We take an exclusive hands-on look at BioWare's upcoming single-player expansion for Neverwinter Nights.
Neverwinter Nights was an excellent role-playing game that showcased the new 3rd Edition Dungeons & Dragons rules while still offering the story and action we had come to expect from the Baldur's Gate series. It was critically acclaimed not only for its content but also for its incredibly robust and flexible toolset, which has allowed fans to create role-playing game modules of their own. But while there have been numerous user-made modules of varying quality available for download, the game's fans have really been waiting for some new adventures from the developers at BioWare. Next month, fans will get what they've been waiting for: BioWare and Floodgate Entertainment will deliver the first official expansion for Neverwinter Nights, Shadows of Undrentide, this June.
The Shadows of Undrentide expansion takes place in the snowy village of Hilltop, far away from the bustling city of Neverwinter. So far away, in fact, that the Harpers--the Forgotten Realms' version of a global police force--have decided that it's a safe place to hide dangerous evil artifacts of immense power. Of course, the Harpers were silly to expect that storing these vile instruments of destruction in a remote town was enough to keep them out of the hands of the forces of evil. You begin the game as the top apprentice of the dwarven wizard Dorgan, and on the eve of the final test, you find that your master's redoubt has been invaded by kobold commandos. They poison your master and make off with the four artifacts that the Harpers were trying to keep secret in the town. Obviously, as Hilltop's top hero, it falls to you to recover these artifacts for the Harpers, save your master, and stop the evil brewing on the doorstep of the town.
You'll start the game watching the ambush of your master and then have to hurry out the door in hot pursuit of the kobolds. Your main quest is to find the four artifacts stolen by the kobolds and find out who was behind the theft. It soon becomes apparent that a great white dragon in the north is the culprit, but there are also other evil forces that threaten Hilltop. Gnolls under a mysterious leadership have waylaid the kobolds and stolen the artifacts, which suggests that at least two major evil forces are at work. Even the dreaded Red Wizards of Thay, the supreme villains of the Forgotten Realms, are getting into the act.
As you may expect from the creator of the Baldur's Gate series, BioWare will include plenty of side quests and related quests to give you more options and freedom to explore as you wish. These quests are varied and fun and have the same variety and open-ended nature of the quests in the original Neverwinter Nights. You can help the aforementioned Red Wizards set up a magic shop in the town (and possibly benefit from the new wares they bring in), rescue a dwarven woman who has been mistaken for a baby giant and forced to be the wife of a dim-witted hill giant, find a snow-white teleporting magic stag for an elven ranger who needs the creature's horns to cure his wife's disease, secure the freedom of a helpful but sniveling kobold, and so forth. And if you are a ranger or druid, you can use your animal empathy to help a wounded bear in the wilderness. Rangers and druids will find more animals to talk to and more quests resulting from their unique ability to communicate with wildlife. But these are just a few of the quests that the expansion will offer.
Neverwinter Nights offered the first implementation of the 3rd Edition D&D rules, including that system's open-ended character development, heroic feats, skills, and lots of spells. In Shadows of Undrentide, the rules have been expanded to include more 3rd Edition goodies, such as prestige classes and more feats, spells, and monsters. Prestige classes are special classes that you have to work your way into. Many have prerequisites you must meet before you can enter them, but they offer lots of intriguing special abilities you won't find in the core classes of fighter, barbarian, wizard, cleric, and so forth. The expansion will offer five new prestige classes: the arcane archer, the assassin, the blackguard, the shadow dancer, and the Harper scout.
- Release Date: Jul 4, 2003 (EU)
- Release Date: Aug 12, 2004 (US)