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Neverwinter Full of Disappointment, Lacking in Everything Else

I thought we could be friends. Turns out I was wrong.

I was pretty excited to meet Neverwinter--he just seemed like a fun guy. He plays D&D, loves to PvP, and is pretty handy with quest-creation; but he's always asking for money and I have this sneaking suspicion he was dropped as a baby. You can't hate someone for being dumb, right?

It's a bit wrong to dislike a person for being less than bright, but we're talking a video game here. There's no logical excuse for a Dungeons and Dragons-based MMORPG to hold your hand so tightly, nor for the fact that you must purchase additional bag space in the cash shop as opposed to in-game.

There are so many things in this game that are simply baffling from a design standpoint. Is this really where MMOs are going? Direct advantages to cash shop users, ridiculous currency grind, time-intensive and uninteresting crafting?

Worst of all, where is the challenge? All of the content created by Cryptic is laughably easy; dungeons do not even provide a challenge, unless you're a Guardian Fighter desperately trying to hold boss aggro when they decide they don't want to be marked anymore. Only the PvP and odd Foundry quest provide any sort of challenge, making quest completion feel empty and useless.

Everything in Neverwinter feels empty and useless.

The truth is that the game feels hollow. A fun combat system can't make up for a lack of depth, nor can it make up for a game-and-business model that aims to squeeze as much from the player as possible. Cryptic deserves no praise in this release.

I've played around 60 to 70 hours of the game since open beta began, and I'm still not clear why the standard copper, silver, and gold currency is included in the game at all. While there are certainly several items you can purchase from NPCs with gold, often you can get those same items with Astral Diamonds.

Astral Diamonds are, in practice, the game's primary currency. You use them to exchange for Zen (cash shop currency), buy and sell things on the auction house, and some items can only be bought with Astral Diamonds. Identification scrolls are one example that is completely baffling. Aren't they common enough to just keep to gold currency? Why should I spent my hard-earned diamonds on identification scrolls, when every other supply can be purchased with gold?

The above is not to say that the Astral Diamond currency isn't common, but you need such massive amounts for anything worthwhile that I just feel like I'm being ripped off in-game.

I got 600k for purchasing a founder's pack, but that 600k's worth is undeniably low in-game. It costs 300k to 600k on the auction house to buy a bag. A bag! And let me tell you, those people selling bags on the AH didn't get them from playing the game, they got them from the cash shop. How is this good, non-predatory game design?

It's hard not to feel like Cryptic and Perfect World Entertainment are taking us all for a ride. Their reputations in this field speak for themselves, and sadly Neverwinter has not proven to be the exception to the rule. The PvP is fun, but it's not fun enough to justify the mess that is the rest of the game. There is simply no excuse for the game's lack of depth, distinct void of challenge, or currency clusterbang.

The game had and has a lot of potential, but as it is now Neverwinter is not worth playing or investing even a few hours of time into. Five days in, I already found myself regretting the purchase of the Guardian of Neverwinter pack. This is not worthy of being related to Dungeons and Dragons, even the bastard child that is 4th Edition. If this is where the MMORPG genre is going, I think I may have to take a hiatus.

Published May. 6th 2013
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