Neverwinter Nights Retrospective

Ten years after the release of the title, Eurogamer has taken some time aside to do a retrospective on BioWare's ambitious Neverwinter Nights. While expansions, modules and patches proved to be a saving grace, it's clear that they ultimately didn't find much of an enjoyable game in the package:
Neverwinter Nights had something of a small victory when it came to its accessibility compared to BioWare's previous RPGs. It introduced gamers to Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules, the Second Edition rules going the same way as the Infinity Engine. The Second Edition was always a curious thing to try to understand even outside of the context of a computer game, but the Third Edition system presented mechanics that were much more logical and consistent, not least because it was mostly about adding numbers to other numbers in the hope of achieving a bigger, better number.

The game's real saving would come later with the release of two expansions, Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark, and what was one of the earliest DLC collections, the Premium Modules. Among its offerings, the first expansion added much needed tile-sets, scripting tools and more playthings, while the second was widely praised for featuring a single-player campaign that was far more involving than the seemingly endless series of fetch quests that described the main game. Finally, Neverwinter Nights was worthwhile, just as long as you were willing to pay a little more.

Many of us later said that the game was the victim of its own ambition. It was too big. It lacked detail. It would never be able to live up to its claims and that trying to run anything as complex as a worthwhile role-playing session within the constraints of a game engine was bound to fail. But none of these admissions made me any less disappointed.

Funnily enough, the happiest memories I have, sparse as they may be, are of players doing their best to try to demonstrate the creativity and ambition that the game said it would encourage, but doing that outside of the framework it provided, repeatedly bending and sometimes breaking Neverwinter Nights with unofficial mods and tweaks.