The name BioWare has become synonymous with “monstrously fun role-playing games” and their upcoming Neverwinter Nights looks to prove no exception. The Third Edition Dungeons & Dragons-based PC RPG will feature a Baldur’s Gate-esque single player mode with 60+ hours of gameplay, but it’s the included toolset and multiplayer modes that have role-playing gamers failing their saves and going berserk.
Neverwinter Nights will ship with the Aurora Toolset that lets gamers forge their own D&D modules, complete with buildings, terrain, monsters, traps, and magic items. Users can create a module set in Forgotten Realms, the setting of Neverwinter Nights, or in medieval Europe, or wherever they’d like. After a module has been created, you can host it on a server and invite up to 64 of your friends to play (after downloading the module). Even the Dungeon Master (DM) can run his/her own player character.
But it’s the control that Neverwinter Nights places into the hands of the DM that makes this game so different from others in its genre. BioWare has modeled Neverwinter Nights off of pen-and-paper role-playing and lets the DM moderate gameplay. As players adventure through the module, the DM can set up their encounters, drop clues about their quests, and take control of non-player characters (NPCs) to speak to the party in real-time.
Depending on the settings, gameplay can involve various levels of “player killing”. In Safe Mode, players can’t harm each other, while on the opposite end of the spectrum, in Full Player vs. Player Combat, no such protection exists. There will also be a team-based Party vs. Party Combat mode, where players can only harm members of an opposing group.
As in D&D, other players won’t necessarily know anything about your character other than their appearance, which is determined by race, equipment, etc. not by class. So characters interested in secrecy can have their mage appear as a thief or other combinations for disguise. Players interact with other players, NPCs, and the DM with quick keys tied to pre-created messages or via a robust chat system for more detailed conversations.
A fully 3D game, Neverwinter nights will feature roughly 200 monsters, from orcs to dragons (naturally). Combat animations include reflexive actions, such as dodges, parries, and thrusts, and players will be able to attempt diverse attacks, including disarmings and knockdowns.
We sat down and chatted with Brad Grier, BioWare’s communications manager, at E3 about the game. Here’s what he had to say: