I wanted this game to be something that I could sink my teeth into and be an experience that brushed over the weak points of 4th edition while bringing the good points to light. What I got was an experience so generic and uninspired that it gave me a nerd derection. The one thing I can give credit to Cryptic about Neverwinter is that they gave a consistent experience like Champions Online and Star Trek Online at the expense of a true D&D experience.
To give an idea of much of a D&D fan I am; I'll give a brief look at my history with it. My first experience directly with D&D was with Dark Sun: Shattered Lands, back when floppies were king. Then came Neverwinter Nights 1 & 2, and finally I joined a friend's group for Thursday night campaigns in 3.5e, Pathfinder, and GURPS until my work schedule forced me to quit.
First, I'd like to state that there is no real problems with the graphics. My only nitpicks with the graphics is more in some of the designs, like how the height can only be adjusted by increasing the length of your legs. Also the fact that every female armor has a cleavage cut out or doesn't cover vitals, but I have come to expect that in any recent game.
I think my main problem is that the game isn't Neverwinter Nights 3 or even anywhere near a complete experience with D&D. I went into the game semi blind for a few reasons which are: 4th edition D&D ruleset, Cryptic,and the typical bullshit train of PR and hype. I gave 4th a shake with a one-shot, but it was too streamlined and felt like a different beast. Yet, 4e did give way to Pathfinder which I absolutely love. Now for Cryptic, got burned by pre-ordering that dud Champions Online and what little content it had and the slew of bugs and nerfs caused by badly coded algorithms. Lastly, the PR it got just made the game sound like something it wasn't.
"Neverwinter is a true Dungeons & Dragons experience, brought to life with the dynamic Cryptic game engine." That last sentence makes me seriously rage as it is a bold faced lie.
Now, the game is a streamlined experience of a streamlined system. The basics of D&D do not apply. Attack rolls and Damage rolls don't exist and stats are just functional placeholders that bare little semblance to the core material. Oddly enough the changes are really close to how Guild Wars 2's stat system works. Combat and exploring feels like Star Trek Online's ground exploration/combat, just a lot more polished. By exploration, I mean instances and well the skill system oddly enough. Basically in Neverwinter you have one class skill that you can use to interact with certain objects in an area and can substitute other skills with kits, similar to the class specification interaction of STO. I don't agree with it, but it works.
The thing that ticks me off the most is the fact your customization is extremely locked to one kind of equipment and basically one path of powers because you're playing an "optimized" build from 4e. For example, you make a Cleric expecting a mace and a shield, but you get a holy symbol to wave around to heal and shoot things. On a Great Weapon Fighter you get a Greatsword and scale armor, want a big hammer? Tough. The with "feats" or as you know them in any other MMO, talents. There is going to be A build or B build to use until A or B is nerfed, then another build will come up and rinse and repeat like 90% of MMOs. I like to have some sense of true customization so that I feel unique from the crowd or the freedom to do whatever the hell I want.
Honestly, A few years ago I would have said, "F' it, this is shit." and move on, but after hanging around with dtoid peeps on twitch (http://twitch.tv/destructoid to be specific), you just need people to have fun. When going to that train of thought, it donned on me what Neverwinter is really like.
That's right. I think Neverwinter is a hack n' slash like the Dark Alliance games with GW2 bits sprinkled in. Many things are pre-built and oversimplified and your inventory management consists of getting better gear. Unfortunately, if you are like me, avoid Neverwinter if you wanted something akin to a Neverwinter Nights 3. But if you want something more in the style of Dark Alliance or Gauntlet, then give it a whirl.