Another Friday, another article. Today we're looking back at a very special game, Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete
, as we approach the ten year anniversary of its original release. This is a collection of a PC exclusive pause-and-play RPG and its three expansions, developed by Obsidian Entertainment, except for the final expansion Mysteries of Westgate
which was developed by Ossian Studios. Neverwinter Nights 2 was released in 2006, its first expansion Mask of the Betrayer
in 2007, its second expansion Storm of Zehir
in 2008, and the aforementioned Mysteries of Westgate in 2009. Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete is available on GOG.com for only $19.99, and it often goes on sale for half that. That's quite the bargain for some of the highest quality RPGs out there with hundreds of hours of content even without mods.
In hindsight, this game seems too good to be true. This isn't entirely because of our lowered standards, which are the result of industry standards lowering greatly since those times
. Neverwinter Nights 2 was the culmination of traditional video game RPGs. Everything was building up to it. It features nearly every playable race, class, skill, and feat offered by prior D&D RPGs, and then many more on top of that. The amount of content offered by it and its predecessor, Neverwinter Nights
, was staggering at the time of their release, and even more staggering by today's standards. And that was just the base games, not even including the expansions which added more races, classes, prestige classes, feats/abilities, spells, and more. Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete features 12 races with 17 sub-races
, over 300 spells
, well over 300 feats
, 40 different weapon types
(not individual weapons but types like longsword, war axe, shortbow, etc.), 15 base classes
, 24 prestige classes
, and much more.
To put it in perspective, there is more variation, more ways to play Neverwinter Nights 2's Fighter class, than most modern RPGs have in total classes/playstyles! And fighter is just one of 15 base classes. It sounds like an exaggeration, but it is not, especially when you consider the possible prestige classes that a Fighter can become.
Furthermore, Neverwinter Nights 2: Complete isn't just one game, it is a saga in itself. The base campaign is about 60 hours long, the first expansion 30-40 hours, second expansion 30-40 hours, and final expansion 20-25 hours. Custom campaigns created by modders exist as well, including unofficial remakes of legends like Baldur's Gate
and Icewind Dale
, as well as adaptations of various highly praised pen and paper D&D modules such as The Temple of Elemental Evil
, The Keep on the Borderlands
, King's Festival
, and more.
A list of campaigns, both unofficial and official, taken from the main menu. Not shown: many, many others!
All of these factors, along with the quality of its campaigns and its amount of possible role-playing (only rivaled by one game in the 2010s, that being Fallout: New Vegas
) give just cause to claim that Neverwinter Nights 2 was the last great fantasy RPG, although anyone claiming this must have extremely high RPG standards in order to discredit Dragon Age: Origins
So in this article we're going to break down this gargantuan that is Neverwinter Nights 2, including all of its expansions
. Yes, we're going to review all of them, something we wish we had the opportunity to do. Although for what it's worth, Neverwinter Nights 2: Mysteries of Westgate released about one month after GND-Tech was created. That was when we weren't yet reviewing video games, and we weren't even called GND-Tech yet!
Since we are essentially reviewing four games in one article, we are using a different layout this time around. Gameplay is first and foremost because Neverwinter Nights 2 and its expansions obviously share the same basic gameplay. There are some exceptions in each, but those are discussed on the pages for each individual campaign.
At its core, Neverwinter Nights 2 is a tactical stat-based pause-and-play RPG built upon Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 which is its foundation. Most things like attacks in combat (chance to hit), damage given, damage taken, almost everything is determined by a dice roll which happens in the background. Combat is partially turn-based; not fully like the classic Fallout
games or XCOM
, but more on an individual basis. When characters are engaged in combat, turns are in play just like a tabletop RPG in which players take turn rolling dice. Here in Neverwinter Nights 2 the turn-based mechanic is much more seamless than a full fledge turn-based game, you have no controls over the turns and a turn only lasts mere seconds. It's like Pillars of Eternity
and the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic
games but slightly slower.
Whereas other video game RPGs make up their own simplified stat/rule system, or take what they want from an existing one like D&D, Neverwinter Nights 2 is unique for taking the most from its pen and paper origins. It is like the developers just copied over D&D 3.5 into a video game, and omitted things that don't fit well into a video game (although they also admitted some skills that would've been a nice inclusion).
By having a stat for so many different things, Neverwinter Nights 2 simulates more aspects than other games, making it seem far more realistic and far more logical than other video games. That's the whole point of the original pen and paper Dungeons & Dragons after all; to role-play, to pretend to live a different life, so in order for it to believable it has to be realistic and account for many different things, hence the different attributes, saving throws, abundance of skills, and how they're all tied together. Role-playing games are meant to simulate an actual life to some degree, and both Neverwinter Nights games go farther than any other video game.
Neverwinter Nights 2 essentially integrates a D&D 3.5 handbook