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This was the second weekend of beta testing and while technically they were giving out beta keys to "select" people and people who "bought" their content packages (the content packages can't be used until launch), this is an open beta because on Twitter and at conventions, beta keys were dropping like candy from pinyatas, especially duing the week leading up to this weekend. Now it's about to close down. And I'm sharing my experiences here because I'm about to pan it and they've been guilty of thread moving and deleting if they feel it is "too negative." That's a problem in itself. They want feedback, but only if it's good.
I wanted to like it, I really did, I played it every day of the weekend for hours. Logged several bugs, posted several howto's on their forums, because howto's are simply not to be found unless fans make 'em, forcing everyone to reinvent the wheel and everyone to endure endless repeat questions on Zone chat. But here were several showstoppers for me:
1. When I realized there is no way to make an organized group or raid in the game. Because of the chaotic reticule nature of the TPS (third person shooter) interface, you can't focus on your tank, can't even lock focus on anything unless you hold down CTRL all the time, so things like Target of Target are impossible, and when I brought that up, it was very nearly ignored. People simply said "that's the challenge of the interface." Yeah, how does that work for heals? Basically in every group I was in, we fought large groups in tight chaotic groupings, with the dps going after the snipers and ranged fighters. Which means the big aoes of the control wizard often didn't get recharged bc they weren't doing enough damage to one person as they spent time freezing people so they didn't get massacred while fighting a lone fight on the fringes. Meanwhile the aoe of the bad guys got unleashed on the party about 6 or 7 times. I'm just glad it was weak.
2. There is no way to zone out of a map at will. Ok, if you're in a combat, you might not always have the option anyway. but what if you get stuck somewhere in a badly designed Foundry mission? Foundry misions are player designed dungeons. What if you discover a bug that strands you somewhere? And you can't say "zone me home" or "let me start over" or "abandon this" or whatever? Truth be told, it's a bug that if you say abandon, then change your mind and say cancel, it strands you in the zone with no way to zone out via Abandon anymore. And a bug is a bug. But anyway, I just think that because the Foundry is player created, that's why there should be an abort mission button all the time. it shouldn't be up to the player to "know better not to do that." There's a word for doing it right: robust. Currently not robust.
3. if you just quest, you are bored to death. There is one questline, very linear, no side quests almost ever. So my advice is, next beta weekend, if you go: a. grind the decrepit skeletons for level 2 loot until you're decently geared, and level 3, that way you'll be level 5 faster, and you'll have decent gear which is better than being level 5 and gearless farther along. and b. go to blacklake as soon as you get to the city. You can survive it at level 5 or 6, the gear that drops won't do you any good yet, though. So get to level 7, pray for astral diamonds and buy some gear from the auction, or go back to do some earlier quests. You'll be surprised how easy they are, but that's not the point, you want gear. The point of black lake is multiple quests, job board, harper, lots more to do. A lack of content is very very obvious. It's like the devs have decided to let the community write the foundry quests. Except that the foundry quests can't have been written by the fans now can they?
4 They are determined to write a "shoot em up" type of game, not a fantasy game. Chat is filled with players who are unhappy and wishing they had Neverwinter in the hands of people who actually appreciated a/ fantasy and b/ D&D and c/ a more familiar point and click interface whre you can tab-target, and every once in a while you get really suspicious statements by people saying "oh this is the best game I've ever played." Really? Totally unqualified statements like that make me go hmmm... Just one example there is a "Hall of Justice" where this guy talks like any minute I'm going to see some superheroes step out and sit down around a big oval table. It would be hillarious if it wasn't such a bad design fit.
I played a guardian and a control wizard, and tried the rogue but hated that, it didn't last long. It seems the control wizard actually takes less damage than the guard for some odd reason, maybe she kills faster, or she repels more often, or she slows them down. Whatever, she can protect herself better than the tank.
On the plus side, PW seems very responsive to what is happening and has agreed that the silly hand gesture of the control wizard needs to be changed, and also was on top of a Foundry instance that had lots of people stuck in it (see item 2) for HOURS. They do seem to be responsive and on top of things. But their mandates are sometimes at cross purposes. There was a passel of people who coudln't log in, and when they complained on the forums, the moderators deleted their stuff and moved their threads and things (which is in the EULA of hte forum, which is why i say cross purposes), but when the person started a new thread again, someone from PW replied that they wanted the name of the moderators who did that bc it was an accounts issue and they shouldn't have been treated like that. So there is oversight, responsiveness and justice on the plus side of the ledger.
I don't like the game, but the game company's good. I don't even mind their keeping my money and I may even try the game after launch, way way after... once the bugs are fixed to see how it turned out. but I think I'm done testing. Good luck to them from the standpoint of making a game, and being businesspeople, but this is in no way what I envisioned for Neverwinter, and it saddens me. I still don't have a Neverwinter game I like since the first. /shrug