After 20 plus years, PC role-playing classics Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate 2, Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear, Icewind Dale, and Planescape: Torment were released on current consoles earlier this fall, giving younger gamers a chance to experience some of the most highly regarded and influential games of the ‘80s and ‘90s.
But that isn’t the end of the classic Dungeons & Dragons fun, as December will see the console release of Neverwinter Nights, another classic RPG from BioWare.
Beamdog, the company behind these six re-releases, put out an updated version of Neverwinter Nights, subtitled Enhanced Edition, on PC back in March 2018. While it’s been a long time coming, Beamdog and publisher Skybound Games will finally be releasing the game for the first time on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.
A Little History From a Dusty Tome
Originally released in 2002, Neverwinter Nights shares its awesome title with a 1991 D&D Gold Box game widely considered to be the earliest massively multiplayer online RPG. (Fun fact: It ran on AOL.)
Unlike the 1991 title, Neverwinter Nights (2002) was designed primarily as a single-player experience. The game marked BioWare’s first release following Baldur’s Gate II (2000), and was quickly followed up by 2003’s Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for Xbox and PC. Suffice it to say, the game got sandwiched between some pretty big releases back in the day and never quite had the same name recognized.
Despite that, Neverwinter Nights garnered praise during its original release. It received good reviews and multiple awards, and even sold pretty well for the time.
Embarking on a Quest for Old and New Adventurers Alike
Whether you’re returning to a well-traveled path with familiar faces, or setting out on a brand new quest with unfamiliar faces, the console release of Neverwinter Nights has you covered. For those who have already journeyed through the Forgotten Realms, Neverwinter Nights may rekindle old memories — or it could expose new players to the D&D setting for the first time. The fact that the game could get some recognition it missed back in the day doesn’t hurt either.
Beamdog’s website describes the possible adventures that gamers can embark on, classic D&D and Tolkien-esque undertones in tow:
Slink through the shadows as a deadly half-elven rogue, wield fearsome magics as a powerful gnomish sorcerer, vanquish your foes as an armor-clad dwarven paladin… whatever hero you create, incredible adventures await. Discover magic, wonder, and danger at every turn on your own or with friends in these classic Dungeons & Dragons adventures.
Updating Your Inventory Before Entering a Dungeon
Some gamers may be put off by Neverwinter Nights’ admittedly dated graphics. But, despite the obvious age of the game, the world and characters are as vibrant as ever — especially compared to the darker colors of modern fantasy games. The game is also incredibly varied. One battle, you could be fighting a dragon, which in another, you could face off against something far more exotic — like a humanoid scorpion.
Like its spiritual predecessors and successors, Neverwinter Nights is a classic, in-depth RPG originally designed for PC. Compared to more linear RPGs of the time, like Final Fantasy VII, Neverwinter Nights offers deep character customization, various classes and subclasses, and enough inventory, stats, and skill menus to make your head spin.
That might sound overwhelming to some, but with the recent successes of Divinity: Original Sin and Divinity: Original Sin 2, there’s still an obvious fan-base for these types of games. (D:OS sold approximately 500,000 copies in its first year of release, while its sequel outpaced it in a similar timeframe with about a million copies sold.)
Drawing the +1 Longsword
Like an old wizard sharing wisdom with the next generation of adventurers, the combat in Neverwinter Nights would inspire similar systems in RPGs for years to come. This was exactly the case with BioWare’s Knights of the Old Republic and Dragon Age: Origins, both of which followed in Neverwinter Nights’s footsteps with an auto-combat system.
For those not familiar with an auto-combat system, it revolves around the ability to pause combat at the beginning or middle of a fight to issue commands to the player character and (usually) other party members. Similar to a real-time strategy game, when a command is selected, the action continues until the enemy is dead or another prompt is issued.
This allows players to automate basic actions — like sword swings and magic attacks — allowing them to focus on other, more tactical commands. It’s a unique take on combat that offers a degree of strategy rarely found today.
All the Loot That Comes With the Package
Like many CPRGs of the time, Neverwinter Nights had various forms of post-release support. In 2003, the game received two expansion packs: first Shadows of Undrentide, then Hordes of the Underdark. The game also received smaller pieces of content in the form of modules, which were released up to 2006.
Beamdog describes it best when it comes to what loot you can expect out of this package:
The original Neverwinter Nights campaign: Find yourself at the center of intrigue, betrayal, and dark magic in Neverwinter Nights. Journey through dangerous cities, monster filled dungeons and deep into uncharted wilderness in search of the cure for a cursed plague ravaging the city of Neverwinter.
Two expansion packs:
- Shadows of Undrentide: Another adventure begins in Shadows of Undrentide! Charged by your master to recover four ancient artifacts, travel from the Silver Marches to unravel mysteries of a long-dead magical civilization.
- Hordes of the Underdark: Continue the adventure started in Shadows of Undrentide and journey into the ever-more bizarre and hostile depths of Undermountain to challenge a gathering evil.
Last Call at the Tavern Before Embarking on the Journey
Neverwinter Nights may be the last notable CRPG scheduled for re-release this year, but here’s hoping others of its kind follow suit.
Take the game’s sequel, Neverwinter Nights 2. The game came from Obsidian Entertainment, the studio behind Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic II: The Sith Lords and Fallout: New Vegas. Throw in the recent positive buzz of The Outer Worlds, and it could benefit gamers to experience the company’s roots.
Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition is out now for PC, and releases December 3 for PS4, Xbox One, and Switch.
Update: We originally stated that Neverwinter Nights (2002) was one of the earliest MMOs, when we in fact meant to say Neverwinter Nights (1991). We’ve updated the article accordingly.