Now, the combat. This is a key feature that sets this game apart from other MMO\'s on the market today. Those of you who have played T.E.R.A may, at a glance see it as very similar. But once you actually get your hands on it, you\'ll notice a completely different feel. This feels a much more visceral experience, each blow seems to have real impact and power behind it, whether it be a Great Weapon Fighter\'s sword slamming into the ground, sending a shock wave of dirt and stone crashing into his enemy\'s, or a gravity vortex conjured forth by a Control Wizard, slowly dragging their enemy\'s into it\'s centre before throwing them through it air in a brilliant explosion. Never before have I felt so connected to the combat experience in an MMO, it is just so fun and satisfying, easily my favourite part of the game right here.
While the Foundry definitely comes under \"The Good\" section of this First Impression, it is such an expansive aspect I feel it deserves it\'s own subsection.
Neverwinter\'s Foundry tool-set has all the makings of a revolution in the way we play MMORPGs. For the unfamiliar, the Foundry is a streamlined version of the tool-set which the games developers themselves use to create the various dungeons, instances, encounters and quests in the actual game. With it you can design either self-contained quests or full \'campaigns\' with multiple quest chains if you want to tell a bigger story. Once your adventure is designed you can publish it for the player-base to use, rate, review, and even tip you in-game currency for if they really enjoyed it.
Starting a new quest is fairly straightforward; entering the tool-set you\'re prompted step-by-step for each necessary titbit of initial information such as quest name, description and objective- it\'s when you get into map editing and customisation that the Foundry really expands into possibilities.
Anyone who\'s tried out the tool-set that came with Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2 will find the interface reassuringly familiar, but for first-timers it\'s pretty intuitive- you select rooms or maps from pre-made tile sets sorted into categories (such as households, crypts, dungeons, sewers, etc) and from there go about populating the rooms from a top-down view with quest objectives, décor, and encounters. Rooms can also be \'auto-populated\' with a single button, filling a room with furniture and clutter suitable to its tile-set.
NPCs and enemies can also be tweaked to an eye-watering level of detail, not only in cosmetics such as costume and appearance, but in behaviour. You could, for instance, create a difficult encounter with an elf with the powers of a necromancer- or give him the power-set of a spider, or dragon.
Once happy with the overall layout you can enter the instance to play test encounters or tweak the positioning of every character, enemy and object in the full 3D game environment, as well as checking that quest objectives work as they should anybody\'s going to fall through the floors.
Using the Foundry tools, the only frustration I found myself running into was a relative lack of architectural bits and pieces- if you\'re building a room with a specific layout in mind you may find yourself limited by the set collection of rooms and corridors that you\'re supplied with.
With that in mind however, what the community has created in a matter of days is still remarkable- a wide range of quests and campaigns are already available, and whilst some aren\'t very good, others are astonishing in the quality of level-design, attention to detail and plotting on display. The possibilities it can offer both the role-playing community as well as the average player are unique.
After seeming so enthused about the level of customization available during character creation, you would be forgiven for assuming there couldn\'t possibly be a downside to it. Sadly that is not the case.
Neverwinter\'s customization is great but the way that character models turn out is still pretty generic, even with all that work and effort put into making them just right. Walking around the city of Neverwinter, players will run into more than a few characters that look pretty much exactly like theirs. This is, in part, due to the fact that the base models for each race are all virtually the same. There\'s little real difference between a dark-skinned Drow and a pale-skinned Human, at least initially. Even should you customize down to the \"nth\" degree, it doesn\'t yield a huge difference once in the game world. The majority of the tweaks and alterations that actually make your character look different are in the facial details, eye colour, hair style, tattoo\'s, the subtle changes in a broader jaw, smaller eyes. None of this is noticeable unless you stop and really pull your camera in to look, which given how little players are going to be standing around still for enough time to do it, makes it almost impossible.