Mawry Haversack, Neverwinter Commando
This is not a review of the game Neverwinter. That has been done already, quite well actually, by a variety of DDO bloggers including two who write here on DDOGamer. If you want a review, I will direct you to one of the existing writeups. Spoiler – they all seem to pretty much like the new game. Except Sig.
BonnieBew’s review is especially informative, spread out over five separate articles (the link above takes you to the first part) and covering most aspects in detail.
I’ve been putting off my own entry into the world of Neverwinter for several reasons, mainly time constraints. It seemed a moot point: I’m not going to be playing it whether I like it or not. I just don’t have time for another MMO right now. I’ve read many articles comparing DDO and Neverwinter and none of them really made a compelling case for it.
So overall, better things to do, and besides, several other good DDO writers have already had their go at it. No need for me to weigh in too.
But time passed and curiosity grew. I kept seeing tweets about it from people I know as DDO players. People in my guild were talking about it.
I eventually reached a state where my natural ennui about the game was overcome by a feeling/dread that I ought to at least know something about it. Thus hectored into activity, I sought out the free download and let it run overnight. I have no idea how long it actually took, when I checked in the morning I was good to go. There were some issues getting my account set up; they are picky about email addresses and so forth. But not too difficult and eventually I was looking at a cut scene. Which was pretty cool, a well-done mini movie although I suspected that it had nothing to do with actual game play. They never do.
The intro movie was the last thing I simply enjoyed. Everything else was annoying.
I ran three different characters through the introductory tutorial quests and then ran one other quest on each one. Hardly a fair sample of the game, but then I was not trying to gather information for a review. This was a scouting party, lightly skirmishing the game, not an in-depth assault.
Rather than try to bore you with details, lets talk about the things that annoyed me. And why they were so annoying.
There are no choices
Your character just grows abilities whether you like it or not; you don’t even pick spells for your caster. I expect that this changes at higher levels but never goes away; the game wants to babysit you.
There was no challenge
Again, spending four hours in the game running three tutorials is not enough to state anything definitive. But I think it is notable that none of my characters ever even considered drinking a potion of healing. There was never a need, even when surrounded.
There is no attempt to play by D&D rules
My fifth-level characters had thousands of hit points. I don’t even know how many thousands. The unnecessary but starter-level Potions of Healing each restored 1000 points. Each. The few spells I encountered had D&D names but did not have D&D effects. Neverwinter Rogues teleport like Nightcrawler. WTF?
The game has a D&D skin but the muscles and bones are from … I don’t even know where. Somewhere that is the opposite of D&D.
There was not very much definition
I tried to play contrasting character types; a tank, a nuker, a DPS. But they all played largely the same. Range until you can’t then use close-in combat ability. They all have a limited dodge ability that works the same.
There were some differences, they each did one thing better than the other classes. I expect this differentiation increases with level. But one of my favorite things in DDO is playing things with different classes because each one plays so differently. That is lacking in Neverwinter. Annoyingly lacking.
The game makes my left hand cramp
It is WASD left hand, mouselook right hand. I know how common this is amongst the first-person shooter crowd but it is a playstyle I have never mastered. Maybe I can remap my keys to something else. But … bleh. The combat system is actually an active one (unlike the passive button clicking of WoW, Star Wars, Conan and the like), but the only activity is an occasional dodge and even that is yet another left-hand activity. My left hand was very annoyed.
Also notable: no strafe. How weird (and annoying!) for an FPS-style interface to not have strafe. Maybe I just missed it.
Buttoning works differently
I expected to need to use different buttons. I didn’t expect buttons to interact with the UI so differently. It is like a whole new way to have buttons in your game. Maybe it is the FPS thing again. There is an MMO way to have buttons and an FPS way to have buttons. My Gamer Girl and I play LotRO sometimes when we want a DDO break. The buttons are different in LotRO. But they are still buttons and do button-like things. In Neverwinter, it is just not that simple. How annoying.
It is enough like DDO that the parts that are different are very annoying
There are so many cues that cause one to expect DDO-like behavior. So many similarities. Massively describes the two games as having more in common than they have different and I agree. But this similarity makes the differences stand out. Really stand out. In an extra-annoying kind of way.
It is the game that DDO seems to be trying to become
“Easily accessible” meaning simplified and easy to play. Limited choices that are easier to understand. Low character danger. Low entry curve. Highly recognizable to people with experience in other games. Character classes that are balanced with each other.
It is annoying that DDO apparently feels the need to move in the same directions.
Most annoying of all, it is packed with people
Some of the busy feeling is due to the way that Neverwinter stacks NPCs into the game public areas. Dozens and dozens in places where Turbine might put two in DDO. But it is not that simple, the fact is that the game is full of players. They are everywhere. This annoys me because I want these people to be playing DDO; we need them!
Yes I know, this is not a fair thing to be annoyed about. It is not the game’s fault that it is currently popular. Nonetheless, this annoyed me more than anything else. Grrrrrr.
I don’t hate the game. If I didn’t already have DDO I would probably fall right into it, having that D&D skin and all. But the fact is that I do already have DDO, it is a much better D&D experience, and I don’t have room for another MMO in any case.
Even though it has all that new content that I have never before encountered.
Even though it has more modern art.
Even though it has user-generated content.
Even though it has all those players.
Alright maybe I do hate Neverwinter. A little. Not for what it is, but for what it has. It is the latest shiny. And that just annoys the crap outta me.
Jealousy is an ugly thing.