Empyrean Forge Expedition: Lore and Design

March 22, 2023

Greetings, Adventurers!

Those who hunger for power yearn for the eldritch magics unleashed in these colossal ruins. The Empyrean Forge is a new Level 60+ Expedition set in the Great Cleave. Delve into its lore and design now for a more immersive experience when the content goes live. Players can also get an early look at Season 1 - Fellowship & Fire content, including the Empyrean Forge, through the PTR.


The Empyrean Forge was the primary site used by the Ancients to build their constructs and war machines in ages past. The legendary Torso Boss was first designed and constructed here. After the destructive war that ended the Ancients’ rule, the Forge was abandoned but its mystic fires never went out. Centuries later, the wizard Myrddin made his way into the labyrinthian depths to study the techniques of Ancient engineering. His experiments opened a gate to other realms, allowing elemental beings and magics to come flowing through. These energies fused themselves to the Empyrean Forge, giving rise to bizarre beings birthed in the fires of the primal world and shaped by the Azoth of the Ancients. The powers of the Forge are coveted by the Varangians, who seek to unlock the secrets of the Ancients and their sorceries.


“When setting down the preliminary designs for the Empyrean Forge, there were two main elements we wanted to focus on — player communication and unique environmental obstacles and interactions,” said Level Designer Pride St. Clair. “These are areas we want to continue to push in future content, so it was very important that we pushed the bar as far as it could go.”

Player Communication

“In the case of player communication, we wanted players to have to coordinate and share information in new ways. We knew we wanted a puzzle with two parts—the cypher and the lock—but nothing like that existed in New World. We also didn’t want to force players to run back and forth from the solution to the lock, like placing the solution to the puzzle on a wall in one of the hallways. The other outstanding obstacle was implementing randomness to the solution, so players couldn’t memorize it and brute force the encounter on subsequent playthroughs.”

Random Puzzles

“This random element drove us to the idea of two combination locks- one that features the solution and another that must be solved. Because we really wanted players to cooperate and interact, we made sure the entire puzzle resets when they step off of the solution lock’s pressure plate. In other words, it’s a puzzle that requires two parties to communicate effectively in order to progress. Additionally, we chose symbols that could be easily communicated like circle, square, and triangle, plus one vague symbol which we call ‘D’ internally.”


“As for the environmental aspect, we workshopped many player crushing, slicing, burning, shooting, and melting hazards to harass and destroy players, but ultimately focused on two major ones, the crushing pistons and the lava.


“The lava was an obvious necessity considering the forge’s narrative and aesthetic, although we went back and forth on whether or not it should be an instant kill. In the end, we decided to make all lava lethal and maintain consistency throughout the Expedition. If the lava had been traversable, even if only for a short time, we would have had to make escape ledges for each section. The flow of the Expedition would have also become overly complicated and caused a lot of edge cases.”


“For the pistons, we wanted a hazard that felt ‘industrial’ in a way that previous hazards had not. The added bonus of the pistons was discovered further into development as the soundtrack came online. The pistons move up and down rhythmically, which blends very well into the industrial-techno sound scape the Sound Team had put together.“

Look forward to a deeper look at the sounds and music of the Empyrean Forge in an upcoming article. How do you feel about the new Expedition? Let us know on the forums. Thanks for your support! We’ll see you in Aeternum.