If you’ve always been curious about the “Neverwinter” MMO but were too intimidated to try it out, this summer might be the perfect time to pick up the free-to-play game. That’s when Perfect World Entertainment is releasing its next major module, which kicks off a major revamp and introduces the first new class in the game since 2015.
“Neverwinter: Jewel of the North” can be seen as a fresh start as it re-imagines how massively multiplayer online games introduce players to their own corner of Forgotten Realms. Previously, the game had a level 80 cap and epic level content was locked behind dozens of hours of gameplay.
With a recent update, the developer, Cryptic Studio, cuts that piece down considerably. Aligning this further with the 5th edition Dungeons & Dragons experience, the team set the level cap at 20 and it now takes 10 to 12 hours to reach that point. From there, progression is based on gear while Cryptic said it’s leaning toward using a milestone progression system instead of straight XP.
Due to changes in progress, the studio had to change other aspects of “Neverwinter” as well. The team streamlined the adventures and made sure they were less difficult. Players must go through the campaign once and get good rewards from it.
BARD. introduction of
Now a big reason to jump into this is to play as a bard. The studio has been working on the new class for a year, and it’s perfect for emphasizing a new focus in the expression “Neverwinter.” The developers said they want players to express themselves more with the overhaul.
The bard comes with class additions, new looks, better customized gear and looks for all classes and races. When the parties are returning to the tavern, the Bard also gets a free performance mode.
As far as the specifics of the classroom are concerned, it focuses on mastery and knowledge. The class’s starting power is performance, which lets her sing a song that supports a party. One of those songs is Blaze Flamenco, which deals fire damage to all nearby enemies. It increases the damage bonus for bards and nearby allies by 2 percent for 36 seconds. The Bard’s Daily Inspire ability boosts allies’ defense, damage bonuses, and health recovery. It also makes them resistant to mind control.
As players progress, they can mold their bard along two different Paragon paths. The minstrel serves a supporting role, helping to keep the party alive during difficult encounters, promoting damage or healing allies. Songblade is more aggressive-minded and focused on dealing damage. Think of it as a swashbuckler type character with a sword fighting style based on rapiers.
One advantage of playing as a bard is that players can take on two roles. Its versatility makes the character an asset to the party. If the team needs a dealer doing more damage, the bard can turn his loadout into a campfire. If a teammate drops out or the party faces a tough encounter, the bard can transform into a healer or support role to give the group an extra edge.
Cryptic said that even with the changes to “Neverwinter,” players can still go through most of the game solo. They can reach the level cap on their own, but if they want to challenge the legendary dragon, or the Demogorgon, Tiamat, they’ll need a group to reach these aspirational moments.
In one of the demo levels I played as a bard, I entered Wylowwood, a location in Halster’s Undermountain. Passing through the caves, I found myself in Valdemar’s lair. I found a talking sword called Terulai, and picked up the item, which added a powerful attack to my gait repertoire. The cooldown was also quite long. After a few challenging encounters, I ran into the young green dragon and survived thanks to its everyday ability and using Tierulai’s powers, embedded in Valdemar’s head. The sword took control of the creature and it flew away. Yes it sounds wild but it is D&D and a fantasy game.
Finally, Cryptic is supporting newcomers to “Neverwinter” by adding the Adventurers Guild. This is to assist with flat flow. In addition, Cryptic is conducting a recruitment program where players earn more rewards for creating a new character on top of everything they do.
‘Neverwinter: Jewel of the North’ is set to release on July 27 on PC. It will come to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in the fall.