[NW] Open Beta

One of my recent distractions has been Neverwinter since it’s in open beta now. I’ve really only started at it this weekend though I did play it a bit yesterday.

It appears they nerfed the Great Weapon Fighter some… or adjusted the effects of their abilities. I seem to remember the at-will attack (not the one that charges up) sweeping through multiple enemies at once. It did not appear to do this anymore. I also remember having a ‘charge’ type ability, though it doesn’t seem to be there now. I can’t say I like that so much. It leads me to not really wanting to play the GWF.

I took a stab at the Trickster Rogue (yeah, pun intended) and enjoyed that a fair bit more. I have to say the damage he deals is no where close to what the GWF appears to dish out – it’s actually far more than the GWF deals. I did notice a few things appeared to change for the Rogue, but I didn’t play it enough in the previous beta weekends to get a feel for it.

Leveling has changed. It seems the way you level up and select powers has changed. I’m not sure it is for the better because you ultimately just place points because you can and don’t really get too many options to start with. False customization is how I’d describe it.

I did get to fiddle with the Foundry some – the tutorials are missing and I was too rushed to read up on the documentation (if there was some). Design of the tool seems pleasing, though I was disappointed to see there wasn’t a large number of prefab buildings. You sorta piece things together. Because of this and the uneven ground of some of the areas you can work with (and my time constraints) I didn’t get to quickly build a little hamlet outside of Neverwinter. I did throw a few encounters there to see what it would be like. Fairly interesting really. I didn’t get much further than that – it was Mother’s Day, after all – and I haven’t taken another look at it since that one time.

The TR is up to about where I left off previously in a Beta Weekend, though I have done a PVP Domination map. Unfortunately, my team got dominated. To be fair, we were supposed to have 5 members against their 5 members and instead we had three connected members and two disconnected members against their five members.

Control Wizards need some tweaking in PVP. They have too many good abilities that effectively lock up a player. With all the abilities they have the slow, stop or prevent you from using your special abilities, they really shouldn’t be able to ‘dodge’. You simply can’t get to them before they have some other mechanism to stop you then when those abilities are on cooldown, they can dodge out of the way and the cooldowns are done. It’s kind of overpowered. Even with my encounter power that teleports me behind them, they simply dodge out of the way and start using their many CC abilities.

Lots of CC in PVP is just bad. People don’t like to feel useless and they like to be rendered useless even less. But then I don’t play it to PVP and I only went in there because it was part of the ‘tutorial quests’ you get as you level.

I seemed to be getting more items dropping than I remember, not sure why that was. Most were slight upgrades.

I also got to do a little crafting which seems like a hybrid of SWTOR and other games. You get a hireling that is specialized in a crafting task, provide him the materials or tell him to get more materials and wait on the results. Nifty enough. Of course they tie in the ability to speed up getting the resulting items by spending Astral Diamonds much like you’d see in something like Clash of Clans.

It’s a nice little distraction for when I have nothing better to do.

 

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[NW] More Impressions on Neverwinter

This is a running log of thoughts I’ve had and experiences as I’m playing throughout the afternoon. I’ll try to prefix things in case you’re interested in something more specific. Enjoy.

[Character Creation] Lots of origin location choices with sub-choices, for my Wood Elf Trickster Rogue I went with Luskan and Former Gang-Member. The Deity options seem fairly limited and I was left wondering why their wasn’t one more suited to a Trickster? Cyric was missing (no Evil options?), no Mask option or Tymora and not even Waukeen if you wanted to be a bit of a dirty merchant.

[Foundry] Took a quick look at the Foundry option available – which is to say it is just a catalog of quests created, the actual creation mechanism is still disabled. It is clear they have opened it up for some people to make modules which you can pick up on and play. I see a lot of potential value in this as it enables the players to create content for other players. It has a ranking system and you can even subscribe to authors to continue doing their quests. I can see this being a bigger reason for me to play than the actual gameplay itself.

[Meh] The tutorial voice sounds pretentious… or constipated. It’s trying too hard or maybe I just don’t find anything epic about a rumbling voice explaining, “Use WASD keys to move around.”

[Foundry] Once you complete the starter bit you can then take quests from the Foundry. You just pop through the catalog of quests and events available, then pick the one you want, click Accept and it gets added to your Journal. I like it.

[Map] Map navigation is made easier by opening the main map and selecting a location you want to go to. This will shift your glowing trail to point at that location.

[Leveling] XP gains seemed odd. Initially it seems to only come from quests, but I get them impression it is actually awarded after an ‘encounter’ or group of enemies tied together. It does not seem like you can just grind mobs to level.

[Immersion] I don’t feel there is a lot of immersion, at least not yet. I find the animations for the combat to be too fantastic to feel immersed. Perhaps with some more questing it could be but the initial quests are all the same (so far) regardless of class. Where is the Thieves Guild? Why haven’t they leaned on my Rogue yet? He’s new to the city and should be expected to pay ‘taxes’ on his earnings… My Great Weapon Fighter gets the same quests… nothing overly aimed at him either. Like I said, maybe there is something later, but it would have been nice to see sooner.

[Journal] The Journal has a lot of details in it, not just quest information but a lot of other things in there too. I didn’t really feel like stopping and reading it all but figured it was worth mentioning. Maybe part of my immersion issue is with lack of experience with Faerun as it is in 4e.

[Meh] The game music has a little too much electric guitar in it. It gives you this sense of urgency when you’re exploring but it seems out of place. That could contribute to my loss of immersion.

[Gear] Found some of the shops, basically merchants in the market that I zipped by. Checked out the armor vendor, seems to only sell chest armor? Checked out the weapon merchant and he only seemed to sell greatswords. I get that it’s filtered to not show you items your class can’t use and that you can click a button to see all but my complaint is about availability of basic weapons like great clubs, dire maces, a maul or even a greataxe – where are the options? Lerol needs his Falchion.

[Graphics] I had my graphics settings up nearly to the max but there were some issues with lagging – which is odd because I can play more graphically intense games without lag (I have a 3gb nVidia card GTX560M). I took a few minutes to drop some settings and discovered it’s almost entirely in the shadows. I put everything back up to what it was (actually put AA up higher) and dropped shadows a couple of steps. That seemed to do it because it’s now performing much better.

[Main Quest] Followed along the main quest line and so far it is okay, I wouldn’t say ground breaking, but decent and solo-friendly. Which has me wondering just how much is solo-friendly?

Foundry Adventure: Dungeons of Dread – Part 1: Crypt of Carnage

I decided to try out a Foundry dungeon and picked Dungeons of Dread: Crypt of Carnage. It starts by talking to a guard who tells you where to find this mad man who has created a dungeon filed will challenges from his imagination. He’s looking for heroes brave enough to venture in and test their mettle against his creations.

Yeah, sorta meh premise but it’s something.

I step in to a tavern and look around, find the guy who says all I need to do to get started is jump into the portal. A bouncer is there blocking the way out. There are several barrels and kegs with one repeatedly found and labeled, “Bon Urr Oil”. Is that a play on phonetics or legit? I’m afraid to Google it.

I pop into the dungeon and see that it is all very dark – which makes me wonder about various vision types since my character is a Half-Orc. Doesn’t seem to matter any, ah well.

So back to the dark dungeon. There is a big NPC there titled GM’s Assistant. Oh. I talk to it and it points out the exit to the map if you need to leave or stumble into a bad bug. Noted.

I move along to start exploring. More barrels of … oil. Some undead attack – they appear to be scaled to my level (6) and do not seem overly tough. There is enough of them that it is a bit more of a challenge and my Great Weapon Fighter takes quite a beating but survives. Along the way the log is updating with simple instructions like, “Explore the cells”, “Fight the two Guardians” and “Explore the morgue”. More darkness, more undead.

[Foundry] Why was this rated 4.5? Suddenly the thought that the rating system could become more about having friends submit ratings or having simpletons gawk at parlor tricks so they clap over enthusiastically (i.e. they’ve young or poor taste causing less than awesome things to be rated higher than they should be). I worry for the Foundry. Perhaps they’ll have Friend recommended lists or something? I haven’t looked closely enough… but there is still hope.

Some high-points to the map: the undead do appear to spawn in a sensible manner; from coffins or crypts. There are bits of writing and lore in there that imply the ‘mad man’ is truly mad. These also show that this wasn’t just a throw all sorts of stuff into a map and let people suffer through it. I have to give the author credit for that, it just feels like a dungeon romp for the sake of romping through a dungeon. I suppose my main issues are the randomness of the layout, the darkness of it all and the lack of sense to any of it.

[Issue] Stumbled across a few issues while playing. My Great Weapon Fighter’s Avalanche of Steel attack seemed to put him under the floor for a bit. I ended up only seeing a circle for him but was otherwise able to attack. Come to think of it, I saw something similar for enemies that were there but not. Another portion where I used my charge ability (Vicious Charge) also put me under the ground.

Okay just completed the Royal Hall section which has me taking back the comment about this dungeon not being just about trying out the editor. The hall was filled with traps including one floor spike trap sitting right in front of the gate out of it, almost like the creator was saying, “F U!”

[Foundry] Done with that, left a review which is limited in the number of characters almost like a tweet.

Done with Dungeons of Dread.

[Main Story] Back to the main story, I’ve moved into Black Lake District. Sound familiar? Did some running around in there and now I’m down in the sewers again – fighting wererats though.

[Mechanics] Silver weapons required? Doesn’t seem like it. Maybe that’s a 4e change. Speaking of weapons, I’m disappointed that I don’t have any ranged abilities and unlike the old table top D&D you can’t just grab a bow and use it. I’ve yet to see a bow actually. Throwing knives for my Trickster Rogue? Sure, but no bows yet. Well, aside from the ones your enemies shoot you with.

[Polish] Bonus points to Cryptic – you can resize a lot of the windows like your inventory/bags view. Small thing, but its often those small things that get tossed aside for bigger, fancier features. The windows and UI actually look nice, unlike a certain other MMO based on Dungeons and Dragons. Only complaint still has to do with the font for names.

[Mechanic] The idle delay disconnect timer is set to 15 minutes which I almost hit while writing some of these points.

[Leveling] I’ve been playing for roughly 3.75 hours and I’m level 10 now with my Great Weapon Fighter. I’ve done Black Lake District, a Foundry adventure and another one which seemed to be a Foundry adventure (was little more than a small back alley fight) and now I’m into another Foundry adventure which looks promising. That’s what it took to get to level 10.

[Mechanic] At level 10 a new meter was added to the left of my character on screen, a Determination meter. When it reaches half, I can trigger an ability called Unstoppable which makes my attacks swing faster at expense of some damage. It also gives me some anti-crowd control benefits for a short time. This looks like you can customize it as you gain levels, you will gain extra effects to put in there.

[Mechanic] Another option that opened up at level 10 is the ability to Invoke your God once every hour. You need to do this from a campfire (or similar location with spinning blue runes) and you will be granted a bunch of stuff. In my case I was given XP and some minor items. The XP was enough to push me to 11th – previous quests really pushed me into 10 and I was slacking on reviewing the gains.

Foundry Adventure – The Dweomerkeepers: Part 1 A Discovery in Neverwinter Wood

A slightly more interesting start. Rumors of Drow in the woods near an old temple to Mystra, I’m sent to investigate. I come across a campsite where someone is dying of poison. I talk to them and they warn me that Drow did it and they are nearby. I am then attacked by a Drow Ambusher.

The set is outside on a wooded road. Looks pleasant actually, but still  a small instance to start with.

Combat heavy so far. Lots of Drow spawning in as ambushes followed with spider encounters right after.

Ran into a Drow Priestess at the entrance to the old Temple, that was neat but I think she actually healed me.

[Foundry] It seems that the Foundry that built this adventure did not yet have the ‘mechanic’ Campfires available for placement so I have to rely heavily on potions and my raw awesomeness. EDIT: Portable Altars create a Campfire-like effect. You get healed at them and can invoke your God from them.

[Issue] Walking through a kitchen counter? Hmm…

First part complete. The “Inn” seemed to be more of a monastery or something. Definitely a brighter layout than what I previously played through. Lots of spiders.

Lots.

Ending fights were interesting, including something casting a darkness spell which was pretty neat looking. Reminded me of a squid inking the water – it was a dark violet with murky edges.

[Issue] The ambient sounds inside the Inn seemed to have the frequency or occurrence set too high. The sound of floorboards creaking was performed far too often. It sorta killed the whole, “What was that?” moment. I’m not sure if this is something you can adjust in the Foundry or not… but it should be.

On completing this part of the quest, I have to return to my content in Neverwinter (a cleric) to hand over the relics I collected.

[Polish] It would be nice if there were some way to pick a gate to enter from in order to pick the gate nearest the quest giver. I like the look of Neverwinter (the city) but really don’t enjoy running from end to end for questing.

The ending of this quest had some dialogue that could have used a redirect back towards some other questions, but overall it was interesting.

I filled in the rating and even tipped the author a small number of Astral Diamonds (which I earned from the main story quest). On finishing that, NW (the game) noted there was another mission to the campaign and so it advanced the quest to that one.

Foundry Adventure – The Dweomerkeepers: Part 2 Off the High Road

On to the second part…

Ah, I see the author figured out how to do a ‘go back and ask more questions’ dialogue loop. Good to see.

And you get to bring a NPC along, though she’s mostly ineffective. She warns you that lizardmen come out of the water with the fog. Sure enough if you walk the shore you find patrolling lizardfolk and even some in the water.

[Issue] Going into the deeper water seemed to have a weird effect on the display. You don’t exactly end up swimming because it’s not that deep (wonder about a halfling?). The mobs I found in there didn’t seem to want to move out of it.

Tripped over what looks to be an elite creature, “Foulspawn Hulk”. It is huge, red and very angry. It took a bit of kiting it around but I defeated it.

Oooh! Into a cave theme… sort of a fungal cave and the NPC is here with something to say.

Some interesting little mechanics used in here. A bit of dialogue triggered encounters and quest counters.

Seems things aren’t as simple as only the Drow wanting what your’e after. Nifty.

Back to Neverwinter.

[Mechanic] A hour had passed so I stopped to Invoke my God. I was rewarded with another slight damage bonus, some XP (610 to be exact) and some Astral Crystals. Seems you get rewarded for hourly play.

[Foundry] I suspected this earlier, but it looks to be more positive now – the Foundry’s dialogue editor has options for having the NPC perform some actions. On returning to the Cleric, he bows to me and the dialogue text described as much.

[Foundry] I have a concern about the quest rewards. It appears they are randomly generated and the author has no control over them. This is disappointing, but I can only hope this isn’t the case, merely the author of this adventure has selected to award some random item. It’d be best if there were settings to select the type of reward; such as a weapon, armor piece, jewelry, etc. The system could then reward according to character level. This would allow authors to tailor their rewards to the target audience. For example, if I were to create an adventure aimed at the Thief type, I could tailor the dungeon to have thieving spots, traps, locks (do those exist?) and reward for a thief – leather armor of some sort. Same deal for a quest aimed at a Wizard type or Cleric or Fighter.

[Mechanic] *cough* Falling damage is in game. *ahem*

[Polish] Log to Character Selection appears to be missing. Only options are Log out (to log in screen) and Exit game entirely. This is a very basic function that has be around for awhile. Make it so Cryptic!

Foundry Adventure – The Dweomerkeepers: Part 3 Dweomerkeep Temple

[Issue] Something happened on my follow up with the third part of this quest line where I had to go to the Moonstone Mask. It happened right after I interacted with the Broker for another quest (main line quest). It seemed like everything that should be interacted with was not showing the ‘F to interact’ tip and could not be interacted with.

(Quest Issue) There seems to be an improper [/ooc] closing tag in the author’s dialogue with the little Drow urchin. One of the first mistakes I’ve seen so far with this quest series.

[Classes] I was looking through the Auction House for some armored pants or something when I saw the “Any Class” drop down. I decided to drop it a look. Here’s the list: Trickster Rogue, Devoted Cleric, Iron Vanguard, Control Wizard, Hellbringer, Divine Oracle, Great Weapon Fighter, Spellstorm Mage, Master Infiltrator, Swordmaster and Guardian Fighter. Of those only five are available for play. I’m not sure if the other classes are even mentioned outside of this dialogue. Spoiler? Someone already saw this at some point yesterday.

Back to the quest. This one progresses a little different. Instead of exiting any gate and picking a point on the map, you exit a specific gate and it triggers an ambush.

Very cool little portal trick for jump to the Temple and out of the Temple.

Foundry Adventure – The Dweomerkeepers done.

There are supposed to be five more parts to it, but they are not done yet. Impression so far? Decent enough. Story is more complicated and interesting than the previous ones I did and it looks like the creator was able to do a fair bit of neat things in the editor.

I’m now level 13.

[Mechanic] In game currency is called Astral Diamonds. This is used for special gear or to convert to Zen which is used as a micro-transaction currency. You can earn Astral Diamonds from invoking your God, completing quests (I think) and as a ‘tip’ for creating cool adventures. Other in game currency includes the expected gold, silver and copper which is used for more mundane items. The micro-transactions include dye packs (which are noted to be consumed on one item – not kept in a library of colors like in Guild Wars 2!), character slots (2 per purchase), bags, cosmetic items, companions, and boosts. It does not seem to be ‘pay to win’.

[Issue] I tried looking up the pricing for Zen through Perfect World’s site and they stuck a “Enter your payment info” door in front of me. I have no desire to give any payment information without first seeing the prices. That’s just a bad deal. A little Googling and I found the following:

Zen Prices:
$50.00 = 5,000 + 300
$30.00 = 3,000
$20.00 = 2,000
$10.00 = 1,000
$5.00 = 500

I figured I’d list it for those that are interested. I’m a complete cheapo though, I don’t see value in any of the items they sell short of character slots – which is something that has always been ‘free’ in other sub-games (quotes around ‘free’ because I realize there is a monthly sub hehe). The cost of two extra character slots is 5$ which I can see being not too bad.

[Main Quest] Back to the main stuff. I was given a quest to go talk to a crafting supply person. That person said I need to hire someone. Quest updated to say, “Open your crafting window” to which I say, “How do I do that?” Crafting eludes me again… or me it. I’ll look it up shortly.

Foundry Adventure – BAR FIGHT!

I started poking into the Foundry listing again and took a peek at the Featured tab. There is one there about a bar brawl… mouahaha! Surprisingly enough it is called, “BAR FIGHT!” Estimated time is 2 minutes. The comments seem to imply it is a hack and slash quick quest for power-leveling.

You knew it was bound to happen. Small, bar-themed room with a rowdy pirate proprietor hosting a series of waves. The dialogue was amusing as was one of the waves where it was supposed to be the local authorities. Reward was given in a back room… not that kinda of reward, it was a chest.. the opening kind with treasure in it! Anyway, I score some Cleric boots… that’s right, Cleric boots. Damn you random loot rewards.

Foundry Adventure – BAR FIGHT! done.

[Crafing] So back to Crafting. I asked in zone-wide chat and someone answered how to open the Professions Window – press N. “Professio[n]”. Literally would have been the last key I’d have tried.

[Meh] That completed the quest and.. well, I couldn’t do anything else with it because I don’t actually have a profession. This quest seemed a little pointless… it didn’t explain crafting or where to get a profession from.

Anyway, I’ve been at it for roughly 7 hours – on and off – so time to stop. Since this is just a weekend beta this is likely all I’ll talk about in this post. I don’t know if I’m automatically going to be in the next beta weekend.

I’ll try to answer questions if people have them, but I’ve pretty much said everything I did up above. I can clarify if it’s confusing.

Maybe.

[NW] Oops, Beta Weekend 3

Good thing I checked my spam mail address yesterday night because I received a Neverwinter Beta invite from Gamebreak.tv‘s free giveaway. I started the download while I was leveling up my Warrior in WoW (89 now) and once the download was done, I gave it an install. Simple enough process. Logged in, little patch, adjusted settings and then rolled a Great Weapon Fighter.

I won’t go into too much more because I didn’t really play for very long but I will throw out some first impressions:

  1. Font used for labels is sort of jarring and stands out too much
  2. There was some lag in overcrowded areas (my system is a beast so I’m going to blame their engine), though it wasn’t unplayable – just enough to notice it was there
  3. I did the initial part and the ‘Save the Crown’ quest
  4. Controls are really simple and straight forward
  5. Mobs weren’t exactly challenging – granted it was the starting area
  6. Their mini-map is confusing – lots of stuff on there; that is likely just not knowing what the symbols are
  7. Character creation was simple
  8. Customization was limited, but the options available made sense
  9. Attribute die-rolling doesn’t seem as random as it should be if it really was die rolls. I almost suspect they randomly switch between preset attribute builds.
  10. Races available: Human, Halfling, Dwarf, Tiefling, Half-Orc, and two flavors of Elves: High (heeeey maaaan!) Half-Elf (they hop along on their one leg) and Wood (shaaaawing!) Elf. (EDIT: Can you tell I didn’t pay too much attention to the Elves?)
  11. Class available: Devout Cleric, Controller Wizard, Trickster Thief, Guardian Fighter and Great Weapon Fighter.
  12. They have that glowie-umbilical cord to lead you from A to B
  13. Graphics had some decent details, but didn’t feel as crisp as other games
  14. Animations were decent
  15. Combat abilities had some impact, especially with swinging the large weapon around though they need to make the Charge ability have more of an impact – it felt more like you were a ghost going through targets instead of knocking them over
  16. I didn’t see any access to Foundry stuff but then I didn’t look either.
  17. I couldn’t find a store to buy new armor or weapons (see mini-map xenophobia above)
  18. I didn’t do any crafting (heh – like I would…)
  19. I didn’t do any exploring yet – seems like you’re limited to the areas you are in, rather than any sort of free roaming or sandbox type.

My initial feeling is it could be nice little game but I can’t see myself playing it with any dedication (shut up UFTimmy – I know, I don’t play any games with any sort of dedication anymore).

The Foundry, depending on how powerful it is, may get me more involved with the game than the actual game itself. Still it wasn’t a bad overall feel. It feels more like an action game (which is what they were aiming at, so good on them) than what I traditionally view as MMO fare.

Fortunately it will be free to play so I can easily see myself playing it from time to time, maybe even with some friends from work who don’t want to invest too much into a game and don’t really like the wide open world type of games because they get too into them (or lost).