Back in 2002, one of the greatest video games set in the prestigious Dungeons & Dragons universe, Neverwinter Nights, launched on PC to critical acclaim. Last year, this beloved title was given modern enhancements, like higher resolution packs and support for up to 4K displays, to make playing it on more up-to-date machines more enjoyable. Now, over one year since the Enhanced Edition launched, it is finally being ported over to consoles for the first time ever. But how does it fare on the Nintendo Switch? Here is our review.
Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition is not a remake of the original title that launched over 17 years ago, it is a remastered version with updated resolutions and a revamped UI. As such, the entirety of the original’s 40+ hour long campaign is untouched and available in its entirety – including two expansions to the story, Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark, as well as 10 additional modules for a total of well over 100 hours.
The premise Neverwinter Nights sees you, a newly anointed city guard, tracking down creatures that are needed to cure the city’s pandemic plague problem and have escaped from the city’s academy into various districts. There’s plenty of backstory and side-stories to gleam from interacting with the myriad of characters encountered while tracking down these elusive creatures. And some of the most interesting stories are small encounters that could otherwise be completely missed, like discovering how a young man seems overly attached to his cart full of furniture as he is besieged by zombies on all sides.
The journey to find these creatures will pass through several unique and interesting locations across the city, including a zoo, the city docks, and a prison to name but a few. There are different henchman that can join you on this quest, with my favorite being a halfling rogue named Tomi Undergallows. Tomi is the first henchman available to join and I like him because I rarely play rogue-type characters, so I can never access locked chests or doors in the game – of which there are a lot of in the Enhanced Edition. Unfortunately, you can only ever have one henchman at a time which meant that I passed up on every other available person because I valued that lockpicking ability so much.
The additional expansions, Shadows of Undrentide and Hordes of the Underdark, each offer another 20 hours of gameplay. They are intended to be played together, and with a brand-new level 1 character. I think this is nice in terms of replayability because you can make a completely different character, in order to experience new abilities or mechanics, without having to replay the exact same story over again. Additionally, many of the included add-on modules can be started on a level 1 character as well.
Unfortunately, unlike the PC version of Neverwinter Nights, there is no modding or dungeon master toolset that allows players to create their own modules or run a custom D&D session in-game. Given that the Enhanced Edition of Neverwinter Nights includes backwards compatibility from the original game, I think it would have been really cool if players could search for and download modules like how Nintendo had set up Super Mario Maker 2’s system of downloading other players’ maps. I think missing out on custom modules lessens the value that the console port of Neverwinter Nights provides.
Gameplay and Related Bugs
The city and locations to navigate are sprawling, and I always had to make sure that my minimap was on wherever I was. I like that the minimap has a fog of war on it, so places get filled in as I progress through the map. This helps me know where I’ve been, and where I might need to go next. Any doors that I could pass through, like to an inn or into another part of the city, are all noted on the minimap as well, so I always knew which houses were explorable and which weren’t. Due to my “gotta explore everything” nature, this helped me a lot.
While adventuring through the campaign, several problems and issues appeared for me though. Several times, I got stuck in certain places on the map or in polygon models like tables or doors. Other times, the game just randomly froze up and I had to close the application and restart it again – losing all my progress since the last save. Luckily, I’ve gotten into the habit of always saving a new file and never overwriting saves so this wasn’t detrimental to my progression, but I can imagine that many players will similarly succumb to these issues and be forced to start over.
And I had a lot of saved game files. I like to experiment with different character builds, such as making a Ranger that excels in two-weapon fighting and then another one that prefers the bow more. The base campaign has a level cap of 20, but the Hordes of the Underdark raises that up to 40 which allows for a significant amount of character customization.
Randomly throughout exploring however, I would also get sever frame rate issues. I know that the Enhanced Edition on consoles aims for a smoothed 30 frames per second experience, but it seems like it rarely ever managed to hit that performance benchmark. Heavy combat scenarios as well as FX-heavy scenes would send my frames tumbling down to the single digits. Even just walking through the town, without anything else going on, I would see my framerate suffer.
The most annoying gameplay aspect however is the glaring problem with the controls – especially when it came to navigating the UI and at merchants. Both bumpers on the controller switch between different panels on the UI, like switching between the character portrait and the chat bar. This was extremely frustrating while interacting with merchants because it would also switch to the character portrait as well as the chat box. I think there could have been a better system of navigating between menus, like adding quick-sell or quick-buy buttons when interacting with merchants. Two of the D-pad buttons aren’t even used, which I think would have been better for navigating between the screens.
Playing Online with Friends
The online component in Neverwinter Nights is also available for players to experience, being able to group up and tackle modules together or engage in Player versus Player fights. Servers can hold up to 250 players in total, although some modules are limited in size. Additionally, you can set a password so as to make your game session a private one in which only your friends can join you.
My experience playing online is a mixed bag however. There aren’t a lot of players on the Switch version of the Enhanced Edition, leaving the online servers feeling empty. Some servers require an additional download as well, which can be annoying when all you want to do is hop in real quick to play with others or test out a character build in a PvP setting. I also suffered connection issues where either myself or other players would randomly disconnect from the game, and have to re-connect and log back into the server.
But when it works, playing Neverwinter Nights again with your friends online is a terrific experience. I wish chat controls were a little easier to navigate through, but you can always join a party if you’re playing on Xbox One or PlayStation 4 to more easily chat with others. Switch owners however are stuck using the in-game chat system, as there is no integrated voice.
In Closing Thoughts
I absolutely love Neverwinter Nights and I think that the Enhanced Edition is a fantastic step forward for these CRPG genre games that have never before been available on console. However, this port of Neverwinter Nights is a risky investment that I think would be better spent elsewhere. The mobile port of the Enhanced Edition is significantly better than on console, with an overall better UI and menu-navigation control layout for a fraction of the cost. Obviously, playing on a computer will be the best place to play since it was originally designed for the system but I am nonetheless happy that more people will have the opportunity to experience this game.
This version of the Enhanced Edition is riddled with bugs that I have never encountered before, ranging from the game freezing to not being able to move my character anymore to quick-commands flat out not working. It made my time with it frustrating to say the least, but not impossible to play. The times where I did not have any issues where glorious stretches where I was completely immersed in the dialogue and world of Neverwinter. However, nothing ruins that experience more than being force to close and re-launch the game. I think that Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition is a fantastic game, but I do not think the console port is the one you should buy.
Note: A copy of Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition was provided for the Nintendo Switch by PR for the purpose of this review.
- Great Story set in the Forgotten Realms
- Up to 250 Players Online
- Numerous Game-Breaking Bugs
- Bad UI Design and Navigation
- No Modding or Dungeon Master Tools
- Expensive Compared to PC/Android