Introducing the Control Wizard, Neverwinter's powerhouse caster class.
During last weekend’s Neverwinter beta, we got the chance to go hands-on with the Control Wizard. This ranged caster class is adept at keeping foes at a distance, while providing fast-paced and fluid combat that’s hugely engrossing.
But don’t take our word for it! Courtesy of developer Cryptic and publisher Perfect World, we can exclusively reveal the introductory video for the Control Wizard. The glorious destructive power and teleport-based mobility are shown off to great effect in this quick look at the class.
A Rare Breed
As its name suggests, the Control Wizard is all about controlling the battle. With a mixture of slowing chills, ensnaring roots and forceful repels, an adept wizard can keep an enemy at bay. Combined with a set of potent damage dealing abilities and the power to teleport around the battlefield, the Control Wizard is no mere glass cannon.
It’s also a class that rewards careful strategy over a crazed charge. Rush in unprepared, and you’ll find yourself struggling to stay alive as opponents surround you. Plan your attack and choose your spells wisely, and you’ll be able to take down foes you never thought possible.
The Control Wizard isn’t born with magic running through their veins. Instead, the power they wield is the result of years of careful study. Elves and other long-lived species have been known to spend a century studying the arcane, even before their first adventure. The most powerful have augmented years of examining magic with decades of wielding it in battle.
Even so, a Control Wizard isn’t a common sight. The Spellplague ravaged the Forgotten Realms, leaving many powerless. The plague also made spellcasting chaotic and unpredictable, making it dangerous for allies as well as foes. It wasn’t until a new incarnation of Mystra, goddess of magic, restored order to the art that a new age could begin for the wizards of Faerûn.
Being a fan of caster classes in all their forms, I pounced on the Control Wizard during last weekend’s beta. You can see my first steps with the class on ZAM’s Twitch.TV page, covering the first steps of character creation and through the early levels. I found the class hugely rewarding, providing an excellent balance between dealing damage and controlling the fight.
As a cloth armor wearer, staying mobile is the key to staying alive. While standing still and spamming spells will deal with weaker foes, anything more challenging will have you chugging health potions. Luckily, the Control Wizard comes with an arsenal of spells to keep enemies at bay, all dispensed through your floating crystal orb.
Spells are broken down into three distinct sets, with new spells gained automatically as you level up. The first set is loaded with ‘At-Will’ abilities that can be fired off rapidly like Magic Missile, or channeled continually like Ray of Frost. There’s no long cooldown or cast time on these spells, so they’re great for quickly taking out the more minor opponents.
‘Encounter’ abilities make up the second set. Spells in this group have a longer cooldown – more than ten seconds in most cases – and it’s where you’ll find most of the snaring and repulsion spells. Experienced casters will recognize these as solid combat openers, strong mid-combat damage dealers and useful breakout or distancing spells. Most classes get three slots for Encounter abilities, but the Control Wizard has a fourth to represent the time they’ve spent studying. That fourth slot also confers Mastery of a particular spell, granting further benefits.
The final group of spells are called ‘Daily’ abilities, but the name is a bit of a misnomer. By dealing damage and killing foes you’re rewarded with Action Points, which steadily fill up an Action Meter. Once that meter’s full, a powerful attack can be unleashed. The first of these is Chill Strike, a formidable area effect that knocks back opponents and deals significant amounts of damage.
Playing a Control Wizard is a huge amount of fun, crammed full of fast-paced but methodical combat that can feel almost Zen-like, as you work to deal damage while stopping your opponent from getting in range.
This feeling is helped significantly by the control system. Spells are aimed by the mouse, but will usually only fire if there’s a target in your sights. The two At-Will spells are bound to mouse buttons, while Encounter and Daily spells are nestled around WASD directional keys. It makes it easy to reach for a particular ability, and is an intelligent piece of keybinding, making combat become natural and instinctive.
As mentioned before though, it’s mobility that’s the key here. By holding shift and a direction key to teleport a short distance, you can really dance around the battlefield. Throw in some snares and it’s easy to put space between yourself and whatever you’re fighting.
There’s also a great layering effect in combat that helps to train you in choosing spells. Basic minions can be taken down with At-Will spells, such as a quick triple-fire of Magic Missile. A tougher brute or Hexer with a small cluster of weaker mobs will require more imagination, either through using Encounter Spells or Teleport to create space.
At the end of dungeons, boss fights are a further layer. These tougher mobs will take a while to whittle down and can deal devastating damage to your frail Wizard if you let them, summoning waves of support that can overwhelm if not dispatched quickly. It’s during these fights that all the tools come out to play, keeping distance from the boss while quickly taking out his allies and using the available space to maximize the effect of Daily spells.
Keeping track of your health is another important aspect. Although Neverwinter does feed you with a steady supply of health potions as loot, it’s not advisable to drink them like water. Instead, both dungeons and open-air spaces have a couple of campfires that serve as respawn points and provide health regeneration. That said, a skilled Control Wizard should be able to avoid much of the damage being dished out.
Overall, playing Neverwinter feels very much like a classic dungeon crawler, except that you’re in the thick of the action rather than looking down on it. You’re rarely fighting one-on-one, with packs of foes constantly moving to surround you. As a Control Wizard, you hold the baton that controls the beat of the fight.
And it’s all glorious. I can’t wait to play again.