A few months ago, I developed a real hankering to play something in the Dungeons & Dragons universe. I used to do a lot of D&D 3rd Edition roleplaying with friends back in college. I know that’s not something I should probably be admitting for both age and taste reasons but it’s the truth. Anyway, I had really fond memories of those times and with having played Pillars of Eternity last year, my thirst for Dungeons and Dragons was rekindled. Being a guy who just loves to play MMORPGs, I really had only two options to quench this thurst.
I downloaded both Neverwinter and Dungeons & Dragons after reading about them for a bit from www.mmobro.com. Alternating between each for the past few months, it became clear that neither was a perfect game. Both have their strengths and both have pretty clear weaknesses. I do still have both installed, but play Neverwinter a bit more just because it’s getting updated more frequently. But I think Dungeons and Dragons Online might be a better MMORPG overall. Luckily they’re both free MMOs so it didn’t cost anything to try them out.
Both are action driven, which I’ve grown fonder of lately. Action games in the early 2000s meant pretty mindless button mashing or mouse aiming. Not that those weren’t skill based, but I like to use my brain when I play games. What a weird form of relaxing. I don’t even know, but it’s what I like. Anyway, both games offer a good combination of action and strategy that do a good job of bringing the spirit of Dungeons and Dragons to life. Neverwinter stays more action packed with its combat. Regardless of class, abilities get used over and over to overcome challenges. When I was playing a cleric in D&D Online though, I felt a bit more worried about using my spells for fear of running out before the big bad encounter.
Neverwinter’s fast and furious combat is almost like playing a hack and slash game like Diablo. The options are more interesting for how to approach dungeons though, and because of player made scenarios (thanks to The Foundry) there is always something new to test one’s prowess. The developers really rely on other players too much though and the most enjoyable scenarios come from players. Dungeons and Dragons Online is much more finely tuned and the different difficulty levels provide ample replayability.
My biggest issue with Neverwinter is the game seems to be going the pay to win route. It doesn’t really affect me yet, but it’s something really discouraging to read about from other players. On the other hand, Turbine with D&D does a great job of being fairer. Despite that, I’ve missed out on some content with D&D and I’m not max level with Neverwinter yet so it hasn’t affected me. But again, they’re both part of a growing number of free MMOs and the cash shop is simply part of the business. I guess the community is just better with Dungeons and Dragons because the developer interaction is an improvement. It’s also a more authentic experience from a spellcaster perspective.
I haven’t experienced PvP with either game. It’s not something I think a MMORPG like these really needs so I haven’t tried it yet. Adventuring is all I really care about here and there are plenty of scenarios in both games to keep me busy. Why bother killing other players I feel like?
For MMORPGs, both have the same problem keeping me from really getting hooked. There’s really not much long term player interaction. I talk to people (and like I said D&D Online is a better community) but there’s not much reason to keep up with anyone. There’s plenty of solo content in both games and for Neverwinter at least it’s easy to find groups when I need to…as long as I’m not picky on the adventure module! The lack of community really sucks for most MMORPGs nowadays anyway though.
Ultimately, I’ll keep both games on my hard drive for the time being. Why not? They’re both fun games that scratch the college D&D 3rd edition itch when it strikes.