Neverwinter (video game)
|Publisher(s)||Perfect World Entertainment|
|Release date(s)||June 20, 2013|
Neverwinter is a Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) free-to-play massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for the Microsoft Windows platform. It was developed by Cryptic Studios and was released on 20 June 2013. Based in the fictional Forgotten Realms city of Neverwinter, the game was originally scheduled to be released as a cross media event coinciding with the release of a series of four books by fantasy author R.A. Salvatore and a tabletop game from Wizards of the Coast. Announced on August 23, 2010, Neverwinter is a standalone game and not part of the previous Neverwinter Nights series. The game ran closed beta testing from February 8, 2013 to April 14, 2013. Open beta began on April 30, 2013.
Players can become one of six Dungeons & Dragons character classes and form groups of up to five player characters (PCs). Neverwinter is based on a modified version of the Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition rules set. This includes the use of healing powers and action points, the latter of which is implemented through a system referred to as dailies, allowing a player to perform a special ability by accumulating enough action points through combat. A player-created content system codenamed "Foundry" allows players to create their own stories and quests.
When asked for gameplay details during an interview with MaximumPC, Cryptic Studios chief operating officer Jack Emmert explained, "It's not an MMO in the sense that there aren't zones with hundreds-and-hundreds of people. You are not fighting for spawns. There's a very strong storyline throughout the game. So it's more of a story-based game closer to things like Dragon Age or Oblivion, which we really try to follow." On October 5, 2011, it was announced that the gameplay of Neverwinter would be re-structured into a free-to-play MMORPG with extra items and other advantages available for purchase for an as yet unannounced fee.
Characters and setting
The setting of Neverwinter takes place in a time when the eponymous city is plunged into chaos after the disappearance of the last Lord of Neverwinter. In the aftermath of the Spellplague and a Primordial Fire Elemental's almost destroying Neverwinter, as seen in the novel Gauntlgrym, the remaining citizens form factions and struggle for dominance over the populace as the dead begin to rise and attack "the city they once called home."
In the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2011 trailer for the game, many factions of the game are shown, notably an army of skeletons who are the dead citizens of Neverwinter; a female lich named Valindra and a blue dracolich lead them in their attack against Neverwinter. The player is investigating the Sect Crown of Neverwinter and trying to figure out what the skeletons and another mysterious group are looking for.
In an interview with GameSpot, Jack Emmert announced that the game will include "adventuring in and around Neverwinter. Not just in the city, but also the environs," and hinted that more locations further afield would be added at some point. In addition, he indicated that the included locations will be heavily based on the novel Gauntlgrym, its sequel, Neverwinter, and Charon's Claw. So far, the only known locations are Neverwinter and Neverwinter Wood. Players will be able to create whole new locations that may or may not conform to the lore on which the rest of the game is based. It has been made clear that this content will be clearly distinguished so as not to confuse users, and they will be informed whether they are playing user-generated or official content.
Briefly assuming her pre-lich appearance, the Lich Queen Valindra attacks the soldiers of New Neverwinter, as new grounds are being built outside of the original city, which is being repaired. Valindra's actions spark the Battle of the Bridge, in which Barrabus the Gray (formerly known as Artemis Entreri) and Drizzt Do'Urden are rumored to be present by gossipers at a pub in the shattered town of Luskan. Each soldier tells his own story of the battle until one soldier reveals that Valindra's attack was going badly until the blue dragon, a leader in the country of Thay, helped her escape. The soldier finishes by asking the people where they will be and what they will be doing when the dragon attacks again.
While Thay makes its own advances, the Netherese, under leadership of the necromancer Idris, take the lost artifact Deathknell and use it to forge an alliance with the barrow lords of Ebon Downs, thus providing them with the power to raise an army of dead to raze the Sword Coast. The Netherese have already destroyed the village of Grimhollow, prompting Lord Dagult Neverember, Protector of Neverwinter and Open Lord of Waterdeep, to recover the shards of the Deathknell and defeat the Netherese.
Elsewhere, Traeven Blackdagger, famed privateer and plunderer of the Sword Coast along Neverwinter thought dead after the explosion at Mount Hotenow, has returned through resurrection and has once again begun plundering. The Harpers have decided to oppose Blackdagger, sending their agents to Blackdagger Keep at morning tide to take down the threat of the ghost pirate.
Atari bought Cryptic Studios in the fall of 2009. In late August 2010, Atari announced Neverwinter, to be developed by Cryptic Studios, with a release scheduled for late 2011. They revealed that the game would coincide with a multi-media event revolving around the city of Neverwinter, including the release of four books (one already in stores), a co-operative board game and a D&D role-playing game being released to promote the launch of the MMORPG. In May 2011, Atari announced that it would be selling Cryptic Studios, stating that development of Neverwinter would continue as normal. Gamasutra reported that development of Neverwinter would continue as normal only for the time being.
The game was first publicly displayed at E3 2011, where many details about the game were revealed. Due to Cryptic's acquisition by Perfect World Entertainment, Neverwinter was delayed to 2012. Perfect World also bought the rights to publish the game from Atari, coinciding with the conclusion of Atari's lawsuit with Wizards of the Coast on the Dungeons & Dragons license. Perfect World announced that Neverwinter had shifted from the co-operative multiplayer game that was announced the previous year into a free-to-play MMORPG on October 5, 2011. This further delayed the game to late 2012. Perfect World would later again delay Neverwinter into early 2013 to better polish the game.
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Prior to releasing major details on the game, Perfect World launched a viral marketing campaign called the Siege of Neverwinter, featuring videos from the game's story. The game was at Penny Arcade Expo (Pax) East 2012, where it was awarded Best of Show by MMORPG.com. In the same month of showing at PAX East, it also appeared at gamescom, where it showed off its Events feature, and Gen Con Indy, where it let attendees try out early version drow race characters. It was announced in 2012 that the game's campaign would feature sixty levels.
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Neverwinter has attained scores of 74/100 and 73.60% from aggregate review websites MetaCritic and GameRankings respectively. It got a positive review from Topfreemmorpg.net that lauded its "large scale quests, intense PVP, daily skirmishes, and player created missions." 
Daniel Tack of Forbes comments: "Neverwinter offers experiences for players that normally wouldn't play MMORPGs, and also provides a framework for core genre players. Looking for action and adventure in the world of Forgotten Realms? Neverwinter delivers."
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