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Dungeons and Dragons

Neverwinter: Strongholds might get me back into the game

Jul 31 // Joe Parlock
Building your Stronghold [embed]296961:59747:0[/embed] With the goal of providing “interesting and meaningful experiences to guilds”, the process of creating and upgrading your guild’s stronghold is at the heart of the expansion. All buildable structures and upgrades are ultimately decided by the leaders of the guild, but those goals are worked towards by every member through the “Coffers” system. Coffers are the total resources available to a guild to help build up their stronghold, and they’re separated into three categories: materials, which are found in the lands surrounding your stronghold such as lumber; treasures, which are earned by playing through the campaign zones of the wider game such as the Dread Ring campaign; and stockpiles, the normal loot, gold, and astral diamonds players earn throughout the game. Finding these resources ensures creating a good stronghold for your guild isn’t just a case of the leaders fiddling with the UI; every member of the guild would have a role to play, be it collecting resources or planning out where structures will go.  Once there are enough resources to build a new structure in the stronghold, or to upgrade an already existing one, the guild leaders can then start the work of upgrading, while also setting the next goal for the guild to work towards. However, the amount of upgrades you can apply to a structure depends on the overall level of the guild’s keep. While structures have a maximum level of 10, the keep can grow up to level 20. However, structures can’t out-level the keep, so sometimes an effort must be made to upgrade the keep rather than simply rushing for all the new and shiny buildings. As players donate these hard-earned resources to their guild’s coffers, they are awarded guild marks with which they can buy new gear and items for themselves at the marketplace. It’s a way of incentivising altruism among the guild, and is one of the few times in the game players can make decisions for themselves that aren’t directly linked to the decisions of their wider guild. Another way the guild must coordinate in building their stronghold is in the new added boons. Boons are passive bonuses granted to players, and in Strongholds, structures can be built to grant the entire guild specific types of boons. There are currently four categories: offense, defense, utility, and Player vs. Player (PvP). The catch is not every type of boon would available for a guild at the same time, as there are only a limited number of boon structures that can be made. This requires decisions to be made about how players within the guild will be buffed. An example given would be a raiding guild may put more emphasis into PvP or offensive boons to increase their power. The boons in each category would be optional for each individual player, however what type of boon is available is up to the guild. It’s a neat mechanic, as now other players who you’d regularly play with have an active impact on how your character works, and how these buffs influence your character may well change in the future. Should the guild decide to change an offensive boon structure to a defensive one, the boons you previously had would no longer apply. It’s interesting, however I could also see it causing some conflict within guilds. The area given to a guild to build its stronghold on is the biggest zone Neverwinter has ever seen: it is three times bigger than the biggest previous one. The zone is split into multiple, smaller themed areas, each with their own enemies and quests. For example, there may be faetouched areas, or there may be areas that are more desolate, and different enemies may be encountered in each one. It’s nice to see some variance in the zone, as Neverwinter does have a problem of each zone being its own themed thing that gets boring sometimes: the snowy zone, the desert zone, or the city zone and nothing but that. Some areas will be sealed off and hidden until the stronghold has been built up and expanded on, but what’s interesting is that the future of the zone isn’t entirely known even to Perfect World yet. The strongholds system is planned to be expanded upon over the course of at least the next two expansions: Strongholds and a currently unannounced expansion after that. According to them, being “done” with building a stronghold simply isn’t possible, as new structures and boons will be made available in future updates.  While there is a storyline planned out for Strongholds and the expansion after that, the specifics of what sort of boons and structures will be included in them are apparently down to player feedback and community suggestions. New Player vs. Environment Content Building up a guild’s stronghold isn’t the only new addition to Neverwinter. Alongside it comes a new range of player vs. environment content, much like in the previous expansions before it. However, a lot of this will still directly help your stronghold grow. Firstly, the act of actually acquiring your guild’s new keep will be part of a quest line that changes as the stronghold grows. At first, your guild and a travelling band of Orcs will both arrive at the same time, causing there to be multiple skirmishes and missions available. Finding guards, protecting farms, and driving off Orcs to ensure that your keep is safe in the early days. As the keep levels up, new enemies will start to appear in the zone. For example, the second phase of the zone involves mercenaries appearing to try and steal the keep from you, giving you multiple quests involving dealing with them. The zone’s campaign appears to play out in much the same way as previous campaign zones such as the Dread Ring have, however there is also the added dimension of it being dependent on your keep’s level. Of course, there will also be a series of daily quests available from your stronghold’s steward too, and they will also help guide players to the next of their campaign quests. Greed of the Dragonflight That’s all pretty standard expansion stuff: more of what Neverwinter players will be used to. What’s particularly interesting is the major new boss fight that occurs in the Strongholds zone. Dubbed Greed of the Dragonflight, the boss is designed to be played by guilds of 40 or more players who must coordinate and plan out how to take down four powerful dragons simultaneously across the map. If one dragon is killed, the other three will flee shortly afterwards, requiring guilds to figure out which players are best suited to take on each dragon, and make sure all four of them die at the same time. Doing so will net the guild huge rewards, some of the most powerful items in the game, according to Perfect World. However, failure to nab all for dragons doesn’t mean nothing was gained. Due to some guilds not having enough players to take down all four dragons, there is a sliding scale of what rewards are given. The more dragons the guild can kill, the better the loot given. What I saw of this event reminded me of my favourite bit of Neverwinter: the timed boss events. Instances are great, questing is fun, but seeing the alert to head to an area of the map to slay as big-as-hell lizard was always really cool to me. It’s involving, it’s hectic, and it looks as though adding in the extra element of needing to size up who takes on which dragon will make it all the more satisfying when the guild succeeds. The difference between normal timed events and Greed of the Dragonflight is that it isn’t only a timed event. Due to a large amount of player requests, Perfect World is allowing guilds to trigger the event manually whenever they like, and so it could become a pretty big part of guild social life somewhere down the line. A New PvP mode inspired by MOBAs Player vs. Player in Neverwinter has been the centre of Perfect World’s attention for a while now: originally offering a fairly basic 5v5 arena mode, an open-world PvP was later added in Icewind Dale, and of course Strongholds will be adding even more for those who like stomping other players. The PvP added to Strongholds is a 20v20 Guild vs. Guild mode, which when I first heard about it reminded me a lot of Guild Wars 2’s World vs. World feature. However, it appears as though the new mode is being more inspired by the likes of Dota and League of Legends. This isn’t a compulsory feature, guilds must queue up to enter the mode. Once in the game, guilds will find their strongholds and surrounding lands “glued together”, with a river separating the two. The MOBA inspiration comes on the emphasis of controlling the various lanes between the two strongholds, while pushing forward and sieging the enemy guild. Perfect World has also catered to smaller guilds that might not have 20 players online at a time. When in queueing, if a guild has enough players to spare, they will be transferred temporarily to the other guild and fight for them instead. It’s a nice way of evening the playing field, but it will also be interesting to see where their alliances lie once the match is underway. It’s worth noting I didn’t get to actually see any PvP in action, due to the problems setting up a game with 40 players just to show me it would’ve caused. As such, all of this is only how it was described to me by Overmyer. Final Thoughts As previously mentioned, I’ve got a fair amount of experience with Neverwinter, however the lack of something to keep me interested once I’d finished the story quests meant I dropped out of the game soon after. Guilds have always been something in MMOs I’ve had an interest in, but never found the right match – I always ended up in quiet, inactive guilds where nothing ever happened. Strongholds looks like it wants to solve both of my problems, while giving me more of the solo content that got me into the game at first. I’m somewhat concerned that finding decent guilds might still be tricky, but maybe the new toys guilds can play with will convince people to give running guilds a go. PvP has never been a big interest of mine. I got into Rift’s quite a bit, but still eventually found myself going back to questing. Neverwinter in particular has been quite notorious for equipment you can buy in the store being perceived to be more powerful than stuff you can earn in-game, which always put me off PvP. However, if it’s true that the rewards from Greed of the Dragonflight are some of the strongest in the game, it could go a way to fix that problem. Overall, I’m excited. I’m definitely going to be going back into it just to see how all of these new mechanics change how people interact within guilds, if at all. Plus Dragonflight is a condensed version of everything I like about Neverwinter, which is great. Neverwinter: Strongholds will be released on August 11 as the next free expansion on PC. Neverwinter is free-to-play on both Xbox One and PC, with a PlayStation 4 version of the game coming in the future.
Neverwinter: Strongholds photo
An in-depth look at all the new stuff
On August 11, Perfect World will be releasing the latest expansion to their Dungeons & Dragons-based MMO Neverwinter, Strongholds. With its action-based combat, fantastic locations, and relatively simple mechanics, N...

Sword Coast Legends photo
Sword Coast Legends

Here's a full dungeon crawl in Sword Coast Legends


My dicebag is shaking with excitement
Jul 13
// Zack Furniss
Ever since I had a chance to play Sword Coast Legends at E3, I've wanted to watch a dungeon run from the perspectives of both Adventurer and Dungeon Master at my own leisure. I guess I failed a perception check and ...
Neverwinter photo
Neverwinter

The Xbox One version of Neverwinter is now only one expansion behind


Rise of Tiamat has just launched
Jul 02
// Joe Parlock
While the PC version of the pretty dang good MMO Neverwinter is waiting for news about its newest expansion, the Xbox One port unfortunately is playing catchup. Perfect World have announced that Rise of Tiamat, the fifth modu...
Sword Coast Legends photo
Sword Coast Legends

Sword Coast Legends' Dungeon Master surpassed my expectations


A critical success?
Jun 20
// Zack Furniss
I was supposed to Dungeon Master a session of Dungeons & Dragons tonight, but that post-E3 fatigue comes in hard. So why not tell you about my hands-on session with n-Space's Sword Coast Legends, a new asymmetri...
Neverwinter: Strongholds photo
Neverwinter: Strongholds

Neverwinter: Strongholds is whipping guilds into shape


With just a hint of Draenor
Jun 12
// Joe Parlock
Dang, Cryptic and Perfect World sure are pumping out the expansions for Their pretty awesome MMO Neverwinter pretty fast. Hot on the heels of Elemental Evil and the Xbox One release of the game, Cryptic has announced their s...
Sword Coast Legends photo
Sword Coast Legends

Sword Coast Legends releases September 8, new trailer


Put away the pens and paper
Jun 09
// Zack Furniss
I'm loving being a Dungeon Master in the Fifth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons thus far, even if time has done its best to keep me and my adventurers playing Hoard of the Dragon Queen. I'm casting a sideways glance towards...
Neverwinter photo
Neverwinter

Neverwinter Xbox One Closed Beta starts in February, sign up now!


Is Neverwinter about living in Los Angeles?
Jan 15
// Mike Cosimano
If you've got an Xbox One and have been hankering to play the Dungeons and Dragons MMO Neverwinter on a console, you might want to go ahead and register for the Xbox One closed beta. Registration begins today and the beta wil...
Loud story generator photo
Loud story generator

I am a peaceful gnome bard with body image issues, what are you?


PEACEFUL GNOME BARD FROM THE BASE OF A VOLCANO WHO HAS SERIOUS BODY IMAGE PROBLEMS
Jan 09
// Steven Hansen
Random generators. Without them, there would be no Childish Gambino. Probably other things. If you're looking for your next backstory in a rousing game of Dungeons and Dragons and can't be bothered imagineering one up, look n...
Neverwinter photo
Neverwinter

Xbox One's adding Neverwinter to its stable of free-to-play games


Perfect World's stepping outside the PC crowd
Jul 30
// Brett Makedonski
Xbox One has a handful of free-to-play titles, and all of them were built specifically for the console. That'll change in the first half of 2015 as Neverwinter, a popular PC action MMO role-playing game, hits the Microsoft pl...
Dungeons & Dragons photo
Dungeons & Dragons

Come to my basement and play some Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition with me now


And here I am still playing with 2e books I buy at consignment stores
Jul 16
// Brittany Vincent
The new edition of the venerable Dungeons & Dragons tabletop RPG kicks off its lineup with the Dungeons & Dragons Starter Set. Think of this as the demo to the full game, as it includes a 64-page adventure book with ...
Capcom photo
Producer ponders revival for Final Fight and Dungeons & Dragons
With the arrival of the new generation, Capcom is looking to try new strategies for how to better satisfy its audience. And while Deep Down is an interesting experiment, a producer at Capcom has some other ideas in mind -- an...

Baldur's Gate II Enhanced photo
Baldur's Gate II Enhanced

Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition is coming in November


Be the Lord of Murder in HD
Oct 07
// Joshua Derocher
After being put on hold due to contractual issues with the first Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, the much-loved sequel is finally getting an enhanced release. Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition will be coming to PC and Mac ...

Grab an exclusive Neverwinter item from Destructoid!

Jul 01 // Mr Andy Dixon
To claim your code from Destructoid: Login to your Destructoid account (or sign up if you're new) Head on over to our code giveaways page Click the big red button! Once you've secured your code from Dtoid, do this: Redeem your key here Login to your PWE account Enter your key into the Redeem Key field and hit Submit Launch the game and login to your character If you have not yet done so, progress through the Tutorial until you talk to Sgt. Knox in Protector's Enclave Visit the Reward Claims Agent, directly across from Sgt. Knox, to claim your pack Items will also be sent to your in-game mail Have fun!
Neverwinter items photo
An exclusive eye patch, some potions, and more!
Neverwinter is finally out of beta and in the hands of the masses, and to celebrate, our friends at Perfect World have given us 10,000 codes for some in-game items just for Dtoiders! Included in the pack are a Dtoid-exclusive...

Review: Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara

Jun 18 // Jonathan Holmes
[embed]255658:49232:0[/embed] Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara (PC, PlayStation 3 [reviewed], Wii U, Xbox 360)Developer: CapcomPublisher: CapcomReleased: June 18, 2013 (PC, PS3, Wii U) / June 19, 2013 (Xbox 360)MSRP: $14.99 Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara features two similar games, Dungeons and Dragons:Shadow Over Mystara and its predecessor Dungeons and Dragons: Tower of Doom. is the ultimate evolution of the Capcom beat 'em up. Along with Battle Circuit, it stands as one of the final iterations of the Final Fight design. There are even Holly Wood-style jerks that run on screen, throw a bombs at your face, and run away (a Final Fight trademark troll post). Captain Commando, Cadillacs and Dinosaurs, and The Punisher (co-starring Nick Fury) were all building up to this. It was released in a time when the competitive fighting game had all but replaced the cooperative combat genre as the biggest money maker in the industry. Shadow Over Mystara acknowledges that by incorporating a few Street Fighter-style moves into the controls, while never shying from its Dungeons and Dragons namesake. Choose one of 6 well-balanced character classes (Warrior, Dwarf, Cleric, Elf, Magic User, Thief), team up with up to 3 other party members (local co-op or online), fight a large variety of enemies (Manticores, Kobolds, Displacer Beasts, etc), gain experience, abilities, and loot, repeat.  The fighting system is fairly simple (no 50 hit Guardian Heroes-style combos here), but there are plenty of different moves to utilize (slide, dash, dodge, block, shoryuken, etc) and character specific moves (Theif can steal, Magic User has specific spells, Cleric can turn undead, etc) to master. If you just jump right in without reading the manual, you'll definitely miss a lot of the specifics on what each character can do. There are also plenty of random (sometimes hidden) items to find that have abilities and attributes all their own (like the Dragon Slayer Sword. Still can't find that one). The game takes about two hours to get through on the first try, with multiple branching paths, shops, and plenty of little secrets to enjoy as you go. No two games of Shadow Over Mystara ever have to be exactly the same. You can even shrink down to the size of a pixie if you play your cards right. That said, a lot of levels are mandatory on each run, so if you don't enjoy bashing the same Owlbears in the face over and over again, then you may get a case of the grumbles after the 3rd or 4th replay.  The art and music are among the finest in the genre. It's a decidedly different style than you often find in beat 'em ups today. It's clear that Capcom spared no expense on the visuals, with highly detailed individual sprites and traditional yet vibrant character designs. It's the tech of the time that holds the game back, limiting how many frames of animation could be stored in the RAM. The giant boss at the end looks particularly stiff by today's standards. It's interesting contrast to the visual style we see in most beat 'em ups today, where the only things limiting the graphics are the time, budget, and skill of the artists creating them. It's also interesting to experience just how much less fun it is to play an arcade game of this type in on today's consoles, where replays are endless and success is inevitable for all who choose to persevere. All coin-enabled continue arcade games suffer from this problem when ported on home consoles. The only way to try to remedy the issue is to limit continues (which is more annoying that anything else), or to actually charge you per continue via in-game purchases with real money (which would be extremely disrespectful to the player). These games were designed to be exciting and stressful because in-game mistakes meant actual financial losses. Take that out of the equation and it feels like God-mode is always on.  Capcom added a loot/achievement hunting metagame to try and keep players engaged. There are tons of unlockables (like original D&D monster art and a bonus survival mode) that you can only score by collecting in-game experience. There's also some encouragement to collect every item (which is something that will require exploration upon multiple replays to achieve), coupled with online online leaderboards. None of these things change the core game in any way, but they may work to sway you into jumping back into the fray for one more play when you might have otherwise felt like hanging up your sword.  Oops, almost forgot to talk about Tower of Doom! There is almost no need to play this game when you have Shadow Over Mystara on hand. It's got fewer playable characters, is slower, has a worse UI, and is generally less fun. It has a few unique traits that make it worth checking out once, but it looks pretty unappealing in the "shadow" of its superior sequel.  Still, Chronicles of Mystara is worth the purchase for any fans of beautiful sprite-based artwork or classic beat 'em ups. Its only flaws come from the technical limitations of its time and the design decisions that defined the arcade era. Gauntlet, Golden Axe, and Cadash all suffer from similar issues. Thankfully, Shadow Over Mystara trounces them all. It's the king of D&D-themed arcade action games, and should be respected as such.
Dungeons and Dragons photo
Outdated but not outclassed
Part of the appeal of Dungeons and Dragons (the table top RPG) is that it takes you out of the modern day of 24 hour news cycles and constant connection to everyone everywhere through multiple simultaneous internet portals. I...

Neverwinter release photo
Neverwinter release

Neverwinter out on June 20, first expansion revealed


The expansion is green!
Jun 06
// Joshua Derocher
You should go play Neverwinter -- it's awesome. Right now it's in open beta, but on June 20 it will be officially released. Part of this release includes a new end-game area that will combine "PvE, PvP and dungeon delving int...
Dungeons and Dragons photo
Dungeons and Dragons

Chronicles of Mystara trailer showcases the Dwarf


No magic? No problem
May 24
// Chris Carter
Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is coming soon for the PS3, Xbox 360, Wii U, and PC, and you can get a closer look at the Dwarf character in the trailer above. As his description suggests, the Dwarf is a front-li...
 photo

DeNA's next two games are G.I. Joe and Dungeons & Dragons


Give him the stick!
May 24
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
DeNA is continuing their partnership with Hasbro by releasing two new titles: G.I. Joe Battleground and Dungeons & Dragons Arena of War. G.I. Joe I expect will be much like the Transformers game where you collect and bat...
Videogames are evil photo
Videogames are evil

Dungeons & Dragons destroys peoples lives


It's evil I tells ya
Apr 20
// Taylor Stein
Crazy alert: radical TV preacher Pat Robertson is at it again. In a new video aimed at warning the world of hidden evils, Robertson asserts that Dungeons & Dragons is a "demonic" videogame. In previous discussions throug...
Neverwinter photo
Neverwinter

Neverwinter goes into open beta on April 30


With one more closed beta event on the way
Apr 05
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Apparently a lot of you like Neverwinter, the upcoming free-to-play MMORPG. Seriously, we ran out of closed beta codes for the game within minutes! Well for those of you who missed the special closed beta weekend events, you...
Chronicles of Mystara photo
Chronicles of Mystara

PAX: Capcom breathes new life into D&D arcade classics


A nostalgic four-player romp
Mar 22
// Fraser Brown
Capcom announced today at PAX that Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom and Shadow over Mystara, its sequel, would be getting remastered into an HD double-pack for modern platforms. These two four-player arcade brawler...

Here are 5,000 Beta Weekend 3 codes for Neverwinter!

Mar 21 // Mr Andy Dixon
[embed]249271:47689:0[/embed] Neverwinter key redemption instructions: Go to www.playneverwinter.com For new accounts: Create your account information and submitFor existing accounts: Login to your account Enter your key here - https://my.perfectworld.com/nw/redeemkey Download the game client here - http://nw.perfectworld.com/download Install and play! Once you've put in some time with the game, be sure to share your experience in the comments below! And if you like what you see, check out the Neverwinter Founders Packs! Have fun! Note - Codes not redeemable in the following regions: China, Egypt, Russia, Hong Kong, North and South Korea, Macao, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Neverwinter BW3 keys photo
Grab a key for the upcoming D&D MMO, courtesy of Dtoid!
[Update: Codes expired! Hope you had fun!] Destructoid has partnered with our friends at Perfect World to bring you 5,000 codes for this weekend's leg of the Neverwinter beta! Set in The Forgotten Realms campaign for Dungeons...

Here are 2,000 beta codes for the D&D MMO Neverwinter!

Mar 07 // Mr Andy Dixon
Neverwinter key redemption instructions: Go to www.playneverwinter.com For new accounts: Create your account information and submitFor existing accounts: Login to your account Enter your key here - https://my.perfectworld.com/nw/redeemkey Download the game client here - http://nw.perfectworld.com/download Install and play! Once you've put in some time with the game, be sure to share your experience in the comments below! Have fun! Note - Codes not redeemable in the following regions: China, Egypt, Russia, Hong Kong, North and South Korea, Macao, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Neverwinter beta keys photo
Grab a key for Beta Weekend 2, courtesy of Dtoid!
[Update 2: We're giving away five more on Twitter this Saturday, March 9. After that, you'll have to wait for Beta Weekend 3!] [Update: They're gone! Boy, that was fast. Follow us on Twitter; we might get more!] Destructoid h...

D&D MMO Neverwinter plays like a good action-RPG

Feb 07 // Joshua Derocher
Neverwinter  (PC)Developer: Cryptic StudiosPublisher: Perfect World EntertainmentReleases: Early 2013 The biggest thing that makes Neverwinter stand out from other MMOs is its tiny abilities bar on the bottom of the screen. It works a lot like the abilities system from a typical action-RPG game and it's easily usable with keys like Q, E, and R. You'll only have to reach up to 1 and 2 to use your daily powers, which won't be too often. A total of eleven abilities can be hot-keyed, and that includes the mouse buttons. The abilities you decide to map can be swapped out at just about any time, not unlike, say, Diablo III. The combat is almost identical to a hack-n-slash role-playing game. Imagine if Diablo III and EverQuest had a baby: combat works by clicking a lot while pointing at monsters and dodging out of the way of their attacks. It isn't anything new, but it's a nice point of differentiation for an MMO. It's very responsive and I noticed only minimal impact from lag -- even in this early beta version. The foundry system of player-created content from Cryptic's other games like Star Trek Online will be making its way into Neverwinter. Players will be able to make their own quests and they are easily accessed from a bulletin board in-game. Any user-created content can be rated so you don't have to worry about wading through piles of garbage to find anything worthwhile. It won't cost anything to access the Foundry, but it will have to be unlocked in the game somehow. Cryptic will have more details on this later. At launch, there will be five classes that are based on Fourth Edition D&D class archetypes: Trickster Rogue, Great Weapon Fighter, Guardian Fighter, Control Wizard, and Devoted Cleric. There are plans to add more classes after release, and there's no word yet on if any of these will cost money to unlock. The developers did say that they don't want to lock content out from anyone, but things like unique races might be offered to premium players. I'm sure some of you are wondering what makes this different from Dungeons & Dragons Online. Well, it plays a lot differently for one thing. DDO is a classically-structured MMO that is strongly based on the 3.5 edition of D&D's rules, which is a long way of saying that it's slower paced and a lot like EverQuest and World of Warcraft. Neverwinter is based on new rules for D&D and it's built as an action game. Plus it's based on the more well-known Forgotten Realms as opposed to the Eberron setting and is being designed as a free-to-play game from the ground up. I like DDO, but I can see some people switching over to Neverwinter because it has more engaging combat. Of course, they are both free, so no one really has to choose one over the other.  I've enjoyed what I've played so far and am looking forward to diving into the beta over the coming weeks. The MMO space needs some diversity in what's available, and while Neverwinter doesn't stray too far from the familiar questing formula, it does offer entertaining combat, and having fun -- if still familiar -- gameplay is sometimes all it takes to make a good game.
Neverwinter hands-on photo
Impressions of the Neverwinter beta
There are a lot of massively-multiplayer online games on the market today, many of which are still very similar to World of Warcraft. While the graphics, setting, and characters may change, the core gameplay often feels the s...

Review: Crimson Shroud

Dec 14 // Chris Carter
Crimson Shroud (3DS eShop)Developer: Level-5, Nex EntertainmentPublisher: Level-5Released: December 13, 2012MSRP: $7.99 The legendary Yasumi Matsuno, who worked on such treasured games as Ogre Battle 64, Final Fantasy Tactics, and Vagrant Story, is at the helm as both the writer and director of Crimson Shroud. Given the pedigree alone, it's bound to turn some heads -- especially for old-school JRPG fans. This isn't your cookie-cutter JRPG, however -- dice rolling is paramount in Crimson Shroud. No, I don't mean the secret number-crunching machinations that go on behind the scenes in many RPGs that determine damage and stats; I mean there is literal dice rolling, complete with D20s and everything. The game doesn't half-ass this Dungeons and Dragons feel either: during most of your journey, the characters and enemies even have little figurine bottoms on them, and the dialogue often reads like a dungeon master is deciding your fate. Little touches like these make the game feel like it has a smaller production value for sure, but it adds a ton of charm, and offers an experience most other games gloss over. Story-wise, Matsuno compared the ambition of the narrative to a "short story," which I would say is apt. You're presented with three characters, Giauque (the kinda sorta main character), Frea (the mysterious member of the Qish race), and Lippi (Giauque's close friend and confidant), and the crux of it basically deals with their hunt for the fabled "Crimson Shroud" -- an item of extreme power. You'll progress through the game using a map on the game's bottom screen, and like D&D, pitfalls, traps, and encounters could occur at any moment, in addition to the peppering of story sequences here and there. Normally I'm not a fan of static story sequences without voice acting, but it absolutely fits the "dungeon master" narrative style here, and given the low scale of the game, it makes sense. If you don't buy into the lore, a number of these story sequences are optional, and are enacted by selecting the "reminisce" option at key points. Basically, how much backstory you get is mostly dependent on your personal interest for it, which is a nice touch for people who just want to enjoy the RPG side of things. Just like classic pen-and-paper RPGs, you'll find a number of events that bring you at a crossroads, and leave you at the fate of the dice to decide whether or not you dodge a trap, for instance. Naturally, given that Crimson Shroud unabashedly pays homage to these types of games, there's lots of reading involved. That's okay though, because special credit should go to the writers and the translation team, as they do a great job keeping you enthralled. Again, you know where your loyalties lie when it comes to these types of experiences, and if this doesn't sound appetizing, I'd be weary of plunking down the price of entry for this. Surprisingly though, even when you look further than dice rolling, Crimson Shroud touts one of the most complex RPG battle systems I've seen in recent memory, due to the fact that layers of strategy are present in nearly every facet of the mechanics. There are elemental chains, elemental counters, optional dice rolling power-ups that let you test chance, mechanics such as the ability to skip turns and make your next turn quicker, and more. Since combat is set up like a typical JRPG (think Final Fantasy), it'll be easy to pick up, but still difficult to master. Do you buff yourself, or an ailing party member? Do you spread out your elemental abilities, or attempt to chain them in succession? You'll constantly be asking yourself these questions as you stop and thinking during some of the game's harder fights, which is a welcome change from the blazing action combat systems found in other RPGs. All of the game's controls are wonderfully designed, allowing you to take advantage of either the touch screen or the d-pad and face buttons (yes!) -- even for actions like dice rolling. There are no character levels in Crimson Shroud, as your performance is entirely dependent on your skills and items. While I don't normally like this design in lengthier RPGs, it lends itself very well to a shorter, bite-sized affair, eliminating the need to grind (unless you decide to grind for items). You may find yourself begging for a level grind though, as some of the encounters in this game are tough, and will require you to actually learn the game's intricacies. In one particular instance, I struggled pretty early on against a giant Minotaur, and almost directly after the confrontation, I encountered that same Minotaur in zombie form -- only this time, he could leech health. I ran into a number of issues, namely the fact that two of my three party members were geared to use dark abilities -- which the zombie Minotaur resisted. After a 15-minute fight where he was leeching health faster than I could deal damage, I loaded my last save file. After that, I tried to keep my item elements diversified a bit, and I didn't run into too much trouble -- save for a few more lessons in tactics. Crimson Shroud lasts around seven hours, but given the aforementioned tough and lengthy battles, it could end up taking a lot more time to complete. After you're done, there's a New Game+ option that allows you to retain your gear, and increases the difficulty of the game. For the price, this little $7.99 package is quite a bang for your buck. Although there are a number of hang-ups, and the audience is decidedly niche, Crimson Shroud is an incredibly unique game that will satisfy table-top fans everywhere. While I didn't get into the story as much as Matsuno probably hoped I would, I had a great time hanging out with Giauque and crew in this incredibly well-crafted RPG.
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Digital D&D dice rolling
The Guild01 collection is a very special project that I'm glad we could be a part of. Although the last game in the set isn't slated for a release out of Japan, the mere fact that Level-5 decided to take a chance with any of ...

How I learned to stop worrying and love the tabletop RPG

Sep 25 // Sophie Prell
I had played Baldur's Gate on PC when it first came out, in an age of CRT display iMacs with handles embedded in their neon-colored plastic cases. I loved it, but I never realized how much the game was a translation of D&D 2nd edition rules, or that it took place in an official D&D setting. When my friends finally had an opening in their role-playing group, it was decided the next campaign would take place in Forgotten Realms, along the coast, just north of, yes, Baldur's Gate. “Wait a minute,” I said. “They took the game from however long ago and made it into this?” The group looked at me as though I had just asked what inning the Super Bowl was in, and how many free throws the Green Bay Packers needed to beat the Calgary Flames. It was kindly explained to me that the legacy of D&D traces back far, far earlier than any digital video game, and that Baldur's Gate the game was in fact based on Forgotten Realms, not the other way around. I sunk my teeth into Dungeons & Dragons like I never had any of my other hobbies. I read every book on my friend's shelf. I learned all I could about the rules and creatures and magic and items. My first character was a Fey'Ri rogue/sorcerer combo, and to this day I often use her name for avatars or screen names on forums. No luck on the Xbox LIVE gamertag though. Boo. Soon, D&D wasn't enough. I learned there were all manner of role-playing systems, including the often-mocked live-action role-playing game, such as World of Darkness. A professional at Iowa State University and personal friend turned out to be not just an avid player of Vampire: The Masquerade, but the local prince of vampires. He gave me a taste of his Camarilla persona, and I was legitimately terrified. Make fun of LARP-ing all you want, but that shit was scary. I bought my own map, my own books, my own dice. I sketched out characters. I was neck-deep and loving it. The funny thing is, the more absorbed I became in tabletop, the more I recognized the legacy of D&D in modern systems and games. Skyrim may have a collision detection method of combat, but hit points and mana points are still there. Knights of the Old Republic was governed by D&D 3rd edition rules, and it's considered one of the best roleplaying games of all time. Guild Wars 2 is a huge step forward for MMOs, but you're still basically targeting a creature's AC and utilizing abilities, much as you would in a tabletop system. Not only that, but my deeper connection and understanding of tabletop led me to a deeper understanding of gamer and nerd culture. Believe it or not, some nerds just aren't as into video games as you or I. They might prefer pen and paper role-playing, LARP-ing, comic books, or television. If you only have one thing to connect on and the other person doesn't share that interest, you've lost an opportunity to learn and grow. Now that I could talk D&D, I could meet new people and share new interests, learn new things. Getting into tabletop gaming fostered my creativity. Jesse Plumb, the same friend who introduced me to Forgotten Realms revealed that he had been working on his own setting, called StarBlazer. StarBlazer was every sci-fi trope and nerd fantasy come true, slammed together and put together to form a coherent whole. The Empire? They're around. Xenomophs? They've got stats. Grammaton Clerics? They're a base class. Samus' Varia Suit? It's wearable. StarBlazer symbolized the cycle of creativity: It took two things my friend loved, role-playing and nerd culture, and created something fresh, with its own classes, rules, and systems. Dungeons & Dragons likewise took from Tolkien, Lewis Carroll, Poul Anderson, even the Bible and television show Kolchak: The Night Stalker. Now I've tried my hand at creation, with my own base class based on Naked Snake, designed to fit within Pathfinder rules. (Warning: It's incredibly unbalanced, I know. Like I said: first attempt.) But why tell you all this? For one, I hope you can learn as I did to appreciate things you may not have tried before, and seek out those new experiences. We're not just gamers, we're part of a culture, and that culture intersects at so many crossroads and waypoints along the way it behooves you to learn as much as you can. Second, there is a film being made about Gary Gygax and the legacy he created with D&D, and I'd like your eyes turned to them for a moment. The D&D documentary Kickstarter just closed last weekend, and they just barely met their goal. I want to see these men and projects like these supported. I want more people to see Dungeons & Dragons and tabletop role-playing as I have come to see it: as a wonderful influence on even our most modern gaming experiences, one we too often take for granted. I want people to see things the way I've seen them and then be inspired. Are you excited for Bioshock Infinite? Do you love Borderlands 2? Name the game, and it can be translated to the tabletop medium. All you have to do is try. At the very worst, you fail and wasted some of your time. But you did it trying to create something, and it will have given you a new perspective on this little hobby of ours we call gaming. Whether our controllers are handheld constructions or a combination of dice and paper, we're all gamers.
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I love role-playing. I like being a half-elf, half-demon on a bloody rampage; I like being a sci-fi ex-black ops badass on a quest to rescue his daughter; I love being a naughty schoolgir -- wait, sorry -- wrong kind of role-...

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PC release of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition pushed back


Sep 14
// Jordan Devore
The PC version of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition was scheduled to release next Tuesday, but it has now been pushed back -- quite a bit back, actually -- to make sure all of the pieces are in place at launch. The new date is ...
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Impressions: DDO: Menace of the Underdark


Jul 30
// Joshua Derocher
Dungeons & Dragons Online (DDO) has been around for over six years now. When it went free to play, the game picked up over a million new players and its revenue increased by 500%. I'd call that successful. It wa...
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WB bringing Lollipop Chainsaw, Witcher 2 and more to PAX


Mar 31
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
It was last PAX East where Lollipop Chainsaw debuted to the masses and it's going to be this PAX East where we get just one more last look before the release this June. The game has come a long way since last PAX and I can't...
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LOTR Online and D&D Online going cloud streaming


Mar 08
// Brett Zeidler
First it was the move to free-to-play that brought throngs of new players to both The Lord of the Rings Online and Dungeons & Dragons Online in the past. What's there left to do? Well, cloud streaming, of course! Starting...
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Could a new Baldur's Gate be on the way?


Feb 29
// Jim Sterling
A new teaser site has crept onto the thing we call the Internet, and it brings sultry promises of new Baldur's Gate content. The site plays music, has a few images, and bears a quote from Alaundo, but the stuff hidden in the ...

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