphold the
sanctity of THAC0 (you know you all loved it)? Can you pick any class ever
created? Can you be any race you wish? Does it finally fulfill the
ultimate dream of being able to play D&D with all your friends around
the world in spectacular fashion? The simple answer is no, but if you let
that stop you, you’re going to miss out on something special.

Pen and paper Dungeons & Dragons has been beloved by droves of fans
since the 70s. I’ve been playing D&D regularly since 1984, and I’m a
tough critic when it comes to my favorite franchise of all time. Cryptic
took on a juggernaut franchise license, which is the ultimate show of
bravery, stupidity, or just pure audacity. But, after having spent a
significant amount of time with the game, I think it’s safe to say
Neverwinter’s developers were fanatical D&D fans themselves and have
done the legacy justice.

Turbine’s Dungeons & Dragons Online suffered from a number of issues,
but its biggest drawback was probably its setting. Of all the D&D
settings they could have chosen, the Ebberon campaign setting may have
been the least-known and least-favored by D&D players. Rather than
tread down the same path as Turbine, the folks at Cryptic brought us a
game nestled within the most popular and well known campaign setting of
them all, the Forgotten Realms. Not only did they pick the Forgotten
Realms, they did so at a point in its history where the world is still
trying to recover from a cataclysmic event, The Spellplague, caused by the
murder of Mystra, the goddess of magic. Magic ceased to exist for nearly a
decade, but now it’s back. Chaos reigns supreme and it’s high time for
some heroes to venture forth and battle for honor and glory!

I’m not a huge fan of the 4th edition Dungeon and Dragons rules when it
comes to a live roleplaying pen-and-paper game but, with some tweaks, they
translated impressively to a video game. Rather than leave all the combat
up to the decision of virtual dice, Neverwinter’s combat is much more
action-oriented. I know we hear those buzzwords--action combat--with every
new game that comes out. They annoy the hell out of me. Fortunately for
all of us, Cryptic has used just the right amount of twitch-play in their
system. It’s enough to keep an old goat like me constantly engaged when
fighting monsters, but is not so difficult as to become frustrating.

When you need to dive out of the way, there are very clear indicators.
This keeps combat from feeling the like the game is trying to cheat or
just ganking you, as in other games where you need to pay attention to
every subtle change in monster positioning to be ready when a huge attack
is incoming. Giving a player a clear indication that they need to move,
then giving them enough time to do so, followed by punishing them harshly
if they don’t, combines to make for the perfect level of combat
interactivity. I’ve been having so much fun with the combat system, in
fact, that I’ve started calling myself Dr. Death simply because I stop and
kill everything in my path. Always. It’s awesome.

A game needs to be about far more than combat, especially one sporting
“Dungeons and Dragons” in the title. Some of the most important staples of
D&D are cool environments, extraordinary monsters, and epic quests.
Neverwinter has all of these in spades. As you gain power, you’re given
more important quests and missions to investigate. As you progress through
the game, you begin to realize that the last dungeon you claimed was the
coolest dungeon you’ve ever seen soloing (I’m looking at you Clocktower)
is no longer the coolest...because the dungeon you’re in at that moment is
now the coolest.

The further you go, the more monsters you encounter, each with their own
special ways of dealing as much damage to your poor character as they can.
I find myself regularly trying out different power combinations and
methods of dispatching just as much pain and agony back at them. As you
delve into Neverwinter dungeons, not only will you discover more methods
of death, destruction, and dismemberment, you’ll be greeted by some old
D&D classics. The Mimic and the enormous Gelatinous Cube that tried to
eat me the other day were both brutal and welcome sights. They’re not
overused and provide just enough flair and distraction to be a joy rather
than an annoyance.

The team at Cryptic has done their homework. If I had to guess, I’d say
some of them may have been playing Dungeons and Dragons even longer than I
have. That’s a good thing (and no small feat), because the love they have
of the license comes through loud and clear. Neverwinter is as close to
the epitome of a Dungeons & Dragons game that we’re likely to see now,
or any time soon. It has the familiar feel that D&D players expect
combined with a kickass combat system.

Rather than taking my word for it, why don’t you give it a try yourself?
It’s free to play and free to download. You’ve got nothing but time to
lose. And after you’ve played it for a while, be sure to come back here
and let me know what you think. Am I the antichrist come to this world in
the flesh for the sole purpose of getting you to waste your time, or the
savior who restored your faith in the gaming world? Feel free to call me

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our Neverwinter Game Page.

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