I think that a great deal of my enjoyment is that the leveling track is pretty mindless. Activities in MMOs can easily be divided into those that require active thinking (such as map navigation, puzzle solving, tricky fights, jiggering stats) and reflexive play. Even my physical reactions change depending — leaning forward while I game for active thinking, leaning back when I can put my mind on idle. Neverwinter, for the most part, is the latter for me. Follow the sparkly trail. Loot treasure chests. Use a half-dozen or so skills to beat up the next group. Loot some more. Yeah, it’s pretty much a hack-n-slasher.
The pace of progression through areas goes at a rapid clip, battles have a visceral oomph to them, and the shinies are all pretty attractive. It’s fun gearing out my character, but especially fun to juggle my companions as I train them and use them for different situations.
What I haven’t done, really, is engage in any group activities. I’ve been playing Neverwinter in short bursts, usually like 15 minutes here and there, and that doesn’t lend itself well to group dungeon runs. I would like to do so in the future if Neverwinter proves to be sticky, but for now I’m pretty content just doing my bite-sized adventures.
This reminds me a lot of how I used to turn to Tetris and Asteroids as a kid when I just wanted to get in a zen trance while I game. It may not be the most intellectually stimulating activity, but it’s so darn relaxing to do. Each fight becomes its own little challenge to see how quickly and efficiently I can dispatch the bad guys.
The Secret World
First of all, hilarious detail in the Mansion scenario that I noticed last night. In the upstairs survivor room, there’s a little section that they’ve walled off with the sign “Occupied.” If you look behind there, you’ll see a homemade chamber pot.
Poop jokes! You’re never too old for them!
We had another good group scenario night running solo and duo elites with full groups. That feels like a good difficulty balance, especially since we were able to walk away from them with most survivors still standing. Lots of augment drops too.
I was particularly happy because I got enough oreos to put me over the top for my Tokyo certification. I guess now I can start saving up for that purple shotgun!
Lord of the Rings Online
As probably everyone knows, Turbine delayed the Helm’s Deep launch until tomorrow. That sucks a little bit, but oh well, it’s just two days and I know a lot of people still needed to get a pre-order or use their Bounder’s tokens. It’s not all about me, so if it’s helping others, I’m happy.
I logged in to make a new outfit for my Captain. Man, I should’ve taken a picture of it. Oh, coulda woulda shoulda. It’s awesome. You’re going to have to imagine it: Think of stuff all over my body except I’m a female and it’s all blue and swirly and there’s a cool cape and some metal. Got it?
Why is Neverwinter so dang compelling these days? Maybe it’s just what I needed right now, a stress-free romp through unspoiled content. I’m cooking up an article about things I’m finding attractive here, but suffice to say that it’s kind of the Cryptic formula: fast leveling, easy entry, and fun little systems.
Anyone else having a hard time dealing with the time change? For the past few days I keep dropping into bed early and waking up too early, and I can’t seem to change it. Anyway, here’s a few random gaming thoughts for a Thursday morning:
With the Starbound beta starting up soon, I felt comfortable plunking down $15 for my pre-order. That’s a nice price, considering it gets you beta access, the game itself, and the soundtrack (the latter which you get immediately).
Tiny Death Star dropped on the app store last night, so it was kind of a no-brainer to pick it up. Sure, it’s mostly a re-skinned Tiny Tower (by the same studio in cooperation with LucasArts), but that’s not bad; they’re two flavors that go well together. In addition to the cute pixelized Star Wars characters and settings, there’ve been a few tweaks to the standard formula that I’ve seen so far, such as collectable cutscenes, more background animations, and missions.
Neverwinter continues to be a strange compulsion with me as of late. Last night I finally pushed past the furthest I’ve ever been in the game, and I’m not feeling any urge to slow down. Maybe I finally found a class that clicks with me, or I just need an MMO that’s not too taxing on the brain. Follow the sparkly trail, kill kill kill, collect lewtz. I ponied up for a ghost companion, and I totally love her. Well, friend-love at least. She not only does some ranged damage, but she’ll possess a minion and turn it against the bad guys before killing the husk. A rogue and his ghost. That should be a book. Hm.
Just about as long as I’ve played MMOs, I’ve harbored a serious grudge. No, not against elves; that’s just common sense hatred against our oppressive know-it-all overlords. I’m talking about Rogues. Man, I’ve really disliked me a Rogue or two in my day, and not just because you can misspell their name to become a cosmetic product. It’s because of this:
In my career playing WoW, no class ended up rubbing me the wrong way than Rogues. It wasn’t just that they were pretty popular way back when, but that they were a griefer’s dream come true. A stealth/stunlock class that would come out of nowhere, make you unable to do squat, and kill you. And because such a class naturally attracted every tool in the world, the kill would then be teabagged and corpse camped.
When I played Alterac Valley or spent some time on an RP-PvP server, I came up against Rogues time and again, and it was never a complimentary experience. I rejoiced if I could down one of the buggers, but you know what they say: They’d be back and in greater numbers.
So I developed and nurtured a hatred toward Rogues that extended to their kind in all MMOs. I’d never roll a Rogue, a Thief, or any of their ilk. I saw their mechanics as unimaginative and (in the case of stealth) slow and boring. My eye would twitch if I saw a guildie roll a Rogue and I’d quietly scratch them off my Christmas card mailing list. I’d groan in exasperation if I ended up pugging a group that had a Rogue or two boasting their super-awesome DPS.
The odd thing is that I think that somewhere along the line, I’ve gotten over this grudge. No, I’ll never like WoW’s Rogues, but I’ve ended up trying other titles’ Rogue-likes and kind of liked them. SWTOR’s Operative was a lot of fun (Rogues with a rifle, baby) and I like the twist that LOTRO put on the Rogue for the Burglar.
This realization hit me this week as I’ve come back to Neverwinter for another go and actually picked up the Trickster Rogue class. It wasn’t even a class in consideration when I first started playing, because Rogues. But the Guardian Fighter and Devoted Cleric ended up boring me, so I thought I’d give something a little different a try.
And strangely enough, I’m really, really enjoying it. I don’t use stealth that much, but I’m digging how the TR flings daggers lightning-fast and is a blur of pain in the midst of an enemy group. It’s not a complex hybrid class like I usually prefer, but right now Neverwinter doesn’t have anything like that.
If nothing else, it’s nice to make things die quickly instead of slow-and-steady like I’m used to. And it’s nice to bury a grudge.
So here and there I’ve had people ask and/or act surprised about me playing Neverwinter. Yes, I’m planning on getting into this new D&D title and no, I don’t have huge reservations about doing so. I’m also covering it for Massively.
I have a particular fondness for Cryptic and its mid-sized MMOs. There’s always issues with bugs and skimpy content, but what’s there is usually pretty enjoyable. Plus, I like the studio’s devotion to F2P; Star Trek Online still has one of the most generous F2P models, and Neverwinter looks to be similar.
Neverwinter really wasn’t on my radar until I started hearing surprisingly positive reports about it from conventions. You know the type: “I expected this to be a turd, but dang if it isn’t the sleeper hit of the show” kinds of things. Not perfect, but fun to play.
That’s the impression I got from the few beta weekends I participated in. While the character creator is really skimpy and the Foundry reportedly in shambles, the core game itself looks fantastic and is pretty fun to play. It’s more action/arcade-like than a traditional MMO, but for some reason it works here. The dungeons still have plenty of traps and secrets to navigate, the combat has oomph to it, and the world is classic D&D.
Plus, there are several features in Neverwinter that I love to see: a useful group finder, combat companions (which can be leveled and swapped), cosmetic clothing, player-created content, and mounts that can be used in the city. I do have plans to make my own adventures for others to experience, and I’ll be letting you all know when that happens. They’ll probably all revolve around killing Elves.
As a mid-size game, I’m not heaping expectations on it, either. It’s not going to be an industry-changer in any sense, but if it entertains and gives me reason to keep on playing, I’ll be happy.
“Since the dawn of MMOs, it has been apparent that, if you give your players the ability to look like a dark elf, or even if you don’t, at least 10% of your world’s population will consist of Drizzts. A drizzle of Drizzts.”