New Neverwinter has a lot of potential

If there’s one game that keeps me coming back to it, it’s Neverwinter Nights. While it often gets overshadowed by its 2/2.5 edition based cousins, Baldur’s Gate and Planescape: Torment, Neverwinter has its own charms that has brought me back time and again. For one, there’s no THACO. For two, there’s about a million professional quality campaigns for the game, that are free to download. For three, it’s the best creation of pure Dungeons and Dragons you can find on a computer.

Baldur’s Gate and Planescape are video games. Brilliant video games. But they scratch a different itch than playing on an actual table, with actual friends. Neverwinter gets closer to that desire.

So today we had Atari and Cryptic (developers of City of Heroes) announce their new game, Neverwinter, a fourth edition game following in the footsteps of Neverwinter Nights. Below the cut we have both details, and things we’d like to see in a Neverwinter sequel. Like this one.

Obviously, the thing most exciting to the fans is the fact that there’s going to be a module creator. There’s been so much quality for the first two games that it really wouldn’t be Neverwinter without one. It’s promised to be as full featured as its predecessors, and that would definitely be a big thing in its corner.

And Fourth Edition! Now, as a tabletop gamer, I stuck with 3.5 D&D. For people who play games on tables, where the players are afforded a plethora of choices in every situation and where non-combat solutions are more than encouraged, 3.5 is a superior system. Fourth Edition, we say derisively, plays like a video game. 3.5 encounters a session, each one balanced by tables, loot given out by tables, all abilities designed to kill things. These are video game characters.

Of course, in a bloody video game, they’d be perfect mechanics. You’re not going to complain because all your wizard gets are spells of the pew pew variety, with some random weirdness thrown in; no, you’re not, because you weren’t going to memorize feather fall anyway! Fourth edition is primed to become a video game. It is a video game. And it will make a good video game.

Worrisome, though, to me is Destructoid’s claim that there will be five classes. Roughly half the fun in Dungeons and Dragons is building characters who are obscenely overpowered; it’s a constant struggle between player and DM to see who’s more powerful. If there are five classes, the options aren’t there. Additionally, fourth edition’s thing is having four “roles” for PCs. Five classes means one role would be duplicated, which would be kind of silly.

Let’s get to another big problem, just a little one: why is it called Neverwinter? Oh, I’m sure the books from R.A. Salvatore will explain all that, but in the various published Forgotten Realms source materials, Neverwinter does not exist. It’s destroyed. Why bring it back to keep a franchise name that lost some luster with the Obsidian produced NWN2 instead of telling a story in a different place? I mean, I like Neverwinter as much as the next guy, but there’s a whole world of cities and adventures. Wizard’s thing is that you can open one of their campaign sourcebooks to any page, any line, and formulate a campaign from that. Well, why use Neverwinter over and over?

I mean, I’m excited and all. I’m a pretty invested Dungeons and Dragons player, so any opportunity to play a game based in that system is exciting. But there are times when I wished they’d take some chances with the license, with the Forgotten Realms setting, instead of sticking with what they know works.

One Comment

  1. NWN is still on my obscenely large “to play” list, but it’s on my wife’s all-time favorites, so I’m sure this game (if it turns out well) will make it into our house.