Neverwinter – and Drizzt – fans rejoice. Next free-of-charge module is titled Shadowmantle, and will add a new class, the Hunter Ranger, a hybrid ranged and melee damage-dealing attacker.
The new module will also add new Paragon paths and a ton of tweaks to the free-to-play MMORPG’s core mechanics when it launches later this year.
Producer Andy Velasquez explained that the Hunter Ranger was fast-tracked due to overwhelming player demand. Not hard to imagine why…
“The Hunter Ranger by far, by far the most requested class. Like, we hadn’t even come out yet and we just got inundated with, ‘Wait, but is there a Ranger?’ The reason why it took us so long to get to it is exactly that: So many people have such high expectations. We actually had it somewhat playable pre-launch, and with action-combat being the cornerstone of what Neverwinter was trying to do, we wanted to make sure when it came out, it came out great.”
By pressing Tab, players can swap between long bow and dual blades. Each of their At-Will and Encounter powers have two implementations, based on which weapon the Hunter has equipped also, those twin powers are on different cooldowns. In order to be effective, the Hunter has to swap between the two styles constantly in battle, darting in and out of the fray as they pick off their foes.
Shadowmantle will also add a new high-level area for players to explore; a keep settled in the skeleton of a massive black dragon, called Dread Ring. The area contains narrative content that will tie up some of the loose ends introduced in the core game and its August expansion, Fury of the Feywild. That story will be told through new quests, new instanced content and a new dungeon.
“We already have one class beyond the Hunter that’s almost, I’d say 50 to 60 percent done, so that will be our next one,” Velasquez said. “But … we’re staggering development on those, so that’s always going to be the cadence we want to do. As the Hunter Ranger gets close to being released, then we’ll be working on the next one. Once that one gets close to release, there will be the one following.
“In terms of which class we’re doing, it’s a combination of what we find interesting and what the players want. The Hunter Ranger was easy, because internally we all wanted it, and the fans wanted it as well. We went through a lot of Wizards of the Coast player data, who had metrics on when players make characters in D&D, what race, class and gender combinations do they make. We compared that with the list of classes we had at launch, and what we’re planning to do, and all seven were in the top 10, so we felt comfortable about that, and we’ll probably continue to look at that list.”
Shadowmantle will launch before the end of the year, meaning Cryptic Studios is delivering module expansions at a pace of every three to four months.
Now I have to create a new character, dammit.
Are you excited?