Neverwinter is a rare story-focused gem among the glut of MMOs that have entered the market since the release of games like World of Warcraft and Elder Scrolls Online.
There’s a lot to love about the world of Neverwinter, based on the Forgotten Realms city from Dungeons and Dragons. There’s plenty to do and explore, and it has one of the key features no MMO can create on its own: a dedicated fanbase.
The game came out in 2013 and still has well-populated servers, making it easier for your character to team up and role play with others. There are also fan-created servers that take on worlds of their own invention.
When your character enters the game, Neverwinter is currently suffering the mysterious loss of their Lord. The city has recently been sacked by invading forces, leaving many dead. And those dead are currently rising again to attack the inhabitants of the city they once defended.
Your task is to investigate what these risen dead want. They’re looking for something, and a mysterious group seems to be helping them. Is this connected to the disappearance of the Lord of Neverwinter? Or the Elemental attacks? It’s up to you to find out.
Neverwinter is a fantastic introduction for people who might be new to the world of MMOs, or massive multiplayer online games. As soon as your character enters the game, you’re given a walk through on how to navigate this world. Sparkling trails lead you toward your quest objectives, quest givers provide you with entry-level tasks that introduce you to the method by which you can fight, talk, and otherwise interact with the world.
The game also loads very quickly. Anyone who’s played MMOs knows about infamous server lag, sometimes so bad it kicks you right out of servers. Despite being a free-to-play game and having a dedicated player base, the game continues to not only function but thrive.
One of the downsides, however, might be the reason why the game loads quickly. The graphics are very reminiscent of early 2000s gaming. This may be excusable for games like World of Warcraft with a release date of that era. But Neverwinter came out in 2013. While the graphics are certainly functional, they’re well below the current bar of expectations.
On the plus side, the number of character customization options you have is genuinely impressive. With most MMOs you don’t get a ton of options beyond race, gender, and some basic facial features or hairstyle changes.
Neverwinter actually lets you customize things like the width of your characters hips on a sliding scale selector, giving you levels of control over your character that few online games offer. You can even age your character’s face, change features to natural or unnatural colors, and add tattoos and facial scars.
Yet, for all the options when it comes to physical traits, the actual Dungeons and Dragons feature options are startlingly few. Your class selections are very narrow, and the majority of them focus on creating a hack and slash character.
This could be because the game’s fighting mechanics are also fairly limited. You’re only able to fight creatures using a couple of mouse clicks and a small handful of hot keys.
Another gripe about the fighting system is its lack of an automatic basic attack feature. In most games, once you’ve initiated an attack against a creature, the game will continue to auto-attack that creature with whatever basic method you have equipped. Thwacking it with a staff, hacking at it with a sword, flinging magic bolts at it, and so on. You can go on to select special attacks in the middle of this, but the basic attack continues.
Neverwinter has no such feature. You have to manually click for each attack, making the fighting process not only tedious but unnecessarily challenging. It’s more difficult to work out which custom attack you’d like to fling at someone if you can’t move your mouse away from the target long enough to browse your options.
If you’re interested in an MMO to connect with guilds and roleplay out a story, Neverwinter is worth a try. For all its failures when it comes to graphics and game mechanics, it’s one of the best out there when it comes to actual developed story and your ability to build your own story as a player character. But if it wasn’t a free game, I wouldn’t recommend paying for it.