Neverwinter Online Open Beta pt.1

First off, as a fan of old school pnp D&D (3.5 rules…like there is any other) it was hard not to be excited about Cryptic studios and Perfect World teaming up once again for another free rpg, this time an mmo set in Forgotten Realms! This setting has long been a favorite of many dungeons and dragons players, and is a far cry from Eberron (I’m looking at you DDO). Neverwinter Online is based on 4th edition D&D rules of which I am unfamiliar, so this game was going to be exciting and fresh to learn about…..when I actually got in game.

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Launch day (open beta or not) = client crashes, launcher errors, frustration, and nerd-rage monsters on the official game forums. The one thing I think Guild Wars 2 had right was their ability to forsee massive influx of players on launch day and planned accordingly through “ghost servers.” This allowed players to log in game in an overflow server, buts that is another game and was another time. Neverwinter Online was shaping up to be just like any other game launch, so I was patient and finally got into the game after an hour or more wait in “Queue.”

3 Servers to choose from all highy populated, my guess is they’ll add more in the very near future. I give this a solid B, it has enough variation to make you feel like your character is unique but its really nothing fancy here.

Being open beta on a very new game, I think the 5 class choices and 7 races are very different and good for a start up imo. Guardian Fighter, Great Weapon Fighter, Control Wizard, Trickster Rogue, and Devoted Cleric all have certain roles and I’m sure more will be added sooner or later. The races (all but drow, to be added later) are all native to Forgotton Realms. Human, Half-Orc, Halfling, Half-Elf, Elf, Dwarf, and Tiefling all have certain ties to starting stats so you’ll want to choose your class/race combo wisely. Example: An elven Guardian Figher tank might sound cool in theory, but they’re racial bonus doesn’t bode well with a tank class and you may end up dead more often than not.

The graphics for Neverwinter Online are stunning! There are many little nuances that I enjoyed looking at, water looks like water, shadows are in the correct places and the landscape is beautiful. Another thing I enjoy in games is to be able to jump around, you can freely do this in Neverwinter but the default controls are wonky (good thing there are keybind options). Movement is very fluid in Neverwinter and I had no lag at all, while you’d expect this from a partially intanced based game its still nice to see no rubberbanding. Basic attacking in Neverwinter is bound to your left and right mouse clicks, and the game features a new targeting system that I very much enjoyed. Its a target reticle working with a permanent mouselook mode, so it feels almost like a first person shooter set in a fantasy game. Its very different but I think revoluionary to an mmo experience.

There is a plethora of other things to cover in gameplay from encounter, daily, and at-will powers to power ponts, feats, endurance, crafting, guilds, friends, group-finders, and dungeons but only so much can be said from 3 hrs of gameplay and a lvl 7 character. Stay tuned for part 2 coming soon. If you want to try the game and start a band of nerd-brothers known as a guild hit me up on the mindflayer server, “Grux” is the name and my full game handle Grux@ginrummy1 is how you’ll find me.

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Neverwinter Online Official Game Site

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm, Blizzard’s follow up to StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty, will be released around the world tomorrow.  Last weekend, I had the pleasure of meeting Neil Kaplan, the voice of Tychus Findlay from Wings of Liberty.  Which is a humorous story all by itself.  But first, here’s a video discussing the upcoming release:

Neil Kaplan, the voice of Tychus

I occasionally sell some things on eBay.  Things just sitting around the house collecting dust, things for friends, things I pick up at secondhand stores, or things that might be under-appreciated by the locals but would be a treasure to someone somewhere.  For the last month or two I had the behind-the-scenes DVD from StarCraft 2: Wings of Liberty sitting out there waiting for someone to bid or buy.  Last weekend, I receive an email from a buyer asking if I would bring the item to the local comic book / anime convention going on.  That buyer happened to be Neil Kaplan.  The family had plans already so I initially declined.  Along came some snow, and those plans changed, so I hopped in my truck and made the short trip to Oak Grove, KY.

Mr. Kaplan explained to me that he likes to buy a few copies of the behind-the-scenes DVD to sign for fans.  Not a bad idea at all.  So, I traded an item I was trying to sell for a one of a kind experience.

starcraft 2 heart of the swarm

I talked with Mr. Kaplan for quite a while.  When asked about the upcoming expansion, StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm, he didn’t give me the usual “Sorry, I can’t say”, instead he explained why he won’t say.  Before personalizing the picture above, he made sure I had completed the campaign mode of Wings of Liberty.  Neil Kaplan hates spoiling things.  He told me that when he was a teenager, he had the opportunity to go see The Empire Strikes Back.  Upon his return home from seeing one of the most popular sequels in movie history, his mother asked how it was.  Of course we all know now that at the end of the film it’s revealed that Darth Vader is Luke’s father.  We take that for granted now, but that was a huge reveal at the time.  Neil wouldn’t give up the goods other than to tell her that she had to go see it.  Even with the threat of being grounded, he wouldn’t spoil the movie.

StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm ?

Needless to say, he would not confirm or deny ift Tychus makes an appearance in StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm.  I’m ok with that, because what he did say was much more interesting.  He has been discussing the future of the character with Chris Metzen, Senior VP of Story and Franchise Development at Blizzard.  They would like to do more with the character.  Perhaps working on some of the early story of Tychus and Raynor or maybe bringing the character back from the dead.  It is a sci-fi universe after all.  The Protoss character Fenix had a similar treatment within the scope of the original StarCraft, with only a few missions between his fall and return.

With the game releasing and launching tomorrow, March 12, across the globe, I’m pretty excited.  Be looking for more video and articles about StarCraft 2 Heart of the Swarm in the coming days, including tomorrow mornings unboxing of the Collector’s Edition!

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