Dungeons & Dragons passed me by at school. No one ever spoke about it, not one of my distant cousins played and it was never ever shown to me as a kid. This is not due to the demonisation that was placed upon the game in the media, I put it down to one reason.
Warhammer – or Games Workshop as it was named – then filled all the fantasy tabletop gaming needs for the avid player. Me? Well, I couldn’t paint, had no patience to learn and therefore simply missed out. Had I been given the option of crafting tales of adventure with a buddy or two back then, I would have loved it.
Today D&D (Dungeons & Dragons) is more popular than ever. From podcasts showcasing entire campaigns, to the ever popular Stranger Things basing most of its mythos on the game, there has never been a better time to go jump on board.
By on board I mean onto your Xbox, Neverwinter is set in the D&D world and boy will it get you started in the universe in all the right ways. Neverwinter released in 2013, almost ten years ago now, and has grown from strength to strength. Sure it’s an MMORPG on console, but it works, and it works well.
The combat in the game is satisfying, the side quests given out are all usually just slightly off the main quest path, and it is free to play. I have never really played an MMO and stuck with it as most of them tend to be more relatable to PC, or just simply aren’t that great. Hacking away with a mystical sword or casting spells to defeat the hordes is intuitive and feels meaty.
With the release of the latest module for Neverwinter (modules are like expansions, added periodically) Dragonslayer, the teams at Cryptic Studios and Arc Games have truly revamped the entire dragon system in the game. The fights almost feel multi-layered, an epic clash between hero and beast that honestly makes it feel like everything is at stake throughout.
The new Dragon Hunt system allows you to take on the mighty winged beasts solo if you are feeling brave, or as a group like the slightly more sane players out there. You can increase the difficulty and tweak the mods to your liking which is fantastic for the new player to test out what works for them.
These fights – I will add – are not for the faint of heart. Even the dragons in the early hunts are tough to bring down so consider levelling your character before taking them on. Once you do nail that first dragon however, you will be hooked and ready for more challenges.
With the new dragon slayer module a brand new playable race has been added – the Dragonborn. These humanoid dragons are the Children of Io, the great dragon God. They are honourable people who have thrown off the shackles of their former dragon masters. They are the only race to allow players to add +2 to any 2 stat categories making them a great place to start for newbies.
These new additions open up a slew of new adventure opportunities for you to tackle alone or with a group. I personally love when I can play an online game solo (antisocial I know) and not have to worry about being able to complete dungeons or beat bosses. Neverwinter allows me to do just that.
A great setting and entryway into the D&D universe, via the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, fighting dragons and chopping up skeletons while seeking out treasure or avenging a village has never been so much fun as in Neverwinter and the Dragonslayer content . You feel that the world around you is a living breathing entity, normally in MMOs especially, the world can feel stale and wooden but Neverwinter has a well crafted history implemented throughout the lands.
The good thing is the investment of time needed for fun is very low. Not once did I feel like I needed to grind for hours to get to the correct level. Handily labelled level quests are varied and keep you entertained along the way, there are also side quests to be picked up from NPCs in towns and encampments that provide rewards and treasures.
So if you are salivating at the thought of playing through the Forgotten Realms and taking on dragon threats (and dungeons) then Neverwinter should be your starting point. A fantastic MMO with a friendly and helpful dedicated community that is totally free to play. As a returning player from launch I happily and easily jumped back in, welcomed by vets who showed me around (and assisted in some more dangerous areas). Don’t be afraid to chat to other players.
The questing in the game is very clearly laid out too, whilst combat is solid and crunchy, it almost wanders into third-person action game territory at times, so well the system is done. Your actions are completely customisable and can be assigned to whichever button you feel suits each move or spell best.
You may have tried games such as Baldur’s Gate or the recent Dungeons & Dragons: Dark Alliance, but it’s Neverwinter which allows you to experience the worlds and settings alongside other players. The experience for me tops the rest of the single player D&D games available. Really D&D at its core was originally meant to be played and shared with good friends and Nevewinter ticks that box.
Steeped in lore for those that want it with countless books and collectibles. Yet for those that want instant action, dialogue is very quick to skip (I don’t recommend this as the world here is incredible) and fights are plentiful. Roaming the dungeons brings a fantastic array of ungodly enemies to slice and dice, while treasure is plentiful. Each area has its own aesthetic and enemy types that make travelling to the various areas on the map a treat. It’s a game that never outstays the welcome.
I can wholeheartedly say that I prefer Neverwinter to what I’ve experienced of World of Warcraft. There’s a much lower barrier to hurdle over for newcomers and an easy to follow tutorial system. Do yourself a favour and stick Neverwinter on your download queue and thank me later.
Starting the game is easy, putting it down is the hard part. I’m off to kill some more gray wolf’s (those things annoy me) on my current quest line. Be sure to check out the new Dragon Hunts and the Dragonborn race in Neverwinter and I will see you on the islands of Dragon Coast fellow adventurer!
Huge thanks go out to Arc Games for providing us access to Neverwinter and the new Dragonslayer content. You’ll find the game freely downloadable on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S from the Xbox Store. It’s also on PS4, PS5 and PC too.