I play both games. Just like when DDO was going free to play, I was in the open beta for Neverwinter. With my experience with both I figured I have them face each other in a fight to the death… except with out the blood, and the violence, and the death. I’m going to compare the games based off of graphics, gameplay, story of the starting area, and community. These are just my opinions. You don’t have to agree. So lets begin.
Round 1: Graphics
This one is not as one sided as you may believe. While Dungeons & Dragons launched in 2006 and Neverwinter launched in 2013, I feel that there is something… plastic (for lack of better word) about the graphics of the character models in Neverwinter. Well see for your self. The first wizards is the preview for the control wizard in Neverwinter, The second is the old wizard preview for Dungeons and Dragons Online.
Now don’t get me wrong. When I say they look plastic I mean that the look a little off. The environments in Neverwinter are amazing. DDO’s older area’s are starting to show their age. The newer areas in the Cormyr definitely rival the zones in Neverwinter. All that being said I have to give this round to Neverwinter. Just barely though. As I said DDO is starting to show its age. The plastic look of the character models in Neverwinter can be distracting, but it doesn’t detract from the wonder of the environments. Next round.
Round 2: Gameplay
So one of the most important things about a game to me is the gameplay. A game can have the best graphics in the world, but if the controls are ass and make the game completely way more difficult then it needs to be then all those pretty pixels are completely useless. Also customization of a character is key to me. How much control over what the characters abilities are do I control. For all of this it seems to fall on the editions of Dungeons & Dragons the games are based on.
Dungeons & Dragons Online is based on 3.5 Edition. This is the edition that I started playing in. As I have said in a few of my articles, I still DM an Eberron campaign using the 3.5 rules. DDO does a great job integrating these rules onto a MMO setting. It gives players the option to choose the spells they have prepared, giving characters versatility. The controls themselves are also pretty solid. Then again the are your standard fantasy MMO controls. Controls that have proven time and again that they work.
Neverwinter uses a bare bones version of the 4th edition rules. Something I feel hurts the customization of characters. While it doesn’t have the multiple hot bars cluttering the screen, it does feel that characters are forced into roles. Also the game uses an active reticle aiming system. What does that mean? Well it means that your mouse always has to be on your target. While it is new and unique, I’m honestly not a fan. This round goes to DDO.
Round 3: Story of the Starting Area
So why am I doing the starting area stories?It’s simple really. This is what draws you into the game, and its something that your going to have to play through every time you make a new character. Maybe. I’ll explain more on that in a bit.
So let’s take a look at Neverwinter’s starting area story:
For those of you who don’t want to sit through the half hour video above, I’ll give you the short version. You are a traveller who has come to the city of Neverwinter while its being besieged by a lich necromancer. After fighting your way through her undead army, you confront her only for her to get away. I feel this starting area uses a cliff hanger to keep players who want to see how the story ends to keep playing. This isn’t a bad thing. After all they do give you more tidbits as you go.
So the lets look at the Dungeons & Dragons Online starting area:
So again short version. While traveling to the city of Stomreach, the airship your on is attacked by a dragon and you crash land on the island of Korthos. Soon you are drawn into the blight of the people as they are stuck in on the now frozen island thanks to the dragon that attacked your airship. The area ends with the dragon being freed from its mind control and the islanders freed from its icy fury. Or does it? See this is where that maybe thing from before comes into play. As you play you earn favor and eventually you can earn (or purchase) what’s called veteran’s status. With it a player can start at level four, or if you managed to earn (or purchase) the second tier you can start at level 7. With veteran’s status, your starting area is an airship. The very one that crashed. Also, in the new expansion, iconic characters were introduced. These are characters start with enough experience to go all the way up to level 15. So with the diversity of zones and a story that has an actual conclusion, This one goes to DDO.
So we are at 1 for Neverwinter, and 2 to DDO. On to the last round.
Round 4: Community
So I’m rating this off of my experience with the respective communities. The fact is I personally prefer the community of DDO to the community of Neverwinter. Dungeons and Dragons Online’s community has just seemed more inviting. I think this has more to do with the style of game though. Every quest in Dungeons and Dragons Online is instanced and you are rewarded for doing the quests as a group. Neverwinter follows many of the standard MMO tropes of go here and kill x of y. I have been through a few of the instanced dungeons in Neverwinter and to be honest had no issue running them solo, feeling that a party wasn’t really necessary. Not just that, but DDO has community run events that I just have not seen yet. Here’s a list of the few I’ve heard of: a battle royal, an evasion tournament, a funeral for the late Gary Gygax, and a new years party.
Now I will give Neverwinter credit. It has something that was a staple in the original Neverwinter Nights series. It has the forge. The forge is a set of tool that allows users to create their own dungeons. However even this has been used to create dungeons to allow for easy leveling with out the need for a party. So when it comes to community I have to give it again to DDO. Maybe further down the line as Neverwinter’s community grows it will improve. So that’s three for Dungeons and Dragons Online, and one for Neverwinter.
Please note that above is done only from my opinion and my experiences. In my opinion Dungeons and Dragons Online is a better game. I constantly cycle through games as I play them. I always find myself coming back to DDO. My time with Neverwinter came and went though. I find myself keeping it updated, but I haven’t actually logged in in a couple of months. Your experience may very.
On another note, earlier this year I attempted to do a 24 hour DnD Live stream. Due to technical difficulties I was only able to make it to the 6 hour mark. This has not deterred me. I am currently working out the details so that I can attempt to do this again. As I figure out more, I will make the information available. So stay tuned.