It was all part of Bioware's master plan to make Neverwinter Nights as much of an online experience as an offline one. and even though the quality of the single-player game is high, it's through multiplayer that the true magic of the game can be found. Despite it being out for less than a month at the time of writing this review, the online side of Neverwinter Nights was buzzing, and by the time you read this it should be even easier to get a multiplayer game in any chapter of the single-player game or numerous official and fan-made mods. Lag is dependant on the number of players and whether you're providing both server and client information, but generally the multiplayer shouldn't run much slower than the single-player.
A Hunting We Will Go
As with the single-player game, creating a character is extremely easy, plus you get a number of pre-made characters to experiment with. Once you get in you'll find that, in a similar way to Diablo II, the monsters you encounter will go up in strength in relation to the number of people in a game. It's worth bearing this in mind, because enemies also go up in skill as well, so you can charge into a room intent on offing a relatively easily dispatched prison sorcerer, only to find that the bastard is toting fireballs.
There are many features contained within the multiplayer side of the game that are tailored to make the whole experience that much more immersive, particularly if you're playing with a group of mates. Through your character screen you can access pre-set emotional dialogue and actions for your character such as waving, bowing, begging, and laughing. You can even create personalised dialogue and assign it to your quick slot bar. So if you have some particularly witty quip about badgers, and believe me they've all been done before, you are free to annoy your fellow adventures with it as quickly and often as you wish.
I Love A Good Party
Playing through Neverwinter Nights with a party not only gives the game a more traditional Baldur's Gate feel, but it also gives you the chance to see the various ways all the quests can be completed and the characters can be developed. Needless to say, this all helps create an amazing sense of atmosphere by allowing you to inject a lot more personality into your character. Whether you and your friends just fancy a leisurely preamble while chatting about the latest episode of Hollyoaks, or if you're looking for a more hardcore "Lo, goodly wench, a pint of your finest ale, and dare I venture a slice of dragon's liver pie?" approach, the world is yours to manipulate.
Download Neverwinter Nights
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
It seems a long time ago since that first dice was gingerly thrown and the first set of stats scribbled down. When thousands of young men, and a couple of women, ostracised themselves from society in favour of Advanced Dungeons And Dragons in dimly lit back rooms. But luckily for us, some of those young men got out of those back rooms and became game developers, otherwise our trip to Canada to see Bioware's latest code for Neverwinter Nights might have been just a nosh up at the local grill with a spot of moose watching.
A Night's Tale
Since our last Neverwinter Nights update in issue 105 the gameplay in every area has advanced by leaps and bounds, and Bioware is now in the last few months of testing, retesting and polishing to ensure you get the best possible RPG experience. The focus of the game is quite different to anything Bioware has done before with the Baldur's Gate series, and revolves around four key areas: singleplayer, multiplayer, the dungeon master client and the toolkit. In our last preview we looked mainly at the multiplayer and dungeon master aspects of Neverwinter Nights, so now we're going to fill you in on the single-player and toolkit features. As it's the single-player aspect that RPG fans will immediately gravitate towards we'll start there. Unlike the party-based system used in the Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale games, Neverwinter Nights focuses around a more Diablo 2-style single hero, who apart from hiring the occasional henchman or summoning a creature is on their own. The storyline starts with your hero being summoned to the city of Neverwinter, which has been blighted by a seemingly incurable plague, to join the city's militia to help control the burgeoning unrest and search for a cure. You start in the main keep of Neverwinter, which acts as a training ground as well as introducing you to some of the main characters and plot elements. In conjuction with the 3rd edition AD&D rules that Neverwinter Nights is built around you get a choice of seven races and 11 classes, each with their own skills and abilities.
Things To Make And Do
The whole issue of character creation is one of the areas in which the Bioware team has adapted Neverwinter Nights, in order to make it reach out to those gamers that maybe enjoy the RPG genre but have previously stayed away from the more complicated aspects of an AD&D title. "At its core Neverwinter is a hardcore RPG," explains senior producer Trent Oster. "But on top of that hardcore role-playing aspect we've put in levels to shield people from some of the complexities." The game has a full character generation system for the first time and recommended buttons through each stage of creation for those who are unfamiliar with the different classes and kits. But it's also possible for players to go in as normal and create their own specific character makeup.
Many of the puzzles throughout the storyline can be solved in a simple way but there will be more advanced paths and trickier quests for hardcore players. Aspects like the interface, camera angle and function keys are also very user friendly and customisable for your own specific gaming preferences.
"The way we see it capturing the mainstream is not about this big amorphous mass of people who are all alike," claims joint Bioware CEO Ray Muzyka. "It's a significantly large group of people who all like different things. Some like the behind the shoulders camera, some like the top-down camera, some like action whereas others like more of a storyline. What we're trying to do is make Neverwinter appeal to all those different kinds of people through the customisation, through the content and the class system, the camera angles and the interface. We're trying to make it possible for anyone to get into it."
"Neverwinter Nights is really a re-examination of computer games," continues Trent. "It's a re-examination of rules and interaction. In Baldur's Gate you have a party with multiple characters but Neverwinter is much more of a return to the pen and paper style in that you have a party of one character. It is more traditional and actually does flow into multiplayer better. You are the character you play!" And it suddenly strikes me how odd it is to see a rather large Canadian man talking with such teenage zeal about the finer aspects of RPG.
Tools Of The Trade
Another aspect Bioware has simplified is the toolkit. Neverwinter Nights is shipping with more comprehensive and powerful tools than the ones in BG and BGII.
"I think making your own adventures in a game is an awesome idea," enthuses Trent. "Probably most of our main design decisions have been made with the toolset in mind, in terms of our whole approach to tile-based art work. We've made it very easy to work within the toolset, because the whole idea all along was it has to be simple to use. We wanted people to be able to quickly create an adventure, which means building an area, dumping some creatures in and getting into the game, in maybe 10-15 minutes." The team are also willing to give up a few of their developer secrets along the way, and when you complete the first chapter it becomes 'unlocked' and you can load it up in the tool set and see how it was created. This can allow you to model your initial adventures and sequences on the ones the team originally used. But partly we suspect, this is because Bioware knows that there are fans out there that like nothing better than a good rummage through their code.
Bioware hopes to create an all-encompassing RPG that both hardcore players and the hack 'n' slash brigade can enjoy. But whether it turns out to be the four course meal we're expecting or a paltry prawn cocktail is something we'll reveal in our upcoming review. But we've played the code and are starving ourselves in anticipation of a full on banquet. GB
Neverwinter Nights: Just the name sends shivers down the spines of most PC RPG gamers. After months of waiting, the RPG to end all RPGs has finally hit the market. But is it everything it has been hyped up to be? Neverwinter Nights was an ambitious idea in the first place: An RPG that allowed ultimate customization and a never-ending series of adventures, created by the gaming community and RPG lovers everywhere. It would be like buying your very own AD&D module creator, in a pinch.
My main gripe, then, would be the lack of an equally exciting module built into the game. NWN's single player game is somewhat weak: A plague is killing the denizens of Neverwinter, and you need to find out how to stop it (shades of Heretic II, anyone?). While not a bad module in itself, it lacks the depth of gameplay that the Baldur's Gate series had. Also, character movement and control is not as graceful or simple as Dungeon Siege, but then again, this is a much more in depth adventure game. I was unable to test multiplayer aspects of the game, but the engine looks solid and should support LAN play with very little lag.
But in many ways, NWN is superior to that title in many aspects. The first person perspective is a lot more intuitive than previous Bioware titles, and sound and video are both excellent. The Aurora module building tool, while extremely memory intensive (256M recommended), is very simple to use and will be easy for even moderate RPG enthusiasts to master quickly, making turnaround time for module creation much shorter.
In short, I give Neverwinter Nights a Fans Only rating for the time being, being as that the single player game lacks the fun factor that I expect newer fan created modules will. In a month, new adventures built by fans will definitely push this game into the ranks of Recommended Buy.