We preview the Great Weapon Fighter class, Domination PvP and Skirmishes
In preparation for the third Neverwinter beta weekend starting on Friday, a group of reporters and I met with Cryptic Devs for a press preview of the Great Weapon Fighter class, exclusive hacking and slashing in PvP and a level 31 Skirmish.
I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that, since you're reading this, you are either an MMO gamer or are interested in Neverwinter. With that in mind, I'm absolutely going to recommend you pickup a beta key from our giveaway page before they run out. While that's safely downloading, sit back and read on for my experience of the new class and PvP.
After conveniently being instant levelled to level 31, appropriate for the mid-level content being shown today, I grouped with Cryptic's Joe and three others. Our group consisted of two Great Weapon Fighters, one being me, two Control Wizards and Joe on a Guardian Fighter. We jumped straight into the Helm's Hold Skirmish, a large castle full of devil-summoning cultists hell bent on destroying our group.
We burned through Helm's Hold pretty quickly due to our largely Area-of-Effect based team, clearing the final boss in about 20 minutes. The Great Weapon Fighter class played much like the Barbarian in Diablo, leap into the middle of the fray and start swinging your massive two-hander dealing tons of damage to the poor devils laying in the crater you created. The two At-Will abilities (left and right click) I was using allowed me to choose between a wide arc attack dealing damage in a 90 degree angle, or a narrow upward swing hitting for more damage to single targets while damage is reduced when hitting multiple foes. At-Wills are basically the equivalent to auto-attacks.
Alongside At-Wills are three Encounter abilities which are more situational. The abilities I used allowed me to leap into combat dealing damage to surrounding foes; Roar to deal damage and push enemies back and Battle Fury, which increased my size and damage with At-Will and Encounter abilities while generating increased Action Points. When you get 100 Action points you will be able to use a Daily Ability, which are the unique and powerful abilities at your disposal. The two Dailies I was using were Avalanche of Steel, which launches you into the air after a few seconds of posturing then crashing back down knocking enemies over, much like a Superman maneuver. Alternatively I could use my other Daily “Spinning Strike” which makes your character spin around with sword out, dealing damage to enemies around you and increases Run Speed. Each of your attacks fills a bar on the left of your character, when it is halfway full or more you can use it to increase attack speed; a full bar lasts about six or seven seconds.
The Helm's Hold Skirmish was a good bit of fun on the side, something easy to drop into and dispatch a bunch of mobs, giving me time to get familiar with the class. Queuing up for the Dominion PvP map, I took time to have a look for more PvP appropriate abilities, I figured Mighty Leap and Roar would be useful for chasing down Clerics. I decided to change my Battle Fury for a disabling ability called “Takedown” which—as the name suggests—knocks a struck enemy to the dirt. It worked quite well in combination with my leap. Other abilities I saw in passing gave me healing based on damage done, a charge, a spin that slows nearby enemies and a shout that decreases enemy resistances. Great Weapon Fighter is basically a medium-armoured brawler focused on sustained damage.
Loading into the Hotenow Domination map we were scaled up to level 39 to match the highest level player on the map. Unfortunately for us we had no Cleric while the enemy team had two, Joe told me that the server will try to matchmake teams so each is balanced, and, while having a healer is not a must have, it is certainly helpful. The map itself is a smaller 5v5 arena with three towers that can be captured to earn points for your team, the first team to accumulate 1,000 points wins.
As soon as the gate fell we all rushed to the first objective ahead of us which is the furthest objective from the enemies. Turning to face the rest of the map there are two plateaus leading down into a central capture point which is in the shadow of a rock passage that arcs over it. Both teams captured their home tower before meeting in the middle tower to skirmish. More organized teams will elect players to bypass the middle by taking the overhead passage, where health nodes spawn randomly, then capturing the enemy’s home tower while they are focused on the skirmish in the middle.
The combat felt really fluid and intuitive, the two healers on the enemy team proving just as fluid, as hard to pin down. While there aren't as many red circles to avoid in PvP as in PvE, it can be just as dangerous, in my first engagement I rushed their healer and got obliterated in seconds by their whole team, I quickly learned the importance of movement. I spent the majority of my time chasing down the healers while the Control Wizard tried to stop me with his crowd control effects. Between dodging those and trying to keep an eye on the Trickster Rouge darting in and out of shadows there was a lot of action. This map in particular is quite compact and you will almost always be either fighting or fighting off death. Staying on the familiar topic of death, when somebody is downed allies can interact with him/her to get him/her back up. You can interact with downed enemies to execute them, at which point they cannot be resurrected by allies. While you are down you cannot use any abilities and will be given the choice to call for help or resurrect at the spawning point.
We used the in-game voice chat to try and organize our group, which worked until we got into a skirmish at which point it became a zerg until we were overcome by their Rouge and Control Wizard. In the end there wasn't much we could do against a team with two healers without a healer ourselves. Between the two healers they were able to heal enough to keep a player alive, but if we had been a more organized team and focused one of the healers I doubt they would have been able to sustain the damage. The PvP was a lot of fun and is definitely where I will spend most of my time this weekend.
Overall, this preview of Beta Weekend 3 and the PvP in particular left me wanting to play more. If Cryptic is able to make maps of the same quality or better as Hotenow Domination I will be happy. While Joe couldn't tell me how many other PvP types or maps would be available on launch, he did make it clear they are working on more. In regard to PvP progression he told me players gain Glory which can be used to buy PvP specific equipment.
Extra thank you to Cyptic for keeping us in the loop and to JoeCryptic for his patience when guiding our group. If you miss out on this beta weekend, be sure to head on over to the official Neverwinter site for more.