Neverwinter: Strongholds – the seventh expansion for the action MMORPG set in the Dungeons & Dragons’ Forgotten Realms universe from Wizards of the Coast is due for release.
Strongholds introduces the largest playable map released for Neverwinter and focuses on players banding together to take back a stronghold from the wild. The initial release will focus on player-versus-environment gameplay in order to allow guilds the opportunity to build their strongholds before taking the fight to other players when large scale player-versus-player content launches.
Reminiscent of early Dungeons & Dragons gameplay, Neverwinter: Strongholds empowers guilds to reclaim a keep and its surrounding wilderness areas from monsters. As the lands are cleared, guilds will build defenses both in and around their strongholds using structures like archer towers to fend off attackers, while building siege structures to increase their ability to wage war against enemy guilds. Once the keep has been secured, guilds will work to solidify their foothold along the ranges of the Sword Coast.
Neverwinter : Strongholds is due for PC launch on August 11th with an Xbox One release to follow shortly thereafter.
You made it to part three of our massive Neverwinter review! Congratulations adventurer, have an extra 1,000xp as a reward. 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.
If you haven’t read parts one and two of our Neverwinter review, I suggest doing so before proceeding further. Part one is found here and part two here.
If you’ve played any RPG in the past, you’ll be familiar with Professions and crafting. In MMORPG’s professions not only act as a way to create yourself decent armour and weapons (or gear if you prefer) but also a way to earn money in-game. In Neverwinter the system works exactly the same and professions provide a way to make/customize armour, earn currency, items, and experience. Neverwinter’s system is slightly different to other MMORPGs but it won’t take long to adjust.
Professions are unlocked at level 10 and the immediate difference is that you won’t be performing crafting tasks yourself. Instead you’ll be hiring Craftsmen and sending them out to perform tasks on your behalf leaving you free to continue adventuring. Unlike most titles, you are also able to dabble in every profession available. A single craftsman for each profession can be acquired. These tasks take up a certain amount of time ranging from five seconds to upwards of 18 hours depending upon the complexity of what you need. You do have the option to speed this up by spending Astral Diamonds, one of the games many in-game currencies.
The majority of tasks will require you to use a number of different resources to complete them. These resources are consumable items that can be obtained through earlier tasks but mainly by using Skills and Resource Kits while dungeon delving or exploring one of the many regions within the game. In addition to resources you’ll also need a selection of different tools. By using tools of a good quality the resulting output of the task will be a much greater reward. The same can be said when assigning Craftsmen, if you have Craftsmen who are more experienced, make sure you use them for tasks with better rewards, they’ll also reduce the time it takes to perform the task. Both craftsmen and tools are known as Assets, neither of which are consumed when performing tasks.
If you are familiar with the likes of World of Warcraft, you’ll know that you are limited to one profession and one task at any time. In Neverwinter you don’t need to speak to ‘trainers’ to learn new professions and you can perform multiple tasks at once. You have nine slots for performing tasks and each slot can have a task related to a different profession as long as you have the required assets. This is a welcome change allowing more casual MMO players get involved.
There are nine professions to choose from; Alchemy, Artificing, Jewelcrafting, Leadership, Leatherworking, Mailsmithing, Platesmithing, Tailoring, Weaponsmithing. Leatherworking as an example, concentrates on creating armour for Hunter Rangers, Trickster Rogues, and Scourge Warlocks whereas Leadership will put you in charge of directing Mercenaries in performing tasks which upon completing you’ll be rewarded with gold, items, experience and additional Astral Diamonds. It’s worth investing time into your professions, as they become a valuable source of income during your time with Neverwinter.
Neverwinter contains a number of different currency types, but as you start off there will be three specific currencies you will encounter most frequently; Zen, Astral Diamonds and Gold (including Silver & Copper) GOLD (and Silver and Copper).
Zen is the currency obtained by spending real money, and can only be used while browsing the in-game Zen store. Many people are against models that include purchasing currency, but it has allowed for Neverwinter to be released as a free-to-play model, and as mentioned in part one of my review, the majority of items available for purchase in the Zen store can also be obtained by playing the game. The exception to this rule is a number of ‘service’ items that will enhance your Neverwinter experience such as additional character slots, and renaming a character. Zen points can also be obtained via Astral Diamonds on the Zen Astral Diamond Exchange.
Astral Diamonds are the primary currency in Neverwinter and the one you’ll be wanting to stock up on. It’s with Astral Diamonds you have the greatest freedom to buy high-end questing gear. Astral Diamonds themselves can be earned through NPC quests and missions, invoking and praying to your deity daily, the Leadership profession and completing daily dungeons and Skirmishes. Astral Diamonds can be used to purchase almost anything, from consumables to high-end gear, among other things. If you are looking to buy simple consumables like health potions and the like, it’s Gold you’ll be wanting to use. Gold (inc. Silver & Copper) is the in-game currency for consumables, such as healing and other potions, companions, mounts, etc. It is considered by many to be the role-playing currency as it is found through the game frequently and often by accident.
Learning a profession in World of Warcraft made me a lot of in-game gold, especially during Wrath of the Lich King expansion. Crafting items from high-end, valuable and rare materials and selling in the player driven Auction House made me very rich, well my character at least. Neverwinter has an Auction house as you can expect and it works in very much the same way as all MMO Auction Houses. The Auction House provides a way for players to offer goods for sale to other players and is a key part of the game economy. All purchases on the Auction House are paid for with Astral Diamonds, not Gold. When you list an item on the Auction house you’ll be able to set the starting price for bidding but also a ‘Buy Now’ price too. Don’t forget that the Auction House will take a 10% cut of the money made after each successful sale. Once sold you head off to a Postal Courier and collect your Astral Diamonds – this is the same if you are buying items from the Auction House, you would visit a Postal Courier to collect your purchase. The Auction House is a fantastic way of getting your hands on equipment, vanity items and more much earlier in the game as long as you can afford it. And don’t forget to sell your goods on there.
And there we have it – we’ve covered all the basics you need to know to get started inNeverwinter. But what did we think of it when all is said and done?Neverwinter has a bunch of shortcomings including some framerate issues, however if you’ve never played an MMO and like the idea of exploring one from your sofa and Xbox One without the need for a gaming PC, thenNeverwinter is a great introduction. For those of you that do take the plunge (and let’s be honest, it is free so why wouldn’t you?), you’ll discover an enjoyable and rewarding adventure that albeit the under par graphics, will keep your attention and ensure you come back for more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Finally the time has come for the heroes of Neverwinter to rise up on Xbox One. Neverwinter is a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) free-to-play MMORPG or massively multiplayer online role-playing game for those unfamiliar with the term. If you’ve never heard of this, think World of Warcraft or Guild Wars. Developed by Cryptic Studios and published by Perfect World, it was released back in June 2013 for Windows PC and March 31st this year for Xbox One. Based in the fictional Forgotten Realms city of Neverwinter, Neverwinter is a standalone game and not part of the previous PC series Neverwinter Nights.
Being what I would call a typical MMORPG, there is an awful lot to cover in a review so I’ll be breaking our review down into three parts. The first, the one you are reading, will look at the setting, races, classes and in-game currency model. The second and third parts of the review will look at some of the more in-depth game play mechanics including the detailed profession and crafting system, the economy including the Auction House and various currencies (excluding Zen) and banking. We’ll also take a look at Guilds, Skirmishes, Dungeons and much more. These will all be released over the next few days.
Moving on, let’s start by dealing with the elephant in the room which is the free-to-play model the game has adopted. Being a cynical person, I always cringe when thinking about any MMO that states it will be free-to-play but to be fair, it’s not as bad as I originally thought. The game itself is completely free to download and play (an active Xbox Live subscription is required). You can play for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so on and so forth. Never a charge.
The game makes profit through the sale of in-game currency called Zen. This is used for purchasing a number of items in-game from booster packs, armour, weapons, companions, mounts and more. What is nice about this system however is everything available through the Zen store is also available to players that don’t want to spend real money, they’ll just need to play through the game and work a little harder for it. If you’ve ever played a Perfect World game before, you’ll be more than familiar with the Zen currency. You can earn Astral Diamonds by completing normal missions and in-game activities. These Astral Diamonds can then be used to purchase items in the game or exchanged for Zen on the Astral Diamond Exchange.
As with most MMORPGs the gameplay revolves around playing as a character you create. This character is leveled up throughout your time playing in a large open world. Neverwinter has a strong storyline, which weaves together different events and happenings in the open world. Most of the action takes place in instanced areas which can be open outdoor locations, dungeons, caves, sewers, crypts etc. There are other large open world locations where players compete with each other for contests and spawning monsters. However, Protector’s Enclave – the starting area where most of the earlier events take place – is a safe area without any enemies. It is here you’ll learn the basics of the game as well as find various vendors and class specific NPC’s who will set your missions and objectives.
There are a total of seven classes to pick from; Control Wizard, Devoted Cleric, Great Weapon Fighter, Guardian Fighter, Hunter Ranger, Scrouge Warlock and Trickster Rouge. Each class has two Paragon Paths you can progress down once your character has obtained a high enough level. The Control Wizard for example can choose from Master of Flame or Spellstorm Wizard whereas the Trickster Rogue can follow either the Master Infiltrator or Whisperknife path. The progression tree for each class is extremely large and varied meaning other player characters you bump into will be slightly different based on their play style. Each class has a role to play. As with the likes of World of Warcraft, your class will either be suited to a Tank, DPS or Healer. A Tank’s responsibility in dungeons is to control the onscreen enemies and gain their attention to allow the DPS (damage per second) players to deal large amounts of damage. The healers hold back providing not just healing for the Tank and DPS, but also area affect spells which will benefit the players but also hinder the enemies.
In addition to nine classes there are nine playable races in Neverwinter. You can pick from Human, Half-Orc, Wood Elf, Sun Elf, Dwarf, Halfling, Half-Elf, Tiefling, and Drow. Compared to the PC version, the Xbox One release has a couple of races missing from this line up including Dragonborn (playable via purchasing an in-game booster pack using Zen) and Menzoberranzan Renegade. Your class of choice comes with unique traits and abilities. For instance I chose a Half-Elf which gave me two racial abilities including increased stats and ability points. Each race is different so it is well worth spending time reading through each one in turn to find your favourite.
The game’s setting takes place in a time when the city of Neverwinter is plunged into chaos after the disappearance of the last Lord of Neverwinter. In the aftermath of the Spellplague and a Primordial Fire Elemental almost destroying Neverwinter, as seen in the novel Gauntlgrym, the remaining citizens form factions and struggle for dominance over the populace as the dead begin to rise and attack the city they once called home. For those not familiar the Dungeons and Dragons universe, the game’s setting can seem very complex and overbearing, however there are a number of books, scrolls, logs and other items dotted throughout the playable regions to help explain the history and lore.
Reading these items will help you towards unlocking and achieving the 48 Xbox One Achievements totalling 1,000 gamer score. This is however in addition to the 100’s, yes HUNDREDS, of achievements available in-game for completing a variety of tasks. Again for those of you familiar with World of Warcraft, these achievements are very similar in nature and can be gained from doing things like raising a profession to a certain level, completing a side quest, finishing a dungeon, partaking in an event or killing a set number of enemies. Some of these in-game achievements come with rewards in the form of Rare or Epic items or Titles that your character can proudly display while exploring the open world. Currently my level 23 Trickster Rogue is proudly displaying the ‘Orc Slayer’ title having recently ditched my previous title of ‘Hero of Blacklake’ which was gained during one of the introductory quest lines.
So ends part one of our Neverwinter for Xbox One review. Part Two is coming up in the week and we’ll be taking a look at the various gameplay modes Neverwinter has to offer including questing, campaigns, PVP, dungeons and skirmishes. I’ll be streaming some Neverwinter gameplay throughout the week so make sure you are following me (@KrisWB) for alerts. Thanks for reading and see you in Part Two.
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