Heroes of Neverwinter offers a surprisingly authentic interpretation of the 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons ruleset -- which, in itself, seems ideally suited to a computer-based adaptation. For this reason, it's somewhat surprising that it's taken this long to get one -- and that, of all places, Facebook would be the platform on which it launches.
But launch it has, as the game is now officially in open beta following a short period of closed testing. You can try it out here.
Towards the end of the closed beta, Atari introduced a couple of features to the game which didn't prove too popular with the community. Firstly was a "friend cooldown" feature, where players were only able to use their friends' characters in their party once every few hours -- even longer if said character was knocked out in the course of battle. Following universal criticism from the community, Atari and developer Liquid haven't removed the feature entirely, but they have shortened the cooldown period considerably and also shortened it further if your friends' characters finish an adventure on full health. While this isn't quite the total removal of the feature that the community was clamoring for, it's better than nothing. And given Facebook games' dependence on viral marketing through friend lists, it's perhaps understandable that the feature's still present in order to encourage players to recruit more friends with whom to play.
Another "feature" which actually turned out to be more of a bug was an issue where both players and monsters were dealing critical damage almost every hit, and dealing maximum damage when they weren't critting. This made healer characters almost useless, as it was impossible to keep up with the incoming damage. This has, thankfully, been fixed, leading to a greater element of chance in battle.
Finally, the price of unlimited energy, allowing players to go on as many adventures as they want each day rather than having to wait for their energy to refill, has increased slightly to 250 Astral Diamonds, equal to approximately 250 Facebook Credits or $25. The game does offer discounted bundles of Astral Diamonds if purchased in larger quantities, however -- these can then be used to hire random heroes, purchase special items, bypass friend cooldowns and provide numerous other benefits.
Whatever your feelings on Farmville-esque Facebook games, Heroes of Neverwinter offers a significantly different experience and a fun time for fans of D&D 4e or tactical RPGs. While it's not perfect, it's still early days for the game, so Atari and Liquid will hopefully have plenty of time to listen to community feedback, act on it and deliver the definitive social D&D experience.
This article originally appeared on GamePro.com as Heroes of Neverwinter Launches Open Beta, Fixes Some Issues More than Others