Neverwinter is getting a level squish as part of an upcoming update, bringing an adjusted level cap of 20 with Module 21. The team talked about why the squish was needed, as well as the ramifications it will have on Neverwinter.
Cryptic details exactly why the level squish is coming in Neverwinter, specifically stating the goal is to "streamline leveling" in order to get players to content the team is pumping out faster. As such, a new level cap is being instituted in Neverwinter come Module 21, squishing levels to a new cap of 20.
The big change with Module 21 is an alignment to Dungeons & Dragons with an adjusted level cap of 20. 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. This does not mean that leveling slowed down though. The time to reach level 20 is on average around twelve hours, compared to a much longer and more volatile time to reach the cap on Live. We think players will enjoy being able to unlock new powers faster, make their choice of Paragon Path sooner, and see all that Neverwinter has to offer!
As such, to help facilitate the new streamlined leveling experience, the team is doing what it calls "vaulting" some maps from the leveling progression. The team states that while this decision was not made "lightly," and stresses that this is not the same as simply removing the content entirely, leaving the door open to bring back this content in other ways, such as the Tales of Old feature.
"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."
Many of the zones affected, which includes Blacklake District, Tower District, Helm's Hold and more, have specfic reasons this content was vaulted, including population concerns, reuse in other adventures, as well as being able to polish visuals and the questing progression.
You can check out the full dev blog on the official website. ICYMI, Neverwinter will also be getting its first new class since 2016 as the Cryptic team unveiled the addition of the Bard class, coming in a future update.