Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition has re-launched

This Beholder looks a bit underwhelmed.

Bioware’s Neverwinter Nights was a fascinating anomaly of a game, years ahead of its time. An online-oriented community sandbox disguised as a traditional Dungeons & Dragons adventure. While quite plain looking, taken at face value, it hid great depths and multitudes of opportunities for those willing to dig just below the surface.

Today, courtesy of Baldur’s Gate‘s new stewards, Beamdog, it returns. Polished up a little for modern PCs and their audience, Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition is out now.

While the Baldur’s Gate and (to a lesser extent) Icewind Dale games are considered largely timeless classics, broadly improved by Beamdog’s modern spit n’ polish, I can see Neverwinter Nights being somewhat more divisive. Even for its time, it wasn’t exactly the nicest-looking of games, and the out-of-the-box main story was a little bit naff, in large part due to its focus on a single player character – hardly playing to D&D’s strengths.

That’s not to say that Neverwinter Nights doesn’t have its fans – it has plenty – but they tend to be players who either started with the (significantly better written/designed) expansions, and those who played it online using its extensive toolkit and dungeon master features, which almost certainly inspired Divinity: Original Sin 2’s tabletop-esque multiplayer mode. Neverwinter Nights also allowed players to run persistent worlds, MMO-lite style, with scripted and respawning events mixed in with live, DM-run story arcs.

The enhancements brought to this version of the game aren’t nearly as sweeping as Beamdog’s other remasters. Tweaks have been made so that the UI scales more gracefully on higher-resolution screens, and some minor graphical enhancements have been made (including slightly more detailed character hands), but for better or worse the game itself is largely unchanged from its Diamond iteration (featuring both expansions, plus several DLC scenarios).

Probably not the best of places to stand

One thing that you can definitely chalk up as a ‘better’ point of leaving the game largely unchanged is full backwards compatibility with existing Neverwinter Nights mods, scenarios and more. While some of the old community hubs have fizzled out or shut down, most of the old, major mods should be accessible with a little searching. One thing few remasters can boast is a decade or more of fan-content, functional and ready to roll from day zero.

Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition is out now on Steam for £15.50/20€/$20, with several DLC packs (including Wyvern Crown of Cormyr, Infinite Dungeons and Pirates of the Sword Coast) available for around £2 each, although if memory serves, none of these three are must-plays.

37 Comments

  1. milligna says:

    I’ve really been enjoying this over the past few weeks, I really enjoy how it looks in 4K with the camera limits tweaked to allow a much further zoomout. Very pleasurable to romp around with a friend, a shame more games didn’t take a page out of NWN’s book.

  2. ResonanceCascade says:

    I might actually give this another shot. I remember being bored to tears with the main campaign, but really enjoying the expansions. I’d also like to delve into the mod scene, which I’m sure is where the real gold is.

    • Mordaedil says:

      The real appeal is actually in the online community, which is still pretty dang active after 16+ years.

      Single player modules are a good second though.

      • ResonanceCascade says:

        I’m looking forward to it! I didn’t get a dedicated internet connection until two years after I played it. Which seems…utterly unfathomable to me now.

    • PancakeWizard says:

      From what I’ve heard, the original main campaign is very weak and fans usually recommend jumping in with the original DLC campaigns (now included) as they start you from scratch (for the first one, second DLC is the sequel).

    • ansionnach says:

      I found it a lot of fun in multiplayer with the difficulty on the full D&D rules. There are a lot of text walls from time to time but they’re uninspired so it’s best to skip them and get on with the fighting and looting.

  3. Anhaga says:

    True – it was difficult to love. Couldn’t get my head round how online was supposed to work at the time. And it wasn’t a truly solo affair – there were companions. But as always for Bioware, the writing was spot on.

    Rage of the Red Tiger! Unleashed!!

    • EatingDirt says:

      It really was a solo affair in the main campaign. The 1 ‘companion’ you could use was just a tool(trap disarmer/meat shield) with about 3 voice lines if I remember correctly.

      • mitrovarr says:

        Nah, they were kind of prototype companions a bit like the ones in later Bioware games. They had backstories and personalities and you could do quests for them to get items.

        I mean, they were distinctive enough that I could remember at least a few of them despite not playing the game in ages.

        • malkav11 says:

          They had a little bit of personality but they were almost completely AI-controlled in battle and thus very little use, especially as a meatshield. They did become slightly more useful when one of the expansions (can’t remember which) made it so that you could have two at once, but they were still AI controlled and bad. And most of the fan modules either had no companions at all or only let you have one.

          At least the ones in the expansion campaigns were significantly better written.

  4. Daymare says:

    Man, this Beholder looks blasé as heck.

  5. Palindrome says:

    I much preferred the sequel, even if it was full of crippling bugs, are Beamdog going to be working on that?

  6. pookie191 says:

    I vaguely remember playing this at release once and thinking it was hit with the ugly stick way back then. The second game was decent even if it did have the worlds most obvious “I am so going to betray you at a point in the story” Chaotic evil companion

  7. elevown says:

    S the mods work? Even ones using their own resources? and things like C.E.P work with it etc? Inside the steam folder, does it have the same old folder layout, so following old mod installation guides is simple?

    • milligna says:

      Yep. All works. CEP and Project Q look very good. So many modules I never tried back in the day, it’s an embarrassment of hack and slash riches.

      • elevown says:

        Thanks – that’s great news :) Gonna have to get it!

        Can anyone recommend the best place to get all the mods / resource packs these days? The old nwn vault died many years ago.

        • milligna says:

          Steam Workshop has some new mods, tests of the new upgraded assets for Aribeth/Hall of Justice/Some Lunkhead, plus things like Real Skies and CEP. Makes things nice and easy – but the motherlode is at: link to neverwintervault.org

          • Herring says:

            Wow! They’ve got the one and only module I did 15 years ago;

            link to neverwintervault.org

            It was submitted by “Migrate Wizard” so I presume it was auto-migrated from wherever it was hosted in the dim and distant.

            I remember you could bribe an ogre instead of fighting it if you found it’s chew toy. And I _think_ you could get him to lift a boulder for you if your strength wasn’t high enough.

            Obsidian, eat your heart out.

  8. Viral Frog says:

    Despite what people say negatively about this game’s base campaign, it was my first true experience with D&D and CRPG’s as a whole, so it hold a very special place in my heart. I’ve installed and am currently playing. I can definitely see it being a hell of a lot cheesier than I recall, but I’m still thoroughly enjoying it. I’ve been trying to get my old NWN Diamond install to work, but no fix that I’d found online has ever been able to get it running on my PC. Now I can finally play again!

    • ResonanceCascade says:

      It’s probably a great first D&D style RPG campaign. The problem as I recall wasn’t that it was cheesy, but that it was a collection of RPG cliches which, if you hadn’t been exposed to them already, were likely fine.

      • malkav11 says:

        Well, except for the part where D&D isn’t designed for you to be flying almost completely solo. But in terms of writing, yeah, it’s more bland and cliched than it is actively awful.

  9. Chaoslord AJ says:

    Not to mention the slow turn-based battle, the terrible UI and quest-breaking when you esc-ed out from certain dialogues which the engine allowed.
    You forgot about community-made modules. While I see no division that the main campaign sucked from story to gameplay mechanics there were hundreds of hours of quality gameplay made by the modding heroes for free.
    There were murder mysteries, mage quests, magicless medieval campaigns, scifi, planescape, comedy, steampunk, “Thief”, oriental settings, remade D&D campaigns, puzzle modules and so on.
    Each came which a slightly different ruleset and take on the game to explore. One had magic items drop from all crates another had you running around naked, sometimes you needed to disarm traps etc…
    Also AD&D 3 was a vastly superior system compared to 2, everyone could multiclass and stuff like armor class finally made sense.

  10. Troubletcat says:

    RE: The available DLC, Wyvern Crown of Corymyr is excellent, better than any of the other official single-player content in my opinion.

    Infinite Dungeons is pretty fun if you want randomly generated hack ‘n slash in NWN, but yeah, you’re better off with Diablo or Path of Exile. Still, it’s not bad.

    I haven’t played Pirates of the Sword Coast but it was very well received on launch, IIRC.

  11. BenWH says:

    Correction: Wyvern Crown of Cormyr is essential playing. (Disclaimer: I wrote and produced it).

    • milligna says:

      Playing it right now and having a lot of fun. Nice work!

    • Troubletcat says:

      As I said above, I think it’s excellent and better than any of the other official single-player content. I have really fond memories of playing it when it first came out.

      So thanks for your contribution!

  12. Morte66 says:

    Gods (of Faerun and Greyhawk), this takes me back.

    I think I played over 200 community modules for NWN. That was the true glory of it IMO — the toolset was not pretty, but it was productive. People made interesting ten hour adventures on their own in a few months of evenings. No spending 3 man-years on meshes and textures.

    Also, and this is seldom remembered, there was the EULA which said that any community made content was available to all community members for reuse without copyright/permission/bullshit. So content sharing happened, at first very ad hoc but later in an organised way with the Community Expansion Project and the like.

    Later NWN2 came along with better graphics a much more powerful toolset, but it was more labour intensive it never really got off the ground. Some guy with a good idea for an adventure just couldn’t face that level of effort to make it happen. It was the domain of modding teams, which are rarer than individuals and perhaps less prone to moments of brilliance.

  13. Morte66 says:

    I remember the online side of NMN very well — I used to make “DM Only” modules without scripted NPCs that I would GM for 3-5 players at neverwinterconnections.net

    There were also a lot of Persistent Worlds, which were mini-MMOs, mostly automated with token GM intervention. Those were mostly grindy crap which only had players because they didn’t charge a sub (all MMOs had a sub back then). I think many of these died when Guild Wars came out.

    However there were some briliant PWs where GMs got involved. I knew two guys who played on a PW with about 30 players total, and they were playing underground criminals who were outwardly respectable. The things they got up to without other characters finding out, and the social engineering they cooked up…

    Ultimately this is all a bit rose tinted spectacles. NWN shifted around two million boxes, and maybe 5000 people did multiplayer, according to the best figures I could find at the time. At least one of the expansions didn’t officially support multiplayer (though it 99% worked). They had a story with a single hero, and they had essentially no multiplayer customers, so they ditched the “multiplayer support” tickbox rather than adapting the story.

    I started NWN with a dial up modem and got 512k broadband (to host a server) after a while. I wonder what would have happened if it had launched 5 years later…

  14. Wormerine says:

    Never like NWN1. It’s campaign was very weak and compared to Infinite Engine games it was a step down in every possible way – from writing, to world, graphics, gameplay, story, design. It’s biggest advantage was the focus on online component, but that’s something that never interested me, personally.

    I am not sure how much worth remastered NWN has. Its original content isn’t worth revisiting, and surely,D:OS2 provides better online service and tools than NWN does, no? I might be wrong, didn’t play online components in neither of those, just guessing.

    • milligna says:

      That’s what I thought back then but I’m glad to be wrong — the wealth of content makes it so worthwhile. The multiplayer is a blast and the online features and tools are STILL 20 times better and more flexible than what DOS2 provides.

  15. Bull0 says:

    I’m confused because last I saw of this the graphics were being more substantially updated, is that no longer the case?

    • Bull0 says:

      I’ve read up on it a bit more and the screenshots I’ve seen are “tech demos”, the game doesn’t have enhanced models or textures but updating the player character models is in beamdog’s roadmap.

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