Today marks a seminal point in Neverwinter's development as the open beta, or "soft launch", begins with Founders checking into the game. We managed to corner Lead Designer Zeke Sparkesto find out what players can expect in the open beta. See what he had to say and then let us know what you think in the comments.
MMORPG: Have any significant changes been made to the closed beta client in preparation for the open beta?
Zeke Sparkes: Not a lot of changes have been made compared to the version players saw in the last two beta weekends. We tried to get things as tight as we could as quickly as we could. We took things that were kind of borderline and put them in the future for new content. Most of what we've been doing is finding exploits, correcting buy/sell rates, etc. that would have messed up the economy. We were looking to make sure all the classes were in line and balanced. We found a couple places we were off and made slight nudges here and there. It's pretty much the same as beta weekends 3-4.
MMORPG: What can players expect in open beta?
Zeke Sparkes: The end game is opened up, the level cap is opened up. You can get all the way to 60. The entire end game process is there and in place. There are much more difficult versions of the dungeons. There's another tier of PvP for level 60 players. Most all else was turned on by beta weekend 4. Most of the game was opened up except for the last tail end.
MMORPG: Will Founders have access to Drow now?
Zeke Sparkes: The Founders will have access to the Drow from the get go. As far as Founders go, the game is alive and ticking on all cylinders. Everything will be there. The regular version of the Drow comes later, after open beta.
MMORPG: What sorts of content can we expect in the Foundry on OBT launch? Will content from beta remain?
Zeke Sparkes: A lot of the content will remain. We wanted to make sure that the community of authors was able to get us a nice head start. A lot of the stuff you saw in the beta builds will be there. We may even have a little bit more as well. There might be one or two that are a bit different from beta. We have a nice helping of content in the Foundry. And then more and more as people get building.
MMORPG: What changes have been made to PVP?
Zeke Sparkes: Mostly bug and exploit fixing and a couple of individual powers that have been tweaked. We had a particularly keen eye on control wizards and how long their powers last. We did not make signficant changes overall to classes but more to the individual powers to make sure they're in good shape. No major changes since the last couple of closed betas.
MMORPG: Have there been any specific balance changes to the various classes?
Zeke Sparkes: The Control Wizard and Great Weapon Fighter saw the biggest changes but opposite direction. Control Wizards did not have enough control in PvE and that was increased but skills stayed the same in PvP to give them a bit of extra damage. He was a bit underpowered.
The Great Weapon Fighter is the other side of the coin and there were a lot of people who were sad we clipped his wings a bit. He was a bit faster than other classes in leveling and power. He can deal a lot of damage to a lot of critters. It was a little too high on the damage side. It got brought back in. This happened before CBW 4. Data coming back was very good. He's back in line with the others. He's still a bit strong.