Winter is coming, but not the one you’re probably thinking of. Starting today, Xbox One owners can get their high-fantasy fix in Neverwinter, a free-to-play massively multiplayer online role-playing game set in the rich world of Dungeons & Dragons.
Given that MMORPGs don’t currently dominate the console space, you can be forgiven for not knowing your Neverwinter from your “Game of Thrones.” Since missing out on this action-fueled fantasy epic would be a grave mistake, we figured now would be a good time for an introduction to Neverwinter.
We recently sat down with Neverwinter‘s gate keeper, Lead Designer Scott Shicoff, to discover what players can expect, now that the game has landed like a bloodstained battleaxe.
Xbox Wire: For those who are unfamiliar with Neverwinter, can you tell us what it’s all about?
Scott Shicoff: Neverwinter is a full-fledged, free-to-play MMO set in the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Players create characters based off of iconic D&D classes (Control Wizard, Guardian Fighter, Trickster Rogue, Hunter Ranger, Devout Cleric, Great Weapon Fighter, and Scourge Warlock), to then explore dungeons and battle epic monsters. Neverwinter also offers player-versus-player combat, crafting, and alternate forms of player advancement through campaigns.
Xbox Wire: Can you elaborate on what the core gameplay experience is like? What sorts of things will players be doing?
Scott Shicoff: Neverwinter uses an action-based combat system, which made it a natural fit for console. While traveling around the Sword Coast, players will need to be careful as they can’t just press an “attack” button and tune out; enemy attacks should be avoided whenever possible, and players will need to find the right positions and timing to be as effective as possible.
Beyond questing and fighting, players will also be able acquire companions that they can build up and battle alongside. There are queued PvP and player-versus-environment activities, as well as a crafting system called Professions. Players will also find special gear that can be improved through a refinement process.
A major aspect of the MMO gameplay experience is communication. To that end, players will of course be able to chat through the Xbox Party system, but they’ll also be able to use an in-game group chat if they desire. Text chat has also been included, with shortcuts for whispers, item linking, replies, and emotes. And if you have a keyboard attached to your Xbox One, or access to SmartGlass, you can use that to type in text chat.
Xbox Wire: What type of gamer is Neverwinter for? Will it, say, appeal to fans of fantasy RPGs like Dragon Age or The Elder Scrolls?
Scott Shicoff: Fans of D&D, or fantasy games in general, should find something to get excited about in Neverwinter, as we’ve done a lot to make sure the Sword Coast is properly represented. As this is a full-fledged fantasy MMO, it will appeal to those players interested in a true online, multiplayer RPG experience. And with the action combat, I believe console players in general can get in and have a good time, even if they might not normally pay attention to a fantasy game.
Xbox Wire: How accessible is to folks who have never played an MMORPG?
Scott Shicoff: We’ve done a lot of work to make sure the game is as accessible as possible. This is done through the control scheme and tutorials on systems and elements that will roll out as players level up. Also, Neverwinter is filled with lore that players can find and read if they’re curious about the world’s history. The story experience is all-new, and does not require any previous Neverwinter knowledge to be enjoyable.
Xbox Wire: How is it different from similar experiences on Xbox One?
Scott Shicoff: I’m not sure there’s a fully analogous experience available on the Xbox One. This really is the full MMO package, optimized for a console experience. Players will find character growth, open-world missions, PvE and PvP queues, professions, chat, in-game mail, guilds, and so much more! As Neverwinter is a living game, it will also have regular updates to keep the game fresh.
Xbox Wire: Does the Xbox One version have any features or content specific to the platform?
Scott Shicoff: The user interface and controls have been optimized for the Xbox One, but the game content will be what users might expect from the PC. Some of the content from the PC will roll out over time, but our ultimate goal is to have the two platforms as similar in content as possible.
Xbox Wire: How is the game taking advantage of the hardware’s power and unique features?
Scott Shicoff: All of the Microsoft systems have been integrated. So, beyond players being able to communicate via Party Chat, their Xbox Friends List – and all of the things that come with that – are integrated into the game, and a new set of Xbox Achievements can be earned. And, of course, the power of the Xbox One lets us deliver a strong, consistent experience across the board.
Xbox Wire: Great! Anything else you can share that might get fans pumped to finally check Neverwinter out?
Scott Shicoff: I’m personally really excited to have a full MMO that I can play on console. The action combat feels great on a controller, and I love opening up my Xbox Friends list and inviting folks to run a dungeon with me. Can’t wait to see everyone in game!
Check out the free-to-play Neverwinter now, on Xbox One!