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Just thought I would shed some light on the game for those not able to play it yet. Just to be clear, my opinion is that of an avid MMO player and not a D&D fan, I have never played D&D and although I'm familiar with how it works, it has no impact on my opinion of the game.
This weekend I played a great weapons fighter to level 23 and a control wizard to level 15.
I'll start off talking about the core of the game, combat. I have to say this game has one of the best feeling combat systems in any MMO I've played and I've played virtualyl all of them. Combat feels fluid, the animations for my attacks and abilities on both wizard and great weapons fighter were very well done, and overall the combat felt very "actiony" and skill-based. The targeting can be a little bit cumbersome, particularly on my wizard, but overall the combat felt really fun. One thing to note is that you are limited to only 3 "core abilities" for lack of a better term. You have 2 "basic attack" slots and 3 ability slots with 2 slots for an ultimate-type ability and one slot for a class mechanic. Obviously this is kind of limiting. Having 5-8 abilities is very different from having 30+ in a game like world of warcraft, but for me this didn't really take much away from the game. Where in WoW how good you are is based on how well you manage cooldowns and understand the situations you're in, skill in neverwinter is much more about positioning, dodging, reflexes, and landing aimed abilities, and frankly this makes the game feel faster paced and more actiony although it does take away from the strategic depth of the game.
Getting away from combat, questing in the game was very standard. There was really nothing mind-blowing or novel about the leveling experience thus far. That isn't to say it was bad, it just wasn't note-worthy. Questing is more or less standard fare, there are lots of instanced quests, kind of like mini-dungeons that are quite entertaining. The game feels very dungeon-crawly I would say at least 50% of your time will be spent in instances by yourself doing quests the other 50% will be spent in the world which is made up of relatively small zones that generally have 100-150 players in it per instance, there are multiple instances of each of these zones and you will get standard MMO quests in them. You will also get quests for scenarios and dungeons which are essentially the same as they are in WoW. You can que easily through the UI and finding groups is generally pretty easy.
Talking about the first few dungeons in the game. They are epic in scale. The dungeons are quite large and thus far have had several themes that kind of alternate throughout. There is A LOT of trash, i think there is far more trash than there should be. A 40 minute dungeon run usually has only 4-5 bosses and because the trash is generally trivial it can get pretty boring, but hopefully higher level dungeons are more challenging or have less trash and more bosses.
Moving on to the foundary system. For those who don't know this is basically a "map editor" that allows players to create their own quest lines and instances. I was initially somewhat skeptical about this feature but after playing through a couple of the quests that have already been created I can honestly say it was awesome, and this is coming from someone who gives 0 shits about lore and never reads quests. The potential of this system is great for people who lvoe lore and for people who don't. The ability to build your own dungeons is pretty awesome and the fact that you get rewarded exp and items for doing them keeps the progression incentive there for those less interested in roleplay.
Lastly, PvP. I'm a huge competitive PvPer so this is a sensitive subject for me. Played GW2 on two of the top teams in north america (Alpha collectivel, team paradigm) so PvP is a big deal for me. I only played 2 matches this weekend but I honestly enjoyed it quite a lot, I was pretty surprised by how good it was for a game that I thought was way more focused on RP and PvE. I only played one map and game mode, but overall the games felt really fun, The action-heavy combat system really seemed to lend itself quite well to PvP and I had quite a lot of funw ith it. Yes, youre abilities are limited, but it didn't really matter. Think of it more like league of legends, or even more accurately like smite. You have more skill based abilities, dodging is critical, positioning is critical, and reflexes are important. It definitely is a huge contrast compared to WoW style PvP but for those who've played guild wars 2 it was pertty similar to that style of combat but better in my opinion. Really looking forward to how PvP develops from here I honestly think it has a ton of potential.
In conclusion I'll just review the game with a pros and cons list here for you guys:
1. Very addictive and enjoyable combat
2. Really nice animations for most abilities in the game, adds to the appeal of combat.
3. Ragdoll physics when enemies die is pretty badass.
4. Dungeon-crawling felt really fun, even the solo instances were pretty awesome and I generally had al lot of fun leveling in the game.
5. PvP has a lot of potential in my opinion and was really fun.
6.The foundary system could be incredible, especially for those who love D&D lore and for roleplayers, but even for those not interested in those things its still pretty damn cool.
1. Character models honestly look pretty bad, the graphics in general are pretty good besides the models.
2. Horse models look very bad, they look too wide and fat and just not natural.
3. The instanced nature of thegame will not appeal to those seeking open world content, open world pvp, or a real sense of community.
4. The limit to the skills you can use may lead to stale gameplay as time goes on, each class doesn't really have a significant depth of choices for these slots in the first place so it could get boring.
5. I didn't really like the addion of companions, it made content that was previously challenging feel incredibly easy once I got my cleric companion to heal bot me.
6. I hate the fact that in 5 player dungeons everyone can have companions out, it seems unnecessary and unfun.
Overall: I'll give the game an 8/10 so far. I enjoyed it way more than I expected I would and am really excited for release. Obviously I haven't seen end-game content yet so a lot remains to be seen, and I'm sure improvements will be made by launch. Right now im cautiously optomistic about this game. It has a ton of potential, but it does have its fair share of shrotcomings and issues.
If you expect an open world MMO do not even install this game. Yes, it is more or less a lobby-based MMO. I personally could care less and enjoyed the hell out of the game this weekend.