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Neverwinter
E3 2012 Hands-on Preview
"This [is] a must-try for those looking for a multiplayer RPG set in the D&D universe."

Much has changed in the legendary city of Neverwinter since last year's E3. Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter is now a fully-fledged MMORPG set in the classic Forgotten Realms setting. Although developer Cryptic remains the same, the project has been acquired by publisher Perfect World, and they've made it free to play. I sat down for a little mid-game dungeon delving with two other players, including our own Mike Salbato.

Though brief, my time with the game ensured me that Neverwinter isn't another MMO to manage occasionally between household chores and other hobbies. Combat requires constant attention, and we had several causalities during our time as I tried to quickly jot down notes. Strategy and teamwork lead to victory, as does the usual management of cool-down abilities. There are fewer abilities mapped to the keyboard, but this more ascetic approach feels confident and clean. Indeed, the whole package seems incongruously polished in the free-to-play sphere. The basics won't surprise anyone, but the execution may.

Instead of remaining true to a single edition of D&D, Neverwinter cherry picks the best and most appropriate rules from each edition and makes changes of its own. Although the gameplay might not be incredibly familiar to pen-and-paper gamers, the setting and lore will be. Forgotten Realms historians can rest assured that Neverwinter's lore remains faithful to the sources. In fact, weekly calls with Wizards of the Coast ensure accuracy and quality, and the collaboration has actually gone both ways; WotC enjoyed some of Cryptic's designs so much that they asked to borrow them as the new standard.

Another fantasy MMORPG may seem like just what the industry does not need, but Neverwinter seeks to fill that online D&D niche that other games seem to fall out of continuously. While nothing about Neverwinter seems completely innovative, an exceptional price point and a high degree of polish may be enough. An attractive, spartan interface, pleasant graphics, an expansive toolset, and combat that requires attention make this a must-try for those looking for a multiplayer RPG set in the D&D universe. And hell, there might be beholders.


© 2012 Perfect World, Cryptic Studios. All rights reserved.




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