E3 2012: Returning to the Forgotten Realms with Neverwinter

Two trailers of the MMORPG Neverwinter have been revealed at E3 ’12. It appears that the game’s main plotline will revolve around the Uthgardt barbarian clan, who have been enslaved by magic-wielding Netherse warlords.

While developer Cryptic Studios began on this project with the aim of making it a co-op RPG at first, they later changed development course for it to be a free-to-play (F2P) MMORPG.

Zeke Sparkes from Cryptic Studios told Gamasutra that the company’s internal development tools help pushed the genre change. He said that the studio typically works on large-scale MMOs, and therefore its tech is just better suited to creating those types of experiences.

According to Kotaku, Neverwinter is more of an action-oriented MMO. This means we’ll see less of the expansive dialogue and character customisation available in Neverwinter Nights, and more hacking and slashing.

It also seems that Neverwinter has cut down on skillsets and hotbars, paring it down to just six or seven hotkeys. The producer speaking at the demo Kotaku attended explained that the decision was made after they realised most players tend to use the same few skills over and over again. Kinda like Diablo III, huh?

Kotaku also reports that it looks like Neverwinter will be heading down the freemium route – a move which may very well alienate fans of Forgotten Realms games, who worry that they may not get the full gaming experience.

I’m not sure if the ‘quick, let’s get this over with’ or the freemium approach will work with a D&D game. Dungeons & Dragons games have long been renowned for their roleplaying and storytelling capabilities. To direct it as an F2P micro-transactional based MMO, seems a little out of place. Nonetheless, in an age where action RPGs and freemium content are as common as your shooters, Neverwinter might just make the cut as a decent game, albeit one utilising a universe better known for its lore than its action.

Neverwinter is headed for a late 2012 launch, and you can stand a chance to participate in its beta programme by registering a Perfect World account.

(Photos: Gamingallthetime & Perfect World)