by Zee Salahuddin
previewed on PC
Meet nitty and gritty
The interface is movable, and you can drag elements around to position them as you see fit. You can press alt to halt the actions of your character and play around in the menus. The quest UI is slick and you can set markers to your intended destinations. The quests themselves seems fairly run-of-the-mill, but it seems some thought has gone into the process. One quest had me gather nine arrows from a unfortunate victims (ugh), but they were collected in batches of three (oh that's not too bad), and instead of handing them over to a NPC, they had to be placed inside a barrel next to the archers in the camp. They promptly started using the arrows to shoot into the battlefield (cool).
If you set a quest marker, there is a flowing line that highlights the path you need to tread upon to get there. Speaking to an NPC swivels the camera around in front of you before opening a dialogue box, so it feels like you are having a personal conversation rather than being lost in the throngs of players that surround said NPC.
Enemies are mostly cannon fodder, but the bosses are well-designed, and paying attention to their attacks can go a long way in terms of combat efficiency. If you stay in his swing range, prepare for a long drawn out battle in which you spend most of the time on your butt. If you pay attention, avoid well-indicated damage areas, and pay attention to the enemies' attacks, you can achieve a speedy and decisive victory.
The custom of customary content
The most significant aspect of Neverwinter is The Foundry. Cryptic's previous ventures have promised similar tools, but this time they will be available from the beginning. The core ideology of Dungeons & Dragons continues to get weaved through the fabric of all that is Neverwinter in that if you can imagine scenarios, environments and grand adventures to be had, you can use the Foundry to design it all and bring it to life. The Foundry also features a rating system, reminiscent of Steam's Workshop.
This is very exciting news for several reasons. First, the ability to create your own adventures, NPCs, quests, campaigns and dungeons adds an immense amount of customization options right into the hands of the players. Second, it allows crowd-sourcing the best content, which can then be made available to the larger player base. Third, and perhaps most importantly, this implies that Neverwinter could potentially have a infinite amount of fresh content, created by players like you, that is interlaced right into the tapestry of the larger world. This, in turn, solves the one problem MMOs have never been able to counter: providing content to players close to the pace at which they consume it. Let us face it, grinding sucks.
Neverwinter is shaping up to quite the title. The quality seen in the first and second beta is a clear indicator that the team is putting a lot of effort into the title, and this time perhaps they will deliver on all that was promised. Oh and by the way, did I mention it will be free to play?