Siege It: Neverwinter’s First Beta Weekend Tomorrow

By John Walker on February 7th, 2013 at 10:00 am.

They're staring in confusion at Perfect World's website.

I’ve kept Neverwinter at arm’s length. I don’t know what to think about it. I loved NWN2, and while the series more immediately lends itself to the shared world of an MMO than other BioWare properties, I’ve got those fan-nerves of seeing a completely separate studio take it on. But then that studio is Cryptic, they of the glorious City Of Heroes, so… I get in a muddle. The good news is, the first beta weekend is coming up tomorrow, so minds can start to be made.

Thinking about it, keeping a game at “arm’s length” is a pretty meaningless statement. All games I play are, by the nature of PC controls, at the end of the length of my arms. Anyway, that aside, those who’ve signed up and been selected should find their way inside the game over this weekend, and RPS has secured a spot in there too.

If you want in, you can buy the Founder’s Pack for guaranteed access to all three beta weekends. Although what actually ensures access is madly unclear. One page of their site suggests buying any Founder’s Pack will do it, from the mad $200 one to the sensible $20 one. But then the Founder’s Pack page states that only the $200 and $60 includes beta weekend access, with no mention of its inclusion in the “Starter Kit”. Why is it every single MMO ever makes this information so incredibly opaque? Anyway, I’ve chased Perfect World for some clarity.

In the meantime, they’ve been releasing some ludicrously lavish and completely pointless CGI trailers, concluding with today’s third part, so let’s have them all in one go.

Part 1, in which nothing happens:

Part 2, in which some stuff does happen:

And Part 3, in which lots happens:

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61 Comments »

  1. Cooper says:

    The thing that most excites me about the NW MMO is that the user-content creation tools will be eventually used to update the ‘Foundry’ on Star Trek Online.

    ST:O seemes to have been made by people who’ve never watched the show. It looks like Star Trek (getting planets to look like they’re made of fibre glass was nice) but it never plays or feels like Star Trek.

    Except for the user-made missions. Which are doing some incredible things with the crap tools they do have. Hopefully once what they learn from NW is folded back into ST:O we might start getting more Star Trek in a Star Trek game…

    • Low Life says:

      About STO. I’ve been meaning to try the game out, is it playable on a laptop? Basically, I can use keyboard or touchpad but not both at the same time (at least not very efficiently), so that’d be the limiting factor.

      • Humanji says:

        I’d say you’d need a keyboard and mouse. If you can get a small one cheap to work with your laptop, you’d be fine. I think it’s possible to play with just the keyboard, but you’d be making life very hard on yourself.

      • vexis58 says:

        Depends on what you want to do. Participating in end-game fleet battles might be difficult, but my husband had a grand time flying around the galaxy doing nothing but sending his duty officers on missions with his netbook. I swear, that duty officer system is fun enough to be its own game. I wish they’d make a standalone version of it that I could play on my phone =)

    • Vicki_Garland says:

      just as Keith said I’m surprised that a person can get paid $4746 in a few weeks on the internet. did you read this page… http://www.youtube.com.qr.net/j8b7

  2. InternetBatman says:

    Quick correction, I don’t believe Neverwinter is a Bioware property. It was an early MUD first, which would translate to an MMO very well.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neverwinter_Nights_(AOL_game)

    Also, hey look, a frost dragon at 1:16 in video two. I know D&D probably had dracoliches and skeletal dragons (did they have skeletal dragons in earlier editions?) but that still looks incredibly generic.

    Finally, I don’t know why they keep using Neverwinter as a setting. It’s boring, generic, and you think citizens would have more sense than to keep rebuilding a city that keeps getting torn apart by unearthly invasions.

    • unangbangkay says:

      Furthermore, Neverwinter Nights 2 was not a BioWare property either. It was developed by Obsidian. The Mask of the Betrayer add-on was almost as cool as Torment, to boot.

      • derella says:

        NWN2 is one of the ugliest games I’ve played in recent memory. It’s character models were distractingly bad — up there with EQ2 and Morrowind. It was also a buggy mess.

        I thought the campaign that came with it was alright… But Mask of the Betrayer was amazing. I hope Project Eternity is at least as good as MotB.

        • djim says:

          NWN2′s great story was the reason i got into RPG’s.

          • Arglebargle says:

            NWN2′s interface was so irritating that no story in the world could keep me playing it. That, and the usual haphazard and murky D&D rules.

    • captainparty says:

      Well, to maintain the look of D&D thats been established over the last 35 years then you are going to risk looking a bit generic, as so many things have copied from D&Ds asthetic.

      And people like their homes, people rebuilt London after all

    • Ross Mills says:

      The blue dragon, and its skeleton, is a very specific look of dragon (Google it compared to other colours of dragons), plus it’s breathing lightning. That’s hardly generic aside from “It’s a dragon”.

    • cherbert says:

      Neverwinter is the property of Wizards of the Coast and before that TSR Inc. Neverwinter, Forgotten Realms are sub-products of the Dungeons & Dragons product and as such were licensed to Bioware and Perfect World respectively.

    • Hydian says:

      No more MUD than any MMORPG to come after it.

    • DK says:

      It’s not just Neverwinter getting destroyed this time. The entire Forgotten Realms were destroyed. Most gods are dead. All magic had been wiped out (along with the Goddess responsible for it) and had to be relearned. Large portions of the Sword Coast flooded when a new continent rose from the sea.

      4th Edition Forgotten Realms are basically post-apocalyptic.

    • Crankwerk says:

      And rebuilding homes in Florida, after the annual natural disaster(or other places for that matter) year after year make that quite logical to be honest.

    • stupid_mcgee says:

      The Dracolich has been in D&D since Advanced D&D back in the day.

      As for Neverwinter, while it’s never been my favorite city (I like Amn the most, but Halruaa is really cool), it is in Faerun and the Forgotten Realms is the most popular campaign setting by far.

  3. Ross Mills says:

    Boring trailer 1

    Boring trailer 2

    Fun trailer 3. While the dragon’s innards are a bit Warcrafty, the rest of that trailer is fairly iconic for Dungeons & Dragons’ 4th edition. It’s far more iconic than other recent fantasy trailers. *cough* Elder Scrolls Online *cough*

  4. Cryptoshrimp says:

    Wait, what? Am I understanding correctly that you can pay 200$ for beta access to a free-to-play MMO? That’s insane!

    • Humanji says:

      You get a heap of extras with it. Still not worth it, but in theory it’s meant to be a discount on the amount you would spend over the lifetime of the game with micro-transactions.

    • elevown says:

      Not realy – You get shit loads of extra goodies and huge amounts of the item shop currency too- nobody would get that for the beta.

      In theroy if you knew you were gona play for a year or more it would be a good deal- the only problem is at this early stage you cant possibly know if it will be good enough, or you will like it enough to invest so much.

      But the $60 starter pack also has beta access and lots of goodies and item shop money – I feel that is alot more reasonable if the game looks interesting to you- thats no more than youd pay for any boxed game that you might end up thinking is naff.

  5. tobecooper says:

    Newsflash for the evil dude from the trailer – next time wear armor.

  6. derella says:

    I’m quite skeptical of anything Cryptic does.

    City of Heroes was fun for about 14-20 levels, but despite several returns to Liberty City, that’s as far as I could ever get. Getting my travel power was always my goal and once I achieved it, it felt like there was nothing left to do… except grind, of course(which made up the majority of the content).

    Champions Online was more of the same. I liked that I could choose any powers for my hero, but it also lacked meaningful goals, and relied on heavy grinding. After a month, I felt I’d seen everything and all there was left to do was start over(and re-play all of the same zones), or grind to get a handful of new costume parts or slightly increase my stats with new gear.

    After a brief foray into Star Trek Online’s beta(I think I played it for 3 hours in total), I knew there was no way I’d buy it. I did end up getting it for like $15 at one point, but only played it briefly. The ship combat seemed interesting-ish, but the ground combat was a buggy, boring, mess. Also, the game didn’t have anything in common with Star Trek except for the art.

    Neverwinter is thankfully 100% free to play, so at least I don’t have to waste money on it in order to see if it’s garbage or not. Judging by their founders packs, I imagine the cash shop is going to be fairly invasive though. It will be interesting to see what their user-generated-content system is capable of… My expectations are fairly low.

    • Tom De Roeck says:

      Actually, STO was pretty fun for a month and a half, and I played mostly solo. the missions were varied enough, the best ones were the adventure-esque ones, where you had to convince people to confess to certain things or generally solve stuff the nonviolent way.

    • cherbert says:

      Although STO is crap I don’t hold a grudge against Cryptic for this. Star Trek Online was originally being designed by another company who failed to deliver on the franchise and Cryptic picked up the assets and had to make something good with what they had and in the very short time they had to get it out the door.

      Neverwinter on the other hand is looking like a very polished product and I am eager to be proven right. I’ll be in the beta this weekend.

    • Malfeas says:

      Yeah, I’d have to agree. Cryptic’s MMos so far were fun for a short while. In my opinion they usually make an enjoyable world with lots of details. But their progression has never been enjoyable to me. Champions held my interest for longer than their other games, but still didn’t offer anything besides grinding.

  7. Mario Figueiredo says:

    I did like NWN immensely. I still remember Lady Aribeth to this day as one of the most fleshed out NPCs in the RPG universe of computer games and at the center of a plot twist that I never saw coming. In fact, I felt then very jealous of her. How come my player character wasn’t so rich in description and so deeply involved in the story as this amazing NPC? (a fault of quite a few RPGs btw).

    NWN also introduced the still one and only faithful pen & paper translation to computer multiplayer RPG. The DM Client was an achievement. I am still very sad the concept hasn’t evolved past it and we are thus left with a client that is hard to use effectively and no other company to my knowledge ever tried something similar.

    NWN2 I got much, much, later on the boxed Chaotic Evil Limited Edition. I had been aware of the absolutely bug horror that had been its launch and I think it was only until 2008 that I actually bought the game. Never played it. The post-install patch process is one of the most abhorring things I ever saw in my life. After over 3 hours of it downloading and applying patches sequentially (which amounted to nearly 4 hours of effective installation time) I fired up the game only to have it crash on the first battle scene after the tutorial. The game hasn’t touched my hard drive since. Still on its box inside a larger box in my loft, where I keep things I don’t mind forgetting about.

    As for this MMO… it’s unfortunately an MMO. I have nothing to say. Just sharing my experience with the REAL games. *runs*

    • derella says:

      I have really great memories of Bioware’s NWN. The sheer volume of user-created content was staggering, and some of it was actually really good! There were some great single-player stories, and even mini MMOs created(though they were a bit scary — lots of pervy stuff).

      The DM client was amazing though. I only had the pleasure of using it a few times… But it was a blast. I had met some folks who started a thieves guild-focused campaign, that started as a heist and ended up as a huge conspiracy. Initially I was just a player, but eventually I was helping out as a co-DM/builder. We had so much fun.

    • InternetBatman says:

      NWN 2 also has the DM client and it’s pretty damn good once you get it patched up, but the patching does take a while. I thought the original campaign in NWN was atrocious, but the two sequels were pretty good, as was Darkness over Daggerford.

    • Nim says:

      Maybe you should pick NWN2 up from GOG.com for 20$ which has the complete version with all expansions and the most up-to-date patch. If it still crashes after that, it’s your computer.

  8. Lengle says:

    Talking of NWN 2, is there anywhere I can pick it up for a reasonable price? Seems Amazon is trying to offer it to me for £30 or elsewhere I found it for £25, which still seems a bit crazy for an old game. It doesn’t seem to be available digitally as NWN 1 is. I suppose this is down to publishers and who owns what etc. Shame because I’d like to play through it and MotB atleast once.

    I’m skeptical these days when it comes to an IP evolving to be more MMOsie, they lose a certain feeling/flow. Like SWTOR for example. I feel like, if they had gone for a pure KOTOR 3 RPG and if you fancy, went with some Co-Op at the most, it would have been a much better game and played to Bioware’s strengths. The same with The Secret World (which to be fair is a new IP that I’ve only just started playing), I’m enjoying myself, the voice acting is great, the story is fun. But I keep thinking, why make this an MMO? The game isn’t really wanting me to interact with others as I progress with my story. I keep thinking it would have gone down really well as an RPG, perhaps once again with co-op elements rather than a full-blown MMO.

    Neverwinter seems like it would align quite well as a co-op title rather than a full blown MMO, in fact I thought it was more of a co-op mp game than an MMO initially. I should probably use all those years of schooling to actually read more about it. Fingers crossed its enjoyable.

    • BigJonno says:

      http://www.impulsedriven.com/products/ESD-IMP-W2575

      It pops up on sale every now and again, the last time was only a week or two ago and it was less than a fiver.

      • Lengle says:

        Ah, you hero. Many Thanks. I did see that pop up on sale the other week. But I thought it was just NWN1. Once again, my lack of actually reading things is working against me.

    • jhavatar says:

      try GOG. Is the Complete Edition that contains “Mysteries of Westgate” that is not included in the platinum edition.

  9. Xzi says:

    Why is everything an MMO now? You would think the constant failings of other developers under this umbrella would drive others away from attempting the same. I’ve played upwards of fifty MMOs in my lifetime, at a minimum, and I can name all of maybe four that are actually worth playing, or were worth playing at one point in time. Even having said that, I still wouldn’t put any game among those in to a personal list of “must-plays” for others.

    Is it just that the potential reward in finding even minor success with an MMO is worth the risk?

    • Mario Figueiredo says:

      That’s something that I have been asking myself too. Maybe I don’t know MMOs all that well. Maybe tens of thousands of people buy these MMOs and its actually as lucrative as your run-of-the-mill non MMO game.

      At the scale of a WoW, for sure most MMOs will look like complete failures. But at the scale of your typical non MMO game, maybe they are as lucrative as any other popular genre out there. I understand there’s the associated costs of keeping servers for all these players. But truth be told, MMOs are no different from non MMOs. the vast majority of gamers prefer to buy games than actually spend time playing them.

      • Brun says:

        Maybe tens of thousands of people buy these MMOs and its actually as lucrative as your run-of-the-mill non MMO game.

        Most non-MMO AAA games are not profitable by box sales alone. This is why we see things like DLC, microtransactions, and “Season Passes.” Those things are just ways of turning the game into a service, because that’s the only way to turn a decent profit on a game that isn’t a super-blockbuster.

        MMOs are services right out of the box. Even if they’re F2P the microtransactions are built in and are generally seen as more acceptable in an MMO than in other kinds of games.

      • Soulwave says:

        I think the answer is a long-term one.

        Elder Scrolls has been in development for around 5 years (since the announcement on May 2012), if you think about it, that’s May 2007. January 2007 was the release of the first expansion of World of Warcraft: The Burning Crusade.

        You can imagine any board of directors seeing the ginormous success that was WoW on that moment, and decided that it was in their best interest to start the long process of making a new MMO. We’re just seeing the end of many of those long term projects.

        Even if recent failures in the genre have been a bad omen for all newcomers, developers are way past returning point, having sank hefty amounts of cash on developing their 5-year (now 6-year) titles.

    • -Spooky- says:

      Well. What you guys are talkin´ about? MMO FPS / MMO RPG / MMO Sandbox – or what? Come to a point with your nonsens.

      • Mario Figueiredo says:

        Enlightening…

        • Lengle says:

          Spooky has a point here. In terms of what we are talking about, I guess really MMORPGs is the consideration. Otherwise, Take Planetside 2 for example, its very refreshing to play an MMOFPS that is rammed full of people with persistent battles etc. where as I’m finding most of the MMORPGs being offered recently to be a bit stagnant or void of reason as to why they’re MMOs in the first place. Perhaps they follow a well trodden model and thus lack freshness, regardless of setting.

          So I guess really MMORPGs is where the bugbear lives.

          • Brun says:

            RPGs are the favored format for MMOs because they come with built-in progression in the form of levels, gear, and quests. Having progression is an effective way to maintain your population in any multiplayer game, which is why things that aren’t RPGs – like shooters (PlanetSide 2 and BF3) – have started using the leveling and unlocking mechanics of RPGs.

    • DK says:

      Cryptics Neverwinter was going to be a singleplayer RPG with optional multiplayer. Then they got bought by Perfect World, a publisher who only does MMOs. They had to retool Neverwinter into an MMO because of that.

  10. aliksy says:

    I should keep my MMO requirements someplace so I can copy-paste them when yet-another-shitty-MMO is announced.
    Needs: autogrouping, involved combat (let me dodge, damnit).

    I actually dont know anything about how this will work. Heavy instancing? Static quests from people with “!” over their head?

    • Brun says:

      involved combat (let me dodge, damnit)

      If making combat involved was as simple as letting you dodge then GW2′s combat would have been the best MMORPG combat ever. It wasn’t.

      • aliksy says:

        What’s an MMO with better, more involved combat?

        • Brun says:

          There isn’t one – GW2′s combat isn’t any better or worse than that of other MMOs. But the dodge mechanic in GW2 didn’t add all that much to combat. It was basically like having a button in WoW that made you immune to damage for 1 second that you can use twice every 30 seconds. It didn’t feel revolutionary at all, in fact it felt tacked-on.

          • aliksy says:

            We’re going to disagree, then. Even if it was just 1s of invulnerability with a fancy animation, it felt better than the usual MMO “homing bullets” nonsense. I tried SWTOR’s free-play last week, and it was awful in comparison.

    • spunkify says:

      Im playing in the VIP beta right now so I can shed some light on the games mechanics.

      It has a very fluid combat system that is a combination of free-aiming with a slight compensation sort of like FPS on consoles. The combat was some of the most fluid MMO combat I have yet to experience. Enemies telegraph attacks at times and you get a meter to use for active dodging using the shift key (exactly like GW2). Enemies take more damage from behind.

      Graphically the game looks very detailed with nice shadows and animations. While it isn’t ground breaking visuals, MMOs rarely have that at all. The game uses physics A LOT. Barrels in the common streets can be pushed around and enemies take blows with weight. This means when you strike an enemy they sometimes reel back from the blow a bit and if you kill them they often die in nice ragdoll ways, An example would be when I fought a boss in a party on a ledge. The killing blows sent him reeling off the edge. This wasnt scripted, it just happened to occur since we were so close to the edge.

      Dungeons are incredibly detailed with multiple areas and a variety of enemies and secret treasures to unlock. In fact some treasure and secret areas can only be unlocked via certain classes you would need to have in a party. Traps are also present in the dungeons and can be used on enemies or disabled. You can auto party with 5 other people AND bring your companion into the dungeon with you for a total of 10 bodies in a dungeon at once. Your characters work slightly like SWTOR although they level up on their own and can be slotted with different items that change their combat mechanics. I haven’t had a ton of time to try out different pets yet. I got a wizard companion on my Rogue who uses ice abilities.

      There is PvP in the game although I haven’t tried it out yet. The questing itself is quite nice with fairly gripping story and themed areas. There is a nice quest guiding line that is faintly displayed in the game on the ground (looks like pixie dust) and leads you to your next quest objective area.

      • aliksy says:

        That sounds like it might not suck. Just reminded me that Vindictus exists, and I had a good amount of fun with that game.

  11. Shooop says:

    For all we know from those trailers it’s a text adventure game with CGI videos.

    What the hell happened to advertising the game people will actually be playing instead of what some people want to imagine when they swing sticks at each other?

  12. sybrid says:

    What I wanted from the new Neverwinter:
    -Neverwinter Nights, but with better graphics and as exact as possible transcribing of 4E’s rules (so, turn-based)

    What Neverwinter looks like:
    -Another doomed fantasy MMO from a studio whose history with licensed properties seems to suggest that cautious pessimism is in order.

    Sadly with 5e coming up there’s a reasonable chance we won’t ever get a good 4e CRPG, despite it being pretty much perfect rule set for one. 4e would have made for a *fantastic* NWN3 rule set.

  13. xenothaulus says:

    Can I kill bad guys, take their stuff, and learn new abilities and gain levels, maybe while saving the world along the way? That is really all I require from these sorts of games. It is just unfortunate that so many require me to do it with other people tagging along, because in almost every case, other people are total morons.

  14. The white guar says:

    Once there was Knights of the Old Republic, which was amazing; its sequel was amazing too; then someone took away the “knights” and made an MMORPG which was a bit underwhelming.
    Once there was Neverwinter Nights, which was amazing; its sequel was amazing too; then someone else took away the “nights” and made an MMORPG.
    I think I see a pattern.

  15. Citrus says:

    City of Heroes was complete shite. Especially the combat and storyline. So basically I am expecting the quality of first NwN created by Bioware..

    • Arglebargle says:

      Well, I certainly know where to file your opinions, in the future.

  16. Cinnamon says:

    Why do people promise a siege then deliver an assault or battle on a field. I wanted to see the logistics involved in maintaining or surviving a military blockade for weeks or months. In way calling this a siege is a disgusting lie and breach of advertising standards.

  17. Kitsuninc says:

    Is it just me, or is signing up just bringing up a blank screen? Does it have to do with this being published (Or something) by…ugh…Perfect World?

    Edit: Yep. That’s what it is. Goddamn it, can I just play games normally whilst living in Asia? Blacklight: Retribution also sounded quite cool until I realized this bullshit.

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