Cryptic Studios has learned a few lessons the hard way. Back in April of last year the Neverwinter team (with some new management including Scott Shicoff being added as the new Content Lead), had some reflecting to do on key decisions they had made for their free-to-play MMORPG. The Elemental Evil module was met with less than stellar feedback and Neverwinter seemed to be having a few issues.
Fast forward to now, a year later, and Neverwinter has undergone quite a few changes. Based on player feedback the Astral Diamonds system has had some revamps (and will have some more in the future), dungeons will be returning to the game, and honestly players may have a lot more to look forward to than they have for a while.
The Maze Engine module, releasing tomorrow on PC, aims to keep that thought process going forward and I had the chance to catch up with Producers Lindsay Haven and Ben Bascom to get a bit of a preview on the new content, changes, and the future of Neverwinter.
The Maze Engine picks up right where the last Underdark module left off as players will navigate their way through perilous encounters in an attempt to restore the throne to the rightful ruler of Gauntlgrym and tackle Baphomet in what is sure to be an epic fight. Expect the return of some iconic characters (Drizzt, of course) to continue talking in your ear as you quest to unfold a larger story without forcing you to take a break from the action.
On the odds and ends front, Cryptic Studios has reworked the entire Mount system and totally redid the Matchmaking tools available in game. Players (and Devs as it turns out) have been asking about changes to the matchmaking tools for quite some time only to be met with “that would take about a year” due to the outdated framework that the matchmaking tool was built upon. Rather than tweek, Cryptic Studios just took the year and built a whole new matchmaking tool. Players can now use the new system to queue up for items together, in partial groups, or in full groups.
The mount system has been given the same love. Mounts no longer take up bag space and the new mount interface allows you to take those mounts you love but were rather less than beneficial to use at high levels and slap some new looks and powers onto them. Add insignia (similar to gear gems) to the mounts and you can power them up even more.
Dungeons have finally returned to Neverwinter in the way of a Castle Never revival – well, “Part 1” has been revived since the team wanted to aim for a shorter 30 minute-ish version, expect part 2 in a future update. This rework is for higher levels now, as well. Four leveling dungeons have been reworked and added back into the MMORPG for your dungeon diving pleasure. Expect Castle Never and some other encounters to net you artifact gear, too.
All in all, The Maze Engine looks to hearken back to some core ideas that the dev team may have strayed from a bit and it’s good to see that players may get exactly what they’ve asked for in future updates.