At the time I passed it up, as I was more into Action RPGs like Diablo and Dungeon Siege, which released a few months prior to Neverwinter Nights. I finally took the plunge around 4 years later, shortly after I got married, in 2006 when I saw it in a local shop in PC Gamer high scoring recommended titles re-released for £10. Since then, I did source the original small card box version and the expansions Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark.
Initially setting out, you are a new recruit to the City Watch in Neverwinter where a plague has broken out. You are tasked to find the 4 creatures which Lady Aribeth had brought in to create a cure, but the city is attacked and they escaped. This task will take you to the various districts round the city. You will be helping city folk get to safety and stopping escaped prisoners, and later zombies, who have risen from a graveyard in another area. Of course, during your travels you will meet a wealth of NPCs with quests for you, along with mercenaries that you can hire to fight alongside you. The first and final chapter are set in and around Neverwinter, but the mid-game sees you venturing out to Luskan and surrounding areas, tracking a cult and not forgetting helping out more NPCs with their side quests.
Neverwinter Nights evolved at the time from the previous D&D games Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape Torment. This was the first game to use full 3D environments and characters, unlike the 2D hand-drawn areas and characters from the earlier games. You can clearly see the age even though the games rendering engine has been updated by Beamdog, even when it is running at 4K on the Xbox One X. There is only so much that can be done with ageing visuals, unless you rewrite the whole thing in a completely new engine. To be fair, though, at the time, 3D accelerated environments were still relatively new to RPGs in 2002. You also have fully-rendered 3D characters which can look a bit blocky on a large screen if you are zoomed right in. It is no bad thing, however, as the storytelling is still absolutely superb and the environments, characters and spell effects look great in the new renderer and have an old world charm to them.
If you are more accustomed to the new RPGs from Larian like their Divinity: Original Sin titles, or the huge open worlds that Bethesda created in both Oblivion and Skyrim, then Neverwinter Nights may take you a little while to adjust. I am not talking about just looks here! The combat can take a little getting used to, as well as how things pan out during a battle. Much like Baldur’s Gate etc, you have the ‘real time with pause’ system. With this, you can move ranged characters further out to take shots at the enemies or to heal while sending your tank wading in head-first, axe swinging!
After moving characters to positions, you will unpause it and see how things unfold. The attacks are all based on D&D dice rolls, which show in the chat panel where it is working out enemies defences and their saving rolls against your attacks. Bioware added this system as an option in Dragon Age: Inquisition, if you wanted to get a touch more tactical zooming out on the battlefield instead of just live battles.
Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition literally comes with a metric ton of content from Premium Modules to other fan favourites. The main campaign alone can take around 60 hours to complete if you decide to jump in on all the side quests and explore everywhere. It is a HUGE game with so much to see and do it will keep you going for months. I don’t normally like listing stuff in reviews but check out this content:
Standard Modules (Modules = Expansions):
- Neverwinter Nights Campaign, Shadows of Undrentide & Hordes of the Underdark
- Darkness over Daggerfall, Kingmaker, Pirates of the Sword Coast, Shadowguard, Witch’s Wake & Wyvern Crown of Cormyr
Other Content Modules:
- Contest of Champions, The Dark Ranger’s Treasure, The Winds of Eremor & To Heir is Human
Now I do have to say that there is a glaring omission presently with just the Xbox version, and that is the lack of multiplayer. The multiplayer has already been sorted on both the PS4 release and the Nintendo Switch, but it is showing as a January 2020 patch to be activated for the Xbox. I can honestly say it is something I am quite looking forwards to, as Neverwinter Nights Co-op play is excellent. Once the patch is released for Xbox, you will be able to cross platform Co-op with Switch, PC, Mac, Linux & mobile players from around the world. Additionally there are persistent worlds becoming available where 250 players can adventure through Arelith & Ravenloft: Prisoners of the Mist.
Controlling the game isn’t quite as smooth as the earlier games (Baldur’s Gate etc) given there are more options and the approach to skills etc is different. The character sheet is on the quick-access right-trigger radial menu, thankfully, so it is easy to get to when levelling-up. However, I feel things like the map would have been great if you could quick-access it from one of the radial menus to bring it up onscreen, instead of having to use the pause screen. The most irksome thing about the map, though, is you have to open it in every new area you visit, as transitioning (loading) between areas closes it down. Overall, the controls are functional, but they did take a little getting used to given my previous play through was on the PC using mouse and keyboard.
Overall, Beamdog has done an amazing job bringing all these classics to modern gamers and consoles. I played them back in the day when released, and have also enjoyed them over the last 10 years. They are truly timeless pieces of software. Neverwinter Nights has always been a personal favourite of mine, only surpassed by the amazing sequel, which I would love to see on console eventually. If you love RPGs, then you simply cannot go wrong with this release. There are hundreds of hours adventuring awaiting you, given the sheer volume of content.
If you have the original Neverwinter Nights on PC from GOG, or on disc, then you may not get as much out of Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition, except the shear ease of use. Anyone that may have never experienced this game in any form needs to make this an immediate purchase. Or even players like myself, who want to sit back on their sofa with a controller, instead of in front of a PC screen for a change need to be buying this and supporting the work Beamdog are doing.
To sum up….Go and buy this now!!
Also, out on January 22nd are the Nintendo Switch releases for the Neverwinter Nights Collector’s Edition, Baldur’s Gate Collector’s Edition and Planescape Torment/ Icewind Dale Collector’s Edition.
- Developer: Beamdog
- Publisher: Beamdog
- Players: Single player and Co-Op
Retro at heart and lover of all things ’80s, especially the computers, the music and the awesome movies and TV shows! Crazy huge retro gaming collection spanning the ’80s and ’90s with hundreds of tapes, discs and carts for various machines on top of a 600+ strong Steam library that is ever-growing. No I am not a serial hoarder, just a dedicated retro gamer!