Return To Icewind Dale In The New Neverwinter Expansion

Is there where Larrel...?

It’s been a good decade since Black Isle last took us to Icewind Dale, so how’d you fancy a return visit? This isn’t the noughties anymore, mind, so you may find the whole experience a mite different to those old turn-based RPGs. Curse of Icewind Dale, the third big free update for Cryptic’s free-to-play Neverwinter, launched yesterday to add new zones set in the chilly land and more modern MMORPG merriment.

Players will get to frolick through Icewind Pass and the Dwarven Valley, piecing together memories of a video game they played years ago and wondering “Is this where Larrel…?” because though both are probably just loose interpretations of a vague map from a Forgotten Realms source book decades ago, one feels more real.

I suppose they can do quests and join factions all that too, as the areas bring new PvE and PvP content. You can fight the “evil wizard” Akar Kessell, you know, him from that Icewind Dale novel. It also hauls Black Ice out of the lore, letting players make ghastly new armour out of the stuff.

Funny things, fictional universes. A place starts in a tabletop RPG, spins off into novels and comic books, appears in turn-based RPGs, is worn on t-shirts, and returns in a free-to-play MMORPG–all official and valid expressions of that same idea but quite different experiences. Weird. (Unofficially, you can revisit Black Isle’s Icewind Dale in a mod remaking it for Neverwinter Nights 2.)

Hit the patch notes for all that’s new in Curse of Icewind Dale, or check this overview:


  1. Gundrea says:

    We are but another whirling vision in the twirling of his astrolabe.

  2. N'Al says:

    Uh, last time Black Isle took us to Icewind Dale was this: link to


  3. Gorm13 says:

    “those old turn-based RPGs”?
    I don’t remember Ice Wind Dale being turn-based. Mind you, it was not interesting enough for me to finish even the first one, but I doubt it turned turn-based at any point.

    • MobileAssaultDuck says:

      It was turn based, just the turns would keep rolling without pause if you kept acting.

      The whole game was using D&D’s round system in the background, it just managed to do a decent job of hiding the fact that it was technically turn based.

      Most of those games had the option to set the auto pause to “end of round” so you could actually see each turn as it went.

      • Artea says:

        That hardly qualifies it as turn-based: the rounds in the Infinity Engine games lasted only a few seconds and you could interrupt them at any time.

        • MobileAssaultDuck says:

          As can happen in table top D&D, which is inarguably turn based.

          With an Attack of Opportunity or a variety of other options I could interrupt the turn of another character, it still remains turn based.

          In the background, all the calculations going on in the IE games was a sequence of rounds with each character doing what their class could do within one round of time.

          Yes, sometimes they were simultaneous turns like multiplayer Civ 5, but they’re still turns.

          • Artea says:

            I meant that you could interrupt your own turns at any time after you had issued an order. That’s not the case in turn-based RPG’s. Despite the round system in the background, those games were still closer to being real-time than turn-based.

          • MobileAssaultDuck says:

            Even if you change your action, you don’t get any time back, you were still limited to one round of action even if you change what you were doing mid action.

            The game is still counting turns in the background and your character is still confined to one round worth of action. You could have moved 30 feet, instead you changed your mind and moved 15 in one direction and then 15 in another. You still only moved 30 feet even if you interrupted the move mid go.

            In D&D terms it would be like moving half my move, seeing something, then changing my mind and using the rest of my move to move in a previously unplanned direction. I was still limited to one move action worth of squares just like the character in an IE game was limited to one round worth of time.

            To me real time would mean that if I react fast enough I would be able to do more with my time where as your reaction time in IE has no effect on how much you can act in a round.

          • TDude says:

            You’ve got the representation backwards. D&D used turns to represent real-time. Real-time games aren’t using background time increments to represent a turn-based game, they’re just using it to manage rules.
            Any real-time game can be broken down in the background into time segments, but it won’t change the fact that actions are happening in real time. In League of Legends, I could move my character 30 feet in say a 3 second time interval, or 15 feet one way then 15 in another in 3 seconds, or 15 feet one way and make an attack, or something else entirely. Whether or not the background game manages my actions in 3 second intervals doesn’t change whether or not the game is played in real-time.
            If the player can make choices in real-time, then it is happening in real-time regardless of the background tracking.

    • mft-dev says:

      It was turn based, built on the AD&D rule set, and pretty much the same engine as Baldur’s Gate. The turns (or rounds actually) were implemented in such a way as to make it seem like the combat just flowed naturally.

      The only way you’d notice it was if you had turned on one of the auto-pause features, like auto pause at end of round, and of course the never ending references to rounds when dealing with spells and their duration.

    • Dezmiatu says:

      I need to finish the first game too. My problem wasn’t interest, it was struggling with my sub-optimal party layout. Most of my victories was bashing my head against the wall until I lucked into victory, or the tedium of having my thief backstab/retreat over and over again. Yet I was redeemed for picking the bard when I discovered one of her songs granted party-wide regeneration. Now I can kill things without being on edge, I’m in the last chapter, and… I set it aside. Because I can beat it at any time.

  4. SillyWizard says:

    Well this is disappoint. For a single, jarring second I dared to hope that a pretty new Icewind Dale game in the same vein as its predecessors was coming out.

    • Myrdinn says:

      I’d love to have your optimism :(. No moment did I thought a new Icewind Dale game would spring up out of the blue.

    • Werthead says:

      A few years ago Obsidian went to Atari and proposed ICEWIND DALE III as an Infinity Engine-esque, relatively low-budget game that was a spiritual sequel to the old IE games. Apparently Atari’s reaction was along the lines of, “A modern isometric story-driven RPG without expensive 3D cut scenes and with huge dungeons? Who the hell would buy that? Begone!”

      A shame. Obsidian should really try out that idea again, perhaps in a setting of their own design? They could get fans to fund it and everything.

      • SillyWizard says:

        Well yes I already have that one heading my way once it’s released but the ID games are a unique type of good, clean, chaotic fun that I would be happy to see get another iteration.

        Stupid Atari.

        Still, one wonders if Pillars of Eternity would exist if an ID3 had been funded by Atari and been reasonably successful.

  5. Darth Gangrel says:

    I have the first Icewind Dale on a disc, but could never get into it, so I uninstalled it quickly and went back to playing Diablo 2 :P. Neverwinter Nights suits me better, from the demo I played, but I never got closer to playing NWN than that and now dozens of games cry out for me to play them, so no time for newcomers like NWN.

    • Fattsanta says:

      Im probably one of the few who just played the base campaign of NWNs and loved it, I think that game was well known for its modules. I could be wrong. Great game though.

  6. Moorkh says:

    What a bitter travesty.
    I only like the merry ones, mind.

  7. Arglebargle says:

    Neverwinter never fails to not interest me….

  8. Voqar says:

    I enjoyed IWD and it’s pretty sad to mention it along side the turd called Neverwinter. And I suppose it’s somewhat amusing that most of the comments are about IWD and not about Neverwinter – which just shows that Neverwinter is so very bad it’s not even worth mentioning.

  9. Gothnak says:

    I came here to post that i initially thought a new Icewind Dale was on the cards and was now disappointed. But it seems everyone else came here to do the same thing…

  10. Berzee says:

    I still think Icewind Dale would be cooler if it’s a game about dude named Dale but all his friends call him “Icewind”. (This is what I thought the name meant when I originally bought the game, and on the party creation screen I was all, “Hey, where’s Icewind Dale?”).