Dungeons and Dragons Online
fans are about to shake off their summer stupor and dive deep underground, thanks to the next big chapter of the game that just went into testing.
Update 36: Duel for the Underdark features a throwdown between Drow and Dwarves spread across one public area and five new quests. The story revolves around Dwarves in an Underdark outpost mining a special gem who come into conflict with greatly irked Drow. This update is the first to revisit the region since DDO’s Menace of the Underdark expansion a while back.
The devs teased a “huge mystery” that will be revealed in the mission pack, although they were not spoiling it during their recent livestream. Get a full hour of thrilling DDO preview with the devs below!
It’s been quite a month since Lord of the Rings Online
and Dungeons and Dragons Online
announced that they were breaking off from Turbine as part of a new studio
called Standing Stone Games
and being published by none other than Daybreak Game Company
. Players have had to deal with equal parts excitement and anxiety over this new course (with old developers). Does it bode for a brighter future, more of the same, or the beginning of the end for these beloved titles?
While Standing Stone has been communicative over the past month, we wanted to dig deeper into the decision to form the new studio, its relationship with Daybreak, and plans for both DDO and LOTRO going forward. To wit, we sat down with Standing Stone Executive Producer Rob “Severlin” Ciccolini, Lead Designer Ben “DrOctothorpe” Schneider, and Community Manager Jerry “Cordovan” Snook to discuss this major transition and its possible impact for these two MMO game worlds.
You probably should not taunt anyone who has access to something called a “Maze Engine.” At a quick glance at the name, it sounds like an engine for making endless, maddening labyrinths, so at the first sign of mockery the owner would likely trap you inside of a winding network of passages for all eternity whilst remaining deaf to your screams for mercy. Or maybe it’s just a really big guillotine or something. We’re not sure exactly what
the Maze Engine is, admittedly, but you can find out today in Neverwinter
as the eponymous expansion hits the Xbox One.
Aside from bringing in all of the Maze Engine-related adventures you could hope for in the Underdark, this update brings a new mount system allowing players fine control over their choices of conveyance. There are also four returning leveling dungeons for players to explore as they struggle to defeat the evil demon lord Baphomet. Check out the trailer just below, and get ready for riding a motorcycle powered by mazes. Or whatever the Maze Engine actually does. It could be an engine that’s fueled by mazes.
You might recall that the too-clever-by-half Neverwinter
team created a game-within-a-game a while back, transforming players into tabletop figures to go through a campaign by the marvelous Respen. Now a new campaign is on its way for April, inspired and created by the same mind behind a live D&D show at PAX Prime
Starting in April, Portobello’s Campaign will take players on a multi-week adventure through brand-new tabletop maps and dungeons. Each week of the month will offer a new trial, taking players through the Underdark and beyond. Players can use the new campaign system to track their progress through the event.
Cryptic said that players should consider themselves in for a treat: “Being able to work with Chris Perkins was amazing. He wrote the dialogue for his characters and also contributed their voices. The recording sessions for his VO were side-splitting and he was great guy to collaborate with. If you liked the live game at PAX Prime, you’ll love getting to experience this new story with your favorite characters.”
After the “big missteps
” involved in Elemental Evil, Cryptic
is looking to put Neverwinter
back on top of its game with this week’s Maze Engine content update. It’s not looking to rewrite the game but to continue the story set up in the previous expansion while responding to community feedback.
Making our way through the Maze Engine was tricky, which is why we enlisted the help of Cryptic Producer Landon Falls to give us a tour of what to expect when the patch lands tomorrow. Lean, mean, and chock-full of every Forgotten Realms iconic character that could be ripped from the pages of R.A. Salvatore, The Maze Engine has plenty of delights and surprises in store for adventurers.
latest dev blog
zeroes in on the most important thing in any MMORPG: the players. Just kidding! It’s loot.
The Maze Engine expansion will introduce new enchantments and campaign currency aimed at giving players a helping hand against the demon spawn infesting the new areas. Quests to assist King Bruenor Battlehammer against Baphomet in his siege on Gauntlgrym (I am not making any of these words up, mind) will grant rewards spanning from Dwarven Battlerager companions and fashion gear to mount insignia and your choice of shards, seals, and tomes.
Completing the campaign itself will award new boons and part of a three-piece artifact set, while poking your nose into Castle Never and maybe doing something useful in there will pave the way for you to collect ruined and shattered items as well as snag a chance at “6 new Underdark Rings, including the Ring of Orcus, which has a chance to summon an undead servant when you are struck.” Your very own servant!
Check out the complete list of goodies awaiting adventurers.
If you thought you were done with Drizzt, think again. Adventures aren’t over in Neverwinter’s
Underdark; players will continue with the story that was started there when the ninth expansion, The Maze Engine, releases for the PC on March 15th. How will this next adventure set itself apart from the previous one? For starters, instead of squaring off against one two-headed demon lord, you get two single-headed ones. Additionally, the infamous Drow and other iconic figures will be joining you on your
journey this time, instead of the other way around. But as you’d hope for in an expansion, there’s more to The Maze Engine than that. I sat down with Executive Producer Rob Overmeyer
to delve into the details of next month’s new content.
Just because Neverwinter’s
Underdark takes place underground doesn’t mean that it’s going to be a bunch of dark generic caves. Cryptic’s art team is hard at work creating environments that live up to this famous D&D locale, and in a new dev blog
you can see how some of the settings came into being.
Reading this post might make you appreciate all of the little touches that it takes to make an environment believable and immersive: “Even though these environments share a lot of the same motifs and themes I still wanted them to feel unique. So Araj Tower has yellow crystals and Arm of the Delzoun has blueish crystals. In addition they also serve a story telling purpose. Arm of the Delzoun is mostly natural with drawrven elements.”
The team also did a lighting pass through the old leveling dungeons to make them look even more vibrant and exciting.
Neverwinter is preparing its Maze Engine update for the near future. If you’re into this game, you should check out the current Humble Bundle deal that includes a costume and companion for this game.
One of the big advantages of Forgotten Realms setting is that it comes pre-packaged with well-known fictional characters that have achieved some sort of special standing in fantasy geek circles. Neverwinter
has been milking those names for all their worth, too, having trotted these celebrities out in previous updates.
With the upcoming Maze Engine expansion, Neverwinter is calling for a reprise of these famous faces. A new dev diary discusses which characters will come back for autographs, photo ops, and quests. Expect to see heavy-hitters like Drizzt, Bruenor Battlehammer, Linu La’neral, Regis, and Makos coming back for this epic story.
Oh, and of course Minsc and Boo will show up to delight their legion of fans. “Now, with a new demon lord and the Maze Engine threatening the Underdark, Minsc and Boo are ready to fight! ‘Pointy horns! Meet pointy sword! AND HAMSTER!'”
Xbox One community has had to live with the fact that its version of the game would always be lagging behind the PC edition in regard to updates. Now console players have to grapple with a trade bar store that is lacking several options that are present on the PC, and they do not like it one bit.
Cryptic has announced on the forums that the Tarmalune Trade Bar Store for the Xbox One doesn’t offer the full array of goods as the PC version: “As some of you have noticed, there are a few differences between the Tarmalune Trade Bar Store on PC and Xbox. In particular, the Wards and Gems tab does not include Blood Rubies, Preservation Wards, or Coalescent Wards. We just wanted to let you know that this is intentional. Though they may show up at some point in the future, they are not supposed to be there with the launch of Neverwinter: Underdark on Xbox One.”
It’s getting very dark for Neverwinter players on the Xbox One. One might even argue that it’s getting underdark. Why one might argue that is something of a mystery, as it wouldn’t make a heck of a lot of sense, you don’t say that things are “underdark” when they’re really dark. But the important part is that the game’s Underdark update is going live on the console today, we’ve even got a trailer and some screenshots for you just below.
Players on the PC version have already finished up with tromping through the Underdark, of course, and thus have become the subject of the latest entry on the game’s official site. It commemorates all of the things that players have accomplished of late (and possibly spoils some of it if you’re still mid-story), but it notes that somewhere in the depths of the Underdark there are still plans in motion. It’s a celebration of where the game is at the same time that console players are catching up to the present state of the game.
Perfect World Entertainment
has just announced a new expansion for Neverwinter
. Called The Maze Engine, the update will leap into the post-Underdark
storyline and include dungeon overhauls and mount improvements.
“Adventurers have quelled the efforts of Demogorgon though some demons continue to make their way into the Forgotten Realms. Now, two new demon lords – Baphomet and Orcus – have appeared, bringing a new, terrible threat to the realm. Adventurers now must band together with iconic heroes, including Drizzt Do’Urden, Minsc, Bruenor Battlehammer, Regis, and more to face-off against a new evil.The ninth expansion to Neverwinter also sees the return of five dungeons that have been reworked to offer more content as players push towards to level 70 cap. Castle Never, one of the hardest dungeons previously in the game, has received a massive overhaul as Orcus has taken over following Valindra’s exodus. Neverwinter: The Maze Engine will also bring new gameplay updates, including a new campaign, The Stable – a system that gives further customization to mounts – and an improved queue system.”
The expansion is due out on PC this spring with the Xbox launch to follow as usual. It’ll be the game’s ninth major addition since its launch in 2013.
Back in October
wrote about its plans to massively overhaul Neverwinter’s
Trade Bar Store — that is, the special store where you can buy goodies with currency found inside lockboxes. Call it cashshop-ception.
As of yesterday, some of the planned changes have been implemented. Of note, fashion wear, dye bottles, and dye packs have all been removed entirely from the Zen Market, though they are still purchaseable in the Trade Bar Store itself. Lesser health stones and scrolls of mass life are on the chopping block at some point as well, though they weren’t mentioned as part of yesterday’s update.
Why would PWE mix up what you can buy where and make it harder to buy what you want? Simplification!
“We know it’s a tough decision for many whether to spend on cosmetics like fashion or convenience and refinement. We wanted to simplify fashion and make the experience of spending on cosmetics more rewarding. Not only will fashion sets now be more consistently priced, but you’ll be paying almost the same in lockbox keys as you would have buying that fashion directly from the Zen Market. Only now you’ll be getting plenty of bonus goodies from lockboxes along the way.”