Developed by: Cryptic Studios
Published by: Perfect World Entertainment
Release date: July 19th, 2016
Platforms: PC, XBox One, PS4 (Reviewed on PS4)
Price: Free to Play (with Cash Shop)
Neverwinter is a free massively-multiplayer online RPG that finally brings all of the fun that gamers enjoyed on the PC and Xbox One to PS4. The game takes place in the fictitious world of Dungeons & Dragons and references many well known cities, areas, and characters from the lore of the books, games, and various other media that D&D has conquered.
The game released on July 12th in an Early Access state with the purchase of the Onyx Head Start Pack and a full Public Access state, one week later on July 19th. Neverwinter is completely free to play with the option of microtransactions using the premium currency Zen that can be purchased in several different packages. The player can choose from twelve different races (two are only accessible by purchasing with Zen and one is not live yet on PS4) and eight classes. Characters have a variety of presets, but if you want to spend time customizing your character than you can use the various slider bars to get him/her just right.
Now as in most MMOs, Neverwinter features questing, dungeons, crafting, and PVP. For your basic PVE player you can play all story and quest content alone with just a companion. For non-story dungeons, you will need a party of three people which you can choose before entering or by queuing up solo and being added to a random group. Skirmishes and Epic Dungeons require a group of five and again you can choose beforehand or queue up solo. Heroic Encounters open up at level 26 with the Tyranny of the Dragons expansion, these are open world dragon bosses that appear for a certain amount of time and then disappear. Tooltip states you need a minimum of fifteen people to beat these bosses, but I have seen it done with less.(Other Heroic Encounters become available with other expansions, but I have not encountered them as of yet.) If you are a PVP player, than you can choose to play PVP matches starting at level ten, Domination is the first one that becomes available and will basically level up with you. (No you can’t go into a level 10 PVP match at level 30) Other PVP modes become available around level 60.
Class skills are broken down into four different types, At-Will, Encounter, Daily, and Class Features. Daily skills require you to charge them up by killing enemies and are powerful skills that consist of either damage or crowd control (you can equip two). Encounter skills have a cool down period and you can equip five at a time. At-Will skills have no cool down period and can be used freely, you can only equip two of these. Class Features are passive skills that change the power of a skill or adds an interaction between skills, you can equip two of these.
Crafting in Neverwinter is a bit different than most MMOs as you don’t actually do the crafting. Professions (aka Crafting) opens up at level ten and you basically hire a craftsman and then send him out to do jobs. Jobs can last from ten seconds up to eight hours, basically they will gather materials, perform basic jobs for XP, or actually craft an item for you. The available professions consist of Leatherworking, Leadership, Alchemy, Weaponsmithing, Platesmithing, Mailsmithing, Artificing, Jewelcrafting, and Clothworking. Black Ice Shaping is a limited profession and is only available at certain times
Neverwinter utilizes various different types of currency in the game and some are easier to obtain than others. Zen is your premium currency and can be obtained with real money through packs sold on PSN, Astral Diamonds are your main currency for buying things from other players through the trade market, or buying things in the Wondrous Bazaar, Tarmalune Bars are obtained only through lockboxes (You need special keys to open these that cost Zen) and are used at the Tarmalune Trade Vendor to purchase a variety of items, Celestial and Ardent Coins are obtained through Invocation and used to buy items in the Vault of Piety, Glory is obtained through PVP and used in the Trade of Blades, Guild Marks are obtained when donating to your guild’s Stronghold Coffer and used in the Stronghold Marketplace, Bounty Items are obtained by killing certain mobs in various zones and then traded to the Bounty Master in the zone, and then your basic currency Money in which you can buy potions and such from your basic vendors.
So how does Neverwinter measure up on PS4?
First off let me say that I originally played Neverwinter on PC back in the Closed Beta and shortly after release. I stopped playing about 6 months later as no one that I knew played it anymore. I really enjoyed the game, so when it was announced back in 2014 that it was coming to consoles I was excited to play it again. So I had a sense of the world from the PC version. Now that the wait is over, I dived right into the game with the headstart pack provided to me by Perfect World Entertainment.
Now anyone that has ever played an MMO with me can attest to I always play short races and either tank or melee DPS classes. So I started my life in Neverwinter as a Halfling Trickster Rogue. The starting tutorial is pretty basic as you find yourself washed up on shore after the ship you were on was attacked. For these first few missions the game basically holds your hand and teaches you the controls, and about the attacks your character class has in the beginning. Towards the end, you have your first boss battle. The controls for the PS4 are pretty simple and have translated well from a keyboard to a controller. Switching between hotbars is smooth and makes it easy to utilize your various different types of skills. There are a few buttons you may want to reassign as the button to interact with players is the same as your action button.(I did randomly invite people to parties when I didn’t mean to)
The story and side quests are done at an enjoyable pace and leveling goes pretty fast. Each area that you are sent to is instanced channel, so that lag is not an issue. You can switch channels anytime (with the exception of being full) which makes it easy to find parties, do Heroic Encounters, or join your friends. Story dungeons are also instanced, so you don’t have to compete against others to fight certain enemies or bosses. As I stated earlier you can play the game mainly with one of your companions. In the game you get your first companion at level 10, but if you are able to get in on the special promo for linking your PSN to your ARC account you can get a companion even earlier than that. After you complete an area, you are sent back to the main city, Protector’s Enclave to get an update on what is going on in the main story. What I enjoy most about the story is how well Cryptic kept to the lore of the D&D franchise, the story quest makes you care about what’s going on. The class and race quests you receive are also well done. My first Halfling quest had me scouting out locations for new housing locations and my second had me recovering supplies and aiding another Halfling faction to get them to join our cause. Both of these quests made me feel the plight of Halflings and how they just want to have a place to call home. Another thing I thought was interesting is you can possibly run into legendary characters from D&D, for example as I was exploring the Driftwood Tavern in Protector’s Enclave I was in the basement when I came across Drizzt Do’Urden and Regis.
Cryptic has also done a great job on the environments of the game, the lush areas and exquisite detail really stand out. Each area of the game seems alive and the environment fits the areas, for example Neverdeath Graveyard is very dreary and creepy. You get the sense of ominous creatures and actions taking place in the area. They game’s music is well fitting and doesn’t seem overpowering or annoying.
Neverwinter is very enjoyable, I haven’t reached the highest of levels as I am taking my time and I am in no hurry to reach the max level of 70. There are many of the expansions I have yet to play as most of them are all endgame content. Now I did manage to experience Paragon pathing in which you have to choose between two paths to develop your character class further. My class Trickster Rogue can choose between Whisperknife and Master Infiltrator. Whisperknife seems to focus on ranged damage, wherein the Master Infiltrator focuses on close range and stealth damage. My choice was Master Infiltrator and I am loving it so far!
Neverwinter is a lot of fun to play! So a word of warning you may lose track of time while playing and what you think may only be an hour of play will turn out to be much longer. The quests are well crafted, the story is classic D&D storytelling, Crafting is interesting and can be accomplished without having to take a break from leveling, and the game’s economy is interesting and easily obtainable. The voice dialogue of the quests is well done and being able to move while the dialogue is still playing is a nice touch. With many expansions available from the get go and more in the works for future release, Neverwinter is the MMO for players who don’t want to have to pay a monthly fee. The PS4 community so far has been pleasant and so far I have not come across very many trolls and griefers. I did not get a chance to experience PVP yet, as I am not a huge fan of it. I also did not get to experience guilds as I didn’t want to have to invite a bunch of random people to make a guild and I am picky about the ones I join.
Now Neverwinter is not perfect by any means as there have been a few issues since launch. The tool tip equipment comparison randomly likes to quit working when in a party. The AD sellers are spamming the trade chat channel and PWE/Cryptic can’t seem to ban them fast enough. I also think that Neverwinter needs to take a page from other MMOs in regards to being able to block these people from chat. When you report these people they are automatically added to your block list, but that only blocks them from sending you tells. Most MMOs nowadays when blocking a person it blocks them from everything so you don’t see them at all in chats of any kind. There also seems to be an issue with the Trade House where your expired auctions don’t return the items or lets you retrieve them, so as of this writing I am locked out of being able to sell any of my unwanted gear.
Also be aware that even though the Zen packages seem to be pretty comparable in price to most F2P MMOs these days, but a few of the other items seem to be pricey and may put a dent in your wallet. For example, the Dragonborn Legend Pack is the only way right now to unlock the Dragonborn race to play. This pack is priced at $75 and to me that is a little steep just to be able to play a particular race. Yes you get other items in the pack, but for those of us that only want the race unlocked that is a bit much. Now on the plus side, you can obtain coupons for the Zen market as random drops off of mobs, but the highest I have seen is 15% off which for me is rather useless.
Now if you find yourself enjoying the game, I would recommend looking into the VIP Program which is about $10 a month, but gives you some pretty cool perks and rewards. Keep in mind also that you can use the Astral Diamond Exchange to obtain Zen without spending any of your hard earned money.
My last disappointment comes with the lack of PS4 players not being able to participate in the Summer festival. This event is currently available on both PC and Xbox One, but PWE states that they won’t be releasing it on PS4 so we will have to wait until next year. Now I am the type of player that loves in-game events and knowing that I won’t get to experience this one is disheartening and I think PWE should re-think their position on this.
I give Neverwinter an overall score of an 8.5 out of 10! In a world where there are new F2P MMOs releasing on a daily basis, Cryptic and Perfect World Entertainment did a great job with this one and with porting the game to PS4. It’s satisfying and enjoyable to play solo or with a party of friends. After spending the last two weeks playing the game, I have pondered many times why I didn’t keep playing the PC version while I awaited the PS4 version. If you enjoy playing MMOs, RPGs, or even just the Dungeons & Dragons franchise,check out Neverwinter! If you are new to the D&D universe this is also a great starting point to get into the lore and the MMO genre.
Headstart Pack was provided for review purposes by Perfect World Entertainment
Part time employee of a major video game retailer.