Neverwinter's open beta soft launches today

Neverwinter concept art
Ever wonder what the heck an MMO soft launch actually is? Me too, which is funny because you'd think I'd know, working for an MMO site and whatnot. Soft launch implies that somewhere out in game land there's also a hard launch, which is a term that I've never heard once despite following the industry for decades now.

Is soft launch merely a marketing construct, or perhaps devspeak for a free-to-play MMO that operates in some sort of perpetual beta in spite of a working cash shop? Or is it simply a term that denotes the beginning of an open beta period that is free of character wipes, as is the case with today's Neverwinter pseudo-release? The definition is up to you, I suppose, and while you're mulling that one over, you can also click past the cut for a roundup of our best pre-soft-launch Neverwinter coverage.

Massively's Neverwinter early access launch diary: Day two
After yesterday's initial foray into Neverwinter, I was eager to get back to it. I was still trying to figure everything out, including frustrating little issues (is there a screenshot key that saves to a folder?
Massively's Neverwinter early access launch diary: Day one
Neverwinter's launch isn't so much a launch as a gradual roll-out that's happening in several phases and operating under the code-name of "open beta." While the doors won't be open for the general public until April 30th, purchasers of the founder's packs are able to get in a few days early.
Massively Exclusive: Neverwinter pre-launch interview, part two
We're back with Cryptic Lead Producer Andy Velasquez to continue our discussion of Neverwinter's beta lessons, launch preparations, and post-launch plans.
Massively Exclusive: Neverwinter pre-launch interview, part one
Andy Velasquez has seen his fair share of MMO launches, but that doesn't make a new one any less exhilarating or terrifying. As lead producer, he's the captain of the Neverwinter ship and must make sure it's seaworthy before slipping out of drydock and heading into the unknown waters of release.
New dev blog details Neverwinter's crafting
How would you feel about a Neverwinter professions blog? No, you're not expected to write one, silly, but you can certainly read one if you're interested in the game's crafting mechanics.
Neverwinter Days: Choosing your first class
Ready to play some Neverwinter? It looks as though Cryptic is ready to pull the trigger on this bad boy, with a soft launch (open beta with no wipes) starting on April 25th for founders and April 30th for everyone else.
Massively Exclusive: Neverwinter's Rothe Valley
With Neverwinter's open beta right around the corner, now is the time to get a good feel for this game world. Cryptic's released a new video and screenshots on a new region called Rothe Valley.
Neverwinter gives players the freedom to buy skills
Quoting beta feedback as a reason, Cryptic is changing Neverwinter's character progression to allow players to purchase new skills via power points. Previously, specific skills were handed out automatically upon hitting certain levels, but apparently choice was a big request of testers.
Neverwinter Days: Can the Foundry succeed?
For many gamers, the name "Neverwinter" goes hand-in-hand with player-created content. BioWare's 2002 Neverwinter Nights and the 2006 sequel allowed players to whip up their own story modules for friends and strangers to enjoy.
See Neverwinter's Devoted Cleric in action
Neverwinter's Devoted Cleric isn't your standard battle cleric with a mace and religious pamphlets but a long-distance spellcaster who has the ability to fling heals and death from afar while holding up a ridiculously huge icon.
New Neverwinter Rogue video emerges from the shadows
If you haven't had the opportunity to play a Trickster Rogue in either of Neverwinter's beta weekends, you might not be familiar with the class's skills and strategies.
New Neverwinter trailer introduces the Jewel of the North
The Forgotten Realms campaign setting has plenty of memorable locales, but few of them rival the city of Neverwinter in terms of iconography and fictional history.
Hands-on with Neverwinter's Control Wizard
This past weekend was Neverwinter's second beta event, and with it came a number of new additions. The Foundry was open for business, the tutorial was expanded, the level cap was increased, and new zones were available to explore.
Jewel of the North: Impressions of Neverwinter to the level 30 cap
I've been stoked for Neverwinter ever since I first got my hands on a short demo of the game at PAX East a year or two back. The game's stylish, fast-paced combat hooked me, and I've always been particularly fond of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting, having spent a considerable amount of my teenage years in the original Neverwinter Nights and its many persistent worlds.
Your first 15 minutes in Neverwinter
The first Neverwinter beta weekend is behind us, and while founders got a chance to hack their way through throngs of kobolds while exploring the Forgotten Realms, everyone else is no doubt still eager for more information.
First impressions of Neverwinter's beta
Neverwinter is all the rage these days among MMO fans as the promise of a Fourth Edition D&D MMO in the Forgotten Realms setting has many old-school tabletop gamers jumping at the opportunity to get into the early testing stages.
Massively's video guide to Neverwinter character creation
Are you impatiently waiting to get your Dungeons and Dragons on in the upcoming Neverwinter beta events? Then we're sure you have already planned out what your character will look like.
Neverwinter's Cloak Tower: A photo essay
We've seen a lot of clock towers in MMOs, but I have to say that Neverwinter's Cloak Tower was a first for me. We got an up-close and personal look at this low-level instance at a recent press tour, and the first question on my mind was, why cloaks?
This article was originally published on Massively.