Neverwinter Online is Not a "Pay to Win," But...

While the game is not a "play to win" format, it definitely will give an accelerated experience to those willing to spend money. Also, tips to Cryptic and Perfect World on how to improve.

I wanted to put in a nice comment to some other reviews of the Dungeons & Dragons (DnD) Neverwinter Online game, but it got to a point where its length and depth became a review of its own. So, here it is in a nutshell.

I agree with many of the other reviews stating that the in-game advertising to spend real-life cash distracts from the immersion a Massively Multi-player Online Role Playing Game (MMORPG) is supposed to offer. I also agree that while it is an open beta (or soft-launch) there seem to be quite a few bugs plaguing its launch. However, these are relatively minor in comparison to what this free-to-play (F2P) MMO brings to the table.

At this point, I've spent zero dollars on Neverwinter. I may spend money on the game. I may not. But, up to this point, I've spent some considerable amount of time playing the game on my two (free players only get 2 character slots) toons. Better yet, I've been playing with friends and family and we've gotten much, much more out of it than what we've put into it.

Bugs, you ask? Being in any kind of beta, I expect things I'll choose to overlook and report so the developers (Cryptic, in this case) may address them. This being a Perfect World  game and being far from their first F2P game, expectations are much higher in handling server loads and addressing how to choke down the lag associated with the authentication servers. But, the queue implementation was not smoothly handled and was rife with bugs. The wait times were excessive and felt arbitrary as I watched my wife login at the same time as I did and gain near-immediate access (#7 in queue) and my 20 minute wait (#3476 in queue). I won't get into the 2 hour waits we all endured the morning of the maintenance to patch/fix the bugs. After which, the queues seemed to work as intended, which causes a little dismay since for open beta we're using three shards (servers) and will eventually move to a load-balanced single shard as they move into final release.

With all of that aside, the game play is exciting and feels fast, responsive and interactive with a blend of console-like "PC-clicky" and a more conventional MMO quickbar approach used in other games. For experienced MMO players, think of DC Universe Online (DCUO) combined with Guild Wars 2 (GW2). The clicking-combinations aren't as robust as DCUO and the quickbar isn't as feature-rich as GW2, but the elements and room for expansion exist.

One point of irritation, I find, is the stationary combat mechanic. This seems old school to me. There are exceptions to this. The Guardian Figher, for instance, can raise his shield and move at a slower rate which is an actual skill. But, for most character classes, every combat move roots you in place until completion. Over the many years of playing different MMOs, I've developed a preference for dancing/mobile combat instead of a stationary combat system. After all, anyone who's fenced (sword play) knows that while in combat, you move or you lose and it adds to you and your opponents opportunities and overall experience. 

The holy trinity of MMOs (Tank, Healer and DPS) exists with crowd control, buffs and debuffs. Not every dungeon and/or boss requires all three or more, but it will help and the teamwork experience cannot be paralleled when a well-coordinated team pulls it off.

As a member of a family that plays online games together ("a family that plays together pwns together"), we found the ability to party or solo enjoyable. The dungeons' difficulty scale according to the party size (solo to maximum of 5 people). The world maps and options to grind, quest, dungeon crawl, craft, and pray for experience points (xp) and rewards (loot and in-game monies) offer diversity and choices a number of play styles.

However, and more to the point of the subject of this post/review, the constant barrage of reminders to spend your real-life cash to get ahead in the game is daunting and distracts from players' immersion in a fantasy world. While the game is not a "pay to win" format, it definitely will give an accelerated experience to those willing to spend money. What I mean by that is you can buy items that would otherwise be available to you if you chose to work for them (grind).

Those that chose to pay in advance and purchase different packages from Perfect World could have additional character slots, in-game items and mounts that are otherwise not available to non-paying players. But, they do not necessarily give a winning edge to them, with the exception of receiving them and possibly an accelerated rate of gaming.

If, by any chance, the developers and Perfect World were to read my post and take anything from it, I'd like them to walk away with three messages from me and my family of gamers:

  1. Ease off of at least half of the in-game advertising attempting to pry cash from our wallets. I can understand it, to a certain degree, but honestly it is taking away from the immersion in a fantasy world to be reminded of spending real-life cash.
  2. Look into expanding upon the clicky-like options... such as combos instead of just clicking, stacking and holding them down. How about hold-left and click once, or left click twice and finish with a right click? Then, the quickbar... why not use the remaining numbers above the keyboard? Tab, Q, E, R, 1 through 6 and the mouse while more than some other games isn't nearly enough for master combatants and experienced MMO players.
  3. Was it easier combat mechanics coding to plant our characters in place to swing a sword, heal someone or throw a dagger? Pick up a real sword or throwing dagger, go outside and have a go at trying it while sitting still. When you get used to that start taking a few steps. See? Easier than you thought, right, and didn't require as much concentration as you may have thought. If you tripped, perhaps your dexterity isn't as high as required.... oh, wait! There we go... maybe you can unlock certain capabilities or chances to succeed based on stats like in Dungeons and Dragons. Just a thought.

Sorry if it comes off condescending, but this would be right in line with action gaming and the base game Neverwinter comes from (DnD). Thanks to anyone and everyone that read this post.

Our Rating
While the game is not a "play to win" format, it definitely will give an accelerated experience to those willing to spend money. Also, tips to Cryptic and Perfect World on how to improve.
Published May. 2nd 2013
  • IntCel
    Your "review" and comment replies show you are total dumbass who is either too stupid to even understand what pay2win means, or gets payed to post this pathetic crap on the internet.
    Go back to your old job and sell fries!
  • Enolive-evilonE
    Such angst... tsk, tsk

    As Perfect World has influenced Cryptic's changes to the game over the last year and a half since I've played the game, I'm positive that my 2-yr old article is out-of-date and no longer relevant.

    I imagine attention to detail (i.e., relevance or the posted date of an article) would be something a retail fast food job would expect of its employees. So, I'll take your erroneous assumption of my former career as a compliment from your point of view seeing as you've demonstrated that you don't measure up to those who manage to become gainfully employed through such means.

    ...and from me and the field of working folk you offended, please "have a nice day." :-)
  • IntCel
    I apologize, your article being 2 years old of course turns a then, and now, pay2win game into the opposite, logically.

    Just like your comments, basically telling people to suck it up and enjoy the game YOU think it should be enjoyed, no longer reveal you to be a fraud, but the stink is transformed into pure glory!
  • IntCel
    + the way
  • IntCel
    Cryptic are now PWE's bitches and make all their game pay2win. The most powerful stuff and the only way to max out your chars in ALL of their games is cash shop exclusive, but they use the "you can get cash shop credits by simply playing the game!" loophole to argue it is not pay2win.
    Anyone who falls for this is utterly retarded. Cash shop credits gain is capped on a daily basis and it takes months of several hours of farming EVERY DAY to get enough cash shop credits to be competitive again! By then, several new OP cash shop items will have come out, which will put paying people way ahead AGAIN!

    Farm 4 months to get "the best" items from the cash shop, of which a new one comes out every 2 months? Not pay2win? Turn on your brains, suckers!
  • DUCKMAN_8363
    All of Cryptic games are pay to win!
  • redick
    End game is pay to win, or pay to have the best stuff if you will.. WE used to play these games to acquire loot and have fun.. This game is all about spending money and buying keys to open enchanted boxes.. Why can't they just do the gw2 model.. sell the game and make it cosmetic only. I spent 20 bucks on this neverwinter game, to get some bags and stuff so I had left over zen to buy a few keys.. I bought 10 keys and out of 10 chests got 1 purple bow that must have been very common because it was selling cheaper than other purple items, but the purple mace I wanted was 300,000 astral diamonds which are super hard/grindy to get in game without converting real money to zen, then zen to astral diamonds... This game has a pretty fun combat system, but the cash shop is a nickel and dime nightmare. You could play to end game but I doubt you will compete unless your are buying the things you need to upgrade you companions and artifacts you will only be second best behind 1000s of noobs who spent 1000s of dollars of real money on this game..
  • bn03dr4g0n
    This game is 100% Pay2Win game with lots of bugs. Everyone is SWAY AWAY for this crap game!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • M1LK_1708
    I've put 50 hours over the last 5 days and I have to say the game, I do not feel, is a pay to win.

    Glowyrm_3748 has said that "People have calculated that playing a good 8-10 hour day get you less than 5 bucks worth of Zen store stuff." 5$ = 500 Zen = 228,000 diamonds (current exchange rate is 1 Zen = 456 diamonds on average). The 5 dollars would be equivalent of completing quests and selling things through auction for 9 days, assuming I can make 25,000 diamonds a day. 5$ for 9 days of grinding is a fair trade.

    The idea of paying money into this game, like any other MMO, is to reduce the amount of time farming, grinding and looting; however, the entire point of the game is to farm, grind and loot better items so you can better items, it’s a ‘vicious circle’. If you don’t enjoy this process, then play a normal RPG. There are many great alternatives such as Torchlight II, which Perfect World is affiliated with after their acquisition of Runic Games. The game has tremendous replay value, an incredible modding community, and you have the option of hacking into the game to get whatever loot you want if that is your prerogative.

    As the original poster said, you gain an advantage spending real money as it allows you to accelerate your progress through the game; however, it is not required to enjoy the game. The use of real money to exchange for ‘diamonds’, the most common in game currency in the game, can be used to purchase better equipment, equipment that you could have acquired by farming and grinding normally. This is the primary issue that I feel people have, where people can simply purchase the ‘best gear’ available in the auction house without spending the time acquiring it normally. That item took time to acquire. If we’re talking about end game item, we’re talking about time spent getting to the maximum level and time spent farming the dungeon and boss repeatedly for that item, which takes considerable time.

    I feel like I am starting to repeat myself so I will close with this. The game was not meant to be completed in a short time of 3 months or in about 200-500 hours of gameplay, it's meant to be a game that you return to and play. With MMO's, it's about investing TIME into the game. It's about the PROCESS of getting those rare drops and accumulating your wealth. If you don't enjoy the PROCESS of grinding, looting, raiding dungeons and playing with your friends or guild members, then perhaps the MMO-RPG genre is not right for you.
  • Spyke_3447
    Go to their forum... go there and look at the FIRST and BIGGEST sign that there is something VERY wrong with the game and it's management.

    You have NO voice on their official forum if it's not asking pointless questions. According to them there is only ONE type of voice they want to hear, and it's the voice of the fan-boy apologist.

    Let it be a lesson to all, when a game is released and it's management do their best to stem anything less than positive feedback in the forums, and begin systematically locking ANYTHING that brings up rational discussions because
    "it could lead to dev bashing" as if those "poor souls" need shielding from the big bad opinionated people... it's a sure fire sign that this game is a made to order piece of steaming garbage cash grab bull*hit.

    The one thing this game has in abundance is copypasted code (that doesn't work right) and a cash shop that is their main priority above everything

    To sum up this game simply, if you took cryptic before they died and were reanimated as the PWE's ghoul... and their vision, and had said ghoul finish the work without ANY of the previous imagination like some twisted parody of what this game COULD have been, that's Neverwinter.

    Boycott ANYTHING by PWE, they're a big ol bunch of churn n burn merchants.

    So 8 out of 10... is an INSANELY generous number to grant this crapheap... do not agree with the number being above a 4 even...
  • Enolive-evilonE
    Tom's Hardware agrees with this assessment, as he benchmarks Neverwinter:,3495.html
  • Keane_8328
    Even 5 year old undestands this game is a P2W.
    This is the new cash shop. They sell packs that gives you money and items without doing anything ingame. You buy items that give you advantage with your dollars not with your ingame currency or hardwork.
  • Enolive-evilonE
    Instead of calling people names or insinuating they aren't as smart as a child, try to cope with the fact that I, and others, can get to end-game content and obtain the really nice stuff - all without spending a dime.

    Here's an idea: Try seriously playing it to win instead of brooding over how other players skip content by paying RL money. If it's taking you a little time, have patience and apply what skills you have to get there. Don't cry about it or try to divert attention away from the fact that you can't do it by saying it can only be done by paying RL money and calling people names. That's not an intelligent reaction, nor does it work with thinking, informed people that are succeeding where you obviously aren't or couldn't.
  • Enolive-evilonE
    Update for all, including the nay sayers.

    It is entirely possible to attain the top levels of gear (Tier 2), experience the top content (Castle Never and Gauntlgrym) without spending any RL money.

    Indeed, it is not as quickly as one may like - and for them, spending money for the 'accelerated experience' is an option. However, it is entirely possible to obtain the wards to ensure you can make the high-end enchantments and to farm the Tier 2 dungeons for the gear you need.

    Here are a couple tips for those that are struggling with obtaining the all-powerful currencies of this game (Astral Diamonds and Zen):

    1) Do your dailies. Most reward you with Astral Diamonds.

    2) Take advantage of the events (Skirmishes for sub-60s, Dungeon Delves, and Foundry. - again, Astral Diamond rewards, plus in the dungeons you'll get an additional chest at the end which will give you a class-specific reward.

    3) Level up the Leadership profession, hard and fast. It will produce Astral Diamonds.

    4) Sell what you don't need that others may want on the Auction House (AH). The currency of the AH is Astral Diamonds.

    5) Finally, "play the exchange"! Buy low, sell high. This is also your method in which you convert those Astral Diamonds into Zen to access all sorts of things that folks claim, "you cannot get those unless you spend real money".

    Another leg up:
    Rank 7 enchantments; once you've obtained those you want in your gear, they are a huge profit-source on the AH. The wards that guarantee you success in fusing the Rank 6s are obtainable on the Zen Market. Use the green wards for Rank 5s to 6s, if you have terrible luck. But, my advice is to only use the big wards for 6-to-7 fusions. That will minimize the cost in creating 7s and increase your AD profits.

    As for what I understand P2W means; only paying real money obtains stuff that gives a clear advantage over others who cannot or refuse to pay real money.

    Concluding this comment: I'm a completely free-to-play-game player, playing end-game content and PvP with Rank 7 enchantments, T2 gear and on a 110% movement mount.
  • Milla_9628
  • Dilbert_8483
    I am sorry, but this game is 100% pay2win.

    Yes you can play to end game without paying a dime, and you will do so quickly. Leveling in this game is quick and easy.

    Then what? You are level 60 and about to start running content that the developers have said will be so hard they can not beat it. And your going to do this without high end enchants?

    No you are going to NEED to spend $160 on your weapon and chest to get them to a level where you can raid, and then repeat that each time you get a better item.

    AND if you PvP you will need to buy a 110% speed mount or get owned as they run around your 50% mount and laugh. (I can not believe they allowed mounts in PvP)
  • Isay!
    Glowyrm is absolutely right. It IS pay to win and that's why. $ = unfair advantage + easy gain.
  • Glowyrm_3748
    "Accelerated experience" ?! Accelerated winning is more like it, which IS P2W. I mean, how do you define pay to win then? I don't think there's a game where you truly HAVE to use money to progress, so of course P2W always means "winning faster/easier" than everyone else.

    In short, to say it's not pay to win but it's faster/easier is a contradiction.

    Can you do the content without paying? Yes. But that doesn't make something not pay to win. The things you can buy are very powerful. Rank 7 Enchants? Insane! All AH gear?! Whoa! 100 bucks and I'm more valuable to a guild than the F2P guy next to me (assuming I'm not horrible, those people that pay to compensate for skill don't really matter).

    A big part of the problem is that the time saved paying for something is HUGEEEE compared to farming. People have calculated that playing a good 8-10 hour day get you less than 5 bucks worth of Zen store stuff. If that gap was closed a little bit it wouldn't be as bad.

    As content gets more challenging and there's more of it overall, this problem is exacerbated since the amount of time you save/skip goes up the more content there is. It will only get worse.

    I don't see why more companies don't take note of what Path of Exile is doing. Purely cosmetic items. People EAT that shit up easily. I can even live with most of the other stuff in NW's Zen shop, like scrolls/bags/keys/pots/character slots, but ENCHANTS/GEAR is too much.

    I think a server where the Auction House was purely gold would be AMAZING, like D3's Hardcore mode. Speaking of D3, NW is the same thing, that's not P2W? Granted, there isn't much to "win" in D3 since the WHOLE POINT is to make your character stronger and stronger through gear.

    I just think it's very disingenuous to this game isn't P2W. If you still truly believe that, I am sincerely curious as to what you DO think would be P2W.

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