BioWare’s Neverwinter Nights, released in 2002, marked a significant shift in the roleplaying game genre. It wasn’t the first RPG in 3D by any measure, but it cemented the shift from isometric 2,5D to fully three-dimensional environments. Yes, it was unpolished and blocky, but it was also incredibly flexible and moddable.
NWN also had a few other notable things about it. It featured an excellent online multiplayer, suitable for running D&D adventures and creating persistent RP servers alike. The game also drastically reduced the party size, giving your singular protagonist one or two hirelings, a good change given the complexity of the D&D edition used by the game.
The list below features a few games similar to Neverwinter Nights. The similarities might be it thematic, stylistic, or connected to various aspects of gameplay. For the purposes of this text, we’ve focused on the first Neverwinter Nights, but there is a great sequel developed by Obsidian Entertainment.
Games similar to Neverwinter Nights
Baldur’s Gate 2
Baldur’s Gate II is one of the most beloved role-playing games in history, and for good reasons, too. It greatly improved on the solutions present in its predecessor, BG1. It adds more character options, larger world to explore, many memorable companions, and an epic-scale storyline which deals with the nature of divinity in the Forgotten Realms setting.
Baldur’s Gate 2 uses the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2e version of the rules, which means a big emphasis on class-modifying “kits”, rather than NWN’s feats. The party is also larger than in Neverwinter Nights, holding up to six characters, including the protagonist, and that influences both the scale and the flow of battles, playing out more like small-scale RTS at times.
The Temple of Elemental Evil
If you liked the mechanics of Neverwinter Nights, but wanted something more complex, then The Temple of Elemental Evil should be right up your alley. Where NWN used the third edition of D&D, ToEE goes for the improved and expanded 3.5e and goes the whole hog on adapting it to a video game. From a complex character creation to turn-based combat, it’s incredibly faithful to the source.
The story itself adapts a famous D&D adventure of the same title, with necessary changes to make it suitable for the 3.5 version of the rules. The game is mostly centered around dungeon crawling in the titular massive structure overrun with demons and monsters, but fans of roleplay itself do have a lot to bite into, including the custom starting adventures for every party alignment.
Pathfinder: Kingmaker & Wrath of the Righteous
If ToEE is too old for you, you might want to check the RPGs based on Pathfinder – Kingmaker and Wrath of the Righteous. Pathfinder’s mechanics are based on the same D&D edition the ToEE is and, by extension, are very similar to NWN. Moreover, unlike ToEE Pathfinder games feature real-time combat, and benefit from modern tech, which makes them look quite nice, especially WotR looks great.
The first game’s story involves clearing out the bandits from a contested region and, eventually, becoming a ruler of the place, complete with a town for you to manage. The second game puts you in charge of an army fighting against hordes of demons and lets you earn access to powerful Mythic Path, such as a dragon, or a Lich. If you like deep systems AND modern graphics, check Pathfinder.
If it’s the place, not the system nor single-player experience that you’re interested in, consider taking a look at Neverwinter, the MMORPG set around the titular city. Granted, the place has gone through some changes in the years between the events of both games, but the heart is there, and the famous city is more hi-fidelity than ever, with several districts, streets crowding with NPCs and PCs, and plenty of baddies to kill.
Combat is much more dynamic, especially since you’re, finally, controlling just one character. You have several abilities available on hotkeys, including an ult which, appropriately, takes time to charge. Neverwinter also upholds the NWN tradition of modded content via the custom adventures players can create and share with others. It’s not exactly a Game Master mode, but it’s as close as it gets.
Neverwinter is free to play game
Knights of the Old Republic
Knights of the Old Republic came right after Neverwinter Nights. It quickly turned out that BioWare hit a homerun with it, creating another of the most beloved RPGs in history. NWN seems to be flanked by them. Although it’s strictly third-person perspective, playing KotOR should feel familiar: it uses a system based on D&D 3e, the party is small, and even the plot structure feels a bit familiar.
After an explosive prologue the game takes you to several unique planets on a quest which might save or doom the galaxy. Knights of the Old Republic is one of the few games which perfectly capture the theme and tone of the original Star Wars movies, even though the events of KotOR take place four thousand years before Luke’s and Vader’s time. There’s a remake coming, but why wait for it?
Icewind Dale 1 & 2
The last D&D-based game on this list, the Icewind Dale series might appeal to you if you wanted something more combat-oriented in the same setting NWN took place in — the Forgotten Realms. Yes, IWD takes place in the eponymous frigid region, but you’ll recognize quite a few elements of the background lore. You’ll also likely have a larger party, and quite a few combat challenges to face.
In both Icewind Dale games you get to create your entire party from scratch, drawing from two different edition of D&D. Coming off Neverwinter Nights, you’ll likely have the best time with Icewind Dale II, which is based on the Third Edition, and also happened to be released in the same year as NWN. The party can go up to six characters, but nobody except difficulty stops you from rolling fewer.
Dragon Age: Origins
Yet another BioWare game on the list, but this time it’s completely separate from D&D. Instead, it’s set in an original setting and uses original mechanics, stats, and gameplay. It’s still very much a fantasy game, though, and features a lot of exciting roleplaying opportunities and a ton of gritty RTwP combat facilitated by a complex system of customizable scripts you can set up for all party members.
The main conflict in the story is a losing war humans, dwarves and elves fight against corrupted Darkspawn. Opposing them would be the grey Wardens, but are among the last of them, and it falls to you to call on old allies and acquire new ones. Along the way you’ll collect a small band of companions, outcasts, and weirdos whom you’ll be able to befriend, antagonise, or even potentially romance.
Divinity: Original Sin 1 & 2
A long shot, this one, but in a rare twist on the party-friendly RPGs the Original Sin series allows you to roll around, solve problems, and wreck shop with just two characters. Better yet, if you pick the Lone Wolf option your characters will be somewhat stronger when there’s just the two of them, instead of a full four-person party. That said, as this is a turn-based series, being understaffed is a big challenge.
There is very little narrative connective tissue between DOS1 and DOS2, and the story tends to take a backseat to combat and exploring unusually interactive worlds. Unlike many RPGs, the DOS series revels in letting you play around with the environment. Items can often be picked up and put elsewhere, fire evaporated water, and the resulting mist can be electrified. It’s an elemental sandbox.
While Driftmoon’s similarity to NWN appears to be an old-school, low-poly aesthetic, don’t be mistaken: it’s a fully-fledged role-playing game. Developed by a very small team Driftmoon never gathered much attention, which is a shame. It’s plot revolves around an ominous presence threatening to envelop the world, and a young hero who sets out into the world to protect his village.
There are many challenges waiting ahead, including dangerous foes and even some good old-fashioned puzzles to solve. Thankfully, your hero isn’t going to be alone, there are many unusual companions who can join your journey, including a panther and a firefly. As you might tell, the story isn’t quite as dark as Neverwinter Nights’, but there are some serious themes and stories in there too.
Pillars of Eternity
Pillars of Eternity is an Obsidian Entertainment original. The series bears some similarity to Dungeons & Dragons, but it’s mostly limited to class names and a few playable species. Other than that surface stuff, the PoE series presents a unique and very detailed setting cutting closer to Renaissance than the usual Medievalesque fantasy. However, if deep roleplaying is what you crave, PoE delivers.
Where Neverwinter Nights tracked your character’s alignment, PoE goes deeper. Rather than your position on the good-evil, law-chaos grid, it makes note of your “disposition”. When you pick cruel dialogue options, you get reputation for being vicious, or you’re known as honest if you tend to tell the truth even against your interests. Often it affects the way NPC react to you, for better or worse.
Neverwinter and other locales worth seeing
This concludes our list of games which might appeal to you depending on which aspect of Neverwinter Nights you liked best. We’ve got games based on a similar D&D edition, we’ve got games with small parties. There are even some games which have a similar graphics or worthwhile support for multiplayer or roleplaying. And it you’d like literally just more Neverwinter Nights, the sequel is right there, with a few minor tweaks like a larger party with more fleshed out companions.