It’s been a while since we’ve added a new cap to Neverwinter. That’s mainly because we’re on the verge of getting a new cap that should push us close to the next level (20). I know that some of you are itching for information about level squishes, and we’re about to give you some. Tune in, and we’ll tell you about the changes in the Neverwinter leveling system, and explain why we think the new cap is going to be 20 for as long as we possibly can.
When the level squish was announced before Neverwinter’s first expansion in 2017, the level cap was bumped up to 20. Over the ensuing months, members of the Neverwinter community have been wondering how the game will handle the new cap…Neverwinter is about to overhaul the entire leveling curve, taking players from level 80 to the new hard limit of level 20 and adjusting all game content accordingly. This is a great review of how the game works at this stage of development, and it got players thinking about the details. So we do! We spoke with lead designer Randy Mosionds about the goals of the new degree curve, the reason for the decision to implement it and the possibility of raising the limit.
MassiveOP: If the curve to level 20 is now 10-12 hours, was the goal to have players see this part of the game as a new tutorial and level 20 as a real game?
Randy Mosions, lead designer of Neverwinter: We wanted the story to be more consistent and take players from level 1 to level 20. As part of leveling, we wanted to make sure that new and returning players had a good tutorial on the game, so that when they get to the epic level content after 20, they have all the knowledge they need to play. For our veterans, we wanted them to be able to quickly upgrade their alternate characters, see what all the classes in Neverwinter look like, like the new Bard class, and experience all the class paths in Paragon. This new level system offers all players an easy way to experience all that Neverwinter has to offer.
Do developers hope that if they set all endgame content to level 20, the balance will be easier for them and more enjoyable for experienced and returning players?
Balancing to level 20 wasn’t a specific goal, but making it easier to get to an epic level certainly was. With M21, it will be much easier for new players to get a full set of skills for their character, and for experienced players to level up their new character, and when we release new content, it will be much easier for players to access it quickly. Starting with Avernus and Sharandar, we’ve also introduced a two-week free access period where players who are behind in item leveling but want to experience the latest content will get a minimum level for the zone and earn rewards for higher levels.
What games or MMO systems inspired the developers to create Squish? I wonder about games like Guild Wars 2 , which are known to have locked levels and horizontal content. Or is there a change in D&D itself? Why did you decide to do this now rather than say two years ago – or at the beginning?
The fifth edition of D&D on the computer was a great source of inspiration for their creation. The level range of 1-20, incremental progression, and epic content after level 20 were key factors in how we changed the leveling experience in Neverwinter. One of the important factors that led us to do this today, rather than a few years ago, is that we now have a much larger amount of content to review. Ahead of the upcoming changes to the leveling experience, it can be a little scary for new players to struggle through dozens of hours of content to level up, and then do it all over again in the campaign content. With a much shorter customization curve and a better understanding of how to play, access to the latest content becomes more accessible, especially with the aforementioned two-week free access period when you start a new adventure zone.
Will the team ever consider evolving, or will 20 be a permanent limit for any content that allows horizontal progression? How will the team ensure that players maintain the sense of progression that the levels have to offer?
We do not intend to raise the bar above 20 at this time. This gives us good parity with our desktop counterpart, D&D – but that doesn’t mean there’s no player progression. Players have an item level rating that tracks the quality of all equipped items, companions and maunts. As the player progresses through the epic levels, more complex content and more powerful rewards become available. So it’s more of a mindset change: When you reach 20, you get a full set of skills, and after 20, at epic level, the content gives you powerful items to measure your progress.
Do you expect experienced players to be upset that it’s a little easier for newcomers than for them? What can Cryptic do to allay their fears? Is there anything that would convince the team to abandon this plan?
I think some players will be a little surprised by the changes at first, having spent so much time improving their characters. However, I would like to stress that these amendments are in no way intended to undermine these achievements. The new leveling system will give new players easier access to the latest content available to veterans, but veterans will also benefit from the changes as they will be able to level their alts to the same level as other high-level characters. Plus, veterans will have more players to share epic content with, so everyone wins. A lot of work has been done to change the leveling experience, from transfusion to recycling to data modification. Player feedback during the closed alpha and preview phases has been very positive, so we won’t be changing this implementation anytime soon.
How long does it take to bring deleted spaces back into use?
Zones has effectively become a vault, just like other long-term games: The content will be removed from the regular game, but may return later, perhaps in a new format. We do not have a specific timetable for the return of stored content.
When can I expect M21 on PC and consoles? Does the next table of contents come before or after it?
We will announce a launch date very soon. In the meantime, players can watch the latest episode of Neverwinter: Sharandar’s script, The Odious Court, which was released on June 8. on PC and was released on June 6. July on console.
Thank you for talking to us!
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