Neverwinter developers, Cryptic Studios, recently announced that the next expansion for its free-to-play Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG would return players to a familiar old region of the Feywild known as Sharandar. Originally announced in January, the expansion released for PC players on February 16, 2021, with a consoles released scheduled to follow on March 16.
Sharandar's "Fury of the Feywild" was the first module offered to Neverwinter players back in 2013, with an involved storyline featuring the Formorian villain King Malabog and the game's signature villain, Valindra Shadowmantle, the moon elf lich. The Iliyanbruen elves petitioned players who entered Sharandar for years to help them in their fight against Malabog, and the three moon gates granted them access to different areas in need of exploration and conquering to drive back Malabog's forces.
The question on a lot of players' minds is what does a Sharandar revamp mean? Will Malabog return, or do developers have something else in store? In a recent interview, Neverwinter lead designer Randy Mosiondz noted that, while much of the landscape will retain what players have come to know and love about the mysterious and magical Feywild, the developers wanted Malabog's storyline to remain as it was.
With Malabog's defeat and Valindra's return to the Prime Material Plane, Sharandar was free from their tyranny. Rescinding the hard work players contributed to make that happen would have been detrimental to the time and effort they put into that area of the game originally. Malabog's defeat will still matter, and perhaps even play into the new storyline in some aspects. For example, players will find his castle in ruins, but still encounter what remains of his scattered forces throughout the land as they quest through new adventures in the Feywild.
The expansion will add a new Sharandar social hub, a Ruins of Malabog adventure zone and a new Vault of Stars dungeon. Players will also be drawn into a three-part adventure featuring a mysterious plague of waking nightmares haunting the Iliyanbruen elves and reconnect with familiar powers like Merissara Winterwhite, who petitions them to help her stop three powerful witches who have taken over regions of Sharandar.
As players have been adventuring through Neverwinter for over eight years, a multitude of expansions have brought them to new regions and lands plagued by darkness and evils well-known to D&D fans. Over the years, expansions have drawn players into old familiar stories featuring famous allies and enemies like Drizzt Do'urden and Strahd Von Zarovich.
The world continues to change with these stories, and while it may seem odd to return to Sharandar, advancing the storyline with new quests and adventures will continue the evolution of the game itself. MMORPGs like Neverwinter require endless farming and redundant returns to old adventure zones to meet requirements for weekly tasks. Giving old areas like Sharandar a facelift alongside exciting new adventures is definitely one way to not only maintain the interest of Neverwinter's current fanbase, but perhaps even draw in new players.