For an MMO that the GAMEBREAKER crew once considered “generic,” Neverwinter seems to be shaping up pretty nicely.
That was Gary Gannon’s impression when he got a sneak peek at the game at E3, and we liked the two trailers we saw in advance of the show. And the game’s getting near-universal praise from other media outlets, as well.
With its sudden prominence, you might be a little unsure as to just what the game’s about, so we’re here to fill you in on the details, as we currently know them.
Neverwinter is a city, the “Jewel of the North,” in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting for Dungeons & Dragons. Its popularity is due in large part to a series of novels by R.A. Salvatore chronicling the adventures of the dark elf Drizzt Do’Urden.
Set 100 years after the events of the BioWare RPG Neverwinter Nights 2 — and 25 years after a cataclysmic volcanic eruption — the Neverwinter MMO started development in 2010 as a pay-to-play game, but with Perfect World Entertainment‘s acquisition of Cryptic Studios, the game morphed into a free-to-play title.
Details have been sparse, but there was a lot more info revealed the week of E3. Here are some of the major talking points you’ll want to learn about:
- The game will have action combat and a very small number of abilities, a growing trend in MMOs.
- Dungeons also sound like more than just more of the same enemies — albeit with bigger life bars — that you’re used to seeing in the outer world, with traps and secret passages to hinder players or provide opportunities to do more than just bash skulls.
- The Foundry, Cryptic’s user-generated content tool that’s proven popular in Star Trek Online, will allow budding dungeon masters to create their own adventures for other players to die in — I mean, try out. If this assessment of its ease of use is accurate, it might even draw in people who’ve never tried UGC in an MMO.
- There will be no PvP at launch, but it is in the works. This should make the Foundry an even bigger key to the game’s early success.
- You’ll have six races to choose from, along with the standard D&D classes, like fighter, rogue, mage, etc., though there will be room for variety. A control mage, for instance, will play very different from an AOE mage.
- Cryptic insists that being free-to-play won’t translate into pay-to-win, but, as always, we’ll have to see how well that works out.
- Finally, we haven’t talked much about Neverwinter‘s graphics or the game’s overall feel — that’s really something you’ll have to judge for yourself — but if the following passage from Gamedynamo’s Rando Evans doesn’t get you stoked, I don’t know what will:
There was also no skimping on the maps and locations. We walked through an amazing-looking map, attacked by gnolls and wolves. I remember in one instance I looked across the cliffs and saw the shadows of more wolves coming down the mountain; those shadows were projected up on the cliff sides, intimidating all below.
Neverwinter is scheduled to launch by the end of 2012.