Neverwinter Nights Quests
Is undoubtedly one of the most highly-anticipated games of this year. After five years in development, the game is finally done, and to the delight of RPGers around the world, Bioware hasn't left us disappointed. If the shear size of this five-page review scares you, then you'll be happy to know that Neverwinter Nights is good, very good, even brilliant in some aspects. There hasn't been a night for the past week and a half that I haven't stayed up to well into the night (and early, early morn') beating orcs, minotaurs, and hobgoblins - and I've enjoyed just about every second of it. But of course, like everything, Neverwinter Nights isn't perfect.
If you've read my first impressions, you'll notice that the single-player portion of the full review is pretty much the same. My thoughts on the single-player game haven't changed. As a matter of fact, it's only gotten better as I play more into it. What I will go into more detail here is the online aspects of the game and the Aurora Toolset, and of course we've finally attached that coveted score you all salivate over like the Hell Hounds you are.
The Rules of the Game
I've been playing Dungeons & Dragons computer games since the original Gold Box series, and tabletop D&D well before that, so I know my D&D. Only thing is, aside from playing Pool of Radiance: The Ruins of Myth Drannor, I haven't really kept up with the progression of D&D into the 3rd Edition rules. If you've been keeping up with Neverwinter Nights, you know it's set within the confines of the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition universe. Luckily, they're not difficult to pick-up, even for those of you who have never played D&D.
The 3rd Edition rules are actually much more open-ended than before, and your character isn't nearly as limited in his or her choices or abilities. With the exception of only a handful of class-specific skills, now any class can pretty much do anything. Wizards can wear armor, clerics can disarm traps, and rangers can identify magic items. It doesn't mean you're going to be as good at it as some of the other classes, but you can do it - it will just cost a fighter more to learn to pick a lock than it would a rogue. And a wizard wearing armor will not only experience more spell failures, but he better have enough strength to heft 60 pounds of metal around.
This kind of system also make multi-classing much easier, and rewarding, than in AD&D. Instead of dividing experience equally among your classes, now you can opt to choose to train in any of the 11 classes whenever you earn enough experience points to gain a level. And if you do change classes, you don't loose any of the abilities you learned in your former class. So what happens if you start your career as a fighter and learn down the road that it would be beneficial to learn a few rogue skills? Simply choose rogue as your next class when you level up, distribute some points to pick locks and disarm traps, and go back to your fighter progression next level. I really like this system, and the 3rd Edition rules lend themselves well to a computer RPG.
An Orc Walks Into a Bar, He Says "Ouch"
From looking at the screenshots, you may assume that Neverwinter Nights is an action RPG like Diablo II or Dungeon Siege. This isn't the case, as Neverwinter Nights is much more than an action-oriented dungeon crawl and still holds firm to the classic RPG tenets that you need to have a complex, epic plot and plenty of quests.