The Future of Strongholds
Strongholds are discrete PVE-combat experiences, a single island, that provide unique content as an open world dungeon-like feature. The idea has been shaping up for a long time, even back to our first year with the release of Omega, our first Stronghold. Each will have a unique story, purpose, goal, and feature a unique Boss which will provide players access to a unique set of modules (Augmented Modules) by way of the Boss’s Datashard loot. This we intend to keep each Stronghold relevant and have replay-value to any player.
We envision this as a scalable way to add PVE (and PVP) content into the game that doesn’t interfere with the PVP territory topology. These islands do not have meaningful spatial relationships to other islands; they are a class of their own.
Each Stronghold will be targeted based on a few parameters: the respawn rate (of the Boss), the baseline level of player skill/character investment, and size of the player group. It is a simple idea we explored with the overhaul of the open-world NPC spawns. We added more at more levels, sizes, and locations to provide a stepping stone for every player and squad size. Strongholds will be the same, but might take radically different shapes and challenges, and not simply cranking up NPC spawn counts.
A few types of Strongholds will begin entering the game. The first you have already seen, the more “Raid” like Strongholds. These bigger Strongholds feature a Stronghold Teleport item which allows players to jump their squad out to the island at will. The intent for this type is to allow players to organize and quickly go to the content with their group. A lot of the bigger, more challenging Strongholds will likely utilize this system.
The second type is more of an “escalation” from an open-world NPC Boss. As you know, there are some static Bosses in New Virginia and Hershfield, which are nicely targeted to new players and are part of a larger arc of lore and content. These Bosses will soon become the entry mechanism to their “escalation” Stronghold. When you defeat the Boss on the regular islands, it will “jump” away to its origin Stronghold. You can choose to follow it through to this island, and deal with a much harder (but appropriately scaled) PVE experience. The current design of these Bosses does bias these to be also relatively easy and more available, with the only cost being not having the ability to go at-will and have to go out and explore and defeat Bosses to access this Stronghold type.
These are just two of potentially many “flavors” or types of Strongholds. You have already seen the “Gamma” base type, but there are infinite possibilities with how islands, NPCs, and these features can be designed. These two types are only different in how they are entered, what each island may contain is a whole other set of parameters.
Purpose of Strongholds
We have really reached the limit of how many NPCs you can cram into a single island, and frankly a lot of them go underutilized. There is a lot about the existing PVE landscape we’ve wanted to change but too many people rely on the status quo. To have the best of both, introducing Strongholds was a convenient way to provide a separate, alternative experience. Making each small, discrete, addition to the game world also becomes a more tenable content development pipeline for us to add radically new content, and not have to worry about disturbing existing game landscapes. This is the “scalability” of this content – there is no implied ceiling to where this can go.
This allows us the freedom to design radically different islands, sculpt specific experiences, and develop unique features and challenges. This will enable us to provide content tailored to any player group size, skill, and investment. We hope to enumerate this space, but also provide lateral alternatives that will explore and expand Nia’s lore, reveal the Syndicates crumbling grasp on the new world, and how Nians might put all human activity on Nia at risk!