This is a long one.
I’ve spent most of my game time of the past few weeks playing Neverwinter, which was recently released on PS4. The game is free to play and available now, but my Dad bought me early access so he had someone to play with and we got in a week early, along with a few minor bonuses. We both played it a lot. We hit the soft cap of 60 in the past couple of days and I don’t think it’ll be too long before we reach the hard cap of level 70. It’s cool.
I haven’t played too many MMOs, but this one seems a bit more complicated than World of Warcraft (the one I’ve spent a lot of time with). Firstly, there’s just a lot going on. There are icons and tools all over the screen, there’s a huge amount of lore which is probably made a little easier if you’re familiar with Dungeons and Dragons, there’s so many different tabs and information everywhere. Just on the pause menu, there are 6 or 7 tabs with at least 3 options each. There are multiple different currencies, a profession system, collections of companions, mounts and gear, 5(?) different shops/auction houses and loot everywhere. It was a little overwhelming for the first few days. Once you take the time to investigate and look up what everything is, it becomes a little easier to manage, but it can still be a little much and it’s not helped by the control scheme, which, in all honesty, they’ve done well to push onto a controller.
The game suffers from a few issues.
It is free to play, but there are some huge advantages to putting money into it. Most of the mounts and companions are on the real money store and those that aren’t are hidden in containers that need a key, only purchasable with the real money currency Zen, to unlock. You can get XP boosts, teleportation to the hub, invulnerability to traps and all sorts of other things if you put enough money into it. That being said, it is completely possible to play without investing anything but your time. While playing you collect a currency called Astral Diamonds, this can be converted into Zen at any time for access to the items on the real money shop. It’ll take quite a bit longer, but it’s an option and it’s doable.
The gold sellers have essentially ruined the chat. In the hub zone, you just can’t see anything because it is full of people trying to sell Astral Diamonds on their third party websites. This is pretty standard for MMOs, but it doesn’t make it any less annoying.
There’s a lack of polish that impacts the game from time to time. Connectivity issues pop-up and occasionally you don’t know how you died, because the game hasn’t kept up with you. In a group you can’t see the tooltips or comparisons for the items in your inventory. Logging out in certain zones will result in the game refusing to load when you try to log back in. There are DIY fixes, but nothing official. Perhaps lack of polish isn’t fair. Bugs and issues are to be expected and it seems like they are aware and working on the problems. My biggest gripe? No colourblind setting!
With that all out of the way though, I really like it. It’s fun, it looks nice, the zones and enemies are cool. The gameplay feels, to me at least, pretty challenging and while I am aware that it’s a grind, it’s a grind I want to do. There are dailies, weeklies, gold grinding, token collecting, but it’s somewhat enjoyable and I want to see what it leads to. The campaigns offer rewards for your grinding and there are mounts and companions that I want to collect, even if it takes me a month of dungeons to gain enough astral diamonds.
It also feels like an mmo should. There are people in the zones. The only time you’ll ever be alone is when you enter a mission instance (a cave, or house) by yourself. The rest of the time you’ll be passing people and, if you’re nice, helping them out. Even if they are just being idiots in the chat, they’re there and (regardless of what my Dad says) enhancing the game.
Lastly and most importantly, the game gives you moments where you walk around a corner and something like this happens:
It might get old eventually and there are dragons every couple of zones, but that is still pretty spectacular.
You might be one of the people who are fed up with grinding for dragons after burning yourself out in the first couple of weeks farming Chathraxis. Yes, they are quite common, but the first 3 are kittens compared to this guy. Try fighting him with a dodgy connection and eyes that can’t see red!
tl;dr – Neverwinter is a great, free MMO that manages to outshine its issues.
Now I’m off to grind AD so I can buy a Quasit.