Neverwinter review – part two

Neverwinter

Welcome back to our three-part Neverwinter review. If you landed here without first reading part one of our review, then I suggest clicking this link! In this second part I’ll be taking you through the more complex gameplay modes including general questing, skirmishes, dungeons and of course PvP. Sit back my adventuring friend, grab an ale from the barkeep and let’s begin.

Neverwinter starts off by introducing you to questing in a similar way as all other RPG’s and MMORPG’s alike. In the case of Neverwinter, your character is washed ashore after the ship you were sailing on was destroyed during the attack upon the city. You wake up, find some basic equipment and get to helping the Neverwinter Guards mop up the last of the attackers. This introductory quest line will push you towards the city itself and ultimately the main social hub of the game; Protectors Enclave. These initial quests introduce you nicely to the progression system within the game.

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Your primary goal in an MMORPG is of course the development of your character. You can play through the game a number of times, as different classes and/or races therefore experiencing ever so slightly different quests, but guaranteed you’ll be doing it to make that character the best it can be. Obtain the highest level equipment or win that legendary mount you saw another player dash on. Neverwinter features the same character progression system in which players earn experience points for their actions as other traditional RPG’s. Questing in and around Neverwinter will see you in combat with monsters and completing quests for NPCs, either alone or in groups of friends (maybe even in a Guild – but more on that in part three).

General questing will take place in Adventure Zones, the first being Protectors Enclave, which to begin with only has a small number of ‘Go visit this NPC for advice’ style quests. Adventure Zones are then broken down into groups of neighbourhoods and instances, or non-persistent zones. For example, Blacklake District and Tower District – two of the first Adventure Zones you’ll explore before reaching level 20 – are both part of the extended city of Neverwinter. As I’ve said before and will likely say many times over, Neverwinter is a typical MMO in style so many of the simpler quests involve killing a certain number of enemies, collecting certain objects and items, searching for missing NPC’s or delving into caves and mines in search of materials for the NPC quest giver.

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Adventure zones are persistent, meaning that separate instances of the zone are not created for each individual group. Instances as they are known, are kept for dungeons. Whilst this does mean you’ll be completing the same quests as others around you, Neverwinter’s respawn times for enemies and items have been sped up in comparison to that of World of Warcraft. This means you won’t spend 10 minutes waiting for your target to reappear after being killed by another player.

All the Adventure Zones have a recommended level. For instance Blacklake District, being the first of many full zones to explore, is recommended for players between level 6 and 9 whereas the Tower District is aimed at players between level 9 and 15. Characters who enter an Adventure Zone below the minimum suggested level will receive a warning before entering, but will still be able to enter. Just don’t expect to get very far unless you’re with a group of friends working together. The higher level zones will be marked red on the World Map.

Each new Adventure Zone comes with a playable Skirmish, a game mode I’ve not previously experienced in an MMO. Skirmishes are PvE (or player vs environment) instances. Each Skirmish is balanced for a team of five players with a minimum and maximum level cap. It sounds very much like the same mechanic as Dungeon Delves, however the difference here is that the Skirmishes are normally very short in duration and nine times out of ten, involve staying in a fixed area defeating wave after wave of enemies. There is the chance to pick up some good loot and the end chest reward is normally a decent piece of equipment which you’ll need to roll on. There are three types of Skirmishes in Neverwinter; the first is a standard Skirmish that forms part of the quest line you may be working through. For example, during the opening quest line in Blacklake District you’ll be called upon to help defeat a priest of the God Ghaunadaur who is summoning the undead from the bottom of the lake. You and four others will then fight three waves of undead monsters before finally confronting the priest, working together to take him down.

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The second type is a Call to Arms Skirmish, an enhanced limited time version of a normal skirmish that will allow any player between level 6 and 60 to queue and take part. These events have much improved equipment and loot available as rewards, including rare pets, mounts and themed weapons. Interestingly enough, the Call to Arms Skirmish automatically scales enemy damage given and received as appropriate to each character, meaning if you do end up with a level 6 player in your party, they’ll be just as useful as your level 60 Trickster Rogue. Finally there is a third type of Skirmish which I’ve yet to experience in the Xbox One version of Neverwinter. This is the Event Skirmish linked to calendar events in-game. Hopefully we’ll see some of these in the not so distant future.

Those familiar with MMORPG’s will likely be wanting to know more about Dungeon Delves, Neverwinter’s equivalent to World of Warcraft’s dungeon instances. As with the Skirmishes these private instances are balanced for groups of 5 players again with a minimum and maximum level. There are two key differences between Skirmishes and Dungeon Delves. The first is that Dungeon Delves involve exploring a location whether it be a dungeon, castle or tower. The other is that there is normally a number of bosses compared to just one. As with the Skirmishes there are also three types of Dungeon Delves; the first being a standard private instance, which are similar to Skirmishes tied into a quest line. You’ll need to meet the level requirements, but standard dungeons allow you to enter at any time with any number of players in tow. Epic Dungeon Delves however are a lot stricter. You have to use the game queue system, which will ensure your group is made up of five players that are made up of a Tank, Healer and three DPS (see review part one for explanation), the group leader will be picked at random and you need to have a minimum equipment score.

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There are then the Dungeon Delves that are only available through events linked to the in-game event calendar. Completing a Dungeon Delve during an event unlocks an additional treasure chest for each party member when you successfully complete the dungeon. This chest holds high-end equipment for your character and other rare and epic items you can either use of sell in the Auction House; more on that in part three. A lot of the high-end equipment you’ll be wanting to collect for your character will only be purchasable using a currency known as Seals. There are a number of Seals in Neverwinter starting with the Seal of the Lion. These can be collected from all three different types of instances, saved and then used to buy that new dagger or sword you need with the extra +250 damage. As you progress through the game and increase your own level you will encounter new types of Seals that are redeemable for better equipment. So far I have seen five types of Seals in the Xbox One version of Neverwinter. The PC version has seven.

Congratulations Adventurer, you now know enough to get out there and start questing in Neverwinter. So what’s coming up in part three? We’ll be looking at professions (everyone needs one, right?), the in-game crafting system that’s based on your profession, the economy of Neverwinter and the Auction House. We’ll also be giving you our final verdict and score. So don’t get lost out there. We’ll keep your chair warm and look forward to seeing you back here for another Ale!