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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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!'”
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.
“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.
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.”
Clicky the Mo button below (and prove you’re not a robot) to grab one of these keys and mount up!