By Jordan Hall (ApocaRUFF)
Strongholds is the latest content update added to Neverwinter, the Dungeons & Dragons MMO. True to its origin, Strongholds offers content similar to that which has been apparent in DnD for years. Adventurers finding abandoned castles and working together to rebuild and develop it is nothing new to this setting, but it is quite new to Neverwinter. With this update, your guild will gain access to your own piece of land – the largest map created for Neverwinter yet – with a massive Stronghold that will need repairing and further developed. I was given a tour of this update by a Neverwinter Producer and now I get to relate to you guys what makes Strongholds so important.
Starting From Scratch
While your guild will start with next to nothing, you will have a nice chunk of new land to explore and a decaying Stronghold to rebuild. You’ll have to work together to gather the resources needed and fight off NPCs so that you can begin building important structures. For example, one of the early structures you’ll probably want to invest in is the Woodcutter, whose purpose is pretty obvious. From there you’ll expand to even more structures and upgrades to your Keep, unlocking buffs for your guild and gaining access to some of the best items in the game. As you develop your Guild Hall, the lands surrounding your Stronghold will become more tame, allowing for further upgrades and structures to be built.
Develop Your Land and Castle
A big part of Strongholds is developing your land and upgrading your castle. I already mention the Woodcutter, one of the various buildings that can be built on your guild’s land. Another example is the Market, which will spawn vendors that will give access to fantastic items. As you upgrade these structures, what they offer improvements too. If you’re a guild that plans to focus on the PVP aspect, you may find yourself working towards structures that will give you an edge in the Siege PVP mode that is to be released in September. Or, if you want to give your guild a hand in PVE content, you can focus on gaining access to various boons that anyone in the guild can use.
These buffs are split into various categories: Offensive, Defensive, Utility, and PVP. As you might assume, these are one of the major reasons you’ll want to make an effort to build up a Stronghold. Guilds with well-developed Strongholds will have the most to offer their members, too, and will probably end up much sought after by experienced players. So to maintain a happy membership you’ll need to improve your Guild Hall and build up your lands.
Just about everything you do in Neverwinter can, in some way, benefit your guild’s Stronghold. Even if you’re a new player and aren’t exactly sure what you’re doing, you can still contribute. I found this to be great as my initial impression of Strongholds was that it would just be an end-game boon, meant only for developed characters. There are quests that can be done to generate Shards of Power, which are needed for advancing your Stronghold, and various tasks that will need to be completed to maintain your land. For example, orcs will attack and resources will be stolen, so your guild members will need to work and defend what they’ve worked for.
Even if you’re not up to fighting, you might be able to help out in less exciting ways. You can directly donate resources to your guild. And someone will need to go around and collect the resources the various buildings are generating. You’ll want to contribute, as every bit of contribution will gain you Guild Marks. This is a new currency used to purchase special items.
The Siege PVP mode is one of the crown jewels of the Stronghold system. Or it will be, once it’s released this September. Members of guilds that have built a Stronghold can access the queue to enter these epic battles with a maximum of 20 vs 20. Don’t worry if you’re a smaller guild and don’t know if you can field that many, though, as smaller numbers can join the battle and will be put up against an evenly matched opponent. I personally find this great as I prefer smaller, tight-knit guilds and it’s nice to know that I’ll be able to participate without looking for a larger guild.
Sieges take place on a special map that has been designed with fairness in mind. If you’ve ever played League of Legends or DOTA 2, the structure of it will be immediately familiar. Three lanes – two side and one middle – lead to a Keep at either side of the battleground. Obviously, the end goal is to destroy the keep of your enemy, but you’ll have to work to get there. Depending on how the enemy has developed their own Stronghold, they will have access to various bits of help. In some ways, you can disrupt this help by attacking structures or stopping supply caravans. Of course, you’ll also need to defend your own structures and supplies. And, if you’ve done a good job, you’ll hopefully be able to purchase the favor of a dragon to help you swing the match further into your favor.
Another important feature of this update is The Greed of the Dragonflight. This is an event that takes place within your Stronghold that your guild members can participate in. As the name implies, the goal is to travel around the Stronghold map and do battle with dragons that follow the familiar color-based coding of Dungeons & Dragons. And it’s not as easy as mobbing each dragon either, so your guild will have to develop a strategy to take on this challenge. It’s important that you do a good job in this event, too, as your performance will gain you some of the best rewards in the game.
Neverwinter: Strongholds brings a whole new layer to gameplay. It incorporates elements of city-building, new options for PVE, and the potential for epic PVP battles. The team behind Neverwinter has worked hard to present the players with something amazing and their effort has definitely paid off. Now guilds will have their own large chunk of land and have a place to call home. And who doesn’t want to build a castle and rule? I’ll be spending a lot more time in Neverwinter in the coming weeks, and I suggest you do the same.