Unlocking and Requirenments
Unlocking the dungeon follows a basic script. You get access to Castle Ravenloft by completing the last campaign task of the main progression path, which should roughly take three weeks. It’s an account unlock by the way. So getting there with one of your characters means you can enter the content with all of your toons.
Castle Ravenloft features two end chests, one that can be opened with the normal chest keys and one that requires a new key from a corresponding campaign task. The dungeon introduces a new type of seal, the Seal of the Crown. It’s used to buy new item level 530 armor sets. All bosses (there’s three), drop ten seals each and both chests 20 each. The end chests additionally feature Seals of the Brave, Salvage and Refining Points.
Structure and Bosses
The dungeon has a certain “raid” feel to it, because you fight little actual trash mobs and the focus is clearly on the bosses. Queuing into the content you basically immediately face the first boss, and the mobs before the second and third boss are manageable?as well. It’s really interesting how dungeons in Neverwinter have evolved over time. In the original Castle Never and Dread Vault you could spent up to an hour fighting trash mobs while the Mod 14 dungeon barely features any.
The bosses themselves are well designed and feature little mechanics we already know (no platforming ya’ll!). The first boss requires separating three sisters to avoid an immunity buff. The second one, a giant Arcolith, is mainly about avoiding some lethal AoE attacks and Strahd himself surprises adventurers with a flurry of different phases and mechanics, including fighting with a “Sunsword” that has unique At-Wills, Encounters, and Dailies. We’ll get into the full mechanics soon enough, but for this preview article just know that the fights are fun.
There’s one downside to Strahd however. The boss has long immunity phases, which makes timing buffs and DPSing really difficult. I’m not sure the devs hit the sweet spot between challenge and annoyance here. I’d much rather prefer a boss that offers challenge without artificially stalling the fight, but I guess that’s hard to achieve within the current meta.
The Castle environment is well done. If the devs reused assets (which they sure did), it’s not too apparent. You get flashbacks of the original Castle Never here and there, but since not a lot of players from that era are still around, it’s certainly not something that should take away much of the experience. And it’s rare anyway, the dungeon has a very unique feeling to it. Another minor note: Too often in the game you feel like the buildings are unrealistically small. Most in Protector’s Enclave are, plus the map itself is hardly the size of a ‘city’. Castle Ravenloft on the contrary doesn’t suffer from that. I really like the dimension of some rooms.
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