By Remko Molenaar (Proxzor)
On the 7th of April Neverwinter had its newest expansion launch in one of the largest updates to the game yet, Elemental Evil. Along with a lot of new content, a new class was also introduced. The Oathbound Paladin is the newest class increasing the class count to eight. Since I hadn’t played Neverwinter in a long time, but was a huge fan of the game at launch, getting access to this class was the perfect excuse to jump back into the D&D fray.
If you ask me the top five MMORPGs over the last five years, you can bet that Neverwinter will be on that list. Its rare nowadays that an MMORPG that’s free to play at launch has hooked me quite like Neverwinter did. It caters to a lot of fans not only because of the many unique features, but also because it gives even non-cash shopping players an opportunity to earn anything available through dedicated gameplay. With three max level characters from the launch phase, I assumed there wouldn’t be much new to see when I returned. Not true at all!
Before I talk about the changes that stood out most to me, let me fill in the key features for the uninitiated. Unlike most point and click based MMORPGs, Neverwinter incorporates a Guild Wars 2 style of semi-action combat, involving utilizing the mouse to aim attacks with plenty of movement skills to dodge incoming abilities. If you have played a Dungeons and Dragons game before, you can expect a heavy emphasis on grouping in Neverwinter as well. While the story is mostly soloable, it’s ten times more enjoyable with friends. Friends that you’re going to need to tackle endgame content. But perhaps the best part of having friends is utilizing The Foundry to challenge each other with user created scenarios and custom dungeons. Though if you have to be the hardcore soloist, the companion feature is there to give you that bit of help you’ll need to fight through most dungeons without human interaction. But enough about the basics, let’s look at the new class.
The Oathbound Paladin
The Oathbound Paladin is a class that can be played in two different ways. The Paladin can either take the tanking role and be the meat shield to buy extra time for your damage dealers, or call the shots from the backline while healing and supporting with a variety of new abilities. Since both of these roles are always very important in any Dungeons & Dragons game, I was hesitant in deciding which path I would follow with my Paladin. Granted you have plenty of time to play the base class before you lock yourself into either path. With the power of light you will use shield and mace to battle your foes. The Paladin has a strong defense from the get go, and together with your continuous stream of recovery abilities, you can take on packs of monsters without much difficulty. While being a juggernaut is awesome, this is definitely a class for the patient player. Those looking to devastate foes in a flash will be bored with the war of attrition that is the Oathbound Paladin’s gameplay. Still with their ability to group tons of mobs before AoE witling them down, they can level rather quickly.
Surprisingly the Paladin fits well into the PvP meta as well. He can hold his own behind enemy lines, forcing valuable dps to be shifted his way. Should the enemy team ignore your disruptive presence, you can focus your abilities on powering up your allies to stand their ground better as well. While lacking the damage of most characters, he can still punish groups for standing too close together. The only element preventing them from being downright overpowered is their paltry movement speed. If you miscalculate and bite off more than you can chew, you’re usually better standing your ground until death. It’s rare you’ll manage to outmaneuver your pursuers to escape death. Though if your team is doing their job, you shouldn’t need to retreat very often.
Besides the new class, the level cap has also been increased from 60 to 70. The iconic hero Minsc and his pet hamster Boo have come to the city of Neverwinter to pursue the true nature of elemental cults dedicated to seeding destruction and instability throughout the forgotten realms. And if you are a Neverwinter fan then you should be just as exciting as I was upon hearing that news. Fighting against the four elemental cults of water, earth, fire and air through tons of exciting quests, with new class powers and abilities is as good as it sounds. The Forgotten Realms needs your help again; are you up to the task?
We’re almost two years after release and Neverwinter is still an amazing game with a ton of content. With this new expansion not only can people play yet another class without paying a dime, there is also a lot more content for the player to enjoy. Neverwinter is the definition of a successful free to play game that anyone can enjoy. With that said, you can still throw you cash at your screen and get a lot of useful items, companions and mounts to help you around. The Paladin class is another great addition to the game, plays really great and has its own unique role that changes both PvE and PvP.