While most games have translated well from the PC world to the console world, consoles have always seen a lack of MMOs. There have been a few over the years, none have seemed to catch on as they usually required an extra cost to play and the console versions struggled to compete with the PC version. Luckily the Xbox One just received Neverwinter, a free MMO that has been rebuilt specifically with consoles in mind.
What to do?
While there is a story, many of the quests boil down to go here and kill X many enemies or go here and do/find X. In either case, there is enough content from when the player starts out until they are level 60 to enjoy without having to take part in any grinding mobs, which is the major setback of most MMOs. The biggest draw for the game though is the group activities within the world.
That means there is never a huge advantage by any one player ina given match, but the players near the end of the tier often perform better than those just entering the mix.
While the player versus player content currently only supports one mode, it is still easy enough, and enjoyable enough, for most people to hop in and know what to do. PvP also separates players into tiers for every 10 levels. That means there is never a huge advantage by any one player in a given match, but the players near the end of the tier often perform better than those just entering the mix. I.E. a level 29 will be in the tier including players level 20-29, so if he or she goes against a level 20, there will be a slight advantage. However, because of the constant leveling of players, everyone will play the hero and the person who feels like he or she could have done better.
The other two major group activities include skirmishes and dungeons. Skirmishes usually are short group battles that pits five players of roughly the same level against computer controlled enemies. They usually take only 15-20 minutes but offer a lot of loot and experience. They also act as a preparation tool for dungeons as the requirements and difficulty are similar to that of the corresponding dungeon. Dungeons on the other hand can offer the best loot and can take up to 60 minutes to complete.
Unlike skirmishes where players can survive on their own if they plan well and avoid being overwhelmed, dungeons usually do not fair well for those that break away from the group. While some players who almost out-level the dungeon might survive on their own in small conflicts, the larger encounters require a full group of five to complete. However, once the dungeon is complete there is an odd sense of fulfillment. Neverwinter even shows that 5 random players can come together and perform the games hardest tasks without knowing each other previously (take that Destiny).
Chests such as this one are usually found at the end of missions, skirmishes, and dungeons
While the previous group activities are enjoyable, the most enjoyable aspect of the game is probably fighting dragons. Since the game is technically a Dungeons & Dragons game it would not be complete without the dragons part considering we already have the dungeons part.
While one player can take out a dragon, there is usually no need as dragons bring upwards of 20 players together, all with the goal of taking it down. In fact, if one even enters a zone containing a dragon he or she will most likely see the chat filled with other players calling out dragons and what instance to find them. Either way, there is plenty of content that allows people to work together along with enough quests to reach level 60 without ever teaming up.
Admire the sights and sounds
As far as the technical side, the sounds and graphics are lacking compared to other "next-gen" games. However, the graphics remain low in order to allow the large number of players to appear in each instance. As stated with the dragon fights, sometimes an instance can see 20 plus players in one area, all with companions, using potions, and attacking. The lower graphics help reduce, but not eliminate, frame rate issues in these situations. That does not mean that the frame rate does not hinder the experience at times as the player might end up dead without being able to defend. But this happens so rarely and Cryptic has acknowledged the issue so it will most likely continue to improve.
The lower graphics help reduce, but not eliminate, frame rate issues in these situations.
Also, the graphics are not bad in any sense as they are in line with the PC version, but it is not what most console gamers who play single player or small multiplayer games normally see. If the choice was between better graphics and high quality content, I am glad they decided to focus on the content as the game does not disappoint.
The sounds in the game suffer the same issues as the graphics. By no means are the sounds in the game bad, but there is nothing that stands out either. Almost all the sounds seem generic, and sometimes they seem off compared to what is happening on the screen. Occasionally there are even issues with the sound that may force the player to reboot or risk bleeding from the ear. The overall sound though is decent enough to keep the player awake, but not enough to get the player excited. Again, if there was a choice between better or more realistic sounds and high-quality content, I am glad they decided to focus on the content.
Taking on a beast like this requires many, many people
Know how to hold 'em
The controls in the game are a mix of love 'em and hate 'em. Some PC players might struggle to adapt to the simplified controls while more casual gamers might feel there is too much to learn. Neverwinter uses the LB on the Xbox One controller to toggle between two sets of controls. The first page of controls sets X, Y, and B as attacks while A is used for interacting with objects. The D-Pad has potions set to left, down, and right while up is used for a mount. When LB is held the controls shift to the second page where X and Y are daily power that charge when killing enemies, B is an artifact power, and A is jump. The D-Pad uses left for the backpack, up for the map, right for calling up a players god, and down for the chat interface. RB is also used as a class power.
This configuration works well and requires players to carefully consider what powers/attacks they want active...
It might seem like a lot, but considering that some MMOs use all the number keys four or five times, it becomes clear that the system is simplified for controller use. But this configuration works well and requires players to carefully consider what powers/attacks they want active at any given moment.
While currently the max level is 60, that will most likely change in the future when the Xbox version receives the latest PC content. The content Elemental Evil was just released for the PC on March 15 and it raised the level to 70 for PC players. Chances are when the Xbox version receives this content the level cap will also raise. Most players will see that taking to 60 might be simple but it will require 60-70 hours unless the player purchases boosts from the in-game store.
Given the price conversion though, it would be best to save money and spend it elsewhere if one wanted to spend money on the game. However, it is not required to spend money, and it is actually possible for players to save up enough of the currency attainable in-game called "Astral Diamonds" and convert them to the paid currency of Zen via an exchange market.
Dragons come in all shapes and sizes, but they level with the player
Overall, Neverwinter is a warm welcome for MMOs on consoles, even if it does not take full potential of the graphics and sounds like other next-gen titles. While some aspects of the game such as the controls or amount of content might scare some away, given time the game is quite fun. The occasional graphical or audio slip-up does occur, but it does not happen often enough to be considered a major problem. There is also enough content to last most players 80+ hours, and that is not considering the replayability of PvP or Epic dungeons (which become available at level 60).
Plus, it is hard not to mention that the game is free, so there is no loss if one plays and decides that the game is not for him or her. From experience though, the game has a way of pulling players in and not letting go. Of the friends who have played this game, most have put in 20+ hours already, and I have put in almost 70 and have reached level 58 at the time of writing. With that being said, I highly recommend at least trying Neverwinter before deciding that it is not worth playing. Unlike most other free games, this title has plenty of content and few restrictions on the player.
+Highly addictive and no paywalls to limit the player
-The issues with graphics and frame rate are limited but always seem to happen at the worst times
?Will the Xbox One version eventually receive all the content the PC has and then receive updates alongside the PC version