Should You Play Neverwinter in 2023?
Neverwinter is an Action combat MMORPG game that is based around the Dungeons and Dragons franchise and it released on PC back in 2013. It’s also a multi platform game available on both Xbox and PlayStation.
According to Steam you’ll see an active hourly population of about 1-1.5k players on PC so it has a reasonable amount of daily activity and you’ll always see players running around in game making it feel populated.
The game is a fully voice acted story driven MMO game, there’s a lot of solo adventures and campaigns to complete, but you’ll also find challenging group PvE content such as dungeons, and raids.
Neverwinter has a classic MMO vibe and on first impressions made me feel like I was playing a more simplified version of World of Warcraft with a slight sprinkle of Final Fantasy.
Both the graphics and sounds in the game gave a classic MMO vibe which attracts me from a nostalgic perspective as a 20 year MMO veteran.
I’ve recently played about 60 hours of Neverwinter from a complete beginners perspective and in this review I’ll share my experiences and give my opinion on whether Neverwinter is an MMO game worth playing in 2023.
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The level cap in this game is just level 20 – you can reach this level cap in just a few hours and the only way of levelling is by following the Levelling Adventure quests. This whole part of the game was compressed in the past few years by the Devs and they have actually created a fast, simple and fun levelling experience where you are taken across a few areas of the game, taught about some of the basic systems, get involved in the story and given items that help you straight away.
You’re thrown straight into the action with this game, fighting enemies across a bridge and getting straight into the story on your way to the first main hub city.
At level 2 you are given a mount and not long after you gain a combat companion. This is great for a beginner player as you can move across the areas quickly thanks to the mount rather than intentionally slowed down to prolong the beginner experience like some other MMOs but your mount also does in combat damage which is quite a unique feature I’ve not seen before. You can buff up your mount with insignias which add additional benefits to your character and when you get a companion you can gear them up and give them different abilities to help you out with healing and damage.
One of the big differences with this beginner experience is that it’s actually challenging. Most other games take you to really easy areas, with easy mobs to kill and kind of babysit you through every button press and game function but not Neverwinter. It’s quite refreshing to experience reasonably challenging combat this early in the game.
As you progress you’ll be given upgraded gear from your quests along with various other useful items so you have no reason to go off the track – just follow where the game tells you to go. This is also something I really like, the navigation is good, you’ll see a starry trail on the ground showing you where to go, so it’s hard to get lost or lose track of what you’re supposed to be doing.
I guess one of the strangest things about Neverwinter levelling is that you gain no experience points for anything, it’s a strange system where it sometimes feels like a bit of a waste of time killing enemies if you can skip or avoid them because they offer no character progression. Overall the levelling system works great because this has to be one of the fastest zero to level cap MMO games you’ll find.
The combat in this game is an active combat system where you’ll have to block, dodge, basic attack, rotate cooldown abilities and manage resource in this somewhat simplistic but fun combat system. Many of the mechanics you’ll experience include moving out of AoEs, hiding behind objects and dealing with waves of adds.
At the very start of the game once you choose your characters race and class you immediately have a 3 skills unlocked already. The good thing about this is you get the opportunity to try things out before you progress too far and you can decide at this point whether or not you like the combat style of a class or whether you want to reroll and make a new character with a different class.
I personally chose Paladin in preparation for eventually becoming a Tank and was surprised to see this was a game where a Tank was capable of doing good damage in solo situations even when progressing as a Tank which is often not viable.
The most difficult part of the combat system is the basic attacks, you can hold down left or right click on your mouse and your character swings their weapon doing basic attacks, when doing this you are locked in place and cannot move.
Initially it seems like this will be quite a slow combat system with just the 3 abilities but this is not the case, there are more layers to the combat system and it’s actually very fast paced and active.
Due to being locked in place for basic attacks you have to really think about how to use them effectively while managing mechanics. You’ll have 2 types of basic attacks I went for a single target and an AoE to manage different scenarios and then you also have 2 options for “daily abilities” which is a confusing name for basically an ultimate attack which can give you some big burst damage or defensive tools.
For the paladin I had a stance I could use, and you then have your mount which you can equip one that can be used as an ability during combat which is a pretty unique feature, it’s possible to stable 5 mounts in total to give you a range of passive perks too.
You finally have an artefact which can cause a range of effects as well as 3 slots to equip whatever you like and this can include items that do more damage so they’re essentially additional skills and you might also equip potions here. All of this is while managing both cooldowns, stamina and your spendable resource of divinity which is needed with some abilities.
The way Neverwinter works is this is a heavily combat story driven MMO. You’ll have cutscenes, full voice acting and plenty of lore and character development all tied into the Dungeons and Dragons theme, it is a pretty good story driven game with a lot of solos story instanced expeditions. Even if you don’t know a lot about D&D like me, you can still enjoy what the game has to offer from a combat story perspective.
As you progress in the game you have adventures which are stories that take you to a certain area where you complete a range of quests in both an overland map and some instanced expeditions. You then have campaigns which are a similar thing again but you have a range of daily and weekly quests along with currencies to collect which you spend to complete the campaign or buy area relevant items. These completed both solo or you can group up and do them with other players.
The sheer volume of currencies and limits those currencies have is a bit excessive and overwhelming for a new player but you’ll have to sift through them to find which ones are the most beneficial, how you spend them and what you spend them on.
For players who want to speed through to the end game it can feel like quite a grind because you need to upgrade your item level and a lot of this is locked behind the campaign currencies and can take quite a bit of time.
When it comes to other content the PvE content is most prominent – you have skirmishes which are fairly easy 5 person content where you group up and deal with waves of enemies, then you have 5 person dungeons which you unlock later in the game which are tired to item level and quest progression, these are very fun and fast paced with increased difficulty the newer dungeons you attempt, there also advanced dungeons and master versions which are the real top tier dungeon content. You also have 10 player Raid which again are locked into to item level and story progress and these are large group content with much more complicated mechanics.