Neverwinter might turn out to be the surprise MMO hit of 2013. It wasn’t even supposed to be an MMO, until it was pulled back by the newly-purchased Cryptic to be developed into one. I think few were taking it seriously, and yet now it seems to be liked by almost everyone that I’m paying attention to. It is, I think, the full flowering of Cyrptic’s freemium model, without the baggage that comes from having current or former subscribers that you have to be careful not to piss off.
Now, I do have concerns about the game’s staying power. The actual amount of dev-scripted content in the game is actually pretty lean… but there’s lots of repeatable stuff, and the Foundry. And we’re seeing signs that some remarkable stuff will be coming from that. Which brings me to today’s video.
This is a reproduction, using the Foundry, of the classic D&D module The Keep on the Borderlands, adapted within the confines of the engine and suitable for solo play. It’s not how I would personally have tried to do such an adaptation… but that such things are even remotely possible is very exciting. The Forgotten Realms setting along with the possibility of revisting the classic adventure sites of old school D&D might make Neverwinter very alluring indeed.
No video game can capture the openness of tabletop RPGs, of course, and MMOs in particular have been moving mostly in the opposite direction for several years. But there’s still a potent D&D nostalgia that can be tapped, and the brilliance of the Cryptic approach is that they don’t have to pay devs to do it. Said content won’t have the quality control of professionally-developed stuff, either, but enough of it will be good enough. And in principle as assets get added to the game the Foundry should become more and more capable. If we can get this kind of stuff a week into “open beta,” the user generated content we see a year or two from now should be genuinely amazing.
Also, personally, I am enjoying the game. Lots of respectable titles have bored me right out of my chair well before 20 hours in, and I hit that (and level 25 on my Control Wizard) in Neverwinter over the weekend and have no intention of stopping now.