I rarely let Facebook games dominate me in the way they seem to dominate others. Farmville was a passing phase, along with some other social house/city style game. There was a competitive geography game that I quite enjoyed, as well as something else that I can’t quite remember at this exact moment, but as you can tell, these games had such a profound effect on me that I can barely even remember one game name, with the rest being completely forgotten. With Atari’s Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of Neverwinter, all that is going to change. I’ll never be able to get any work done now.
What makes Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of Neverwinter different from Mafia Wars, Farmville, and any other shitty Facebook game? Well, it’s Dungeons & Dragons, and it has the name NEVERWINTER IN THE TITLE (side note: Neverwinter Nights is one of my favorite games…EVER). Not enough for you, Mr. Fancy Pants? Well, it’s a full RPG. It’s not dumbed down, but streamlined to use 4E (I know, I know) rules. You can choose from four pre-made characters, or create your own with a veritable pantheon of choices. You can customize your character race, class, statistics, and appearance (which is something that Dungeons & Dragons: Daggerdale couldn’t even be bothered to do, mind you…). When in combat rooms, movement, combat, and everything else are all controlled by the 4E ruleset. This is Dungeons & Dragons on Facebook, and it translates very well for what it is.
Each player will get his or her own player house. The player house keeps track of your statistics and achievements for other players to peruse. Your house also contains a Chest of Wonder, which allows you to receive daily bonuses (gold, enchanted items, etc.), receive gifts from your friends, and send gifts to your friends. You can even go to each of your friends’ houses and receive one item from each of their Chests of Wonder daily. The Chest of Wonder in your own house works on a 5-day cycle. If you consistently check your Chest of Wonder each day, the bonuses get progressively larger and more valuable for five straight days. On the sixth day, the cycle resets. There are no features that require you to invite your friends. The benefit is that the more friends you have, the more daily loot you can receive, and the more characters you have available to you when questing.
To clear up that last little comment, you can use your friends’ leveled characters in your party. You earn all the XP (your friends’ characters won’t change as far as they can see in their own games), and you get the benefit of highly leveled companions. When you use a friend’s character, they’re sent a notification. They can spectate your game, chat with you, and can even go so far as to cast buffs on your party while you’re playing. So, while it’s not quite multiplayer, there is definitely a social aspect to the game that becomes more robust with the more friends you have in the game.
You can build a party of up to four characters, including yourself. If you don’t want to use your friends’ characters, you can always hire in-game characters from the tavern. Characters can be full AI or directly controlled, at your whim. The game is freemium, with diamonds acting as the premium currency purchased in-game. Using diamonds, you can purchase Adventure Passes, which allow you to play through dungeons you would normally not be able to play through because of level restrictions. You can also purchase unique items from certain shops to help you on your quests.
Speaking of quests, Heroes of Neverwinter has a robust 4E ruleset. In combat, you gain flanking bonuses, can cause conditions on opponents (stun, daze, poison, etc.), use encounter powers, and more. Loot is determined by flip-card mechanic. Whenever you open a loot item, you can select from one of eight (or ten, I can’t recall) face-down cards. Once you select your card, the rest are revealed to let you know what you missed out on. Hate surprises? Using a Potion of Luck turns over a random loot card so you can see what your options are, and you can use as many as you have. XP is granted after each adventure is completed, and the amount of XP you earn depends on your performance. Each adventure is scored, and runs 10-15 minutes. there are 50 adventures with three difficulty levels each (normal, hard, heroic).
Once you hit the level 10 level cap (which is anticipated to increase after the game’s release), you unlock the Dungeon Builder. Using the dungeon builder, you can create adventures for your friends to play. You can populate your dungeons with monsters, traps, items, dialogue, npcs, and more. Your dungeons also act as a revenue stream, because your friends will pay you an in-game fee to play your elaborately created dungeons of fun!
I spent the first 30 minutes of my E3 Atari appointment looking at a FACEBOOK GAME. It was worth the time. Make sure you “Like” Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of Neverwinter on Facebook and keep your fingers crossed that you get in to the open beta when it’s ready!
Did I mention that Heroes of Neverwinter actually looks AWESOME for a Facebook game?
Because it totally does.