PAX East 2012: Neverwinter MMO preview
Though no strangers to the free to play market, with both Star Trek Online and Champions Online changing to the F2P model, Cryptic Studios are now designing a whole new MMO, based in the Dungeons and Dragons universe that's built to be free to play from the ground up, and boy does it look awesome.
It seems like action based MMO's are starting to catch on, with both TERA and Raiderz ditching the old tab targeting system, and instead shifting to combat that relies on true player skill, rather than a set of well placed hotkeys and auto attacks.
D&D fans will be pleased to know that the team developing Neverwinter is staying true to the lore, and that events happening in the MMO, will actually be considered canon to any future books or games. The game takes place about a 100 years after the events of NWN and NWN 2 after a cataclysmic event called the Spellplague destroyed whole continents and the way magic was used was forever changed. The city of Neverwinter ended up being unscathed except for falling victim to an erupting volcano which famous character Drizzt might have something to do with.
Neverwinter will be a fully fledged MMO, we were assured, complete with guilds, banks, auction houses, etc. However, the biggest part we were demonstrated today was the combat. Like I mentioned previously, it's all about action. The game was designed to keep the hotkey bars to a minimum and rather let the player decide on what skills to bring to battle, and be able to switch them out when needed.
Though all of the classes and races weren't revealed, we were told to expect the D&D standards you would come to expect, such as dwarves and elves. The three classes that were revealed however were the Control Wizard, Trickster Rogue and Guardian Fighter, but we were told that each of those are just specializations of each class, so there will be differently specialized Wizards, Rogues, etc.
Each class also has an ultimate ability called Daily Power. This ability is represented by a D20 dice located at the bottom of your UI which fills up as you use your classes abilities. Once full, you can unleash that powerful ability. Utility powers are also different for each class, which act as your class defensive ability. One of the classes will phase step out of the way, which is a simple teleport that enables you to dodge enemy attacks, while another will raise its shield and protect them from damage.
The release date hasn't been officially announced yet, though we were promised an Open Beta in 2012, which means fans of the Neverwinter universe will be able to jump online and start questing with their friends this year. Make sure to check back on GameZone for any beta key giveaway opportunities.