Neverwinter is a new free-to-play action MMO from Obsidian and Perfect Worlds. It manages to be simultaneously simple and complex, the combat easy to learn and fun, and the world fleshed out to the tiniest detail.
The game exists in the Dungeons and Dragons universe, specifically Forgotten Realms, and it follows the lore very closely. Set 100 years after the Spellplague, making it 110 years or so after the events of Neverwinter Nights 2: Storm of Zehir, the city of Neverwinter is rebuilding after being nearly wiped away in a volcanic eruption.
The cities and towns will be familiar to fans of previous Forgotten Realms games. Names and events will ring a bell, and characters both beloved and despised may make appearances. However, it's still an enjoyable setting to those unfamiliar with the world of Neverwinter, just generic-fantasy enough to not risk alienating the less-versed player.
Combat is fast-paced and visceral for an MMO, encouraging movement over stand-in-one-place battles. Your equipped skills are limited: a basic attack on left- and right-click, three class skills, and two specialty skills.
There is also a d20 in the middle of your action bars that fills up as you fulfill your "role" in the party; when it's full, you can use one of your specialty skills. As a tank grabs more aggro from surrounding monsters and takes more damage, or as a control mage casts sleeps and stuns, they fill their d20 action-point meter. When it's full, the mage may release a burst of ice, freezing all enemies surrounding it, or a gust of wind to knock monsters off a cliff.
I was unable to see much of the game, but what I did see left me hopeful for the future of one of my favorite series, and it left me wanting to see more. Neverwinter is in beta now, with a scheduled release for Q4 of this year.
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