By far one of the highlights of my time at E3 2012 last week was getting the chance to sit down and play Neverwinter, the upcoming Action RPG project from Cryptic Studios. You will remember Cryptic as the original minds behind games like City of Heroes and Champions Online. This time however, they are tackling a much deeper world, the world of Dungeons and Dragons within the Forgotten Realms.
Neverwinter is the first Action MMO to be set in the Forgotten Realms universe, featuring races that we all know and love: Human, Half-Elf, Elf, Drow, Dwarf, Tiefling, with more being announced later. The three class builds we had access to during our hands on time were the Guardian Warrior, the Controller Mage, and the Trickster Rogue. I was able to try out the Controller Mage, whose abilities were all about locking opponents down, slowing them, and making things easier for the other players in the dungeon.
Combat is fluid and pretty easy to pick up. I admit I died a lot trying to figure things out, but I assume that's because we were running through a five player dungeon with only three players. Before long I was freezing Gnolls in place and Fireballing them into oblivion. My favorite control spell was a nifty little special ability that enabled me to toss guys up in the air to immobilize them.
Since this is an Action MMO, the Neverwinter devs led us through mostly the combat side of things, but they tell me that this isn't a lobby-based MMO like many others out there, this game takes place in an open persistent world. We spent a few minutes in this world working through a simple quest chain that had us researching pillars, but really it still felt like an instanced area because of how isolated the zone was. I'm sure this will feel different when you have more than three people in the game.
I look forward to learning more about Neverwinter in the coming months, but from what I've seen I'm very surprised to learn this game is going to be Free-to-Play. It certainly doesn't feel like your standrd F2P game. I guess that's what comes from being a D&D game imagined through the minds of Cryptic.