The 11 best Dungeons & Dragons video games
Dungeons & Dragons has had something of a resurgence over the past few years, thanks in part to shows such as Critical Role and Stranger Things. While getting together with your friends and playing D&D in person is still the ideal way to experience the game, that’s not always possible. As such, we’ve compiled a list of the best Dungeons & Dragons video games. This way, you can continue your role-playing adventures, even when you’ve been separated from the rest of your companions.
Developers have been making D&D games for decades, and there are quite a few entries to choose from. As such, this list focuses on titles you can play on modern PCs and consoles. GOG is an excellent source of older games, while you can play some of the newer ones on Steam, PS5 or Xbox Series X. And remember: You must gather your party before venturing forth.
Pool of Radiance (1988)
While Pool of Radiance wasn’t the very first electronic D&D title, it’s probably the first one that people would recognize as an authentic adaptation of the tabletop game. You create a party of adventurers using Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rules, selecting their race, moral alignment, attributes and so forth. Then, you set off into the Forgotten Realms, where you’ll do battle with bandits, the undead and various other D&D mainstays. By modern standards, the gameplay is a little tedious and the plot is a little thin. But if you want to experience D&D’s history of big, epic computer RPGs right from the start, Pool of Radiance is worth a look.
Eye of the Beholder (1991)
One of the most fondly remembered D&D games, Eye of the Beholder demonstrated that the tabletop franchise could excel in a digital format. Like many other adaptations, Eye of the Beholder lets you customize a party, explore dungeons, level up your characters and so forth. The game’s first-person exploration, puzzle-heavy dungeons and complex gameplay earned the game lots of accolades, as well as two direct sequels: The Legend of Darkmoon and Assault of Myth Drannor. While the game has a simple story and ends with a whimper, it was an excellent blueprint for more ambitious D&D games that would follow in its footsteps over the next three decades.
Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance (2001)
Not every tabletop D&D adventure is an epic quest with an intricate story and an unforgettable cast of characters. Sometimes, all you want to do is get together with your friends and stomp a bunch of monsters. Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance is the digital equivalent of one of those simple dungeon crawls. In this hack-and-slash action/RPG, you’ll take control of an archer, a sorceress or a fighter as you plow through hundreds of increasingly difficult monsters. You can play solo or with a co-op partner, and it’s good, clean, mindless fun either way. Just be aware that it’s not really part of the much-more-complex Baldur’s Gate series.
Icewind Dale II (2002)
Icewind Dale II was the right game at the wrong time. It came out in 2002, just two months after the ambitious Neverwinter Nights. Running on the outdated Infinity Engine and sporting isometric 2D graphics, IWD2 didn’t compare favorably with NWN’s brand-new Aurora Engine or its full 3D presentation. However, of the two games, IWD2 has aged much better. You recruit a whole party of adventurers and guide them through a thoroughly decent story. It’s also one of the few games to employ the streamlined Dungeons & Dragons 3.0 ruleset, which gives you a ton of variety in character creation. And if that’s not enough, the incomparable Peter Stormare plays the villain.
Neverwinter Nights 2 (2006)
The first Neverwinter Nights provided players with an impressive toolkit, but the single-player campaign left something to be desired. Neverwinter Nights 2 remedied that, by providing an excellent story right out of the gate, and then continuing the trend in three ambitious expansions. Like most other D&D computer games, you create an avatar, customizing his or her race, class, skills and attributes. As you explore the Forgotten Realms, you’ll recruit a party of like-minded adventurers and fight off a whole bestiary’s worth of monsters. What sets NWN2 apart from many other adaptations is that it uses the refined Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 ruleset, which is still a fan-favorite today.
Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition (2013)
Probably the quintessential D&D video game, Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn is everything a computer RPG should be. The game picks up right where the first Baldur’s Gate left off, letting you import your character and all of the narrative decisions you made. From there, you set off into the Forgotten Realms, hot on the trail of a sinister wizard called Jon Irenicus (played by David Warner, of course). With dozens of party members to recruit, areas to explore and magical items to collect, BG2 is a deep and refined experience, with an unforgettable story that puts your choices front and center.
Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara (2013)
While most D&D video games are faithful RPG adaptations, every once in a while, you get something completely out of left field. Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara collects two Capcom games from the ‘90s: Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara. These games were bright, colorful, fast-paced beat-‘em-ups that lived in arcades rather than on home consoles. In this remastered collection, the games feature sharper graphics and online co-op gameplay. Up to four players can team up to fight bandits, trolls, dragons and other D&D mainstays. The game can be pretty demanding, depending on your difficulty settings, but at least you don’t need an endless supply of quarters anymore.
While Neverwinter wasn’t the first massively multiplayer online (MMO) game based on D&D, it’s probably the most approachable. The game is free-to-play, and doesn’t restrict any story content behind a paywall. You can play through the whole game solo, or recruit a group of friends to help you. The combat takes place in real time, and varies significantly depending on which class you play. The game has been up and running since 2013, and since then, it’s added tons of new story material, taking players through familiar tabletop tales, from the Tomb of Annihilation to Storm King’s Thunder. It’s also one of the few D&D games available on PS5 and Xbox Series X consoles.
Lords of Waterdeep (2017)
Dungeons & Dragons has been around for almost 50 years. As such, it’s had plenty of spinoffs, both digital and analog. One popular D&D adaptation is Lords of Waterdeep: a strategic board game, in which players compete to control the titular city. It’s an enticing mix of diplomacy and resource management, challenging players to forge tenuous alliances while keeping as much treasure as possible for themselves. Lords of Waterdeep has a straightforward and faithful video game adaptation, which essentially just lets you play out the board game in a digital form, with either local or online multiplayer. Try it out for your next board game night.
Planescape: Torment: Enhanced Edition (2017)
One of the strangest games on this list is also one of the most beloved. Planescape: Torment isn’t a high-fantasy adventure. There’s no great evil force to confront. You’ll do a lot more reading than fighting, and you can resolve just about any situation, up to and including the final boss, through dialogue choices. Planescape: Torment takes place in the steampunk city of Sigil, where you take control of an inscrutable protagonist, The Nameless One. The amnesiac Nameless One can’t die, having given up his mortality for reasons he can’t remember. He unravels the mystery while recruiting a band of bizarre party members, including a floating, talking skull and a chaste succubus.
Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition (2018)
First off, if you go into Neverwinter Nights expecting a memorable single-player campaign, you’ll come away disappointed. But if you treat Neverwinter Nights as a design program rather than a standalone game, you’ll never run out of new adventures. When NWN debuted in 2002, it wowed gamers with an extensive toolkit, which allowed them to create their own characters, dungeons and scenarios. You could even act as a live Dungeon Master, running other players through your creations in real time. Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition comes with the base game, the two (much better) expansions and plenty of smaller scenarios, which should give you ample inspiration for crafting your own adventures.
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