E3 2011: Neverwinter

E3 2011: Neverwinter

Sit right down and let me tell you a tale. This is a tale of prophecy, destiny, and fate. One week before our horrendously awful drive down to E3, which is a story for another time, we recorded a pre-E3 podcast with our good friends Chris and Kelly. Rather than making standard E3 predictions, however, we decided (at my prompting, I believe) to make wild predictions that had just the smallest chance of coming to pass. My wild prediction was that Neverwinter Nights, one of my favorite games OF ALL TIME, would be re-made and given an improved dungeon master module. Who’s Chris? My name is Nostradamus.

I went in to E3 fully expecting to be let down by the absence of my wild prediction. It wasn’t until our fourth day down in the City of Angels, at the very tail end of Day 2 of E3, that lightning struck me from the heavens. It was then, with one game left to see during my Atari appointment and less than 30 minutes left before the floor closed for the day, that I saw the sign. It opened up my eyes…I saw the sign for Neverwinter. Let me go about 50 minutes back in time. I arrive at the Atari press desk and check-in. First stop, Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of Neverwinter. While not exactly what I was hoping for, it represented one of the best Facebook games I have ever seen, and even beat out certain XBLA games in terms of true Dungeons & Dragons quality. I found out that in Heroes of Neverwinter you can create your own dungeons for friends to fight through, and immediately told every Atari employee within shouting distance about my pre-E3 prophecy. Nobody said a god damn word to me about what was yet to come. I finished up Heroes of Neverwinter, then moved on to Warlords and Centipede: Infestation. It was just as I arrived at the final title of the day, Gamma World: Alpha Mutation, that I saw the aforementioned sign.

The sign simply said…”Neverwinter.”

I immediately stopped and pulled Courtney (my Atari guide) aside. “What’s that? That’s not Heroes of Neverwinter. That just says Neverwinter. Is that something other than Heroes of Neverwinter? What’s it doing there? Is that…Neverwinter Nights is one of my favorite games OF ALL TIME. WHAT IS THAT AND HOW DO I GET IT.”

I was speaking quickly, and gesturing very animatedly, but she got the picture and told me that it was a new Neverwinter title, that the guys from Cryptic had just finished up a behind-closed-doors appointment, and that they had the last half hour of the day open, if I’d like to see it. I hastily, and somewhat sincerely, apologized to the Gamma World guys before running gleefully into the Neverwinter room.

Now, my prediction indicated a straight Neverwinter Nights remake, including the expansions and an improved dungeon master module, for consoles. This is a new Neverwinter game, and it’s PC only, but it has a massively improved dungeon master module called the Foundry, and a brand new campaign that takes place in 1479 DR (Dale Reckoning), approximately 100 years after the events of Neverwinter Nights. Within this 100 year gap, Neverwinter has been destroyed (by a volcano), and the Spellplague has changed the landscape of the Sword Coast on which it lies. With the detailed character creation and progression that you would expect from a real Dungeons & Dragons game, even if it is based on 4th Edition, Neverwinter promises to provide an excellent, and long campaign. Know how to get me to say that something’s going to be the best RPG of the year without even seeing any campaign gameplay? Put the word “Neverwinter” in it.

I’ll make my way around to the out-of-the-box campaign, which can be played online with your friends, again. What I want to talk about now is the real bread and butter of the Neverwinter franchise: dungeon mastering. The Foundry is Cryptic’s campaign creation tool, and it is the best user-content-creation tool I have seen (take into account that I, obviously, have not seen EVERY user-content creator out there). Anybody can pick this up and start creating anything. Using the Foundry, you can even go so far as to insert custom made side-quests into the out-of-the-box campaign for you and your friends to play. A side-quest can be built in less than 15 minutes using the massive library of pre-fabricated assets, with a creator wizard (software, not magical) to help make sure you get every necessary piece completed and connected properly. Want to go more in depth? Modify the pre-fabricated assets to create your own versions and start building from there. Still not enough? Do the whole damn thing from scratch, using the spectacularly large asset library! Build an entire campaign from the ground up, if you feel like it!

See, I’m worried that you don’t quite understand how much depth the Foundry provides. With the Foundry’s advanced features, you can build complex dialogue trees for NPCs, design NPC appearance, select camera angles for conversations (as well as attitudes, animations, and more), set event and dialogue triggers, and so much more. On top of all that, Cryptic will be supporting the game with new environment packs after release, further expanding the already impressively sized asset library! From the ground up, you can build your own campaign with as much detail as you can imagine. Have friends who want to play Dungeons & Dragons with you, but live too far away? Never fear, Neverwinter is here! Build your campaign and be the ruthless Dungeon Master you know you are! Make them pay for daring to enter your world!

Did I mention that Neverwinter is gorgeous?

I’m paraphrasing myself, but I believe I said something along the lines of, “Neverwinter is my favorite game from E3 2011. Nothing that has come in 2011, or will come in 2011, can hope to dethrone it.” Neverwinter comes to PC later in 2011, and I am beside myself with anticipation. I may have to quit my job so that I can play more Neverwinter.

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  • loudent2

    Unfortunately you do not understand the details. (for the recond I’ve been following this game since they created the facebook page). This is a neutered version of NWN. There is no direct connect, there is no offline play and you cannot create your own standalone SP campaign or a PW. Nor is there a DM Client. while the foundry tools are nice you can only create additions to the official campaing (which, by the way requires you to be connect to their servers). You can select who is able to play your addition (everyone or only your friends). You cannot, however, create any specific loot for your dungeon (because, as I said, you’re playing online with persistant online characters and they don’t want people rnning through a dungeon and getting loot beyond their level).

    Look, I understand the excitement. As a world builder for both NW1 and NWN2 I was really hoping for a NWN3. However, this game, “Neverwinter” isn’t it.

    I’ll still pick it up and enjoy it for what it is, just don’t expect it to be more.

    • Simoncr1s

      May I ask where did you read all this? Like “there isn’t a DM Client”, who said that?

    • Bring back Bioware

      lets also not forget they are not putting in even half the ammount of features from the previous games. No alighnemnts, no choosing of gods, clerics due do not get there diving powers.

      On top of that there only giving you 1/2 the classes from the 1st player handbook and less then a 1/3 from what NWN2 offered. All under the guise the 5 we have are going to be really great. Seing as the rules for them are already written whats the issue.

      Also no to hit rolls.

      • Simoncr1s

        There are clerics, if there are clerics there should be a choise of gods and since D&D 4.0 use alignments there will be alignments… and you are comparing this with the features of 2 games which have TWO EXANSIONS, you think NWN1 or NWN2 without any exansions are better? Seriously… stop talking no sense… xD or tell me where you can read all this.

        • loudent2

          They have a facebook page which has linked every article and every interview. You can go there and read them all for yourself

          • Qumi

            There is also the official forum which you should read before giving “facts”. The truth is: no alignments, 4 ed tries to get rid off them anyway; we know nothing about choosing gods, it may be or may not; DM and Persistent worlds are still considered by devs, nothing is clear and binding at this time.

          • Simoncr1s

            “nothing is clear and binding at this time” exactly, so how people can say what there won’t be in the game? I know there are articles and a forum and I read them as much as I can, but I’m not the one who is saying no alignments. Where it is write? Quotes please, otherwise you should just think there are the alignments of the 4 ed, which aren’t those of the NWN1 or NWN2 of course.

          • loudent2

            To be honest, I stopped following the game after they announced no persistant worlds, no offline or direct connect play and no DM client. Going back, It appears they have softened their stance recently so we might luck out, but going back and adding those things this late in the cycle rather then designing into the core game almost always results in poor implementation.

            At least they seem to understand now that those things were what made NWN1/2 as great as they were so there is progress.

          • Simoncr1s

            “nothing is clear and binding at this time”. How could they announce anything? Tell me where or at least when they announced no PWs, no offline and no DM client.

      • Simoncr1s

        There are clerics, if there are clerics there should be a choise of gods and since D&D 4.0 use alignments there will be alignments… and you are comparing this with the features of 2 games which have TWO EXANSIONS, you think NWN1 or NWN2 without any exansions are better? Seriously… stop talking no sense… xD or tell me where you can read all this.

    • Chris

      Interesting. We’re going to be setting up some interviews with individuals at Cryptic, so I’ll bring all of this up and more. Thanks for the heads up.

  • loudent2

    Unfortunately you do not understand the details. (for the recond I’ve been following this game since they created the facebook page). This is a neutered version of NWN. There is no direct connect, there is no offline play and you cannot create your own standalone SP campaign or a PW. Nor is there a DM Client. while the foundry tools are nice you can only create additions to the official campaing (which, by the way requires you to be connect to their servers). You can select who is able to play your addition (everyone or only your friends). You cannot, however, create any specific loot for your dungeon (because, as I said, you’re playing online with persistant online characters and they don’t want people rnning through a dungeon and getting loot beyond their level).

    Look, I understand the excitement. As a world builder for both NW1 and NWN2 I was really hoping for a NWN3. However, this game, “Neverwinter” isn’t it.

    I’ll still pick it up and enjoy it for what it is, just don’t expect it to be more.

    • Simoncr1s

      May I ask where did you read all this? Like “there isn’t a DM Client”, who said that?

    • Chris

      Interesting. We’re going to be setting up some interviews with individuals at Cryptic, so I’ll bring all of this up and more. Thanks for the heads up.

    • Bring back Bioware

      lets also not forget they are not putting in even half the ammount of features from the previous games. No alighnemnts, no choosing of gods, clerics due do not get there diving powers.

      On top of that there only giving you 1/2 the classes from the 1st player handbook and less then a 1/3 from what NWN2 offered. All under the guise the 5 we have are going to be really great. Seing as the rules for them are already written whats the issue.

      Also no to hit rolls.

      • Simoncr1s

        There are clerics, if there are clerics there should be a choise of gods and since D&D 4.0 use alignments there will be alignments… and you are comparing this with the features of 2 games which have TWO EXANSIONS, you think NWN1 or NWN2 without any exansions are better? Seriously… stop talking no sense… xD or tell me where you can read all this.

        • loudent2

          They have a facebook page which has linked every article and every interview. You can go there and read them all for yourself

          • Qumi

            There is also the official forum which you should read before giving “facts”. The truth is: no alignments, 4 ed tries to get rid off them anyway; we know nothing about choosing gods, it may be or may not; DM and Persistent worlds are still considered by devs, nothing is clear and binding at this time.

          • Simoncr1s

            “nothing is clear and binding at this time” exactly, so how people can say what there won’t be in the game? I know there are articles and a forum and I read them as much as I can, but I’m not the one who is saying no alignments. Where it is write? Quotes please, otherwise you should just think there are the alignments of the 4 ed, which aren’t those of the NWN1 or NWN2 of course.

          • loudent2

            To be honest, I stopped following the game after they announced no persistant worlds, no offline or direct connect play and no DM client. Going back, It appears they have softened their stance recently so we might luck out, but going back and adding those things this late in the cycle rather then designing into the core game almost always results in poor implementation.

            At least they seem to understand now that those things were what made NWN1/2 as great as they were so there is progress.

          • Simoncr1s

            “nothing is clear and binding at this time”. How could they announce anything? Tell me where or at least when they announced no PWs, no offline and no DM client.

  • Guest

    This was announced ages ago that Cryptic were making a Neverwinter MMO. It surprises me someone so enthusiastic about Neverwinter didn’t know of it.

    • Simoncr1s

      This Neverwinter isn’t absolutely an MMO…

    • Chris

      I can understand that. Now I know that Neverwinter was announced back in August, but it must have completely slipped by me. I think perhaps coverage on other sites was light. Since then, I haven’t seen or heard anything at all, and it never came up during my Interneting, so it caught me by surprise.

  • Guest

    This was announced ages ago that Cryptic were making a Neverwinter MMO. It surprises me someone so enthusiastic about Neverwinter didn’t know of it.

    • Chris

      I can understand that. Now I know that Neverwinter was announced back in August, but it must have completely slipped by me. I think perhaps coverage on other sites was light. Since then, I haven’t seen or heard anything at all, and it never came up during my Interneting, so it caught me by surprise.

    • Simoncr1s

      This Neverwinter isn’t absolutely an MMO…

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