I’ve been playing the new MMORPG by Cryptic, Neverwinter. It is based on the fourth edition rules of D&D. While I am not a great fan of these rules, they do lend themselves to the online medium quite nicely. The first thing most people will notice are the classes. Instead of the normal generic classes like fighter, wizard, cleric, and rogue; the classes in Neverwinter have very strict roles. The cleric class is called the Devoted Cleric for instance. While I’ve made one of each class (there are five in total), the class I’ve leveled the highest is the rogue class. This class is pure dps. The class does have stealth abilities which are handy, but the stealth ability is on a finite counter during use. Speaking of abilities, each class has two “at will” abilities, along with three encounter abilities and two daily abilities. As you level up you can unlock more abilities but you may only have a certain number ready to be used at any one time. This flies in the face of current MMORPG design with new skills being added nearly every level. It does take a bit of getting used to initially, but in the long run it works. In addition to the normal adventuring, which consists the normal types of quests found in MMOs; there is the crafting. The crafting is not done by the character, but rather by hired “assets” who perform the tasks. There are five crafting skills, Leadership, Leatherworking, Tailoring, Mailsmithing, and Platesmithing. Each one is geared towards one of the classes, with the exception of Leadership which allows you to get money and goods occasionally.
On crafting. There are five “gathering” skills; dungeoneering, religion, arcana, nature, and thievery. Great Weapon Fighters and Guardian Warriors get Dungeoneering, Devoted Clerics get Religion, Controller Wizards get Arcana, and Trickster Rogues get Thievery. At this time, no one has Nature as an innate skill. One can also buy “kits” of the appropriate types. If you do not have a skill, you may substitute a kit for one of the skills (at a reduced chance of success). For the manufacturing side of crafting, there is Platesmithing, Mailsmithing, Leatherworking and Tailoring. Platesmithing produces armor for GW (Guardian Warriors), Mailsmithing produces armor for Devoted Clerics and GWF (Great Weapon Fighters), Leatherworking produces armor for Trickster Rogues, and Tailoring produces armor for Controller Wizards. You may notice that all of the craft skills produce armor. At this point, weapons may not be created by players. There also does not seem to be a secondary market for craft goods, just the ingredients. Leadership is the exception to the armor producing crafts. Leadership gets you crates (for the most part), which give you potions and crafting bits.
Another interesting bit it the hourly divine bonuses. Each hour you may pray at a shrine and receive a bonus. The bonuses include stat buffs, astral diamonds, money, xp, potions. There are diminishing returns on the bonuses, so as you play, your bonus “quality” drops. Each day, you can also get a celestial coin from the prayer. These dissipate if you do not refresh them daily. You can get rewards from these too.
The gameplay is very well suited to solo play. Most content is able to be accomplished by the character plus an NPC companion (granted at ~15th level). Harder content requires a full group. There does not seem to be any mid-ground for people who duo or trio. There are queues for the group content, but it can be a while if you are doing content a lot have already finished.
In addition, there is the Foundry. This allows the players to create their own adventures and publish them for others to play. The quality on these varies from excellent to utterly craptacular. I’ve only played a couple, and the rewards at the end are not controlled by the author, but rather by Cryptic.
All in all, I’d give Neverwinter Online a 3.5/5. More classes and more variation in the crafting would greatly increase this.
Neverwinter Online may be found at http://nw.perfectworld.com/