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Neverwinter

Developer Blog: Undermountain Expeditions

By Julia (nitocris83) | Fri 12 Apr 2019 07:00:00 AM PDT

Expeditions are a variable, scaling, repeatable romp through the depths of Undermountain that offer some of the most challenging and rewarding content in the Neverwinter: Undermountain expansion. They’re intended to feel expansive and wondrous while also being fun and exciting, and you’re likely to encounter something different around every turn.

In the Yawning Portal, Obaya Uday, voiced by Satine Phoenix, is sponsoring Expeditions into Undermountain hoping to uncover lost routes and collecting magic relics – the more the better. Completing these Survey Expeditions unlocks deeper levels of Undermountain and advances the campaign, allowing access to new zones. After completing the Undermountain campaign, Obaya is still in need of magic relics and continues to fund Expeditions. These Master Expeditions offer expanded variety, better rewards, and a higher challenge.

Halaster’s magic permeates Undermountain, with some aspects of it lying dormant until a foolish adventurer activates them. At the start of a Master Expedition, players can use crystallized resonance to attune up to three runic crystals, guaranteeing specific rewards at the completion of the Expedition.

But adventurers beware: each attuned rune will increase both the challenge of all creatures and the chance of stumbling across a dangerous rune within the Attuned Expedition. A wary adventurer may avoid the effects of a triggered rune, if they’re quick enough. If not, the released runic energy saturates the area and negatively affects the entire team, besides any immediate explosive effects. For those brave adventurers who attune three runic crystals, the risks are high but the potential rewards are some of the best in Undermountain.

Rewards abound in Undermountain, and Expeditions are no different. Obaya is in search of magic relics and collecting more will improve the rewards she gives, such as increased campaign currency and better gear. Bosses and rare creatures in Expeditions may also drop valuable, unique loot - if you can survive. Should you partake in the increased challenge of Attuned Expeditions, you can get unique gear of a higher item level, AD, and RP. One of the best artifact weapon sets in Undermountain can be acquired in Expeditions, provided you can find and defeat its guardians. 

To ensure no two Expeditions are the same, multiple methods of randomization have been overlaid to create a varied system. At the core of the Expedition system are the three modular “floors” selected at the start of a run. These are pulled from the three different floor archetypes, “arena”, “corridor”, and “rooms”, and strung together to comprise a complete Expedition. Arena floors have short travel time, are built around a challenging boss fight, and always punctuate the end of an Expedition. Corridor floors have a linear design with a focus on fighting mobs. Rooms floors are more non-linear and encourage exploration, but also culminate in a challenging mini-arena. The difference between these floor archetypes gives meaningful variety in the level design for each Expedition; a run with three arena floors feels much different and offers different gameplay and pacing than two corridor floors and an arena.

Each floor also spawns a randomly selected creature group containing a variety of different enemies. Arena floors have a set of boss creatures to choose from, with creatures like the Goristro and Broodmother ready and waiting for unprepared adventurers. The mini-arena also has a variety of different and challenging encounters and mini-bosses, and you never know when a rare spawn will show itself. This variation in creatures further adds to the meaningful variation established by the different level design of the floors archetype.

Moods are another variable layer you can read about more in the Expeditions Environment dev blog written by Patrick Poage here. To summarize the effect of moods, this leverages environmental differences such as lighting and small props to make each Expedition run feel thematically different. One run could be bright cave mushrooms, and the next could be the eerie shadowfell pockets.

All these different layers of variety create an experience that is both familiar and fresh, and running an Expedition with friends or solo will offer exciting challenges and rewards each time.

Expeditions are accessible in the course of the Undermountain campaign, and Master Expeditions unlock after completing the Undermountain campaign.

See you in Undermountain!

Ryan “Wolf Fightmaster” Horn
Content Designer

nw-news, nw-launcher, nw-developer-blog,

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