Neverwinter Beta Weekend 2 Impressions: Control Wizards and more

We can probably skip over the basics this time, right? You all know by now Neverwinter is an upcoming action MMO sent in the Dungeons & Dragons world and the publisher is holding a number of closed beta weekends to get the word out. If you haven’t, check out our impressions of the first beta weekend and come back here for round two. I’ll wait. Ok, I won’t. Let’s do this.

Major New Feature: Control Wizards

I went into this beta weekend full of excitement to play a caster class. It’s one of my favorite kinds of classes to play in RPGs and this one wasn’t available in the first beta weekend. At first, I was disappointed with how long it took to take down an enemy with my Magic Missles (the default, spammable nuke). Having played a Trickster Rogue in the last beta, I remembered taking down opponents much faster (and with more flair). But a few levels into it, the Control Wizard came to life for me.

Once you get a number of abilities under your belt, you can focus on pure damage or the control promised in the class name. For example, one ability allows you to pull an enemy into the air for a few seconds, immobilizing them, Darth Vader-style. Another fires a frost beam that damages the mob continuously until they completely freeze over. Others blow enemies back Jedi-style, either hitting a single target or all the enemies around you. I found that focusing on killing things as quickly as possible was the best defense, but it didn’t hurt to have the blow back ability to keep a particularly tough mob at arm’s length while I barraged him with other damage-dealing abilities.

As I mentioned above, the Trickster Rogue has a certain amount of flair with its teleporting attacks, but the Control Wizard is no less flashy. The Daily powers of the Control Wizard pack a spectacular punch. The area-of-effect blow back ability radiates ice and stalagmites over the area. Another ability creates a gravity distortion around the enemy, causing armor, weapons and other items around the room to fly into the mob, then explode outward for damage. Even the spammable nuke has you throwing light with style.

Soloing was easier than I expected. Though I had a hard time keeping mobs off of me, they didn’t seem to do enough damage to worry overly much about keeping them away. Bosses, though, had to be dodged, avoided and blown back expertly to survive the encounters. Getting a tank class as a companion isn’t much help as mine didn’t seem to have an AE taunt and almost every mob is standing around with its buddies.

In a group, Control Wizards really shine, especially if there is more than one. During a particular dungeon run of mine, there were three of us all firing our cold beam on one target, cutting down the time it took to freeze that target in place by two-thirds. Boss mobs in dungeons were more tricky due to the constant movement necessary to avoid attacks. This made timing your attacks more difficult and your smooth ability rotation fall apart on a regular basis. Also, and this may be a beta thing, if I died fighting a boss mob in a group and rezzed myself or was rezzed by a group member, it didn’t wipe my aggro, so the boss would come right after me again. Only by releasing to my last spawn point was I able to reset my aggro meter.

Overall, I enjoyed the Control Wizard a great deal and will definitely be rolling one as well as a Trickster Rogue when the game goes live.

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