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Neverwinter

Neverwinter loosens its belt in preparation for another expansion: Shadowmantle

An MMO expansion title isn’t required to do much but evoke a vague sense of otherwordly threat, and Shadowmantle does that job quite neatly. Until you do a bit of digging, that is, and realise that a mantle quite specifically describes a “sleeveless shawl”. Presumably new villain Valindra Shadowmantle sports an invisibility cloak that stops at her rotting shoulders, leaving her arms to bob about all disembodied around Neverwinter Wood. Brr.

Shadowmantle’s already on Neverwinter’s public test shard, and will bring a new class to the game before Christmas.

Perfect World and Cryptic Studios - them of City of Heroes in the long-distant past - will introduce the Hunter Ranger in their second free expansion pack for their still-shiny and new Forgotten Realms MMO. The last, Fury of the Feywild, introduced unicorn mounts.

“There has been great speculation about what our next class would be and we're thrilled to reveal the Hunter Ranger,” said Cryptic Studios exec producer Craig Zinkievich. “Delivering new classes is something the team is committed to and this is just the first of many free classes to come in Neverwinter.”

This one seems like a good place to start. I always enjoyed playing the Ranger in Neverwinter Nights, combining a high hitpoint removal rate with beast mastery (steady) and some dabbling in druidism. The Hunter Ranger looks like the Fourth Edition D&D equivalent of that.

For those who’ve already picked their class, Shadowmantle offers the Dread Ring campaign - a Neverwinter Woods-set module in which players will fight the armies of the titular lich either atop, within or beneath a “massive structure built for ritual magic”. New collections, artifacts and Paragon Paths also abound.

Have you got stuck into Neverwinter yet? I know others have been impressed by its capacity for cooperative party combat - the best sort of party activity.

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