PAX Prime – Neverwinter
A return to the ever popular setting of The Forgotten Realms, Neverwinter is a new free to play MMO from the developer behind Champions Online: Free For All and Star Trek Online, Cryptic Studios. I got a chance to check out The Foundry feature in Neverwinter, and it has made my hype for this game shoot through the roof.
First, a quick primer on Neverwinter: It is an action MMORPG set in the city of, you guessed it, Neverwinter. A volcanic explosion has devastated most of the Sword Coast, with only a few settlements besides Neverwinter left standing, though just barely. Players will take the role of heroes who will take contracts to help rebuild the city and it’s surrounding areas. The gameplay of Neverwinter is fast paced for an MMORPG. It plays a lot like Kingdom of Amalur: the mouse controls where you aim, with the buttons using your basic attacks, and your skills are mapped to keyboard buttons. You can check out a video below that shows off the gameplay:
However, most of my time spent with Neverwinter was checking out The Foundry, which is Cryptic’s name for the mission creation tool in Neverwinter. The Foundry is the same tool that the developers use to design their campaigns and adventures, and players will have access to the full toolset in order to create their own adventures. The levels of customization are very impressive and spoke to my inner DM. For instance, I watched as one of the developers created a quick adventure for us in The Foundry. He started by creating a dialogue path from an NPC in one of the taverns. As the DM of this adventure, he was able to create as much dialogue pathing as he wanted, and it was a fairly quick process. Then, he pulled up the map editor and began creating the dungeon. Players can use pre-built rooms or create their own. One really neat feature was the auto-population of set pieces like tables, chairs, rugs, wall paintings, and other things that made the room really pop. DMs can also individually add every item if they wish, or move stuff around after the system populates set pieces.
After creating a few rooms, we went to the monster creation. When you create an adventure, you set what level it is, and the game gives you a list of monsters you can use. However, the customization of these monsters is insanely detailed. For instance, we were able to go to the boss of this little dungeon, a ghost, and change not only what clothes she was wearing, but her body dimensions as well. Afterwards, with a single click we were able to jump into our little 3 room dungeon and hack away to test.
Afterwards, we posted the adventure to our Author Blog. This is a feature that every player has where they can post their created content. You can read anyone’s Author Blog, and subscribe to it so that you get an in-game email when there is new content from that author. The creator can also use the blog to solicit feedback from players.
As a tabletop veteran who loves to create adventures, I can’t wait to get my hands on Neverwinter‘s creation tools. It really harkens back to the old days of designing D&D adventures inside Neverwinter Nights for my college buddies. Neverwinter has a release date of Spring 2013, and will be free to play. I know I’ll be checking it out.