The Surprising Excellence of Neverwinter

Forbes' contributor Erik Kain has penned a fairly positive impression piece for Neverwinter, the upcoming free-to-play MMO from Cryptic and Perfect World. Here's a snippet:
The graphics are fine. They're not the best out there, but they're pretty enough. I feel like I'm in a D&D world. The big open city gives way to lots and lots of dungeons, dark thug-filled streets, and other menacing terrain (though I'm still early on in the game, so I can't speak to later locations.)

There's a simple fast-travel system that reminds me of the map from Dragon Age 2. A sparkly path that can be toggled on or off leads you to your mission objective, though often it leads deceptively around hidden treasure chests.

The HUD is customizable but I found the standard functional enough and haven't tinkered with it yet. The UI is clean and easy to navigate, though some menus could use with some clutter-management still.

Neverwinter uses D&D 4th Edition rules, so you have your various Powers to choose from based on your class. Some are (at-will) powers that form the bulk of your hack-and-slash capabilities. Others charge up as you fight, and still others sit on a quick-access bar, recharging quickly in-between uses.

I've only played the Guardian Fighter so far, but the melee is really visceral for an MMO. Lots of MMOs try to do (action) combat and most fail. I didn't care for the combat in Guild Wars 2, or Tera for that matter. But I've enjoyed the combat in Neverwinter much more than I expected, and not just because of the shield.

Several fights I've been in already had me on the edge of my seat. Blocking, shuffling out of range of an enemy area-of-effect attack, lunging in for a strike and then backing out again as quick as my stubby little dwarf legs would carry me. There were whole segments of battle where I'd run out of health potions, drained my life to the very last drop, and then prevailed thanks to defensive maneuvering alone.

That's pretty awesome, in my opinion. I can't remember ever having this much fun with combat in an MMO.