There seems to be a small MMO blogger surge back into Neverwinter this winter. As I’ve said in the past, Cryptic’s games are always solid fallback experiences when you want something comfortable and genuinely enjoyable. There’s something more to it with Neverwinter, though.
One thing I think about at the end of a long day is how much energy and attention a game will demand from me. Not every game is the same in this regard. Some are high energy games — ones that take a lot of focus to excel and win. These are the ones where action combat is more typical, real thinking has to go into solving quests and puzzles, and social grouping is more expected. None of these things are bad, but I have to have the physical energy and stamina to approach them. Sometimes I have that at the end of a day, sometimes not at all.
Sometimes I’m just wiped. I’ve been up since six in the morning and have been working two jobs while spending time parenting and husbanding. By nine in the evening, I might be leaning way back in my chair instead of forward and looking for a gaming experience that is more relaxing than demanding.
That’s where games like Neverwinter come in.
Despite being action combat, Neverwinter’s combat is pretty simplistic and flashy like an arcade game. It’s easy to slide into this mindless zone when I’m fighting packs of mobs, over and over again, while enjoying the Pavlonian reponses to loot explosions and leveling up.
But in my opinion, the greatest achievement of Neverwinter’s design is that it does a magnificent job organizing quests and showing me just where to go. Again, I know this might sound sad, but I don’t always want to be bothered trying to navigate some weird fantasy landscape. We drive with a GPS, so why not game with one?
The second I log into the game, the most pertinent quest of the zone I’m in is already queued up and a sparkly trail is pointing me right where I need to go. The quest flow is as predictable as it is smooth, with minimal backtracking and ease of quest grouping. That leaves me to simply enjoy the sights (and Neverwinter has some great sights) and mindlessly quest and fight while my real world body slumps in relaxation and my brain downshifts from the day’s hectic tasks.
I even get a shot of grouping (with public quests and dungeons) and socializing (with my guild), but for the most part, this is very much an “alone together” MMO that goes out of its way to keep me on track without a lot of unnecessary confusion or progression mechanics.
For my personal progress, I’m level 50 with my Chaos Warlock. I haven’t quite hit the same spot that I was with my previous character (who represented the furthest point I’ve gone in the game), but I’m closing in on it without any sign of slowing down. So lead on, sparkly path. I’ll trust you not to send me over a cliff.