Neverwinter started their open beta this week. I dabbled a bit during some of the closed beta, but didn't see much that left a lasting impression. Still, it's free to play, so I decided to fire it up again with a friend.
Things are looking a little more polished, and it's definitely a game I find more enjoyable with a buddy. I can't go so far as to say it's a revolutionary MMO on any front, but it is looking pretty decent for a F2P title. Nothing really blew me away, but everything did feel, at least, very solid. The graphics, the controls, the gameplat systems, all "good." There's promise here.
I haven't experimented with it yet, but I think the game's best shot at a defining feature is the Forge system, wherein players can create, release and rank player-made quests. I know the now defunct City of Heroes offered a similar feature, and the Star Trek MMO may as well, but otherwise it's not something you see a lot.
Neverwinter does sport a very strong Forgotten Realms/DnD vibe. Not quite to the faithful extent that DDO does, but the feeling is there. I rolled a Dwarven Cleric and my friend made a Halfling Great Weapon Fighter (a great combination as long as they don't put anything higher than four feet off the ground). Combat is enjoyable, and fairly action-oriented. Not to the extent of TERA, but above the norm for fantasy MMOs.
There's definitely a lot at work in the game, with a variety of leveling trees and various mechanics, etc, and with a ton of room for new additions. Regular updates coupled with the player-made Forge content could really help keep the game feeling fresh.
Still, in today's market of F2P MMOs, it's getting increasingly more difficult to stand out in the crowd. I've certainly played worse MMOs, and that I'm looking forward to logging back into Neverwinter speaks well to the initial experiences. We'll see if I'm still playing in two weeks. That's the real test.
But again, it's F2P, so you don't have to take my word for it. For the cost of a short download you can always check it out for yourself.