Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Neverwinter First Impressions




5-5-13

GOOD

  • It had the feel of D&D for me almost immediately.  I liked the dungeon crawl  format where I could explore at my own pace and was rewarded with additional chests and gathering nodes.
  • I like the fact that much of it was instanced. There’s something freeing about not needing to worry about being rolled over by some maniac.  
  • I like that it included companions.  One of the monumental contributions of SWTOR, companions allow play to be balanced for all types of characters.
  • I see more and more adoption of the Narrowly Multiplayer RPG.  Less open world content balanced with lots of instanced areas that you can explore solo, or you can enter in a party of your personal friends. 
  • In theory, I like the concept of limited abilities.  There’s something freeing about only having to be concerned with a limited number of abilities that you can learn well and that fall easily beneath your fingers.  Traditional mmos have 3 or 4 action bars packed with abilities and in order to play well, you need to know the perfect setting for using each of them.  By limiting the abilities, you remove a layer of complexity that can be a barrier between the player and having fun.  Again in theory, you can concentrate on using your limited abilities very well, rather than always be searching for that optimal moment for using the obscure button your class was given.
  • I like the theory of the foundry.  In addition to the stories told by the developers, you have basically an  unlimited storeroom of content provided by players.  The quality here will vary widely, no doubt.  But I especially like the potential for player developers to begin stringing together stories of their own in a series of separate but related quests.
    •  Again, potentially, Foundry quests can be made for parties as well as solo players.  In this case, it would be the equivalent of player made dungeon instances.  The game decides on the rewards of the foundry quests.  I want this to be applied at all character levels, so that they will be as valuable at endgame as while leveling.  
    • The danger, though, is that player-made quests will begin to feel the same.  That they will be indistinguishable from one another in their sameness and banality.  Then, they will no longer be a source for variety,
Questionable
·         I’m still not comfortable with the limited “mouse-look” control system.  I find it to be very confining.

·         Combat is free-form and fast paced.  It isn’t an environment for careful and expert application of your skills, gained from an intimate knowledge of your class.  Instead, it tends to be frantic button-mashing.  That can be fun as well, but it won’t be for everybody.

·         It isn’t the kind of system that encourages people to join groups where others have to rely on your vague and dodgy heals.

·         Too many currencies.  It’s hard to know what currencies you need and how to convert between them, or even what to do with them.  Zen, Astral Diamonds, gold, seal of the Lion, Manticore,  Hopefully as I level up these things will become more familiar to me. Right now, it isn’t clear to me when I need Astral Diamonds vs gold vs some seal.  I suspect that the few coppers that drop off of goblins don’t really mean that much.  Should I be trying to maximize copper or something else?
     SWTOR tried this with planetary commendations that were unique to each planet, and ultimately scrapped the whole thing in favor of a single currency usable across planets.  We'll see if Neverwinter follows this same path.

·         You cannot attack and move at the same time.  I find this extremely disruptive.  I’m used to ranging around the battlefield, moving to avoid attacks.  But the way it is done here, not only does your casting or attacking stop your movement, but it locks you in place.  Moving doesn’t break you out of this lock.  So if you press a button at the wrong time, you doom yourself to being crushed by the heavy blow of some giant opponent.