Neverwinter Nights Enhanced Edition: improved graphics but backwards-compatible with old saves and mods

nwn-enhanced

My three main memories of the original Neverwinter Nights:

a) exasperating various Bioware devs by doggedly creating an all-Dire Badgers module in the editor during a studio visit
b) my boxed copy INCLUDING ACTUAL CLOTH MAP being stolen by a jealous middle manager at a former workplace
c) playing co-op with Jim and Kieron, formerly of this parish, and sometime contributor Dan Griliopoulos, who rather complicated proceedings by attempting to murder every NPC we encountered.

What I am saying is that 2002’s Neverwinter Nights was one of those games that embeds itself into your life in various ways, for years. And now it’s getting the spit’n’polish treatment for a semi-remastered release.

Beamdog, headed up by former Bioware bigwig Trent Oster, has for some time been in the business of creating ‘Enhanced Editions’ of 90s and early noughties cRPG hits. We’ve had both Baldur’s Gates, earlier this year we had a solid if slightly too mod-replicating take on the e’er-essential Planescape Torment, and now Bioware’s first foray into 3D RPGs steps up to the plate.

NWN was revered far more for its mod-friendly nature and bundled editor, which resulted in a colossal number of player-made adventure modules over the years, than for its fine but unexceptional singleplayer campaign, and that remains the major reason to be excited now.

Let’s take a look, shall we?

Ah, that music. It’s not quite as powerfully evocative as The Elder Scrolls theme, but it sure puts me back in a very particular place.

As for the enhancerisation levels, it doesn’t look like quite as much has been poked and prodded as was the case with the Infinity engine games, but a) clearly I can’t see what’s been done under the hood and b) NWN arguably needed less doing, as 3D can often scale up to different resolutions and have post-processing applied in a way that always isn’t quite so easy for 2D games. Or, at least, so I understand it – I may be howlingly wrong.

I’m seeing some depth of field effects, better anti-aliasing and a rejiggered, cleaner UI, but fundamentally it looks like Neverwinter Nights at a higher res. I guess I’d like to see improved character models, but the more they swap out in this kind of thing, the higher the risk of creating something that jars with the original vision or, more importantly, our memory thereof. I suspect the big win here, though, is general improvements to compatibility and display that work right out of the box, rather than require extensive post-installation tinkering.

But here’s the really good news: NWNEE supports saves, mods and modules from the original version of the game. I.e. 15 years of community-made love and labour can plug right into it. That’s glorious.

Here’s the full list of promised features and changes:

Improved Display: Your portrait, combat bar, inventory, and other UI elements adjust in size based on your chosen resolution including 1080p and 4k.
Advanced Graphics Options: Pixel shaders and post-processing effects make for crisper, cleaner visuals. Enable contrast, vibrance, and depth of field options as preferred.
Community Endorsed: Original developers have teamed with key members of the Neverwinter Nights community to curate important fan-requested improvements to support players, storytellers, and modders.
Backwards Compatibility: Works with save games, modules, and mods from the original Neverwinter Nights. A galaxy of community created content awaits.

They haven’t put a release date on this yet, but it’s available to pre-order for $20 on Beamdog’s site now, and folk who do so will gradually be invited into “a Head Start program, allowing players to try an early version of the game, import modules, and prepare persistent world servers.” You can wishlist on Steam, but not head start bobbins there as yet. If you can’t wait until however you long you have to wait for, there’s always the olden NWN Diamond Edition over on GOG.

There’s also going to be a deluxe edition, which bundles in olden premium modules Pirates of the Sword Coast, Infinite Dungeons, and Wyvern Crown of Cormyr, a couple of soundtracks, and a new portrait pack. However, the base NWNEE does contain all the content of NWN Diamond Edition, i.e. including the Shadows of Undrentide, Hordes of the Underdark and Kingmaker expansions.

37 Comments

  1. Faldrath says:

    I never really played NWN online, so all that I remember is a really terrible story and so. many. empty. crates.

    • mitrovarr says:

      I didn’t think the story being that bad, but I remember vividly the huge number of containers everywhere that at best contained one insignificant item. There was so much boring container searching and looting involved that I’ve replayed it less than any of the sequels or expansions.

  2. tomimt says:

    It doesn’t really look like they’ve improved the graphics in any other way than making it run on higher resolutions. The models look as low poly as you’d expect from a game of this age and the textures look the same as well.

  3. thekelvingreen says:

    Maybe this time they’ll allow you to import your Baldur’s Gate II characters. ;)

  4. Siimon says:

    Thats a tiny list of changes for the $20 price tag!

  5. milligna says:

    I just want this to sell well enough to justify NWN2EE so they can fix that damned camera so I can finally see how good MotB is.

  6. Zorn says:

    After playing Baldur’s Gate countless times and enjoying Baldur’s Gate II after taking some time to warm up to it, I remember Neverwinter Nights to be disappointing for me.

    An old friend I played pen and paper with really got into it.

  7. Chromatose says:

    I get there might be a lot of fan outcry about updated models and textures, but eesh – NWN has not aged nearly as well as Baldur’s Gate.

  8. Gothnak says:

    Still my greatest RPG moment of all time.. (Copy pasted from an RPS thread in 2011)

    NWN 1, played online, City Of Arabel Server. Greatest RPG moment i have ever had when i lied about witnessing a murder of a merchant so i could get friendly with the local red mages guild (Who i’d seen kill them). I was invited to their castle, sat down for dinner and the leader said, i hear we have you to thank for unneccessary complications with the law, why did you help?

    I replied, that being a peasant for most of my life i abhor merchants, their guild and anything they stand for. The mage replied the merchant was killed as an example for for not paying them enough tax and that the red mages ran the merchants guild. Never in a computer game have i ever had that ‘oh shit’ moment as i did then. Needless to say, i was murdered. :s…

    After respawning with less xp, i did get my own back and managed to kill him while the city was under attack by demons one evening…

    Players are better than AI :).

  9. baud001 says:

    Yeah! I’ll be able to play a dance with rogues on a modern OS!

    If only I didn’t have to give money to Beamdog…

    Are they going to pull the same trick as their last EEs? Meaning removing the original game from the GOG store, so you can only buy their EE which are more expensive (by 10$/€). Especially since, in that case the work seem minimum.

  10. po says:

    The one thing I remember about Neverwinter Nights was, it had a pretty good editor, to allow anyone to make their own content, and run it on a private server.

    The really neat bit though, was you could put a portal somewhere in your world, and have it lead to another portal on someone else’s server.

    The world could really do with another multiplayer RPG where players can make their own content, instead of having everything locked down like in all the MMORPGs, or modding being limited to single player. Shame Sony shitcanned EQN Landmark, because that was pretty close to that level of customization.

    The radial spellcasting menu was pretty awesome too.

  11. DocRickShillstein says:

    Saw the video and, what’s so new about it? It looks about the same!
    Now, if they add identity politics like they did to “Siege of Dragonspear”, I’ll also give it a hard pass. Right now it is on the “maybe I’ll buy if there are some improvements” list, but will shift quite fast to the “No-way, Jose!” if they pull the identity politics.

    • Premium User Badge

      Earl-Grey says:

      Asshole alarm!

      • DocRickShillstein says:

        Sure, in this day and age where racism and sexism is popular, having identity politics with shallow character background is a-ok for you guys.

    • Megatron says:

      Frankly I wish more games would start including “identity politics” just so you blinkered bumheads have no recourse but to finally accept that these things aren’t some abnormal agenda-driven whip against your sense of normalcy but real goddam life which you have abused/been coddled from for far far too long. Top marks to Beamdog for even considering the idea, let alone actually implementing it. Goblins and Orcs are allowed but Transgenderism is an abomination worthy of crucifying the developer? Seriously: sort yourselves out you sad, shameful individuals.

      ‘Diversity’ isn’t something new. It’s what happens when you stop lying about the world and pretending that certain things just don’t exist or are harmful or are against God or whatever batshit bullshit you care to name.

      • DocRickShillstein says:

        I love how you actually think I have problems with transgenders. I have problems when that’s the only thing the character has to offer, hence identity politics. Or when a character has to be on your face all the time about his race.

        Next time, try to think a little, racist nazi supporter! Yes, I’m calling you a nazi because you support identity politics, and only racists and sexists do that.

  12. clocknova says:

    “Identity politics.” Code for “things I don’t approve of and fear.” Personally, I hope they put characters like that in every game. I don’t think they’ll mind if you give everything they make a pass.

    • DocRickShillstein says:

      Identity politics= white supremacism, black supremacism, shallow character development and focus only on their sex(because that’s the only thing they have to offer), gender supremacism, segregationists, et al

      Sure, let us add more identity politics, because why not?

      • Megatron says:

        Yes, why not?

        I’ve yet to hear a good reason against it.

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        I don’t know if black supremacism is all that great, but if nothing else it’d be a nice change of pace.

        • DocRickShillstein says:

          Ask the Dallas cops who got murdered by BLM if black supremacism is a “nice” change of pace. Enough with racial supremacism, gender supremacism, enough with it.

          • malkav11 says:

            That guy was an ex-soldier with anger management issues and a history of instability and violence who was not only not affiliated with Black Lives Matter or indeed any activism group but had been kicked out of the one he used to belong to specifically because of his urging that sort of violent action. Get your fucking facts straight.

          • DocRickShillstein says:

            @malkav11

            He was a black supremacist, member of various black supremacist groups, as in, identity politics. He even said
            he wanted to kill white people and the police. He wasn’t a BLM card carrying member, then again, do they give cards to members? Either way, he supported it.

            BLm even celebrated the incident, but sure, why let facts stands in the way of your pretty narrative!

            Have fun explaining this:
            link to archive.is

          • clocknova says:

            Beamdog releases a new Enhanced Edition, and now we’re arguing about Racism, Black Lives Matter, and Nazis.

            Hilarious.

            By the way, how is a character who just happens to have been born a different gender and different from a character who just happened to have been born the same one? It’s just a kind of person, just like you might find in the real world. They exist. Get over it. No one is forcing you to have a sex change.

          • DocRickShillstein says:

            @clocknova If you bothered to read what I wrote, you would have understood my gripe. If a character is gay, make them flawed, with a an actual story behind it. Not just make it gay and call it a day, like beamdog did.

            You wouldn’t call it acceptable if the character was all on your face all the time about how straight he is, or how white he is. I would hate it too. I hate Mary Sue characters, and even especially when they change their personalities too, like what they did in Dragonspear.

  13. Imperialist says:

    Ah, i loved NWN. There was definitely a spark of something here…a little flash of brilliance that is fairly hard to recreate. It was both a good isometric RPG, and good adaptation of the D&D ruleset. I would point out that the story in NWN is literally the template for every Bioware RPG ever, complete with a mediocre early section and act 3 betrayal. Plus, the editor was powerful, and creating your own artifacts and armors was a good time.

  14. clocknova says:

    I can’t say I have any intention of ever revisiting the original campaign. SoU and HotU, sure. But I’m looking forward to the user content (and some premium modules).

  15. malkav11 says:

    Oh, NWN needs way MORE doing. The Infinity Engine games looked lovely and have barely aged aside from the poverty of their resolution. NWN has always been butt ugly and could really, really use a tuneup that it doesn’t appear to be getting.

  16. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    If this means that Neverwinter Connections comes back from the dead I might consider getting involved again.

  17. Meathim says:

    None of the enhanced editions of the Bioware games have been worth it. Modding have always produced better results IMO, and I suspect the same will be true for this.

    Also, i never quite fell for NWN, for some reason. High fantasy is not my thing to begin with.

    • Cropduster says:

      I dunno, the resolution alone made the BGEEs better than using fixed resolutions on tutu, and they run native on linux, and made the ui less jenky and the game run more smoothly. Plus all the old mods have been converted at this point.

      But it is pretty cheeky that there’s still bugs from the original release in there… They add all these terrible, cringe-enducing, mary-sue characters with full voice acting, but still can’t fix Kagain’s bandit quest.

    • Someoldguy says:

      I have to agree with you. I’ve run through at least one IE game or NWN every year for fun and they’ve all worked fine with the appropriate mods installed.

      Beamdog certainly make it convenient for people who don’t want to faff about locating and installing sets of mods, but in terms of raising the bar higher they’ve never done enough to justify a repurchase. They seem to identify just enough quick fixes to justify the EE label and ignore bugs or other improvements that would take too much effort to fix for too little perceived gain. At least they’re including all the modules in one go.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      on Enhanced Editions: Absolute bollocks.

      I’m a day one release Baldur’s Gate player, I went through all the Tui stuff with those mods and know the games inside and out, and the EE versions are absolutely worth it. Mods can still be added to them, but they took away the need for the big essential ones, added UI improvements and fixed long-standing bugs with the original content.

      Their added content I can happily take or leave (I don’t think they are very good writers, at all), but the actual enhancements they made were 100% gold.

  18. Megatron says:

    Should also point out for all us Linux fans that Beamdog are doing an official release for our platform too. We won’t get the editor but it’ll be nice to have an officially supported version to play with at long last.

    I have strong memories of NWN thanks to my then room-mate, Ben, who helped set up our first LAN sessions (on this and Unreal Tournament). I now have one character’s greeting of “Ho ho, not bad, not bad at all!” permanently etched on my brain as Ben made him say it A LOT, kind of every idle moment, really. The sessions were fun but eventually fizzled out due to Ben’s tendency to want to explore every tiny pixel of the map and sell absolutely everything for coin. We spent so many trips going back and forward to the nearest merchants that I used to say to him that if he wanted to go shopping we could do that in real life! Me? I’m all about the narrative and his gaming behaviour was just killing it.

    Not only that but he’d be worrying about coin during battles, circling the outskirts of any scrum leaving me to fend for myself in the middle getting my ass roundly kicked by hordes of goblins or whatever. Needless to say, repeatedly dying while he got excessively rich wasn’t how I wanted to spend my time.

    Good times, man. Good times. :)

  19. Scraphound says:

    NWN was an ENORMOUS leap back from the brilliant games that came before it. Seriously, how do you go from Fallout 1 & 2, Baldur’s Gate, and Planescape among others to something so absolutely ugly. Tiny little zones. Abysmal campaign. Sure, you could download crappy homemade modules, but of those maybe a small handful were worth playing, and they were still hideous and small.

    I will never understand the bizarre turn my favorite genre took. Glad we have stuff like D:OS2 today.

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