Just to re-iterate on all previous Neverwinter posts, the game is in Open Beta/soft launch. While the details might change, the systems are pretty much set in stone.
The basic game gives you two character slots. I have a Devoted Cleric (healer) and a Guardian Fighter (tank). The former is level 30, the latter level 11. I am thinking about buying more, to give the Rogue a shot but time will tell how that works out. Leveling (after the Foundry nerf) is done primarily through single player core quests. Skirmishes give next to no experience and I only run them during the events to get the extra 1000 Astral Diamonds at the end. Dungeons give decent experience but take 45 minutes and the loot system is pretty broken right now (as per my last post). Some Foundry missions give some decent experience and loot, plus are easily repeatable. It’s entirely possible to level solely in the Foundry but I am playing a themepark and want to enjoy the ride.
To character progression now. After the tutorial you’re level 4 with a power in each slot. Each level gained from that point gives you a Power Point to spend in a given skill. Additional powers are unlocked after you’ve spent enough points (5, 10, 15, 20, etc…) Every 10 levels you get extra stat points (STR, INT, etc..) for your character, though they have a somewhat negligible impact on the game. Level 10 gives you access to professions and the start of the Feat system. Similar to Power Points, you get 1 every level and can spend them on passive boosts in a tiered structure. At 30 you get access to a specialization (currently only 1 exists per class) and you get to spend your Feat Points on Paragon abilities. These unlock more passive skills, in a tiered format but only along a single path (of 3). At level 16, you get a companion that either heals, tanks or damages. Tank is a really good bet for everyone, though if you are a tank, get the healer. Max level for a character is currently 60.
Each class has a particular Paragon path focus to choose. My cleric can either go for DPS, healing or buffs. Powers have 3 ranks each, and you can only equip a small subset at any given time. So my Cleric has 2 passives, 2 dailies, 3 encounters and 2 at-will powers selected for solo play and a different set for group play – so a minimum of 14 points and a maximum of 28 to get everything you might need for both roles. You can reset these choices for a Zen fee (the F2P currency). You have enough points to spent in the Powers without really worrying about “mistakes” but the Feat/Paragon portion is lot less forgiving since they are all passive abilities and can have a dramatic impact on gameplay. The forums are a great place to read up on the choices.
Abilities are broken down into quite a few categories. Stats, the core numbers D&D uses for Strength, Dexterity and so on, are rather fixed along your path. It’s unlikely you’ll exceed 26 points in your core stat by level 60. The other abilities are a different matter and they work with a “ratings” system, where you don’t gain 1% crit, you gain 50 critical rating, which depending on your level, gives you specific % increase.
- Power – Increases damage and healing
- Critical – Increases the odds of dealing a critical strike
- Armor Penetration – A % increase in damage to enemies with armor
- Recovery – Increases the speed of Encounter power recovery
- Movement – Increases movement speed
- Defense – Decreases the damage you take
- Deflect – Increase odds of blocking damage entirely
- Regeneration – Increased life regeneration
- Life Steal – A % of damage you deal is converted to healing
- Maximum Health – Increases health
Gear can come with 3 of these abilities on it and up to two enchantment slots. The slots use gems with the same stats but come in three flavors – offense, defense and utility. For example, my Cleric would aim for gear with Power, Critical and Recovery and slot Power/Recovery for Offense, Defense for Defensive and Movement for Utility. My Tank is likely to go for Defense, Recovery and Life Steal.
I personally think that the gear point spread is too high right now and that makes gear way more valuable than it should be when it comes to upgrades. From one item to the next might have a 10% increase in power. The game also “recommends” gear upgrades but this is based on adding all the stats together to give you a GearScore (yes, that’s the name).
In the end, the question remains “does my character progress?”. The answer is a yes and even though it uses an old “talent” system, the fact that you get something at level up is a great carrot on the stick for progress. I’ll get a new skill and try it out. I’ll get a new piece of gear pretty frequently too. There’s always a feeling of there being more and that keeps people playing. I know I’m still having a blast.