Neverwinter is thought of by many as the most in-depth Dungeons & Dragons MMORPG experience available on console. Free-to-play, it delivers a world rich in lore, full of quests and containing enough gameplay hours to keep you busy for years to come. It’s constantly evolving too – and that is never more true than with the launch of the recent Avernus expansion. We wanted to find out more about how Neverwinter and Avernus sets players up, and reached out to one of the Lead Designers on the game. Randy Mosiondz was more than happy to spare us some time. 

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Hi, could you introduce yourself. What is your role on the Neverwinter team?

Randy: I’m the Lead Designer on the Neverwinter team, and Principal Designer at Cryptic Studios. I manage the Design team and coordinate with the Art, Programming, Production, and Marketing teams. I’m also the Loremaster for the team.

For those who have never played Neverwinter before, why should they?

First off, it’s free-to-play! You can download the client for free on PC, Xbox One, and PS4. We also have a lot of content we’ve built up over the years (which is also free). Aside from the 1-80 level progression, we’ve got many hours of epic-level content you can play as you gear up for our most challenging Dungeons and Trials.

It’s also set in the Dungeons & Dragons’ rich Forgotten Realms universe, which has created many iconic heroes and places over the years. Characters like Drizzt Do’Urden from R.A. Salvatore’s best-selling books can be found in Neverwinter, and even the infamous leaders of Penny Arcade’s Acquisitions Incorporated. The city of Neverwinter is also just up the coast from the cities of Waterdeep and Baldur’s Gate, which have also been featured in games and books. So if you want to try a game with a richly-developed setting, this is your chance!

With the recent release of Avernus, how has it changed the shape of the world of Neverwinter as a whole?

Travelling to the first layer of the Nine Hells is Neverwinter’s first major foray into the Outer Planes. We’ve taken players to the Feywild and the Shadowfell before, echoes of the Prime Material Plane, but Avernus opens up more of the rich cosmology of the Forgotten Realms universe.

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What are the plans for the future? How might the “Path Of The Fallen” campaign develop going forward?

The Path of the Fallen campaign reveals much of the history of the Archdevil Zariel. But we have further plans beyond that with an episodic release. We can’t give the details right now, but we’ll be further expanding the saga of Zariel in the future.

How does Avernus aim to further the gameplay and story set forward by Infernal Descent?

Aside from the aforementioned Path of the Fallen campaign mentioned earlier, we’ve got familiar gameplay (quests, Heroic Encounters), but we’ve also got a couple of new features. One is the “infernal warmachines” that you use to get between destinations in the wastelands of Avernus; they’re fun to cruise around in, and be sure to turn on the “aetheric broadcast network”!

You’ll also have the Blood War meter that goes back and forth between the struggle of power between the chaotic devils and lawful devils. Defeating demons or devils will aid one side or the other, and if it gets far enough, war parties form with leaders possessing powerful magical items.

Avernus seems like a rather brutal DLC and we have a few “Gift of the Noble Guard” packs to give away to players. How might that help those immersed in Neverwinter go about fighting back?

The Cape of the Noble Guard looks cool, and who doesn’t want that? The Stone of Health is perfect for keeping you going in tough battles, returning you to full health instantly. The Adventurer’s XP Booster helps you level up quickly. And in case you didn’t use the Stone of Health quickly enough, the Injury Kits immediately remove any injuries you sustained in the fight.

Avernus is a pretty harsh place, so if you haven’t already, level up to 70 and start playing through the Undermountain campaign. That’ll get you most of the way to 80 and start outfitting you with the gear you need. Run some Undermountain expeditions and dungeons, and soon you’ll have the gear to get to take on Infernal Descent, the prelude zone to Avernus. From there you’ll learn the saga of the Vallenhas family and how their stronghold descended into the first layer of the Nine Hells.

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Avernus is Neverwinter’s 19th DLC to date, covering a range of ideas. Where would you like to see players go next in the Neverwinter universe?

The big thing we’d like to do is keep it epic. Extra-planar adventures are interesting as they deal with engaging locations, monsters, and stories. That said, there’s lots of interesting struggles going on around the Sword Coast to keep high-end adventurers engaged as well.

Are there plans to bring Neverwinter (and its DLC) into the next generation? If so, what changes would you like to see made with the power of better hardware?

It’s definitely something we’d be interested in doing, but we don’t have plans at this time.

Finally, how has Neverwinter helped shape Cryptic Studios as a team?

Neverwinter has been a great development experience for Cryptic. It advanced the action-combat capabilities of the Cryptic Engine, which has become a mainstay of newer MMORPGs.

Neverwinter being built for a free-to-play market from the start helped us design systems that better supported that type of game; our older games (Champions Online and Star Trek Online) had to go through a conversion of subscription systems, which has problems.

Finally, all the tool development and knowledge have gone into making our newest upcoming multiplayer action-RPG, Magic: Legends. It’s also built on the Cryptic engine, but you wouldn’t know it from playing the game, as the systems and UI have been re-built from the ground up. I helped build the content team a year back, and you’ve got a lot of talented people there working hard to bring you a fun and engaging experience.

And finally, finally, what universe would you personally like to see tackled next?

That’s an interesting question! I’m an avid tabletop gamer, so there’s plenty of properties I’d like to see brought to video games. If I were to pick one, I’d say Deadlands. Deadlands is a weird west horror setting from my friend Shane Hensley at Pinnacle Entertainment Group. Gunslingers, mad scientists, magic-using hucksters fighting all kinds of monsters in the old west; I think it would make a great video game!

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Huge thanks go out to Randy for taking the time out of his schedule to answer our questions about Neverwinter and Avernus. If you haven’t yet played the game, the Xbox Store should be visited as a matter of priority – it’s free to download after all.

If you are playing Neverwinter and you want to kit your character out in the very best gear, as mentioned in the interview we have a great giveaway running. Should you wish to go into your questing with the Gift of the Noble Guard in place, head over to our giveaway page and follow the relevant instructions. It’s free to enter.

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