Neverwinter Nights reborn as online roleplaying game

Atari announces online roleplaying version of D&D Neverwinter Nights series coming exclusively for PCs in 2011

No more lonely Neverwinter Nights, that's what Atari's signaling with today's announcement that Neverwinter Nights is returning as an online roleplaying game. It also means one online version of D&D clearly wasn't enough (even if said version had to go free-to-play last year to save its bacon).

Curiously, D&D Online's developer Turbine isn't at the helm. Nor is BioWare, the company that resurrected Neverwinter in 2002. Instead, Cryptic Studios, the guys behind online games like City of Heroes, Champions Online, and Star Trek Online, are handling what'll amount to Neverwinter's third coming.

It also sounds like they'll be fiddling with what fans might deem canon, re-envisioning Neverwinter as a once proud city presently down on its luck (okay, so maybe not much re-imagined there). The last Lord of Neverwinter is dead, no one agrees who's in charge, factions struggle to gain the upper hand -- all the usual disconcerting bits at the heart of fantasy fiction these days. Oh, and the dead are rising, as the dead often do. This occurs in the wake of a "spellplague," which actually does qualify as Forgotten Realms lore, and which you can read more about here.

"We're beyond thrilled to develop a brand new version of Neverwinter," said Cryptic Studios COO Jack Emmert in a press statement. "It's been years since the original became a gaming icon and we're honored to work with such a great franchise."

"We've been working closely with Wizards of the Coast and R.A. Salvatore to create an authentic D&D adventure filled with compelling fiction and exciting gameplay."

You read that last bit right. Bob Salvatore is indeed involved, which means great things if you're a fan of his breezy shared universe pop-fiction... or the inverse if you're not. He's even written a tie-in novel, launching October 5, called Gauntlgrym and subtitled 'Neverwinter Book One'. According to Atari, it "previews the settings, characters and monsters from the PC game and details the events that lead up to this highly anticipated PC gaming experience."

In said experience, you'll select one of five classic D&D classes, then play cooperatively with friends or solo employing computer-controlled allies in five-player squads. Like D&D Online's city of Stormreach, Neverwinter will apparently limit players to the eponymous city itself, so think dungeon-delving in honeycombed urban nether regions, and plenty of it.

Atari also claims it's devised a way to allow players to "create their own storylines and quests utilizing an extremely user-friendly content generation system, tentatively codenamed Forge." User-friendly content generation implies, well, user-created. In an online game? Interesting.

Neverwinter Nights has a lengthy, commercially successful, critically uneven history. The AOL-hosted original, based on TSR's Forgotten Realms campaign, wasn't pretty, but faithfully replicated then-publisher SSI's gold box rules (in turn modeled faithfully on the pen and paper Advanced Dungeons & Dragons ruleset). The game, co-developed by AOL, SSI, and Stormfront Studios, was released in 1991, and managed to survive until Wizards of the Coast snapped up TSR and the D&D franchise in 1997.

BioWare's first stab arrived in 2002, a tediously told single-player story with a bold, well-played multiplayer angle that mimicked D&D's pen-and-paper mode. The second game developed by Obsidian Entertainment was a real mess at release, buggy to the point of unplayability, overly faithful to the D&D 3.5 ruleset, and woodenly plotted. Patches tidied up the gameplay, though not the storytelling.

Lets hope Cryptic's version won't be one more power fantasy level grinder swirled in D&D mythos and shallow multi-platforming. Fingers crossed then.

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags MicrosoftgamingCryptic StudiosbiowareWindowsgamessoftwareoperating systemsgaming PCsTurbine

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Matt Peckham

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?