Every day, as more brave souls arrive on the Sword Coast to seek adventure and join the fight against evil, the need for more inspiring guidance and proper training grows.
A More Heroic Start
New heroes now wake up in a war camp, recovering from battle, high above the shore. Valindra’s siege is in full swing and her dracolich is ravaging the battlefield. Your hero will play an important role in taking down the dracolich and fighting to save the city of Neverwinter. The player will team up with Makos, a powerful warlock, to push back the undead horde and fight to the heart of Protector’s Enclave. After an intense battle on the Sleeping Dragon Bridge, a certain someone lends the player a horse for a short ride to the vault’s door in a besieged Protector’s Enclave. Players will now have access to two encounter powers as they venture beneath the city, which should give some much-needed power in their fight against the Nashers, ruthless bandits who seek to overthrow Lord Neverember.
The revised tutorial is single player to allow for more impactful story moments and a more driving narrative. We refined the path to have better control of the experience and took this opportunity to improve the look of the environment and add details to support the story.
Changes to Protector’s Enclave
With our ever expanding events we wanted to showcase them and have more room for more players to use the space. The Shaundakul Stables have been moved to where the bulletin boards used to be, near the bank. The event’s pavilion is now where the stables used to be. There is much more space to decorate and room for any NPCs we’ll ever need. It will fun to see how it’s decorated for each event.
Sergeant Knox (no longer on his box) has relocated to the old events pavilion platform. This is a more central location with a fine backdrop of the city behind him. Sybella can be found making herself at home in Knox’s old spot. Lastly, some changes have been made to the bank that will make visiting the NPCs a little easier.
In addition to some rough spots in the tutorial, we have noticed a number ‘pain points’ in a new player’s journey from levels 5 thru 20. Many of these would be alleviated with clearer direction and flow from one quest to the next.
Simply moving Knox helps this issue. His new location is easier to find for new players and the shorter distance to the travel gates means fewer distractions when following the golden path back and forth.
Once players first get to Blacklake, their options are focused on the main quest thread and then open up as they make progress in the story. The goal is to offer side missions only after new players know the lay of the land and have a good grip on the story. Efforts were made to clear away obstructions and leverage lighting so that the Blacklake District environment better supports gameplay and flow.
The orc-infested Tower District saw lots of environment and gameplay revision. The haphazard construction of orc fortifications has always been characteristically spot on, but clearing clutter and opening up narrow alleyways makes for much better fighting experience. (Remember, this zone was created before players had dodge powers.) Gameplay through Tower District was made clearer with improved transitions between missions and open pathways through the zone.
With the class changes of M16 and various ‘pain points’ in the missions, we took a balancing pass at critters and bosses through-out Blacklake and Tower Districts. Sometimes this involved the adjustment of encounter placement and/or the removal of minions and adds in boss fights. This early in a player’s game we want bosses to challenge players, not repeatedly frustrate them.
The balance between travel time and combat was also addressed by giving players a mount MUCH earlier than before. Not only can players get to the action in Blacklake and Tower Districts sooner, but a horse empowers new players to choose their battles along the way or get to a campfire safely when they are out of potions.
(Use slider to see the Tower District Before and After)
After creating a more inspiring environment for the tutorial, our environment artists turned their attention to the first zones that players see, in particular, Protectors Enclave and Tower District.
In Protectors Enclave, you’ll notice visual improvements in the way of new textures, replacement bushes, skybox and more.
The look of Tower District got a big, much needed make-over. The terrain mesh has been cleaned-up with enhanced propping and new textures. The lighting and skybox have been improved as well. Combined with the removal of excess clutter, this zone is more pleasant to look at and play through.
We hope all of our players, vets and newbs, find the first 20 levels of Neverwinter to be smoother and more fun. We are not done improving the early game and we look forward to getting your feedback on the forums.
Senior Content Designer