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Cryptic Studios' free-to-play Dungeons and Dragons MMO Neverwinter officially exited beta and went live today. The game's launch is accompanied by the release of new Gauntlgrym content for level 60 players.
Neverwinter takes place in the Forgotten Realm setting of D&D. The eponymous city has been ravaged by the Spellplague and a rampaging Fire Elemental. Now an undead army lead by the lich Valindra have laid siege. Players take on the role of adventurers battling the enemies of Neverwinter both inside and outside of the city's walls.
I was one of the 1.5 million players who tried out Neverwinter during its beta and enjoyed my time with the game. The combat isn't quite as action-packed as, say, Guild Wars 2's but it's still more engaging than the stand-here-and-auto-attack combat seen in most MMO's. The range of content available to players is impressive. You can level up through solo quests, group up for skirmishes, or kick in some skulls with PvP. You've got access to all the above regardless of whether or not you pay any real-world money in the game.
The Foundry is really the X Factor of the game. It turns the player base into Dungeon Masters and allows them to use their creativity to flesh out the game world. They can make quests that other players can then dive into and rate. It's a constant stream of new content that also happens to be very accessible. Foundry quests scale to your level so it's easy to find a new quest if you've only got 15 minutes to kill in the game.
Cryptic plans to supply players with new content of their own as well. Today's release of Gauntlgrym is just one example. They're planning an expansion pack called Fury of the Feywild that will introduce a new region to the game world along with a new dungeon, new enemies, and two new professions. This expansion will be free to download by all players, too.
The game certainly has some room for improvement. It would be nice, for example, if there was a way to prevent dungeon groups from rolling need on every piece of loot. NPC companions are currently rather dim, too. However, I think Neverwinter as it stands right now is still a game worth trying. After all, it doesn't cost you a dime.