Last week I enjoyed the nostalgia that highlighting the History of Dungeons & Dragons Computer Games. Today I want to look to the future. In August Atari announced the next release for D&D on the computer. Coming in Q4 of 2011 is Neverwinter and on the surface it looks promising.
I say that as an individual who doesn’t think there are enough D&D computer titles on the shelves these days. Looking back at past releases we saw that between 1990 and 1993, 17 titles were released. Clearly designing and releasing a computer game today is not what it was 20 years ago, but I would like to see more D&D video game releases.
Neverwinter features five classes which seems very limiting. Having only the Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue and Wizard available really seems to holding back on the full potential of 4e. While at the end of the day classes from the different roles in 4e do the same thing, they do them in different ways. Also, from a thematic stand point different classes add more diversity. While there has been no word on races I wonder if we’ll have the standard classic ones available, Human, Elf, Half-elf and Dwarf or if we will see a wider variety of choices.
I really wonder about how the characters will work. Are they going to be per-generated or will players actually get to customize their own character? I can’t believe that they couldn’t stretch the classes available to eight and add in the Sorcerer, Barbarian and Bard. Give us more options. If the great selling point is developer Cryptic’s character customization tool, give us more classes to customize. I can see myself getting really bored of the classes quickly.
I think I’ve gone through four or five classes in our pen and paper D&D game in the past year and we only play once a week. Neverwinter’s five classes don’t stand a chance with my very short attention span.
Solo play is an option. However, Neverwinter is clearly geared towards on team play. There’s nothing wrong with this, I’m just not sure why they aren’t calling the game a MMO. Perhaps the reason is because you will only be online with your party of four other adventurers. Time will tell how this interface will work.
What would have been great to see is a short one or two level single player campaign to teach you the rule set and introduce the game. At that point the player graduates to the online play. Of course this sounds exactly like what WotC has done with the new Red Box Set. Granted this might not be practical or appealing to everyone. My personal issue is that I don’t have the extra time, due to family commitments, for online play where a set amount of time is needed to complete an objective.
User Created Content
Neverwinter will include a tool currently being called Forge. Forge allows users to create content, presumably for all who own the game to play. However, it might be that only your group can experience the user created content. We’ll have to wait for more information on how Forge works to see how it is shared and how players will differentiate the official content from user created content.
I’m glad to see something like Forge included with the newest release of Neverwinter. Content editors have been a staple of previous Neverwinter releases. A recent incarnation of this was BioWare’s Aurora tool set. My hope is that the content creator will be straightforward and easy to use. Hopefully a high level of script or programming language will not be required.
A lot of what I’ve discussed is speculation on what the release of Neverwinter will contain. There are aspects I am already disappointed in, chiefly that we will only have access to five character classes. As we come closer to the release date I’m sure that Atari and Cryptic will more information about how game play will work.
As much as I’m apprehensive, I’m also excited about this release as it’s a great opportunity to introduce new players to the game of Dungeons & Dragons. What are your thoughts on the latest foray of D&D onto the realm of computer games?