Neverwinter is shifting from the co-operative multiplayer game that was announced last year and into full-fledged, free-to-play MMO. The game will utilize the 4th Edition D & D Ruleset, with a more action setting. The developer says Neverwinter will be closer to a game like Nexon’s Vindictus, where combat is controlled by mouse clicks, and where pattern recognition and reflexes are the keys to successfully slaughtering hordes of monsters.
It utilizes a modified version of the engine from Cryptic’s other MMOs, Star Trek Online and Champions Online. Not only will the base game be free, but so will the content packs released after launch. Cryptic and Perfect World are opting to make their money through microtransactions. Players will have the option of purchasing consumables, vanity pets, and cosmetic items for real money. Unlike the current trend of ex-subscription-based MMOs that lock out portions of their content to free players, Cryptic plans to avoid making any content premium-only in Neverwinter.
No playable classes, races, or specific game content has been announced, nor has the confirmation as to whether the previously announced “Forge” system will remain in the game. The drawback to these big, structural changes is that development will take longer. Neverwinter was initially expected by the end of this year. Now, however, it’s expected in 2012.