To start off the week on Unblogged, I’d like to talk about new classes today. More precisely about the difficulties of bringing them to life in Neverwinter. We know the devs already have the next addition planned, but for whatever reason the release or even the design has been postponed multiple times. Druid, Monk or Bard is what’s getting thrown out as suggestions the most, and recently even the game itself fueled the rumors with a tweet.
What could a Bard do with #280characters?
— Neverwinter (@NeverwinterGame) November 8, 2017
I believe this was just a D&D reference to the extended tweet length that Twitter introduced, but we picked up the discussion nonetheless in the the first “Podcast of Annihilation” that I recorded with Nova, JayAgeDee and SNK o Elzy over the weekend. First of all, kudos to the guys of knowing way more about D&D rules and lore than I do. It was a pleasure to listen to them going back and forth about classes, their pen and paper powers and how you could bring them to Neverwinter. But the aspect of the discussion that I personally found most intriguing was the question how to make new classes appealing to players.
Creating a Class Is a Massive Task
I think Neverwinter has multiple issues when it comes to adding a new class. Designing one from scratch, creating all the assets, animations, icons, and balancing requires a massive effort from the team. And for such an undertaking, a class doesn’t add a whole lot of content in itself. It’s always fun to fiddle with the new powers, figure out synergies, builds and fits within the meta, but in the end you’ll be running the same dungeons and the same quests for the umpteenth time. Neverwinter neither has independent starting areas nor long and immersive class quests lines. That’s why the effect of having a new class available can wear off pretty fast.
Who Is Going to Play It?
You gotta ask yourself: Who is going to play the class? Of course you have a bunch of players that simply like certain classes because they know them from their offline adventures. Maybe you’ve played a Monk or whatever and are eager to bring it to live in the game. That’s fine, and should absolutely be a factor in introducing new classes in a D&D game. On the other hand, it’s not like we have a strong focus on RPG elements. Foundry anyone? So this alone is probably not enough to warrant the massive development time.
What you need to do is make a bunch of existing players pick up a new class because of gameplay reasons, and that’s not too easy. First of all, the class should have a unique style of play. I always liked the Hunter Ranger because it was so different than what we had. The concept of switching between ranged and melee stances and having six instead of three encounters is unique, and great. You would definitely need something like this. On the podcast we were talking about the Druid a lot because of its ability to Wild Shape into animal form. It’s not only a complete new element visually, but you could do tons of things with it from a gameplay perspective as well.
I don’t want to get too deep into class theory here, because that’s a topic of its own. It’s just that you probably need something as interesting as Druid’s Wild Shape. Otherwise players won’t likely try the class.
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The other challenge when introducing a class is finding its place in the current meta. In Neverwinter, your bread and butter is five-character content. So chances are that some classes will always have it harder to find groups than others. Just ask the Scourge Warlock or Trickster Rogues currently… This is not easy to solve. You can’t just make new classes overpowered so that players have to play them. But if they don’t overtake a role within the meta from another class, new players will have it hard to get into endgame content. And that’s obviously not great either. It would be much more convenient if Neverwinter had more 10 or 20 player content that mattered. You just have much more freedom to pick classes in a larger group, and often variety even comes with additional benefits for the whole raid.
Balancing Effort Increase
Talking about being overpowered, a new class also significantly increases the necessary maintenance efforts. New additions always mess with balancing as a whole. Seeing how long it already takes for the devs to make changes, I’m having trouble understanding why we should have another piece that potentially only adds to these struggles. TR are waiting forever, SWs will at least be bad until Mod 13 and the latest DC change in Mod 11 is queued up for a revision since half a year. That being said, the devs already stated they want to get the current balancing right before adding anything anyway.
So overall in Neverwinter’s current state, no big focus on RPG, five-character dungeons, no unique class content, balancing issues, it might be hard to justify throwing a bunch of resources on a new class design. You at least have to come up with good solutions for the mentioned stuff. And figuring all of that out behind the scenes might exactly be the reason why it takes so long to bring new classes to the game.
What’s your take on new classes in Neverwinter? Would you like more no matter the consequences or are you a little bit wary as well? Share your thoughts in the comments below and visit the corresponding thread on our message board!
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