Depending on what you usually expect out of content in games, you may or may not be pleased with the type of module Neverwinter’s “The Heart of Fire” looks to be. We’re going to talk about the features in-depth when it’s time, but today I’d like to touch on an attached aspect of the announcement: The small story spoilers!
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We extensively covered the mysterious caravan that suddenly appeared in PE before PAX West. In case you still need a tl;dr however: The caravan moved multiple times until arriving at the Auction House and eventually renovating the house between it and the market. The NPCs flavor text revealed that they were looking for property within the city. Now we know that Acquisitions Incorporated will move in, but a week ago wild theories were still being thrown around. Overall players and devs both seemed to have a good time with the guesswork.
Never Wrong to Generate Some Hype
I really like what the devs did here. Usually Cryptic is not really great at building hype around new releases. “Not great” might not even be accurate, because they haven’t even tried yet. The do not run extensive social campaigns, nor bring content creators on board. Or, you know, anything. They have those devs blogs and maybe a Q&A or stream before new modules, but that’s it. The community is largely on their own to figure out what’s going on.
This definitely changed for Module 15. Granted, the forum thread covering the caravan doesn’t have hundreds of participants or even posts, but the community still noticed it and followed the trail of evidence. It was relevant, and with that a success. It also shows how the little things can really add atmosphere and make the world feel more lively.
Bridge the Content Drought
One underrated aspect of it also is bridging the content drought. Neverwinter as game hardly keeps players busy long enough to fully fill the time until the next major update. This might be more an issue with MMOs in general, but other games have long switched to not releasing the entire story at once (and time-gate it), but gradually let players access content chapter per chapter. You can’t transfer such a system to Neverwinter without changing the core structure of campaigns and modules, but why not start the upcoming story line early?
Let’s say players can can participate in a small introductory quest line that eventually leads to a module announcement, or even the module itself? Wouldn’t that be amazing? It really just has to be one small quest or interaction per week. I think this way Cryptic could bridge some of the inevitable content drought that happens and maybe even dish out clues about upcoming system changes or items.
What Happens With Consoles?
The only downside I see, next to the resources you need for it, is how you deal with it on consoles. Module 14 launched on PS4 and Xbox the same week “The Heart of Fire” was announced. So you basically start spoiling the module after the next one. Depending on how the narrative is built, that may not work logically. And if you wait to give console players the spoilers until before their own module announcement, the cat is already out the bag thanks to PC being about two months ahead. I don’t think it’s a super serious issue, but that’s obviously a riddle you have to solve. The way they handled it with “The Heart of Fire” was to give consoles the spoiler at the same time as PC.
I guess we’ll see whether this type of concept is going to stick or this was a one-time thing for Module 15. I personally however would very much like to see more of it. Albeit minor it’s something I absolutely enjoyed!
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