Interview with Lindsay Haven, Neverwinter Producer

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We got the chance to ask Lindsay Haven (producer on Neverwinter) some questions about the newest Neverwinter module that is set to come out this autumn. For those who don’t know about it, titled Underdark, this will be the eighth module for the game and it will take players into the lands of Faerun in the Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten Realms campaign.

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  • Tell us a little about where Neverwinter is at in terms of the bigger storylines, how has it progressed for those who may not have played the game for a while?

Well, if you haven’t played in a long while, I don’t think I have time to answer that question in full. So let me start after Malabog has risen then fallen, Valindra was vanquished, and players defeated Kessell in Icewind Dale, which get us through Tyranny of Dragons.

Rise of Tiamat centers around the Cult of the Dragon, who realize they misunderstood an ancient prophecy which required them to summon dead dragons. Under new leadership, they are now attempting to summon Tiamat, the queen of evil dragons, who’s been languishing in the Nine Hells for over a millennia. Players battle through a litany of evil dragons and dragon cultists in the new Well of Dragons zone, an ancient dragon graveyard. As the cult is about to summon Tiamat, players must confront the 5-headed queen directly in an epic, 25-man battle.

Elemental Evil introduced corrupt prophets who have risen to claim mighty weapons with direct links to the power of the elemental princes. Each of these prophets have assembled a cadre of cultists and creatures to serve them in the construction of four elemental temples in four brand new zones. It is up to adventurers to discover where the true power of each prophet lay, and dismantle it before it comes boiling up to obliterate the Realms.

Meanwhile, in Strongholds, adventurers have discovered massive fortifications to the north of Neverwinter. Abandoned by the powerful creators and rulers, guilds are encouraged to fight off the encroaching wilderness and scourge to claim a stronghold for themselves.

I hope that covers enough. There is so much story in Neverwinter. Make sure to hop in and experience it for yourself, too!

  • Content wise and sheer scale, which of your previous modules do you think Underdark is on par with?

I’d say Tyranny of Dragons because it’s built around a campaign and focuses on end-game content. But this is the first time we’ve had a D&D VIP like R.A. Salvatore work so closely with us on developing content.

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  • Players will be able to delve into the Underdark, as far as lore goes this area is huge, essentially a world under the world, how big will the new area be? Are we expecting a new zone, region or even multiple region/ continent proportions?

You are right, the Underdark is vast. It’s too much for us to cover in one expansion. However we have two skirmishes, a boss fight (with the Demogorgon) and the Salvatore quest line, all taking you to the Underdark. In addition, there is a non-combat zone we’ve built to serve as the story/campaign hub for the update. All in all, you’ll see quite a few places in the Underdark.

  • What can players expect to see and do in Menzoberranzan, the infamous City of Spiders and home to most civilized drow (as well as Drizzt Do’Urden)?

Players will not be journeying to Menzoberranzan in this module. Under normal circumstances, the denizens of Menzoberranzan are not too fond of folks from above ground, and would likely kill adventurers on sight. Layer in the mayhem and chaos of demons flooding their city (bringing heightened alert and madness), and there’s no way players would be able to get anywhere near that location. Players will, however, be able to journey to the outskirts of Mantol-Derith, a marketplace for all of the races of the Underdark, where they will be able to chat with famous characters like Drizzt Do’Urden.

  • We read that R.A. Salvatore, one of the primary authors of the Forgotten Realms’ books was involved in helping write some of the quests for the game, what’s it like to get people involved in making the game at that level who aren’t normally part of the team?

Yes, R.A. Salvatore did help us build a large portion of the story in this module. Having him involved was great. He’s very friendly - we call him Bob. He has a strong vision of the characters and story he’s telling, which makes it possible for us to bring those characters to life. R.A. Salvatore has been an inspiration to many people on our team, which is why it felt so rewarding for us to see him light up when he got a chance to play the quests in game and see his characters in 3D. So, it’s been a huge honor to work with him.

  • From the official Dungeons & Dragons “Rage of Demons: Neverwinter Underdark” trailer we see our iconic white haired drow leaping down onto a truly enormous Demogorgon; how does the scale compare to the Tiamat fight? With Tiamat you only needed to fight the emerging heads, will we expect something similar or was that specific to the mechanics of that battle?

The Demogorgon is massive. Even our most vertically adept races are only as tall his knee. Bringing him to life proved to be quite a challenge because he was formed from so many different types of beasts. He has two heads with baboon-like faces, octopus tentacles and canine legs. We also incorporated a muscle system to add a squash-and-stretch effect that better mimics real-life movement.

It will take 10 players to defeat the Demogorgon, and that’s with the help of classic Dungeons and Dragon heroes like Drizzt, Regis and Bruenor.
Fighting separate heads was mechanically specific to the Tiamat battle and presented its own obstacles. Players can expect a new set of challenges when they encounter the Demogorgon.

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  • We saw the Scourge Warlock appear with Tyranny of Dragons, the Oathbound Paladin in Elemental Evil, Strongholds focused on the new system…. might we be seeing another new class or some changes to the current classes with Underdark?

Nope, no new class this module. While classes are still a big part of D&D and Neverwinter, we are focusing on expanding out the end-game for this update.

  • Will we be seeing any new items and assets added to the Foundry as part of the Underdark module?

Not with this expansion. But we know it’s been a while since we’ve add many assets to The Foundry and we hope we can fix that soon.

  • Is there anything else you can tell us, or give us a hint on what to expect?

I feel like I’ve given away all of my secrets so far! I’m not sure what else there is to tell about story and content, but for those interested in refining artifacts or the Trade Bar store I think you might be in for a pleasant surprise. And I’ve probably said too much, so I’ll stop there.

  • Do we have any solid release dates for Xbox One and PC?

I don’t have any dates that I can talk about right now, but we’ll likely be announcing something soon.

  • Thanks again for taking the time to answer our questions; we look forward to seeing the release of Neverwinter: Underdark and wish you luck with it!

Absolutely. See you in game!

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