Dragons. They’re not the kindest of creatures. That goes doubly so when evil-doing cultists decide to whisper to them. Thankfully, in Neverwinter, you were born to be a hero for times just such as this. There’s a lot coming with the game’s next module, Tyranny of Dragons, and we were lucky enough to have Executive Producer, Rob Overmeyer, take us on a guided tour. If you’re a current player or a curious newcomer, this is a module you won’t want to miss.
Dragonborn, & A New Kind of Warlock
Rob kicked things off by introducing me to the new class, the Scourge Warlock. The avatar I got to see was a hulking Dragonborn, the new race also introduced with Tyranny of Dragons. I was struck as he ran around the city of Neverwinter: the Dragonborn race felt more dragon-like than any game I’ve yet played. They are big, thick humanoids, with scaly mean features that show their lineage; a far cry from the spindly Draconians we usually see.
Second, the armor – which Rob described as mid-level – looked fantastic. Scourge Warlocks use Darkleather armor, but what I saw looked dense and was well-adorned with tiny details; not to mention, the massive, spiked pauldrons he wore. I didn’t get to see any other gear, save for some new artifact weapons (you feed them gear to level them up!), so I’m curious to see if it all feels so unique compared to the bland robes of yesterday’s warlock.
The Warlock itself is a powerhouse of pent up spell damage. It is a class that can save up its power and fire it off in one incredible blast. It benefits from build-up and flourishes when allowed to deliver its full cadence of spells. For this reason, Cryptic expects the Warlock to shine when played in groups. If you’re playing solo, you’ll still get to see the Warlock’s power, but don’t be surprised if your enemies are dead before you get into the rhythm of extreme damage dealing. A full support tree is also available if that’s more your thing.
As I watched Rob play, I couldn’t help but feel like he was performing a kind of dance. Slaying one enemy in the fiery swell of his Killing Flames, pulling a shadowy Soul Puppet from the remains. Cursing a group from a great distance, then spawning a ghastly skull to drool green fire over their heads (this reminded me of the Snake Eater mark from Harry Potter for some reason), then exploding the weak group with Hellish Rebukes and Eldritch Blasts or even a Gates of Hell. After his enemies had fallen, I noticed that the one purple orb which had circled him had become three. Before he could engage the next enemy, he turned these Dark Spiral Auras into Infernal Spheres which flew off and left an enemy nearly dead, all on their own.
The Warlock is free to all players. The Dragonborn is part of the Dragonborn Legend Pack, however, and, though Rob said it is a likely addition for the in-game store, there are no details as to when yet.
Beginning at level 26, players will be able to take on the Tyranny of Dragons campaign. This is a first for Neverwinter as each of the previous modules required players to be at level cap to begin. Here, though, Cryptic wanted to give players the opportunity to group together and experience some of the best parts of the game far sooner in the leveling curve. They have also introduced scaling content into the heroic encounters to make sure every player experiences a fun, fair challenge.
Tyranny of Dragons was timed to coincide with the latest release of pen-and-paper Dungeons and Dragons and the heart of the story will be the same in both versions. I won’t spoil much here, but there is some very cool, very Dungeons and Dragons stuff going on in the campaign. After talking with Harper Windle, players are sent to Neverdeath Graveyard to investigate new whispers surrounding the Cult of the Dragon. As it happens, the Cult has been outdone: a new sect has formed and has allied with the dragons, convincing them to do their will. How they’ve done this, and why, are the questions you answer through the story.
Rob describes Tyranny of the Dragon as a campaign that follows players as they level. Though they’ll begin at level 26, the story content is designed to open up all the way to level 60. It sounds epic. The campaign is one of twists, surprises, and huge, world-spanning story arcs. You’ll bring factions together that would never normally align and rally them against a common evil. Throughout it all, your adventuring will be invigorated as dragons descend from the sky in new Heroic Encounters. Since these are on timers, you can plan on these iconic fights ahead of time. They’re quite cool just to sit back and watch so I can only imagine how fun taking them on in a group must be (you will need a group).
Cryptic has expanded five zones to include all new areas. I got to see the expanded version of Rothe Valley and the new landmass is really quite large. At first I wondered why Cryptic didn’t simply add new zones, but it was easy to see how Tyranny of Dragons aims to deepen the current world rather than expand it horizontally. This all acts in support of the story, which Rob said they’ve tried to deliver through experience more than direct, text-based exposition.
The emphasis on experiencing the campaign also translates into the choices players will make as they progress. Like previous modules, Tyranny’s story beats are represented through a tree interface with arrows and branching paths. Each section is unlocked with currencies earned in the previous sections. The path you take is up to you, but if you want to see everything, you’re free to go back and unlock to opposite line.
Completing one piece of the chain won’t necessarily be enough to unlock the next step, however, especially if you buy into Boons. These permanent character upgrades also cost campaign currency, so there is real incentive to join the fight and complete the events Tyranny of Dragons brings to the table. Will you unlock the next chapter or purchase a +200 bonus to spell power? Those are the kinds of meta-questions you’ll be facing on your march through this module.