Dungeons & Dragons is coming back to mobile thanks to a new partnership between Wizards of the Coast and Ludia. The two companies announced Warriors of Waterdeep today. It’s a free-to-play turn-based role-playing game coming this spring that uses card packs and centers on the Waterdeep, the gem of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting’s Sword Coast. Your party of adventurers uses the city as its base as it takes on missions.
Ludia’s first D&D game features a new narrative — unlike Neverwinter, Tales of Candlekeep, or Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms (some of the other D&D video games that aren’t from Beamdog’s enhanced lineup), Warriors of Waterdeep won’t hew as closely to the annual storylines such as Tomb of Annihilation or Storm King’s Thunder. Instead, you’ll take on missions from Larael Silverhand (one of the Seven Sisters that are also the Chosen of Mystra, the goddess of magic), the open lord of Waterdeep. Mirt the Moneylender, one of Waterdeep’s renowned rascals, handles card-trading. Durnan (the famous proprietor of the The Yawning Portal Inn, which sits above an entrance to the famous Undermountain megadungeon), runs the in-game shop.
“The game follows a plot that runs in parallel with the established 5th edition storylines, but does not cross over directly,” Ludia brand manager Stephen David Wark said over email. He’s also a narrative designer for the project. “Eagle-eyed players will have fun spotting references to familiar settings.”
Wizards worked with DeNA on Arena of War in 2013, but that game shut down in 2014 after its mix of D&D and Angry Birds-style combat failed to catch on. Market research firm Newzoo estimated that mobile gaming brought in more than $50 billion in 2017, and right now, the only D&D game on mobile is the digital adaptation of the Lords of Waterdeep board game.
D&D itself is also experiencing a boom, in part thanks to the streaming of gameplay. Twitch told GamesBeat that people streamed more than 625,000 hours of D&D gaming on the site in 2017. It’s natural that Wizards would want to get some of those players into a mobile game.
Warriors of Waterdeep’s turn-based combat is on a grid, as you can see in the video. Ludia is using an adaptation, and it will include classic aspects of D&D combat, such as spells and monsters like the gelatinous cube (it’s a monster that’s basically a giant cube of Jell-O, and it eats everything in its path). Players choose a character from one of 12 classes and nine races. Wark said the roster right now includes:
- Shevarith — Human Wizard
- Halbenet — Elf Cleric
- Tommus — Halfling Fighter
- Naomlen — Dwarf Rogue
- Saarvin — Dragonborn Ranger
- Farideh — Tiefling Warlock
- Raika — Half-orc Barbarian
And yes, fans of the Brimstone Angels books, that is indeed Farideh, the warlock hero of author Erin Evans’ stories. Wark said she’s a loose adaptation of Farideh from after The Devil You Know, the series finale.
Warriors of Waterdeep will make money off selling players packs of cards. However, this isn’t a card-battler such as Hearthstone (which leads its $1 billion-plus market). You use cards to customize characters and upgrade equipment. You do earn packs from completing chapters in the Story Mode, Wark said, as well as from beating leaders and bosses and from “certain level-up thresholds.” You can also merge duplicate cards for better effects. Characters have up to six weapons, 12 different pieces of armor, four class items, and four wondrous items, which Wark said players can select “to create individual and team synergies.”
You can’t break cards down for crafting materials, but Wark said you can trade extra cards or those you don’t want for new packs.
Durnan’s inclusion, sadly, doesn’t mean that Larael will be sending adventurers down into Undermountain, one of the most infamous dungeons in the Realms. At least not at launch.
“The Yawning Portal is indeed the home base. It’s the heart of adventuring action in Waterdeep, and the perfect place for Laeral to find the heroes she needs to rally to the city’s defense. There are no plans to explore Undermountain at this time,” Wark said.
Ludia is a mobile game publisher in Montreal. It works on a number of licenses, and it’s made games for brands such as How to Train Your Dragon, Jurassic World, Battlestar Galactica, and game shows such as The Price Is Right and Press Your Luck (which also, in my judgment, are the two best game shows on TV).