Back in April, I gave my feedback on playing the Neverwinter MMO in a series of blogs. At that point, my impressions were based off of the final closed Beta weekend. In general, my conclusion was that the Neverwinter MMO was most likely to appeal to casual players and people who wanted to check out the shiny newness of it, and was most likely to dismay people who really enjoy the complex combat and character building provided by Dungeons and Dragons Online.
Months have passed. Now that Neverwinter MMO is out of Beta, do I feel any different?
Hells, no! If anything, I’ve found less to like about Neverwinter.
Not long after Neverwinter opened to the public, I got a new laptop. At the same time, dire, unspeakable things happen to the desktop I used to play DDO. (It was old. It’d had a good life.) I got to play for about week on my laptop before update 18 happened. After that, I had enough problems logging into DDO that I threw my hands into the air and went on DDO sabbatical for three months. Sometime before the Shadowfell Conspiracy, I think changes to the DDO login client resolved the issues I was having on my machine. Thank heavens, because during that desolate 3 month period without DDO, (I call it The Dark Time) I was stuck playing Neverwinter.
Ultimately, Neverwinter just wasn’t the MMO for me. I like how they handle crafting, but I quickly got bored with the format of quests and dungeons. Everything was too easy, unless I soloed dungeon delves intended for five players. ( I will note that things were more challenging on my cleric character compared to my rogue once I passed lvl 40, so there is a little variance in balance between different builds in that game.)
Even the Foundry content suffered from the boredom factor of the game mechanics. I can imagine if I was only interested in role playing or crafting adventures, the Foundry would be lovely, but I’m not, and ultimately quests had a feeling of sameness to me. There were a few minor puzzles in quests, but this came nowhere close to the floor tile, runes, lights out and mastermind style challenges that creep up in DDO dungeons to break up the fighting. Sure, after a couple of hours managing torches and the Kobold Union in challenges or Crystal Cove, you start to feel bleary, but let’s appreciate how there’s more to this game mechanic than killing stuff. Getting crystals is multi-tasking and project management at work! I will add that there’s a Summer event happening in NWO right now that includes chicken herding, so I will give that game credit for having at least one thing that doesn’t involve killing things and gathering items. DDO is just more sophisticated in the variety of activities you can do.
It was ridiculously quick to hit cap in Neverwinter, and then, I felt like there was nothing really to do except run the same content over and over. Neverwinter epic dungeons do not remotely match DDO epic quests or raids in terms of challenge and fun with repetition for me. DDO’s epic destiny mechanic really is a wonderful blessing. Combined with the true reincarnation process, evolving a character in DDO is a genuine long-term process.
Neverwinter really suffers from being so new. Maybe if NWO manages to stick around for 3 or 4 years, it will develop the well-roundedness of the DDO gameplay experience. I loved the art, just looking around the zones could be breathtaking, but the shininess wore off, leaving behind a repetitive, dull, sinkhole of a game.
Two more things I want to rant about in terms of Neverwinter: money grabs and what I call ‘doing a Bonnie.’
There’s a fair amount of whining regarding Turbine and what people call ‘Pay-to-Win.’ Ability and Skill Tomes, Otto’s Boxes and the like have caused many a forum poster to pound their geeky chests in rage. To me, Turbine is gentle and uses foreplay when they’re trying to seduce you out of your gaming dollars compared to Perfect World. I’m pretty sure Perfect World slipped something into my drink. Neverwinter MMO literally shouts ‘Spend Money on Zen!’ So much so that, every time PW pushes a new lockbox, mount or companion, I literally feel my revulsion for their game grow. I want the quality of the game I play to come first, not the retail marketing opportunities. Stay classy and flirty, Turbine. It works on this girl’s wallet.
Lastly, there’s the concept Mari, Legend and I sarted calling ‘doing a Bonnie’ on Twitter. ‘Doing a Bonnie’ is based in Neverwinter’s Invocation mechanic. With Invocation, you can pray hourly to your character’s god for blessings. The first three times you invoke on a character, you get experience and currency, plus a chance at buffs and potions. After the first three invocations, you only have a chance at buffs and potions. The amount of experience you can get by invoking 3 times a day in Neverwinter is the equivalent of two juicy quests. In DDO terms, it’s like being rewarded two runs of VON 3 at level for picking your nose.
With the ease of leveling in NWO, this results in gaining 2-3 levels on a character every week. So if you can’t be arsed to play Neverwinter because the questing is so boring, you can ‘do a Bonnie’ and log in long enough to Ctrl+I three times a day. Less than 10 minutes a day in game for three months, and you can cap your characters! It’s an MMO slacker’s paradise!
Now, I actually like this mechanic, but the extreme ease with which characters advance in Neverwinter makes it ridiculous. This is why I was overjoyed that, with Update 19, DDO reworked the Daily Dice in an appealing way to include a light sprinkle of XP pieces with each roll. Now, I can ‘Do a Bonnie’ in DDO! I like being able to login to DDO even on busy days and feel like I’ve pushed just a tiny bit ahead.
But this is the important difference – the rewards in DDO are just icing. It would take years to cap a character from just ‘doing a Bonnie’ every day. It might save you doing a couple quests overall when you TR a character, but it’s not a replacement for playing. A nice version of the feature, not a ridiculous one.
Likewise, when I finally got around my technical issues and logged in to DDO, I ran a quest that I’ve done 400+ times (Wizard King). It was challenging, it was fun, and it was an adventure. By my second run through of Neverwinter’s content, I was done. It just didn’t engage me as a player.
I love DDO. I may have had some unexpected time away. I may not play it for 6 hours every day anymore, but the time I spend in Dungeons and Dragons Online I genuinely enjoy.
That game mechanic is priceless.