Neverwinter Beta Weekend 2 Impressions: Control Wizards and more
Major New Feature: More Levels
In this go round, closed beta players were allowed to level their characters all the way up to 40. And though leveling is awfully fast (I hit 16 in the first night), it slowed down after that and I only topped out at level 22 by the end of the beta.
This did allow me time in a L20+ zone I hadn’t experienced before. It’s pirate-themed, with many a ruffian to take down while unraveling the mystery of a missing person. Unfortunately, it didn’t hold anything new that I hadn’t experienced in previous zones. It had an event, a dungeon, and a zone-wide scavenger hunt. I’m not saying it is poorly designed, but this is where most MMOs start to show their reptitiveness and Neverwinter is no exception.
Minor New Features
There were a lot of small improvements across different areas of the game that I found pleasing. The inventory UI went from one big screen showing currency, bag contents, and tradeskill components, to a tab system for each of these resources. A newbie zone was added, guiding players through the UI and various game features before letting them loose in the general population. Certain vendors also have a scroll for sale that also pops up in reward boxes, allowing you to teleport back to the main town which will save you a great deal of travel time.
The Zen Market, aka Cash Shop, was live as well this time. It held items that enhance the game, but nothing that lets it fall into the dreaded “pay to win” trap. There are no weapons or armor to get a leg up, just consumables, extra companions and mounts, and paid services you see in other F2P games: character rename, extra bank slots, etc. And the armor and weapons you can buy off of merchants in-game from microtransaction money have a minimum level of 30, so there will be no preloading new characters out of the gate.
After a great experience with one of the player-created missions in the last beta (via the Foundry system), I tried my hand again at another top-rated mission. Agreeing to sit down for a friendly game of poker, you are teleported to a demon dimension where you discover you’ve been dealt a hand from none other than that old standby, the Deck of Many Things. You must now fight your way out or lose your soul. The writing and setup were top notch, though I found some of the encounters overly difficult. But this shows yet another clever and entertaining player-made mission in Neverwinter. I’m very much looking forward to more next time and maybe making one myself when I get access to the Foundry.
We still haven’t seen the Great Weapon Fighter class in action, though Cryptic said it will be playable at PAX and there is also one more closed beta weekend coming up at the end of the month. We also haven’t seen raiding or crafting implemented. Cryptic CEO Jack Emmert promised plenty of endgame content in our recent interview with him. Developers will have to start rolling that out soon to get players excited to invest their time in yet another MMO.