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Dungeon & Dragons: Neverwinter Review:
Ever wanted to help rebuild and defend a city? You have your chance with Dungeon & Dragons: Neverwinter, an MMORPG. Neverwinter was once a great city in the lore of Dungeon & Dragons, but disasters have stripped away some of its majesty. Thanks to Lord Neverember and adventurers like you though, the city can once again become a jewel of the realm. All it will take is killing a number of enemies, completing quests, some leveling, and a lot of running. (Auto-run has a default binding of 'T,' by the way.)
Being an RPG, you have the ability to design your own character, selecting races from the fantasy of Dungeons & Dragons, your class, history, and you can even write your own backstory, if you wish. Each race has its own native abilities and each class its own specialization, and all of this information is presented to you in-game when you make your choice. You can also find it online.
Being an MMO you will, at times, find yourself surrounded by other people and occasionally suffering some amusing lag. When the lag strikes, just stop moving (if you can) and enjoy watching your character dance. You can also try quitting and coming back later. If you are disconnected and try to log back in, you will find yourself exactly where you left, which is nice as that means you do not need to run back to where you were.
The graphics are pretty good, but sadly I cannot comment on them too specifically. While playing, the game suffered many video driver crashes and the only way I found to stop them was to switch to DirectX 9 from DirectX 11. This gave the game stability and curiously allowed facial animations to work. For whatever reason the animations were not performing for me when using DX11, but perhaps your experience will be different. With either version of DirectX, the game's performance was very good, with the only possible exception (save the crashes) being at times of the greatest lag.
Combat is satisfying, at least with my Great Weapon Fighter as he swings his greatsword through my foes. You can just click and hold for the primary attack to chain on your target, and press a key if you want to unleash an ability. It appears the abilities just rely on a cooldown for balance, and not a mana or energy pool, with the exception of the 'Daily' abilities. These abilities are very powerful but can only be activated once you have enough Action Points, which may not take long if there are enough enemies around to kill.
Something I feel is worth noting, because of my experience with some other games, is that health potions are applied immediately. When you press the button, the whole amount the potion can give you is given, instead of it trickling in over time and potentially too late.
So far I have played the game alone and so far it appears to be well balanced for this experience. I have not come across any quest that is too difficult for my young character to handle, though I cannot charge in with reckless abandon. I was not able to read it all, but one of the loading screens stated that all of the primary game content can be played solo, with only some dungeons and something else requiring a party of five people. Being an MMORPG, it is understandable to expect people to form groups and join guilds, but it is nice to see that it is not required to succeed.
Speaking of loading screens, to help reduce them you can select the 'Disable On-Demand Patching' option in the launcher. This will force the client to download the entire map for the game, instead of having to download it when you arrive there in the game.
From what I can tell, this is not a Pay-to-Win game, though real-money purchases can definitely prove useful, as they will give you mounts and companions earlier than you would normally acquire them. Fortunately even some of these items can be purchased without having to spend any money. The game's publisher, Perfect World Entertainment, uses a currency called Zen that can be transferred into almost all of its games. Adding Zen to your Perfect World account can be done by spending money on it or by completing some free offers, such as surveys. Of course it may take a while to collect enough Zen by completing surveys to get the cool stuff, but that is the cost of 'free.' Not everything can be purchased using Zen though, as some items are only available from packs you do have to spend real money on. The packs can unlock things such as a new race to play as and special companions and mounts.
Overall, the game has proven enjoyable to me. I would say it is a serious RPG though, so if you start playing it, I recommend you keep playing it and not take an extended break. This is just so you can remember what you were doing and what is going on in the game when you return.
Before I forget, the game has mod support, to a point, thanks to the Foundry. With it a player can design their own adventures to share with everyone, so there is always new content to play.