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Neverwinter Dev Journals: Character Progression in the Spotlight

By Guest Writer on April 09, 2013

The hero’s journey isn’t just a story arc – in Neverwinter, leveling up offers tons of chances to upgrade and customize your character. For Beta Weekend 4, starting 4/12, you’ll be able to pick your powers in a new point-buy system!

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Power Choice

One of the biggest pieces of feedback we got was that, although a lot of other elements were customizable, D&D veterans wanted to have more say in the powers they got at each level. Previously, powers unlocked or upgraded at certain levels; players got to choose which powers to equip, not which ones to learn.

For inspiration, we looked at the way ability choice worked in pen and paper D&D, and combined it with our MMO experience. What we’ve emerged with is a new power choice system that we’ll be debuting in Beta Weekend #4, and it’ll give you more chances to customize your character than ever before.

Right out of the tutorial, you’ll have access to five or so powers. At each milestone level after that, more powers will be unlockable.

You’ll get power points at each level that you can use to get powers. Each point will either unlock or upgrade a power, up to Rank 3. You’ll need to have spent a certain amount of points in order to start investing in higher tiers of powers. By the endgame, you’ll have 60 power points, roughly a dozen points shy of maxing out everything.

Don’t just save up your power points for the last unlockable powers, though. At first, only ranks one and two will be available for each power; at Level 30, you’ll be able to start ranking up to 3. This lets us balance even your first two at-wills to still be useful in end-game, just like with the old power tree.

All abilities will still be powerful at any level, just like before. Now, though, you’ll be able to choose exactly which powers you want maxed-out, letting you customize your adventurer even more than before.

Feat Choice

The other main way to customize and progress your powers is with feat points. Unlike power choice, there isn’t a dramatic change planned for feats – but now that you can choose which powers to max out, the power-boosting feats are even more important.

Every class has a tree of twelve Heroic feats, each of which can be maxed up to either Rank 3 or Rank 5.  Heroic feats tend to boost damage, increase Action Point gain, or synergize with your class’ Tab stat –e.g., Channel Divinity for Devoted Cleric, or Stealth for Trickster Rogues. Most characters will have 20 Heroic feat points to spend, so you’ll want to choose feats to match your build or shore up weaknesses.

Every class also has three Paragon Feat trees. Each tree matches a certain play style and specifically boosts particular powers – five feats that boost specific powers, and three feats that increase stats like the damage of all at-wills. Every Paragon feat tree requires you to have spent twenty Paragon feat points in order to get the capstone feat, each of which has a game-changing benefit.

By picking a Paragon feat tree to focus on – which isn’t a locked decision, by the way, purely a question of what you want to invest in – you’re specializing in a particular build, but the feats you choose in that tree are even deeper specialization. Neverwinter offers a lot of design freedom to strategists, as you can max out the non power-specific feats. If you think you can design a better defender by drawing on the Destroyer paragon tree, you won’t have invested a ton of points in Destroyer-type powers.

Beta Weekend 4 is coming soon, heroes. Get in-game and try out the new point-buy power selection!

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