Unfair Impressions: Dragon Nest, Neverwinter

My recent completion of Dragon Age 2 has freed up some mental space that I wanted to give towards something outside of my normal M.O. So, after encountering a random forum discussion somewhere, I found myself downloading Dragon Nest and Neverwinter. Why these two F2P games? Why not?

Dragon Nest

I had a pretty good idea what I was in for just based on the loading screen:

If I can see ass cheeks, it's not a skirt.

If I can see ass cheeks, it’s not a skirt.

Near as I can tell, Dragon Nest is a lobby-based, Action RPG with what amounts to MMO elements. In the random forum discussion that led me to download it, the game features a heavy, skill-based element to combat. Indeed, there is no tab-targeting; the mouse controls the targeting reticule, and spammable attacks are bound to left and right-click. Whenever I received a quest, I went through two loading screens until I arrived at a predefined area, killed all the mobs, and then zoned onto the next area in a sequence with a boss at the end. This picture sums that up:

Looks better than it plays.

Looks better than it plays.

This impression is labeled as Unfair because I basically stopped playing after about two hours. I was playing as the Kali, which is basically a melee warlock dancer, so perhaps that had something to do with my lack of fun. On the other hand, I just couldn’t shake the feeling that if the game was going for kinetic Devil May Cry or God of War-ish style, that they missed the mark. Movement wasn’t as fluid as I would have liked. And then there is the sort of goofy things like quest interface, inability to zoom out very far (which is a limitation of any crosshair-targeting game, I suppose), and general sense of 2nd-rate-ness.


Much to my surprise, it turns out I had actually downloaded Neverwinter months and months ago, but had never bothered to boot it up for some reason. Unfortunately, I had about ~5gb worth of updates to download, so I might have been better off with a clean install.

Permanent drunk goggles.

Permanent drunk goggles.

In my handful of hours of play, Neverwinter just strikes me as a game that is missing, oh, maybe $25 million in development. Although I am on maximum settings, the world just feels… muddy, yet insubstantial. It is another crosshair-targeting game but I had a real hard time ascertaining that enemies really existed out in the world. And sometimes they were just really hard to see. It is sort of how I felt about Guild Wars 2, but worse.

There were a lot of little D&D touches that I liked. Your “daily” power meter is a d20 that fills up over time. There are “skill checks” of sorts when interacting with certain objects out in the world. For example, after killing an NPC in a cave complex, I noticed a sparkly skull over in a bookcase. After passing a Dungeoneering check (which basically happens automatically), the bookcase opens up to reveal a treasure chest on the other side. All of this managed to evoke both D&D and a sense of physicality, the latter of which is otherwise conspicuously missing from combat itself.



The rest of my limited experience was spent seesawing between interest levels. I very much enjoyed how each class seems to have their own unique movement mechanism: warlocks float at a sprint whereas rogues do a dodge-roll. But movement in general just didn’t feel all that good. You know how in WoW and Wildstar and GW2 when you get a movement speed buff and you can kind of keep the momentum going after it wears off by jumping? You can’t quite do that in Neverwinter. And for some reason that feels bad. I can’t quite explain it better than that, but that feeling seeps into everything.

The other curious issue I ran into was how… health doesn’t regenerate. Maybe it does later? It just feels really weird in an MMO for it to not, as it sort of subconsciously delineates the world into checkpoint corridors. Which maybe is the point? There is health potions and such so maybe it is not all that big a deal. But it certainly felt like a big deal as I was playing.

I did not even try anything in The Foundry, which is likely the most remarkable thing Neverwinter brings to the table. Based on my current mood, it isn’t particularly likely that I will.


So there are my completely Unfair Impressions for Dragon Nest and Neverwinter. If you are a player of either game, by all means let me know your own opinions on the matter. Do the games get better? Do I need to play them with a certain mindset? Which class would be the most fun? Things like that.

Posted on November 5, 2014, in Impressions and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Re: Neverwinter. There is a health regeneration stat you can get on gear, but it only ever provides a minuscule trickle, at least while levelling. The idea is that you heal up at camp fires or use potions. I kind of like that this makes the world feel more dangerous and “safe zones” more relevant.

    While I can understand the graphics not being your cup of tea, I don’t recall ever having had any issues clearly seeing my enemies (though I kind of see what you mean in that screenshot). I don’t know how far into the game you got, but I reckon that might just be a starting zone thing.


  2. So what DO you call it if it’s not a skirt?


  3. The Guilty Party

    Dragon Nest kind of sounds like Phantasy Star Online, but PSO was polished by the sonic team to a super-addictive diablo-eqsue shine. I could see a cheap copy of it not working well at all.

    Neverwinter I’ve tried time and time again and it just feels clunky. Cryptic still does not know how to make your character look like it belongs in the world. Star Trek, Neverwinter, Champions: every one of them has characters that look like they’re floating across the world with awkward animations. It’s really hard to describe how it’s wrong and other games are right, but it’s incredibly distracting to me.


  4. Ha! Well really appreciate your post title. I had a great time in my short run with Dragons Nest. Thought the combat felt really impactful, and the achievement level represented by bronze/silver/gold medals within each quest was a real driver to ‘kill better’. Also, though you didn’t mention it, thought the graphical style of DN was fantastic – almost oil painterly like GW2.


  5. Neverwinter takes until level 20 or so to really get a feel for the classes. It plays relatively the same across all of them until that point.

    A companion and the unlocks at 20 make a big difference and it seems larger as you progress, in that each fills a particular niche. Rogues need to use stuns/stealth, wizards need to control and so on.

    My suggestion, and it may sound stupid, is to hit level 10 to unlock crafting. Get the leadership skill. Do that from the mobile client and do a daily incantation for the XP to hit 20 and skip the crud.


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