For some time now the Neverwinter MMO’s Gateway portal has had the Sword Coast Adventures mini-game (Dev Blog). I’ve only just started looking at this – like the crafting profession feature of the Gateway it offers a way to interact with the game in a limited fashion when not logged into the actual game client.
Modelled on the Dungeons & Dragons staple, you send a team of four companions (plus temporary mercenaries if you lack four companions on the active character) on various mini-dungeons across a randomised map (see above screenshot).
Inside the dungeon there are a small number of sequential encounters to deal with. Like Top Trumps cards, each of your companions has a rating against four different skills. These symbols are matched by two or more on the encounter (so the Skeleton above needs two magic and two combat to defeat, my mimic pictured right has lots of combat but not much magic). Once you select a companion to take on the challenge, dice are rolled based on your companion’s strength and weaknesses until you defeat the challenge or the companion runs out of actions (the hourglass symbol, this hasn’t happened to me yet). I seem to remember something about bonus dice based on the companion’s level during the rushed tutorial pages.
After defeating a challenge the selected companion gets some experience and some basic loot such as crafting materials or an enchanting stone. I would presume higher level dungeons will give some better rewards. The gameplay is quick and simple, the only choice to make is which companions to take and which to use for each encounter you face.
At the end of each dungeon you get some slightly better rewards for completing all the encounters.
It’s worth noting that the tutorial dungeon rewards a free, white-quality dog companion for completing it – very useful for building out your team of four companions if you’re not already awash with them. Having four companions is important for the long-term as the temporary companions do not level up so, I imagine, they become increasingly useless as you progress to higher dungeons.
Overall it’s an interesting system, nicely flavoured for a D&D-based MMO. When I’m at home I’d rather be playing the game than playing a website mini-game; but it could be a fun 5 minute game to dip into when I’m on lunch break at work…