I tried to post the below on the Neverwinter forums... but it wouldn't let me...
From the title, you can tell straight off that I'm not going to be playing this at release and I really wish this wasn't the case. I was hoping this would be the game to get all my friends back into MMO's and also through the Foundry be able to craft adventures for them to participate in. This won't be a rant, just my thoughts on where the game went wrong for me.
I've followed the various dev posts on the game, watched plenty of YouTube vids, but finally got my hands on the game for Beta Weekend 3. A game has to grab you from the get go and Neverwinter fell painfully short of getting me psyched to play it come release. Whilst I understand it is a beta test, my issues aren't from the bugs (few of which I found) and the game feels almost complete and ready to go gold. Unfortunately the direction they've taken the game almost from the ground up has made it potentially the biggest step backwards in MMO design the genre has probably ever seen (I'll accept the Foundry is a good progressive step forward).
Almost the second you start the game you are greeted by a character creator that makes you wish you had the options from Ultima Online... Ok, so slight exaggeration, but this is not the awesome wealth of character creation options you'd expect from a Cryptic game. Instead you get mild differences ranging from ugly to semi ugly with huge bug eyes and expressionless features. It is shockingly hard to craft something that looks "passable" as a character model. As with most MMO's you get a taste of the endgame armour you'll be wearing when you create the character... but expect to suffer through some horrible looking stuff until you get there...
I won't go into the Pay2Win model they are doing too much, as they've been quite open about their philosophy in that regards. However with 4 classes in the game and only 2 character slots, you really suffer from having to roll a character, level them to see if you like them and then delete and start over to try a different race/class (good luck hanging onto your favourite character names when you reroll... you'll have to fork out if you want to "placeholder" any names for characters too...). This is not the game for alt-o-holics at all. You will be obliged at release to pay for more slots... and this is probably my biggest gripe for Pay2Win in that frankly it should have come as a boxed game for all - pay your £30 and get a playable version of the game with the Zen shop giving you cosmetic items and some minor extras. To release a game with 4 classes and 2 slots means you'll be forking out for the game regardless... It's like the old hot dogs come in packs of 8 and hot dog rolls come in packs of 6... in mmo form... :rolleyes:
Anyway, I tried 3 of the classes and took them through the starting areas. It feels very arcade-y but don't be fooled by the "it feels like the combat from TERA" - it isn't at all. Combat in TERA is very fluid whereas this is simply push left mouse button and hold it down moving the camera around a bit... occasionally use an ability... There is no fluidity to the supposed action combat at all and you have a painfully small amount of powers that really gives you little flexibility. I was quite despondent looking at my levelling powers and seeing minor changes to damage levels and occasionally a new power... I know most mmo's embrace the level up powers system, but honestly in this it feels more noticeable due to the lack of powers... Also, get used to not dying... it is shockingly easy to kill things and even easier to pop a potion (of which there are a ridiculous amount) and go from "almost dead" to fully healed with a quick press of a key... no trinity here... who needs a cleric when a pot can do the same job for little to no effort?
Other than that, there is a mix of voiced content and text... mostly text. This is no Old Republic voiced MMO and in many ways feels more akin to EQ/WoW in that regard, except with some Baldur's Gate style 1, 2 or 3 choices which inevitably all lead to the same answer. The quests in themselves are ok I guess, but where UO had you killing (or getting killed by) rabbits in the early days, WoW had you killing defias bandits for bandana's along comes Neverwinter that gives you a quest to get some peasant clothes... well colour me excited! :rolleyes: The intro quest alone shows how badly scripted the game is. You get an npc guy who winds up getting himself killed by "the big bad" in a silly "don't worry I'll solo her" moment... You feel no connection to him and his death wasn't even Leeroy Jenkins spectacular. It is a pointless (and very D&D DM way) of showing just how powerful the big bad is (and I'm sure she's endgame hard, so level 1 npc dude attacking her... yeah...). The trouble is, you don't care about him... even as a cleric you sit there and listen to him give his "save the city, there's no time left aaaaarghhh" speech rather than heal him up. Despite doing 5 or 6 playthroughs of the starter area (yay for delete/reroll...), I honestly couldn't tell you his name... :rolleyes:
This isn't a review as such, but I thought I should offer my feedback on it as I did try it and personally don't believe it floats my boat. At the end of the day it feels very 2005 in many areas and really with the likes of Old Republic, WoW, TERA and many other MMO's out there who have either crafted a better playing experience or taken the genre in different directions (with varying degrees of success, I'll agree), Neverwinter is a poor comparison to all of them. Where many newer mmo's take bits that work well and improve them when they clone WoW, Neverwinter hasn't made any effort to make this a game worth playing or anything better in any area than other games.
It is free to play though, after a fashion (expect to pay for 2 extra slots for characters at the very least + more when they bring new classes/races out), so I would encourage people to try it - this is my opinion after all and I am random guy #2234672893792538 on the internet. The Foundry alone may make that worthwhile (and I will agree the Foundry is possibly the best bit about the game). But if you are looking for an mmo that pushes the envelope, that is taking the genre in a new direction, that isn't a cynical cash shop forcing you to pay for literally everything, that is finally not just "another wow clone" then this isn't it. It's a half-hearted MMO, which is going to make you pay real £'s/$'s to get anywhere.
Just so you don't take the cash shop as the biggest gripe I have... I happily paid for mounts and pets in WoW and have paid for plenty of Cartel bits in Old Republic and Zen for stuff in Star Trek Online. I am often silly with my disposable income in this way (when I really shouldn't be...), so if this was an additional element to a solid game I'd happily fork out as normal, but from what I have seen of the game as they'll be releasing it, the strategy for the cash shop in Neverwinter feels different... and not in a good way... *shrugs*
I'm sorry Cryptic... but you just haven't hit a high note for me since CoH... :(