Weeknights in… is a weekly column in which I’ll be exploring the MMO genre – one which I have never had the pleasure of diving into before.
Last week, I took my first steps in Cryptic Studios’ Neverwinter, an MMORPG set within the Dungeons & Dragons setting of the Forgotten Realms, getting to grips with the basics of the MMO genre, and getting used to the mechanics and controls of the game.
This week, I arrived in Protector’s Enclave, and immediately the world of Neverwinter felt much more exciting and open that it did before.
All around me were players looking to sell items. One guy had a rare companion to sell, another was looking to get rid of their Greater Mark of Potency, another scouring the market for a Dragonbone weapon. Players passed me of all shapes and sizes: a group of level 60 humans, each atop a chestnut stallion, a half-elf in mage robes riding a tiger, a fellow tiefling at the same level as myself, perhaps also stepping into the world of MMOs for the first time. Each character had a different title, a different story, and helped this world to feel alive.
I arrived to speak to Sergeant Knox, a prodigious, powerhouse of a man adorned in a sumptuous set of radiant blue armor. He thanked me for the work I had done on Sleeping Dragon’s Bridge and awarded me… a worn blade and some peasants clothing? I took a look at his sword, and the equipment of the people surrounding him and couldn’t help but feel like I was being taken for granted. Why couldn’t I have had his sword? Or his armor? I mean, it probably wouldn’t fit as we were vastly different in size, but it would have been a nice gesture at the least.
He then gave me a quest, asking me to go and investigate the vaults beneath the Halls of Justice as I had “proven myself more than capable”. Half of the struggle would be finding exactly where it is I need to go in a new world such as this, but luckily the guidance system in Neverwinter works pretty well. There’s a line on the floor which sparkles, paving the path to your destination. It can be temperamental at times, and you may have to stop and look around to see where it disappeared to, but in a game with no mini-map, it does save you pausing to open the local map in the quests menu time and time again.
Immediately upon entering the vaults, I saw a change of pace in gameplay. Although each group of enemies is spaced out, meaning that you don’t feel overwhelmed in any way, the music takes a much more ominous tone, the environment has a much darker contrast and the overall atmosphere of the surroundings becomes much darker and more tense.
Combat didn’t feel all too different than before, but I think that’s mainly because I haven’t levelled up enough. There are some variance between enemies, however. Snipers attack from afar, attempting to ping me off before I can even get close (sucks to be them, I chose a ranged class). Recruits charge at you, attempting to attack me before I can ping them off from afar. Mages are by far the hardest, forcing you to use the vastness of the space around you to dodge out-of-the-way of their spells before they cause too much damage. They can quickly finish you off with some extremely powerful magic, so I would definitely advise focusing on them first before moving on to the other foes around you at this level, otherwise you could find your encounters finishing just as fast as they started.
Neverwinter is not Guild Wars 2. You don’t magically regain your health between combat, and must instead rely on health potions and campfires to get you through a dungeon. Campfires can be found dotted throughout dungeons and are often located before the final ‘boss’ of each dungeon, allowing you a quick rest before the battle ahead. There’s also an item called a Portable Altar which you can drop from your inventory, acting as a campfire to heal you up (it also allows you to use your invocation ability once you reach level 11, but that’s another story for another time). These aren’t enough however, as they are few and far between and cannot help you in the midst of combat. Take it upon yourself to visit General Goods NPCs and stock up on as many health potions as you can. Just trust me, you owe it yourself in order not to fail.
It’s also worth pointing that skirmishes are almost vital within the early stages of the game. They’re short, fun little PvE experiences which are a great way to earn some XP, get some loot and establish the best role for your character within group combat. It lets you practice your skills and experience working together within a team to defeat hordes of enemies. There’s no real coordination or communication needed for them to work in your favor, but they’re great when you want to get used to the game, and especially the MMO genre.
It’s worth mentioning now also that if you are looking to make a start in Neverwinter, don’t go wandering in blindly. Take your time, get to know each race and class before you make your decision. My current character which I am playing with throughout this series – Orianna Fiendline, the tiefling scourge warlock – is ideal. Her ability to move quickly around the battlefield means that she can dive away from immediate danger. If I were a tank class, this would render the ability pretty much redundant. Know what you’re getting into. Thankfully there’s an extensive wiki which has all of the information you need, so feel free to check up on there before you dive in.
Other than that, that’s about all I have time for this week. There’s still a lot for me to uncover. I’m only just nearing level 10, which means that I’m yet to unlock a companion to assist me on my quests, and don’t even mention professions and the foundry. That’s a whole other level I’m yet to explore, yet one I am very much looking forward to. Neverwinter is a fairly simplistic game at its core, yet has so much to do and discover that I barely feel like I’ve touched the surface.
Join me next week in the journey to gain my first companion and how it changes the dynamics and pacing of the game, as well as take a look into my profession. Am I a tailor? An alchemist? Or a simple miner? Only time will tell.