Our final “Elemental Evil Week” interview is with Randy Mosiondz, Senior Game Designer over at Cryptic – makers of the Neverwinter MMO. This is good timing for you console fans as the Xbox One version of the game just went live this week. Like all MMORPG, Neverwinter is updated with new content. Cryptic has worked with Wizards of the Coast in the past to ensure that new expansions/updates for Neverwinter are parallel to the tabletop game. We saw this with Tyranny of Dragons and the next expansion obviously follows suite as it is titled Elemental Evil. With the video game version of Elemental Evil going live on April 7th, this is the perfect time to find out more about what gamers can expect with their latest sojourn into the Forgotten Realms.
Diehard GameFAN: The next module for Neverwinter is Elemental Evil. How does the storyline for the video game tie into the other D&D releases under the same banner like The Temple of Elemental Evil board game and Princes of the Apocalypse?
Randy Mosiondz : Everything we’ve developed for Neverwinter’s Elemental Evil is drawn from the same story as the board game and tabletop RPG game accessories. So you’ll see a lot of unifying themes throughout all of the games: the four cults of elemental evil, the elemental prophets and their special weapons, the elemental nodes, etc. It’s actually pretty cool to see the same characters like the elemental prophets show up time and again, as it’s a good chance to show off their personalities in different ways.
DHGF: Elemental Evil features the new playable class of The Oathbound Paladin. Why did it take so long to add the Paladin class to the video game and what tricks and iconic abilities from the tabletop game will we see the digital Paladin possess?
RM: It’s always tricky when you’re adding such an iconic class like the Paladin to the game, especially when it functions as a hybrid between other core classes. In this case it’s a mix between the Guardian Fighter and Devoted Cleric, and you don’t really want to steal the thunder of either of those classes. But the Oathbound Paladin possesses certain unique features players from tabletop gaming will recognize such as lay on hands and smite!
DHGF: You’re going to be raising the level cap from 60 to 70 with Elemental Evil. What sorts of abilities and feats will be added to character classes at these higher levels. As well, what sorts of new enemies will we see that can give these new higher level characters a full-on challenge? About how long will it take to reach the new level cap for those characters already at Level 60?
RM: Players will gain access to a few new high-end powers and feats in their classes, as well as being able to rank up to 4 in their powers. In line with the Elemental Evil storyline, we’re introducing the four Elemental Cults and the various creatures they employ in their quest for destruction of the Sword Coast such as elemental archons, bulettes, kenku, sea hags, and more!
DHGF: What will be the storyline for Elemental Evil? Will there be any famous Forgotten Realms icons to encounter (or fight) in this module? How closely do you work with Wizards of the Coast to come up with your storylines?
RM: The storyline focuses around the four elemental prophets and their rise to power across the Sword Coast. Recently gifted with powerful elemental weapons, the prophets use their newfound magic to draw forth elemental nodes of their respective element. What they plan to do with the elemental nodes would ultimately bring untold destruction in the form of tidal waves, earthquakes, infernos, and storms. Luckily, you have help investigating the Elemental Evil – Minsc & Boo from the old computer game Baldur’s Gate! Minsc & Boo are fan favorites, now brought into Neverwinter. If you’re not familiar with the beloved Rashemi ranger and his miniature giant space hamster, you’re in for a treat!
We work very closely with Wizards of the Coast on the storylines. We work from a story bible that Wizards sends to us, which we use to come up with our game design, documents for zones, characters, quests, and items. We then meet with them weekly to go over development and revisions until the new Neverwinter module is released.
DHGF: Will there be a new Elemental Evil themed item pack made for the game? I also know you’re going to be bundling in DLC codes with WizKids’ Elemental Evil products. What sorts of items can gamers expect to find in those codes?
RM: We are indeed doing some tie-in promotional items. You can expect to find inserts in the upcoming Temple of Elemental Evil board game from Wizards and WizKids which will include codes for the “Trove of Elemental Evil” pack redeemable in Neverwinter for a chance at receiving elemental themed weapons, an elemental companion or even a powerful artifact. Additionally, all D&D Icons of the Realms: Elemental Evil booster packs will include codes that unlock one of four in-game items.
We’ll be releasing more details about that as soon as we can! We’ll also being doing a series of Elemental Evil lockboxes and an Oathbound Paladin-themed pack for purchase.
DHGF: Will Elemental Evil be available on the just released Xbox One version of Neverwinter? I know it’s launching with . Also – why no love for the PS4 or Wii U?
RM: It won’t be available on the initial release of Neverwinter on Xbox One, but it is currently slated for a later release there. As for other consoles – you never can tell!
DHGF: How long does it take for you to design a new module for Neverwinter? How far in advance does Wizards of the Coast let you know about a new storyline for D&D and do you have the choice to decide to develop it for Neverwinter or do you HAVE to fit it into the game somehow?
RM: It usually takes a few weeks to come up with the core design based on the story bible and how it fits into the larger game. Wizards of the Coast has been great with providing us knowledge far in advance so we can start planning early. We always have a choice as to what we develop for Neverwinter, but usually it makes sense to incorporate the current Forgotten Realms storylines Wizards is developing into Neverwinter. That way you can really get the full story experience: tabletop gaming from Wizards and online gaming in Neverwinter from us!
DHGF: What about Elemental Evil makes this the perfect time for people who have never played Neverwinter to give the game a try?
RM: Aside from the Elemental Evil storyline, this is a great chance to try a brand-new class too – the Oathbound Paladin. It’s a very iconic class from the pen-and-paper game. It’s a heavily-armored fighter with the ability to heal and smite. It’s a lot of fun to play!
So there you go. Xbox One fans – you can start experiencing Neverwinter now, but you’ll have to wait a while for Elemental Evil to hit your console. For PC gamers, your wait time for Elemental Evil is down to a week. Remember that Neverwinter is free to play, but that there are optional in-game purchases to be had. To learn more about the game head on over to the official website for Neverwinter and consider giving it a try.