Neverwinter is the Zelda Lover's MMORPG

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Well, this is a funny place for an article like this to be published. A non-Nintendo, non-Zelda game by the name of Neverwinter piqued my interests when I went to E3 for the first time back in 2012. I was invited to see the game with the developers and was really excited to see what they had to show. I loved the presentation and, months later, got in to play all of the closed beta weekends. I was instantly hooked and, like any game of this nature, knew that I could not let myself play it too much or I would never get anything else accomplished...

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Well, I tried the latest version of the game out at this year’s E3 leading up to their PS4 release. I got to try out the PS4 version and spoke with the developers once more about the game and had a nice chat with them while playing the game. They handed me the controller and off I went into a world I had not experienced in several years. I was excited to play the game again and see how it had evolved over the years. I can tell you that it is much more polished now than it was back when it launched.

There is a lot of new job classes, gear, content, and such; however, what really excited me was the controls on the PS4. They felt really smooth and making the transition from PC to PS4 was seemingly painless. Players will be able to use all of the same abilities and such as nothing has been removed due to console limitations. Producer Ben Bascom had this to say about the controls:

When we started to port over the controls for console, once of the big things we were shooting for was to make the controls feel intuitive. We started out with some sketches of how we’d map the Encounter powers and at-wills needed to be readily accessible. Those were easy to place as we knew they needed to go onto readily accessible buttons. However, Neverwinter has a lot more to handle beyond the basics of combat. We needed to think about how to handle the myriad hotkeys needed to play the game without having to stop and bring up a menu so often.

This is where we started running into problems! There just aren’t enough buttons on a controller to mimic the ease of access that players using a keyboard have. We had to pick and choose which options players most commonly used and find a spot for those on the controller. Other power-related things like items, mounts and invoking were auto-includes in that list. However, other commonly used hotkeys like access to the map and campaign window had to go in a list of features which we had to pick from. Ultimately, we selected the mini-map, inventory and chat to go on the controller and the rest had to go into menus.

One major discussion point we had internally was the placement of interact vs jump. Many MMO gamers like to jump. The jumpers really wanted interact to be swapped with jump in its controller positioning. Ultimately, it was decided that jump had to take a backseat as it is a non-essential function. However, there are still jumpers among us who hold out hope that we’ll add an option to swap them around in a future update!

While I thoroughly enjoyed the controls, the thing that really draws a player to a game such as this is the gameplay. Without splendid gameplay mechanics and flow, the game would be akin to a point-and-click adventure of yesteryear; however, Neverwinter features great gameplay and a host of features that one would expect from the MMO genre. I played through some later parts of the game and, while the devs said I did great, experienced a few challenges.

The game kept me on my feet and I had to be quick about my actions or suffer an untimely defeat. I managed to play through the entire zone and defeat the large mini-boss at the end. I really enjoyed the difficulty level and the amount of mobs on screen at a time. This made me feel like I accomplished something whenever I would progress through the area, unlike some other games that are way too easy. Difficulty is done right in Neverwinter and this is something that many games get wrong.

This should make many fans of the genre happy because a lot of us want a challenge in our games – we do not want to just be given everything without trying. This would make the game boring over time because you would likely not get as much feeling of accomplishment; however, you need not worry about Neverwinter because the end game provides a good challenge. Neverwinter is the MMORPG I have been waiting on since I stopped playing Final Fantasy XI many years ago.

Neverwinter PS4 Screenshot

Are you a die-hard fan of the Sword Coast? Well, Neverwinter is developed in collaboration with Wizards of the Coast. Producer Ben Bascom had this to say, “We sync up with them at least weekly and we’re constantly collaborating with them to make sure the content we’re putting into Neverwinter is going to work with the D&D world.” So rest assured – knowing that Neverwinter is being developed with the core lore in mind. This is something that really helps keep the game in line with expectations.

Neverwinter has evolved into a game that will be sure to age well into the future, and is one that I am always on the lookout for new information – even if I do not actively partake in the games festivities. I have been in love with the game since its early days and will likely continue to adore it in the coming future. It is an MMO RPG that brings together everything a player could want in the genre, and is a game that I STRONGLY recommend to anyone who is looking for the next great thing!

Neverwinter launches for PS4 on July 19, 2016 and will be free to play with no PlayStation Plus required.

About the Author: Austin Dickson

Austin Dickson has been around the Zelda fandom for years. He started Link's Hideaway as a small personal project, which later turned into something of which he never thought possible. He enjoys writing articles, guides, walkthroughs, and developing the different Concealed Gaming network sites.

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