Cryptic Studios and Perfect World Entertainment’s free-to-play MMORPG Neverwinter has been running for quite some time now (it’s over eight years old at this point), but its developers are clearly coming up with major ideas to keep changing things up even now. The game has received one its more significant expansions in recent memory with Jewel of the North, and it brings a whole lot to the table. On top of adding the Bard as a new playable class, making things more streamlined and accessible with a new Adventurers system and better tutorialization, and adding an Adventurers Guild, with its newest expansion, Neverwinter has also completely reworked progression, bringing it more in line with Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition rulesets and lowering the level cap from 80 to 20. Obviously, there’s plenty going on in Jewel of the North, and to learn more about the ways in which it has changed Neverwinter, we reached out to its developers with some of our questions. You can read our interview below with lead designer Randy Mosiondz.
"The story is more linear, and gives a better sense of continuity. It also gives us an opportunity to more clearly tutorialize all the aspects of the game, so by the time you get to level 20, you know how to play your class and the rest of the game before you start playing through epic-level content."
What was behind the decision to rework the game to bring it more in line with the D&D 5th Edition ruleset? What are the biggest ways this change affects the game?
The decision came more out of desire to streamline the leveling experience, especially with all the newest content designed for players who have already reached max level. When we started talking about shrinking the leveling time considerably, it made sense to give it parity with D&D tabletop from where Neverwinter gets its roots.
Instead of 40-50 hours to get to the max level — which before was level 80 — it now only takes you 10-12 hours to get to the max level, which is now level 20. The story is more linear, and gives a better sense of continuity. It also gives us an opportunity to more clearly tutorialize all the aspects of the game, so by the time you get to level 20, you know how to play your class and the rest of the game before you start playing through epic-level content.
Neverwinter’s reworked its progression to considerably de-emphasize grinding, and reaching the level cap now requires much less time than it used to. What led to this change? How does it benefit the overall experience?
Neverwinter has been running a long time — having just celebrated its 8th year anniversary in June — and has accumulated a lot of content. We didn’t want people intimidated by a wall of content just to get to the latest update, especially if when you have veteran players who want to play with friends who are new to the game. It also allows veteran players to more quickly level-up alternate characters of classes they wanted to try.