E3 2011: Neverwinter preview – play the game, then build your own D&D epic

Cryptic Studios’ upcoming Dungeons and Dragons title, Neverwinter promises a meaty campaign with more story-based gameplay than classic MMO elements. The game is set place in 100 years into the future of the Neverwinter universe, in the aftermath of a catastrophic volcanic eruption. Due to this disaster and the death of the Lord of Neverwinter, the world is in turmoil as different factions struggle for power.

Unfortunately, this is about all we can tell you regarding the story and campaign mode. The main focus of our time with Neverwinter was the dungeon creator tool dubbed “The Foundry.” This tool is available immediately and doesn’t require any leveling to acquire. On a clear grid, player is given the option to drop in pre-made rooms or create their own. Either way, all of the objects in the rooms are fully customizable. For example, removing a crypt from a pre-made room takes only one click of the mouse. Different rooms snap together at pre-marked points.

The Foundry best resembles tabletop D&D in the customizable NPC conversations. Players can easily adjust and direct dialogue, including different answer trees that arrive at different conclusions. Even the angle at which conversations are viewed can be adjusted for dramatic effect. If it gets too complicated, you can always run through the conversation yourself in an easy test mode.

Using this tool, the designers showed us how simple it was to quickly design a dungeon. In fact, Cryptic told us that instead of using their own tools; their team is actually using the Foundry to design the campaign. Once fans build a map, they can submit it for review and if it’s approved it will be published for anyone to play for free.

So the Foundry looks like a pretty accessible tool, but being this is the only aspect of the game we saw, it’s hard to say whether this even matters on a larger scale. The combat is supposed to be real-time, but again, we didn’t get a look at how this works. The game is slated for release at the end of this year and hopefully we’ll have a better idea of how the game plays by then.

Jun 14, 2011