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Interview: Talking Neverwinter's Dragonslayer Module With Cryptic Studios

Joseph Bradford Posted:
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Neverwinter's Dragonslayer module launches today, and we had the chance to talk about the upcoming update with the Cryptc team. Inspired by Dungeons & Dragons' Fizban's Treasury of Dragons sourcebook, the new dragon-infused module sees updates to dragon animations, a new story to work through, and the release of a new Dragon Hunt system.

We had the chance to chat with System Designer Michael Lynch and Christopher Frenton, the Art Director on Neverwinter about the new module and more about the Dragon Hunt system.

MMORPG.com: With the Dragon Hunt system, it feels like you’re setting up players to be able to easily take on the dragons that are attacking Faerun. How are you planning on making sure this new mechanic feels as epic as slaying a dragon should?

Michael Lynch, Neverwinter System Designer: We certainly didn’t want a lot of friction when it comes to getting players into our newest update and fighting dragons right away. However, dragons in D&D become more powerful and gain more capabilities as they age, so there’s a broad spectrum of possibilities when it comes to fighting dragons in Neverwinter. A young dragon can be tackled by a fledgling dragon hunter or two, whereas an Ancient Dragon is typically going to require a full balanced group similar to what you’d see facing off against one of our harder dungeon bosses. Furthermore, players can seek out more powerful dragons for greater challenges and rewards through our Modifier system. The threshold for what is considered an epic dragon-slaying experience will differ from person to person and we’re supporting that range for our players.

The changes made to the Dragons themselves look pretty cool – are there plans to revisit animations and more of other creatures in Neverwinter and give them a makeover as well in the future?

Christopher Frenton, Neverwinter Art Director: We are always looking for opportunities to update the visuals of the game. In fact, we are currently working on updating another creature but I can't tell you what it is yet.

Dragon Hunt system: How important was it to ensure that the different dragons felt different, right down to the biome they inhabit?

Michael Lynch: It was extremely important for us to capture the differences between the chromatic dragons. The aesthetic variance is a big part of that with their distinct chromatic features and unique lair locations that they occupy, which you touched on. We didn’t want to have the differences to be purely visual though, so each dragon type favors different types of attacks as well as having their own unique powers to give them a varied combat feel. These differences will manifest themselves more clearly as you battle stronger dragons that have more combat capabilities.

Will there ever be a chance for a solo player to take on an ancient or adult dragon, or are they simply too powerful for even the strongest Neverwinter player out there?

Michael Lynch: I learned years ago never to underestimate our players’ capabilities, but soloing an Ancient Dragon would be a feat that very few could even consider pulling off, especially if they’re making the attempt with several difficult modifiers. I’m sure we’ll see a video on the internet at some point of someone doing the unthinkable but that’s outside of the realm of possibility for the vast majority of us.

Is there going to be a level requirement for the Dragon Hunt system or could players feasibly use it as a way to level their characters while tackling some cool content?

Michael Lynch: There are Item Level requirements for Dragon Hunts but they are set very low to be accessible to brand new max level characters. The more difficult hunts and modifiers will become available as you increase your dragon hunter rank and collect various supplies. While Dragon Hunts are not an activity for leveling characters, they will be an excellent tool for new and established max level players alike to increase their Item Level from all of the gear that is available.

Temple of Tiamat – why do you think this trial is so popular with players?

Michael Lynch: In general, fighting a giant five headed Dragon Queen is an awesome thing to do, so I think that’s always going to have a decent amount of appeal on its own. It’s also the case that for many players this trial is one of their first experiences in a large scale coordinated fight in Neverwinter, and thus it holds a special place in their memory. Additionally, Tiamat is a fight where DPS players really get to shine and put up big numbers, which usually gets them pretty excited.

Why did you think now was a good time to revisit it and provide it with an update? How did you approach this?

Michael Lynch: The Tiamat trial was built in a previous era of our game with a different design intent using old development tools and methods. Its mechanics have become less engaging over time when compared to more modern challenges and some issues have cropped up over the years that are extremely time-consuming to address. It’s been on our radar to revitalize the trial for some time and a Dragon-focused module was the perfect time to do it.

One of my goals was to maintain as much of the original trial’s mechanics and feel as possible. Once I had decided which aspects of the old version would be maintained, I started to brainstorm how those might be expanded upon and combined with new elements to create a unique experience. Tiamat is an incredibly powerful being and I wanted to ensure that more of her capabilities were put on display during the fight to create challenges that all three combat roles would need to overcome.

Can you break down a bit what changes are coming to the Trial and what players can expect?

Michael Lynch: The biggest change in the trial is that players will be getting up close and personal with Tiamat as opposed to only fighting her heads. Previously, the cleric NPCs were more significant drivers in stopping Tiamat but they have taken more of a backseat as support pieces to the players in this iteration. In terms of scale, Tiamat is by far the largest enemy we have in the game and her massive size will be much more apparent when you’re in close proximity to her.

In regards to existing mechanics, there is a major change to the functionality of the Dragon Souls. The Dragon Souls were previously used to negate the effects of the breath attacks from Tiamat’s heads. In the new version, they are actually used to dispel the spells that will be cast from Tiamat’s heads. These spells can have devastating effects on the battlefield so it’s a huge boon to the group to prevent them from ever activating or quickly cleansing them before they have too much of a detrimental effect on the team.

For an older Trial, players may look at the changes and long for the old days – will there be a way to experience the trial in its original form should they want to revisit it down the road?

Michael Lynch: I certainly don’t want to ever say never, but it’s unlikely that the old version of the trial would return after the new one is activated with the launch of Dragonslayer. If any players are looking to get one last run and say their goodbyes to the existing Tiamat trial, make sure to jump in there before the new module is released!


Joseph Bradford

Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he's not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don't get him started on why Balrogs *don't* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore