Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of Neverwinter
- Release Date:
- Publisher: Atari
- Developer: Atari
As we all know, Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter is still under development by Cryptic Studios. Perhaps you don’t want to wait any longer to lay hands on the fourth edition of the world-renowned franchise. Don’t worry! Atari offers a small appetizer to all Facebook users, that is, D & D: Heroes of Neverwinter. This social game seems to have been greatly inspired by a famous proverb: Time is money.
After the release of Neverwinter Nights 2 in late 2006, fans of Dungeons & Dragons did not have much to enjoy, and it is still unclear whether the current project wenill be a particularly delightful event to its eager zealots. Atari, which still owns the right to adapt other games in the field, has been appointed by Cryptic Studios to churn out a new title with a free-to-play business model so as to maintain the existing fan base of Neverwinter and draw more attention from the game market.
Dungeons & Dragons: Heroes of Neverwinter, a social game playable exclusively on Facebook, is calling for qualified yet dauntless warriors. Are you one of them? Since Dungeons & Dragons: Neverwinter will not be presented to its fans in a short time, we think it’s a good idea to have an appetizer before the main course. To my mind, this is also a great opportunity for the first official video game which is based on the rules of the fourth edition.
Heroes of Neverwinter does not pretend to rewrite the rules to gain some richness and complexity; on the contrary, it intends to gently familiarize casual gamers with the hostile world as well as the fighting tactics of Dungeons & Dragons by means of giving them a tasteful yet simplified version of the d20 System. This new game still contains the main features of role-playing games, and it begins with character creation. It is indeed possible to make one’s own avatar by combining one of the four races (Human, Eladrin, Semi-human and Dragonborn) and one of the four classes (Warrior, Cleric, Thief and Mage). Besides, you are also given the right to distribute the attribute points and racial bonuses in your favorite proportion. And if you are just a novice, you are encouraged to choose one of four predefined archetypes, which is probably easier for you. And it is also necessary to roughly define the look of your hero and give him a nice nickname before being propelled into the thrilling adventures. As you showcase your unparalleled prowess in the game, you will be rewarded with a lot of experience points with which you can easily move up in rank. Having successfully reached a higher level, you can choose a new power among two options or increase your avatar’s characteristics without control. It’s all up to you! And your character can also be equipped with decent weapons and dashing armors. The choices are quite limited in this part, but frankly, the situation is much better than what we have expected.
The heart of the game is the exploration of fifty dungeons that can be unlocked one after another as you progress. Those dark dungeons can be accessed from the display panel in the city of Neverwinter. In fact, the display panel serves as the main menu which also enables you to check your character profile, call upon different dealers and recruit companions for your eventful journey. If you decide to venture into the world of Heroes of Neverwinter all by yourself, it is highly possible that you will not even survive the first confrontation. Therefore, you are advised to hire three other heroes before rushing to the danger zone. To do this, you must team up with all characters in your Facebook friend list, even if you are not mutually connected in the game. What’s more, you can take advantage of their progress and their powers to boost up your strength during group combat. It is also possible to send gifts as a token of kindness or to visit your teammates’ home to admire their trophies. Finally, those who have not registered for a Facebook contact are still offered the option to go to an inn where they can recruit heroes by paying some gold.
Once your group is formed, it is time to descend into the unfathomable bottom of a dungeon which is usually made up of five to ten rooms that are connected with each other. If you are familiar with this game, you must know that the rooms are infested with all sorts of typical Dungeons & Dragons bestiaries, such as undead, kobolds, dragons etc. The exploration will reach the climax when you are dragged into a cutthroat battle against a powerful boss. As far as I can see, the most important aim is not to seek for thrilling exploration or social interaction because the bulk of the gameplay lies in conflicts and clashes, which is quite faithful to the philosophy of the franchise. This is also an opportunity to see whether you can enjoy all the tactical excitement during turn-based battles. The solution of D&D’s developer is to faithfully conform to the rules of the 4th edition. In each round of combat, every hero can perform a basic attack which is available without limitation or launch any of his special powers, each of which can be used only once. And then he can perform a movement and possibly a free action. The fighting must be handled strategically by making full use of group synergy. Warriors are capable of rolling with the punches and inflicting great damages on their opponents; Mages are good at taking advantage of various types of areas; thieves are notorious for their ability to stun their targets; and clerics are quite popular because they can heal almost everything in the perilous world.
Similar to other games of the genre, Dungeons & Dungeons: Heroes of Neverwinter incorporates the microtransaction system which gives a great advantage to players who constantly invest a virtual currency, namely, the astral diamonds, in the game. And the game proves to be rather difficult due to a plethora of intermediate settings. One of your teammates has fallen in battle? Proceed to checkout. You need to treat your entire team before fighting the boss? Proceed to checkout. Your thief missed the lock-picking? Proceed to checkout. You want to reduce the proportion of random loots? Proceed to checkout. Moreover, Heroes of Neverwinter is one of those social games that can not be played continuously without opening your wallet. The heroes need to rest for several hours in real time before returning to the next adventure. And even if you pay some money to force them to take action, a gauge of energy still limits the number of dungeons which you can explore on a daily basis, unless of course you are willing to spend a few more crystals. The users of the game, fans or not, will be limited to the free offer. Even though you can obtain the right to create your own dungeons starting from level 10, the whole gaming experience is still frustrating without buying advanced content. But still, I don’t think the game deserves a significant financial investment.
The visual rendering of the typical flash game is far from ugly. There is no doubt that we have seen better graphics that are inspiring both technically and artistically, but the settings of Heroes of Neverwinter have the advantage of being extremely varied and relatively high-quality.
The gameplay is well-designed. You probably find that the content is to some extent simplified, but in this way, the game is free from annoyances of excessive and boring features. In addition, the game mechanics also maintains the tactical elements in battles.
If you are not prepared to invest in the game, the increase to level 10 will seem longer than you have expected. But you will be given the opportunity to create your own dungeons, so I speculate that you will still be addicted to this game for a comparatively long time.
Needless to say, the musical compositions are pleasant to listen, but if you are not fond of being accompanied by minimalist sounds during your adventures in the dungeons, you can also choose to mute them once and for all.
Okay, I admit that I really have nothing to say about this part.
As the first official video game based on the rules of the fourth edition of Dungeons & Dragons, Heroes of Neverwinter is not doing very badly. This Facebook application simplifies the game mechanics so as to entertain a large number of players. What’s more, it preserves tactics-oriented battles. Besides, it is also an ingenious idea that you are able to cooperate closely with your Facebook friends, which brings in-depth social elements to the game. The only downsides are its excessive gaming experience and its greedy economic mode.
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