Neverwinter Nights- New AD&D MMORPG- quick peak

Open beta so the NDA is lifted (i think?) Played a bit in closed beta and now in open beta. Yet another MMORPG, but based on the AD&D Forgotten Realms books/ruleset made by CRYPTIC who depending on who you ask is hit and miss City of Heroes, Star Trek, Champions. While AD&D online was a good step at making AD&D into a MMORPG i found it frustrating as much like "real" AD&D its no fun without a group, and as I grow older is harder to convince people my age to play. The game did not lend well to solo play and the strict AD&D ruleset also held the online title back as its not in any way easy to translate to a online multi player game. SO enter Neverwinter Nights, it has many of the old haunts us RPG players know Bulders Gate and such. So how does it look? I found the locations, dungeons and Cities look very good, the outside world is lush and feels like it should. I really like the look of the world, if i had any complaint its the outside it artificially bound. Zones have cliffs, treelines, rocks, water that stops you, so instead of a huge open area its more like a maze of small areas with trees and such blocking you here and there. In the big picture its a small gripe and one i dont mind at all. Monsters look good, spells are ok, i think they could be a bit more robust int eh "glitz" area but they are just fine. Where the game has problems graphically is the Players.. They are quite generic, I chose an Elf for magic and she is just blah.. Dwarfs are dwarfs.. Humans are pretty average too I felt like I was playing LOTR online.. I didn't like that the player characters felt like they where just done.. nothing to stand out about um. They do have a devil (horned , red skin) race (sorry my Forgotten realms knowledge is lacking) that do have a somewhat distinct look.. but only as they stand out against the standard races.. every MMORPG game now has the "evil horned" class.. I just never felt I liked the look of any character i could make. Again, pretty small complaint as you are looking at said characters backside 99% of the time.
Gameplay: Its fast, you know Cryptic did it, it felt a bit like CoH and Champions, I like the speed, the quick thinking to be efficient. They have went the route of many of the latest MMORPG's and made combat a little more then just pushing buttons. Most Sub Bose and Bosses have animations and wind up attacks that you can dodge or use to exploit. Most are marked with rings on ground where it will hit. All the characters have slid, blink, dodge abilities that are tied to stamina (no non stop dodging like Kingdoms of alamuar). A good player can almost never get hit except by plain old non telegraphed attacks.. again, its a bit like Terra, or Vindictuis.. some action to your combat. Most battles can be won the old fashioned MMOPRG way, cycle a few buttons and just stand, but you will take more damage. So if you prefer the non action combat, you can do it. SO far i like it, it didn't wear out as fast as it did in Terra. You can hire a companion to fight for you, as a mage I chose a Warrior. he is not to bright but can keep the mobs on him as i work my magic. Most battles consist of 2-4 trash mobs with one harder mob.. combat is either burning hard on one hard mob and cleaning up the trash, or as I do, attack hard mob so my tank engages, then I pick off the trash and assist him with hard mob at end.. The 'hire" can handle 2 or so Hard mobs for a short bit, but he wont win without your help on anything but trash, so they are not overpowered. They do die quite quickly on boss mobs so you need to work hard with them on those. You can pick any of the standard stuff, a tank, a Dps, a cleric a mage.. and some special ones.. like a DOG a dog is very weak, but he hits really hard.. glass cannon.. if you are a TANK class he might be good.. if you can keep the mobs angry he can do some DPS. All the companions can be upgrades but adding equipment and "RUNES" to slots on them.. as can your equipment. I would say the gems of Diablo is kinda like it.. Stone of Decay if in an offence slot will do 20+ dps (so your ice ball that does a base 60 will now do 80 dps per shot) or if in a defense slot it will lower penetration by 20, or damage taken by 20.. etc.. There seem to be many many kinds of RUNES. Most quests end in you going into a dungeon (instance taht is all you, nobody else unles you are in party) and figthing to end boss. most End bosses are quite hard and will come with trash, you kill trash and knock boss down to 3/4 he summons more trash, again at 1/2 and 1/4 (or its timed, not sure).. I find the high level bosses will normally kill (no he don't die, he just kneels and wont fight till battle is over) my companion about 1/2 way through, leveing me with with boss and at 1/4 boss and trash.. which in the high 20's is brutal.. most bosses do alot of special attacks and you do have to target the enemies.. the boss will most often be in front of you, hard to kill trash then.

Combat: you have mouse 1 and mouse 2 connected to your main abilities.. all abilites are targets.. no lock on's in this game you have to aim, good news is you dont have to be perfect.. just close. I felt it worked well. as a MAGE its magic arrow and ice beam.. you cant run out of magic.. think CoH and your base powers.. blast away.. it wont run out.. besides that you have arch powers (sorry don't think that's the name) with cooldowns.. most are 15 or 30 seconds ish.. so quite often they are used once during a battle.. you have 1 a day powers too. The good news is they are not 1 game day.. they are sorta regenerated from killing. I noticed in most 10-20 minute dungeon runs with a group i could use it 3-5 times.. a typical fight.. Icebeam- the longer its on a person the slower they become till it encases them (3-4 seconds) they are rooted/froze you can hammer away at them for about 3 seconds. So i freeze one, and use my arch power which is a Ice comet? (again sorry dont know name) its a big DPS spell it hits.. and since its cold too if I hit ice beam again it takes about half the time to freeze him solid again.. this only works once as the cooldown on the arch power it to slow for most fights to do more then once so no non stop Popsicle.. The one a day powers are Ice spike (all these spell names are wrong) its like ice ridges shot out of ground around you, it throws everything back and stuns it.. it can kill some trash mobs outright.. and a Vortex which I pick a spot on ground and cast.. it sucks everything into it like a black hole and explodes.. appears to do about as much damage as the ice one.. but is harder to use and mobs can walk away from it.. (many boss mobs use this same spell on you)

Health and dying: there are fires all over.. bonfires, campfires, fireplaces.. they are "camps" you stand in um you heal almost instant.. all areas, dungeons have them placed all over (like the statues of AD&D online, except you can use as many times as you want, don't worry its not game breaking, running back to um would be massively boring) once you venture out.. you heal on your own. you can use health potions.. but they have a cool down.. so you cant spam um. Your companions heal pretty fast out combat, not fast enough.. hard fight you may wait 1-2 minutes.. Dying has ways to "buy" yourselves back so you don't have to run to where you died (you never lose equipment).. you can just respawn at last campfire and run back and start over.. in dungeons stuff does respawn, but at a slow enough rate I only ever had to fight my way back to a boss who killed me once..

companions and tradeskills: you don't do trade skills, you hire companions to do it (SWonline idea).. Your companion does level, and when he does you have to send him to train.. he is gone (my guy takers bout 10 minutes game time) you are alone.. so either you wit, or you fight alone. early in the game you can only have one active, but later you can do more.. I have my warrior and a tailor.. i cant have both "out" at the same time.. so when you tradeskill you cant fight with your companion.. Trade skilling is pretty easy.. you get the drops.. but need to buy some stuff. You tell your tailor to make some cloth swatches and it takes 30 seconds.. you just open window and collect (and repeat for more).. you can do whatever you like when this is going on.. just keep in mind as I said.. your tailor is making a shirt, and it takes 10 minutes.. i cant pop my warrior out and go fight.. i have to fight solo ...

leveling: its a bit like diablo. you do get more points for your standard AD&D stats (int/wis/con/etc) but not every level, you get feats which are what you would expect 1% -3%-6% more damage with ice fore each point you put in.. each of your spells has levels too.. 1 point makes it do 10% more damage, 2 points makes it damage foes around your target, 3 points makes it explode at end doing damage (stuff like that).. I went from 1- 18 in one night (4-5 hours).. the game kept a pretty good pace.. 3-4 more levels after in 2-3 hours.. its not slow and grindy. Plenty of quests so you are not bored.. and while it is slowing down.. its not painfull yet..

Overall: I like it.. fast combat, i have not run out of quests.. q'ing up for dungeons is easy, you just hit door and you have options- wait in q for group, or -go in with current group.. I q up and normally wait about 2-10 minutes and go in.. The game feels like AD&D when you look at it.. crumbling city areas.. thugs in forests.. dungeons are nice ( so far) and most quest tell a story of some sort which keeps you mildly interested. In several days worth of time in game Im not bored. I have found the game quests are slightly off in leveling.. when i hit the high 20's I find most quests are starting to get to the edge of my abilities solo (mostly just dungeon bosses). I am sure some AD&D people will hate the fast paced combat.. and at first i felt it was CoH with AD&D paint.. but the longer i played the more I saw how it worked.. I think the faster paced action will keep people coming back, its trying to do the WoW thing.. there are mounts, pets, companions bounties (think factions but by killing specific creatures) etc.. if you dont want ot quest you can do faction, if you want titles you can kill 10000 orcs to be a Orc bane.. etc..

Its not new in the slightest.. they have taken the best of all worlds and jammed it into a AD&D package.. and with all things a bunch of "works best" all don't always combine into great.. I think its combined into real good.. to maybe just good.. As its a fee beta i would easily recommend trying it out. Im not sure if its F2P when it comes out or not.. it does have a ZEN store.. and I can see they are making it much easier to play by buying stuff (you can buy better companions, etc.) but in my play I never felt I needed to.. I have not seen a F2P that doesn't start to drag after 10-12 levels making you want to spend coin to get faster leveling.. But so far this game has not had that feeling.

For free- try it out, its worth the download.. but its ACTION based combat (terra or Vindictus).. not button in correct order type (wow)