Neverwinter devs explains why they’re squishing the whole game down to level 20


Neverwinter’s release and announcement cadence the past few weeks has been confusing, to say the least. Now that the last chunk of Sharandar is out the door, at least on PC, PWE is moving on to talking about the next module: the one that introduces some pretty drastic level squish. The studio says its goal is to get players to the newest content more quickly and introduce the key game concepts along the leveling curve.

“The big change with Module 21 is an alignment to Dungeons & Dragons with an adjusted level cap of 20,” PWE and Cryptic write in a dev blog today. “As you play through the new leveling flow, you achieve new levels at key milestones in the stories of each zone. This means we could better message new power unlocks in the quest rewards, and ensure a proper pace and challenge as you work through each zone. No longer will players out-level a story just because they did some side-quests, or a few queues.”

The new leveling progression will now take around 12 hours of play to reach the cap, and several maps – Blacklake District, Tower District, Blackdagger Ruins, Helm’s Hold, Pirate’s Skyhold, Rothe Valley, and Mount Hotenow have been retired, at least for now, until they can be retooled for the new curve. It also sounds as if if all existing characters will just be repositioned at level 20 with a gear back to help them acclimate.

“We did not make this decision lightly and we know there are players out there that enjoyed each of these spaces. First and foremost, we want to make it clear that vaulting in this case is not the same as removal. We have removed content in the past, and we do listen to the concerns about content like old dungeons that have been lost. We have made some past efforts with features like Tales of Old to bring back this lost content. With the new M21 leveling flow, the Throne of Idris was brought back to properly end the story of Ebon Downs. But those are targeted cases, and with vaulting we have a more discrete plan to bring this content back. With the new Adventure system, which we will discuss more in an upcoming post, we will be able to revisit these zones and their stories with updated flow, rewards, and visual polish.”


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Once you hit max level in the game you’re doing exceptionally grindy and exceptionally repetitive things (unless you pay to skip), and I can’t imagine new players being very receptive to that.

The levelling experience was easy and just solo play, but it did let you go through different areas and work through questing (admittedly, extremely generic fantasy quests), but people enjoyed the combat and progress without having to grind for hours for minute progress or worry about having to pay to skip it.

Kevin Smith

This is reminding me of what they did to Destiny 2 with the vaulting content. About half the player base left when they did that. It is never a good idea to remove content, I don’t care what your reasoning is. I really doubt you will ever see the vaulted content again. Just ask the STO players about removing content that they will add back later.

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Peregrine Falcon

Yeah, Cryptic is famous for removing content “until they can fix it” and then never adding it back in and hoping the players forget about it. They’ve done it in every single MMO they’ve ever had.


Sure. Just like they “vaulted” a ton of missions in STO while they work on remastering them. Years ago. No sign of those missions returning. Some of them include missions where they’d updated them with new voice lines from Levar Burton – removing them cut about half of the missions he appears in clear out of the game.

Until proven otherwise, assume any “vaulted content” is the same as “cut content,” and is gone for good.

Zulika Mi-Nam
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Zulika Mi-Nam

I am always perplexed when I see a studio add in something no one asked for and take away existing content because……uhm because they do not feel like waiting until the change could be done without negatively affecting other parts of the game?

How could not one person in the chain of command not see this as a problem? ….studio turnover and only eyes for the new $ prize I guess.

Destiny 2 did this too, vaulting much of the original launch areas and quests. New players filled the chat with “What am I supposed to do?” when starting a FTP game -even as a returning player I was lost and had google up how to get going again.

Scorp Gang

It’s funny how they never squish P2W in these things. I played NWO on release. I saw the way it was going and got out.

Krumple Themal

I have leveled the Bard to 20 on the preview server and I have to say their attempt to make things easier for new players fails. Ill explain what I mean.

I am a Neverwinter veteran player so I am knowledged in the game systems for what is important to focus on to gain easy progression in terms of equipment, companions, mounts and enchantments.

However a new player would not be and I discovered that the capaign zones in the new system are heavily item level based. Undermountain being the lowest of the Adventure zones starting at 20k, my character had 27k and I was finding it very difficult to complete quests despite having a great amount of experience with the content itself.

Not only that but when you hit level 20 you are bombarded with quest options, an overwelming amount of options. If a player isnt aware of the new structure they could easily find themselves trying to run content that is too difficult for them.

Castagere Shaikura

I think if you get any character to level 20 now it will get a max level gearbox and bags. So if I got this right you should make as many characters as you can now so they will be boosted with this mod 21.

Kickstarter Donor

Sounds like we will also be getting max level gear? My crafter is somewhat crying LOL. Which brings up crafting: are they going to level squish the crafting system and will they just shovel all the crafting professions to max level? Not that I would overly complain about that. 😁


I just started playing Neverwinter for the first time a few weeks ago. Made it to level 30, and I can see why something like this is needed. There’s a lot of systems and things being thrown at you, while the pacing also doesn’t feel great.

Playing a tank so of course killing the quest mobs is a bit of a slog, but I was running dungeons at my level and being completely useless because I didn’t have a tank spec which unlocks at 30, so I couldn’t hold aggro. Not the end of the world because everyone else was higher level and could just heal through it all, but it felt off.

Does seem like I should now be making as many characters as possible since they’ll all get to max level come the patch.


Further on it becomes more annoying. I have a Paladin Justiciar lvl 48 (the tank specialization) and the game becomes annoying. My character has literally 3 damaging attacks and one heal – that’s the extend of it.

I still have about 2-3 damaging abilities left to unlock, but their DPS or magnitude are lower than what I currently have, which means they are useless to me and I’m not looking forward to unlocking them, because I already know I won’t be needing them, ever.

All I have to unlock is some paragon skills that come like every 10 levels – 40, 50, 60, 70 or something like that and they barely do anything too, just some passive bonuses.

What’s worse is gear looks the same form one zone to the next – you don’t even look different for equipping something else. I tried playing the other day, completed one zone, gained two levels, but after I turned off the game, I did not have the drive to play it again the next day.

The problem with the leveling is just 1/3rd of the whole issue.

1. You easily outlevel content.
2. You have many levels left to reach and nothing to show for it – you level up and don’t learn any new abilities so at this point your level has only fictive value.
3. The combat is very boring and repetitive when you have to use the same 3 abilities from level 20 to level 80, it just becomes boring, stupid and mind-numbing.

The level squish will not fix this, it will just get you to the level cap faster and unlock everything for you, other than that, it won’t fix the problem that the game becomes repetitive and the only challenge is when you have weak gear you get your ass handed to you.