Friday, May 10, 2013

Neverwinter - A Beginner's Guide and FAQ

Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I've been talking about Neverwinter a lot over the past few days. Gimp got me to start playing and I'm hooked. I look forward to writing a few more posts about my impressions, thoughts, Auction House tips, etc. but right now I think what the internet really needs is a good beginner's guide. The wiki for the game sucks ass, to say the least, and many of the other guides I found left out important things like Invocation or Companions, so I'm going to try to give a rundown of what a new player needs and may want to know in their first days of playing.

(Don't worry, WoW fans, this blog will still see plenty of WoW content, I just want to talk about Neverwinter for a bit, if you'll allow me to.)

I. Introduction
Neverwinter is a free-to-play fantasy MMO based in Faerûn, the main continent of the Forgotten Realms, arguably the most well-known D&D campaign setting. I won't go too much into detail here so I don't get all D&D nerdy and forget the point of the post. Just know it's a fully fleshed out world with decades of lore to back it up.

It's put out by Perfect World, the same publishers of Star Trek Online. Like most free-to-play games it features a cash, or Zen, shop where you can buy things for your character, both useful and cosmetic.

So does free-to-play = pay-to-win?
No. There are items in the Zen shop which greatly impact your character (bigger bags, profession boosters, etc.) but none of them are absolutely necessary, they just help you along.

If you feel these items are necessary you're still not forced to pay. The game features an exchange allowing players to buy Zen for Astral Diamonds, an in-game currency. And so everything in the Zen Shop is available without paying, it just may take longer to get. Because of this I cannot say this game is pay to win.

II. Creating Your Character
Download the game and watch the cut scene. Be sure to watch the cut scene. You'll see a little bit of the playstyle of every class and so it can help you choose what you'd like to be. Here's the class run-down:

Guardian Fighter (Tank)Sword and shield wielding tank.They don't do tons of damage solo, they're made for tanking, and so this is great if you intend to level with friends. You may want to choose a higher damage class if playing solo, but you'll still be able to solo with the Guardian Fighter, you just may not feel as powerful.

Trickster Rogue (Melee DPS) - Standard rogue. All about DPS and being stealthy.

Control Wizard (Ranged DPS/CC) - Decent DPS and a lot of control, as the name suggests. Very squishy but the amount of CC they have should keep them alive.

Devoted Cleric (Healer, Ranged Support DPS) - This is currently the only healing class. They can DPS and solo well (this is what I play) but the important thing to know is they're currently the only real healing class, making them very sought after endgame.

Great Weapon Fighter (Melee DPS) - Less stealth and more big swords than the Trickster rogue.

What race should I pick?
Any race can be any class. Remember you'll be staring at this character all the time so I recommend picking something you like the look of. Races have racial bonuses but none are game-breaking enough to choose one race over the other.

It's asking me to fill in a background and deity?
From a gameplay perspective these don't matter. These are for us RPers who want to think of our character as more than pixels. Read up a bit, find something that sounds good to you. This doesn't effect play at all.

III. Playing the Game
The opening quest lines give a good introduction to the way the game handles and so I won't go too much into every little bit of things, but here are some basics that I wish I'd known:

The UI
There are two modes for the UI. They're called Mouse-Look Mode, which is the mode you'll normally be playign in, and Mouse Cursor Mode, which will allow you to use the cursor and click things. You switch between them with the Alt key.

Click on the image to view full size.

These different abilities will be introduced to you as you gain them through questing, so you'll get a basic rundown of the difference between all the spell types in-game.

IV. The Noob's Guide to Starting Out

I just started, what do I do?
Play through the quests. They'll acquaint you with the basics and eventually lead you to town.

I just reached town for the first time, what do I do?
Continue along your quest lines to find the next areas to level. 
Visit vendors in the Market to sell any junk in your bags. 
Collect your welcome kit from the mailbox. 
Store any items you want to keep but don't need to use (like your welcome kit) in the bank.

Press M to view the map in-game.
You should now also be eligible to play Foundry quests. Foundry quests are player-created content that you can play instead of the default quest lines. Access them by pressing H, searching the Catalog, and accepting a Foundry quest.
I just hit level 10-11, what do I do?
 It's time to start Invocations and Professions. 
  • Professions start at level 10: See section V below. 
  • Invocation starts at level 11: Once an hour you can Invoke at a Campfire. Stand at the Campfire and press Ctrl+I. You will get a temporary buff and possibly currency, items, and experience. Doing this once a day will also grant one each of Ardent and Celstial coins. You want to do this at least once a day to keep collecting these coins, which can later be traded for gear, mounts, and companions.  
I just hit level 16, what do I do?
You will have a quest to gain a Companion. Companions will help you in battle so you want to do this quest as soon as you can.  You can choose Man at Arms, Cleric Disciple, Wayward Wizard, or Dog. 
Non-tank classes will probably want to choose Man at Arms as it functions as a pocket-Tank for you. Warrior classes will like the Cleric Disciple to be their pocket healer. The Wizard deals good AoE damage and the Dog deals good single-target damage.
 I just hit level 20, what do I do?
This is when you unlock your first mount. It may be too expensive now (5g) but you will be granted 3 free tokens to get temporary five hour mounts to help you in farming up the rest of the gold you need. You receive these tokens from the blue Level Up box.  Alternatively you can sell items on the auction house for Astral Diamonds and use those diamonds to buy a mount from another player via the Auction House.

V. Professions
Every character has access to every profession. Unlike WoW you will not choose just a few out of a list. However you do have a choice of what you focus on.

Leadership: Grants experience, money and other currency, and items.
Mailsmithing: Creates armor for Clerics and Great Weapon Fighters.
Platesmithing: Creates armor used for Guardian Fighters.
Leatherworking: Creates armor for Trickster Rogues.
Tailoring: Creates armor for Control Mages.

I chose Leadership because the experience it grants will help when leveling my character. You may wish to choose whatever crafts items for your class. Eventually you can have everything, though, so don't worry about choosing "wrong."

Every class has a gathering "skill" associated. This means they can use the nodes without kits. So as a Cleric I can gather any Religion node without needing any supplies. Anyone can gather any node but for non-class nodes you need the right kit. All of my expenditures so far have been kits to gather nodes, which is why I had a bag full of profession items. I highly recommend having ~5-10 of every type of kit (other than your class kit, which you won't need) when you're out adventuring, so no nodes go to waste.

You open your Professions tab by pressing N. Every player can use/max every profession, it just comes down to how you want to go about doing it. In your profession screen you have available profession slots. You begin with one slot and can unlock more by completing certain tasks.

Your first move when getting started with Professions will be to hire an Asset. Think of these as workers or specialists for that profession. This is a fast task, and will be done soon. Once you have your asset you can send that asset for his first job.

When you click on the profession, in this example Leadership, you will see a list of jobs you can do. Choose one that fits your playtime. Ideally you want to be able to be there when the job is finished, so if you know you're going to be playing for a few hours you may want to do a 2 hour task, but if you're going to sleep maybe choose a 6+ hour task.

Doing a task will reward Profession Experience and possibly other rewards. As you gain more profession experience that profession will level and you'll have access to a wider variety of jobs.

As you unlock more Profession Slots you can have multiple professions working on jobs at once or you can focus all of your slots on one profession, as long as you have the assets. (You hire additional assets after reaching certain levels in the Profession.)

VI. Currencies
The only thing I don't like about Neverwinter is they have way too many different types of currencies. It's not hard to keep track of once you learn them, but it still seems like there are way too many. Let's get acquainted with what they are, how to get them, and how to spend them.
  • Gold (and Copper and Silver)
    Gold is the default in-game currency. You gain it from completing some quests and it drops from mobs. This is the currency you will use to buy your first mount as well as to buy profession kits, healing potions, and other consumables.
  • Astral Diamonds
    This is the currency used in the Auction House. You will earn it from quests (such as Daily Skirmishes) and from Invoking, as well as earning it from sold auctions. Most diamonds are earned in their Rough form and must be refined. (Press I, choose the Riches tab, and hit Refine next to Rough Diamonds.) You can refine 24k Diamonds per day, so do so as much as possible so you don't create a backlog of Rough diamonds.
  • Zen
    This is the cash shop currency that is used in all Perfect World games. For Americans, in USD, it costs 1c per Zen. You can buy this at the game's website but you can also buy this from other players via the Astral Diamond Exchange.

    Buy it from players here.
    Spend it here.
  • Ardent and Celestial Coins
    You earn one of each of these coins per day, the first time you Invoke at a Campfire. Ardent Coins can be held indefnitely and traded for gear, mounts, and companions by hitting Spend in the Riches tab.

    Celestial Coins must be "renewed" each day. If you go more than about a day and a half without Invoking the coins will expire, and so you must Invoke every day to build these up. They can be exchanged for Profession boosters which contain useful items for crafting.
  • Glory
    Glory is the PvP currency, similar to Honor in World of Warcraft. You earn it for participating in PvP battles and it can be spent on PvP items like potions and special mounts.
  • Seal of the Lion
    Seals of the Lions are dropped by bosses in dungeons and can be earned through Bounties (see next item.) Vendors in the market will sell mid-level gear for these Seals.
  • Bounty Items
    Most zones have a Bounty Hunter in them. Killing mobs in this zone will yield bounty items, such as Blackdagger Insignias. You can trade them with the Bounty Hunter to gain Seal of the Lion or random low level gear.
  • Tarmalune Trade Bars
    When you open a Nightmare Lockbox (think Mann Co Supply Crate from TF2) you will get random items and some Trade Bars. These are a sort of consolation prize so that people who open 200 boxes don't feel like they got completely screwed. If you somehow end up with enough bars to buy something there is a vendor on the outside edge of the Market who will sell mounts and other fun items and takes the bars in return.
VII. General Questions and Such
  • What's the best class?
    Choose what you'd like to play. But Clerics in general seem to be the most in-demand at endgame.
  • What is the best race?
    Halflings. HALFLING POWER. (But actually I don't know. But, I mean, come on, it's Halflings.)
  • Which profession should I level first?
    I like Leadership. If you wait till level 60 to level Leadership the experience gains will be worthless, so I chose to do it first. I'm unsure if one will pull ahead in the long run.
  • When do I get my first mount and how much does it cost?
    Level 20, it costs 5g
  • What should I keep track of?
    Make sure you've Invoked each hour and all your Profession Slots are in use. Make sure you do your daily Skirmish, PvP Domination, Dungeon, etc. as soon as you can.
  • Is there anything I should or shouldn't buy?
    In the market buy several profession kits for anything other than your default profession. Never let a gathering node go to waste. Do not buy the item Bag of Holes, despite its name it is not a functional bag, it is vendor trash players put on the AH to fleece noobs.
  • I got an enchantment, how do I use it?
    Enchantments are like gems in the Diablo games. You need a socketed piece of gear. When you have one right click on the gear and choose Enchant Item. Be careful, it will cost Astral Diamonds to remove the Enchantment.
  • I've got a lot of shitty enchantments, how do I use them?
    Low level enchantments can be fused into higher level level versions at a 4:1 ratio. The higher the level of enchantment the more likely this fuse will fail. You can purchase Wards from teh Zen Shop which will keep the fuse from failing. TL;DR: Fuse low level enchants to save bag space.

If you have any more questions or corrections please feel free to leave them in the comments. I will do my best to add in answers to common questions and will correct anything I may be wrong about. Remember I only just started playing a few days ago as well, so I'm far from an expert. If I missed, forgot, or messed up something please say so!

Also, was there something you wish you'd known when you started that I didn't cover here? Let me know, I'll put it in!


  1. Nice post with a lot of helpful information. Here's two more helpful tips:
    1) If you go into Mouse Cursor Mode (press alt), you can position your mouse over the chat window. Go back to Mouse-Look mode and you can still scroll through the chat while navigating the world and bashing up mobs.
    2) You can access your professions via even when you can't play directly. Start crafts, collect the results and reap the benefits when you log into the game the next time.

  2. Great Post! I haven't been able to try it out yet, but I will definitely use this post to help me get started.

  3. free to buy? Download? or Stream?

    1. It's a free download of about 3.7 gigs.

  4. Thanks Faid. I will give it a whirl!

  5. I had a quick go of Neverwinter last night: I got to level 4 with my great weapons fighter, having completed the starter quest line.

    I'm not hugely impressed at this stage, but I'm willing to give it a bit more time.

    It plays a lot like Diablo 3, with rather less pretty graphics, so I fear for the health of my mouse.

    The offical forums don't act as a great advert for the game, since they seem to be full of people complaining about bugs and lack of customer support. It's technically still in open beta, so I suppose a few issues are only to be expected.