The 13 Best Dungeons & Dragons Games (PC)

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Ah, Dungeons and Dragons, sure as hell does bring back memories. Hopefully not cringeworthy ones, as the movies sucked, but the games, and I am referring to the PC games, kicked monstrous ass. No pun intended. You know, when a person acquires a new piece of experience, one of the first urges one tends to develop is the desire to share that piece of knowledge, that adventure, that story...

It's like how the expression goes, "a joy shared is twice the joy, a sorrow shared is half the sorrow." It is not unlike that for people who have played through what the Dungeons and Dragons universe, and more specifically, the Forgotten Realms campaign setting have to offer. And in order to do that, one needs to introduce to the newcomers the defining works that have shaped this intellectual landscape for the past few decades.

1. Baldur's Gate 2 Shadows of Amn + Throne of Bhaal

Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition gameplay

For me, the most exemplary member of this distinguished class of landmark Forgotten Realms games is rightly BG 2. It is simply, to put it in plain words, the story of the hero's journey. The protagonist, a seasoned adventurer by the start of this game, is captured by an evil villain and seeks to escape his dungeon, and after a sequence of events, gets pulled into a whirlpool of conspiracies, intrigue, and events that ultimately brings him / her face to face with his frightening heritage.

The main plot quests are more or less seamlessly intertwined with the side quests, leading to a game that is open, yet not pointless, like some sandbox games, Sins of a Solar empire, anyone? There are also some very memorable party members and NPCs in this game, some of their actions and words have since gone on to become memes and tropes in their own right. Camaraderie, adventure, and steel on steel, the stuff of legends, right Boo?

Nothing quite like the smell of fresh fireballs in the morning... Take that, you son of Abazigal!

Pass beyond the heavy doors of Spellhold, if you dare...

2. Planescape: Torment

Planescape Torment gameplay

It's very nearly a tie, but Planescape Torment cannot help but enter the conversation whenever one brings up the topic of top Forgotten Realms games. In this game, the perennial story of the amnesiac in search of his past is given a new twist.

The city of Sigil is a rarely explored setting in the Forgotten Realms, and it is a welcome addition at that. Demons and Angels getting drinks in bars before heading off to do cosmic battle? Funny. The immortal protagonist the Nameless One, out on a quest to regain his mortality, because apparently, immortality blows, encounters Sigil's many strange and off beat characters and in the process achieves a form of enlightenment and realizations as concerns the question: "What can change the nature of a man?" 

I am on a highway to Hell!

Sympathy for the Fallen Deva Trias...

3. Neverwinter Nights

Neverwinter Nights gameplay

Neverwinter Nights is next up on the list. The hero of the game, who starts out as a raw recruit in the Neverwinter academy, rises to the occasion, while his mentor, Aribeth, takes a slide off the slippery slope and falls from grace. The game is an excellent rendition of the 3rd edition Advanced Dungeons and Dragons ruleset, all in 3 dimensional graphics, no less.

The combat system is a little Baldur's Gate like, one can even pause the game to queue up some commands, but I find that it is quite visceral and satisfying, it is like they say, no guts no glory. Either way, it's quite the adventure.

The custom modules and the ability to build them using the aurora toolset is awesome too. There were still new modules coming out years after the game was released, notable among these, Kingmaker, Witch's Wake, and Wyvern crown of Cormyr.

It's time for the final showdown with the Archvillainess of the game!

The good old days at the Neverwinter Academy.

4. Icewind Dale


Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition gameplay

Apparently, Black Isle decided that releasing just the Baldur's Gate series wasn't enough, they had to round out the package by giving us a parallel adventure, Icewind Dale, set in the Ten towns of R.A. Salvatores novels. Oh well, always did want to see the snow capped hills of the Vale of Shadows, the frozen icicles and menacing ice caves in the Wyrm's tooth glacier, and above all, the lakes of Easthaven! Which kind of reminds me of that time Regis went fishing for Knucklehead.

The game is rather intriguing story - wise, Crenshinibon makes an appearance, and it is very combat oriented, there are lots of spells though that are not found in the BG series, and a great variety of feats to choose from when one levels up, adding complexity to the combat system, which is all very fine and dandy.

That is one massive dead dragon in its final resting place, makes the elephant graveyards look so modest in comparison.

The Severed Hand is fallen into such disrepair.

5. Neverwinter Nights 2

Neverwinter Nights 2 Gameplay HD 2

The sequel to Neverwinter Nights, Neverwinter Nights 2 was released in October 2006 (North America) and did not fail to impress. Using an overhauled Aurora engine, named the Electron engine, the game features graphics that look pretty good even today. Of course, it's not quite Elder Scrolls: Online level, nor would I want it to be, because I find the graphics charming the way they are, kind of reminds me of King's Bounty: Warriors of the North, actually.

Be that as it may, this time around the Player Character can actually recruit party members as opposed to the sinister sounding "Henchmen" in the first game. Also, the AI is done well, your party members can take care of themselves in a fight, they also bicker like crazy, making side quests more fun than usual. There is some Forgotten Realms back story in this game, namely, the main antagonist, the King of Shadows, is actually the Guardian from the Fallen Elven Kingdom of Illefarn.

Oh, and one also gets to have their own stronghold to manipulate and shape as they see fit. It's like a forerunner to the Dragon Age 3 Skyhold.

Wyverns on the approach, 12 O'Clock!

Badass sword wielded by a badass adventurer. This custom made character is based on Kana in the Neverwinter Nights 2 campaign. Kana is your second in command at Crossroad Keep.

6. The original Baldur's Gate

Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition gameplay

Now we arrive at the first Baldur's Gate, the one that kicked off the Bhaalspawn saga. In the first Baldur's Gate, the PC starts out at Candlekeep, a naive young soul, whose first night outside of the walls of his childhood home ends in bloodshed. I personally think the main villain in this game, Sarevok, is very well conceived, the man is positively bloodthirsty and maniacal and also shadowy, as befits a heir of the legacy of Bhaal.

There are other interesting tidbits from the game that add to its allure and legend. "Stand and deliver, that my hamster might have a better look at you." and other similarly light hearted banter readily come to mind. I also find it odd that only in the first game can you actually visit the titular city of Baldur's Gate.

Also, the iron shortage and Sarevok's power plays and political manipulations were all very well thought out and elaborate. Fresh ideas like that are hard to come by these days. Which by the way, reinforces a long standing TV trope, they don't make them like they used to.

Sword in hand, dead wolf at my feet. Such is life in Cloakwood Forest.

Cutting one's teeth in the Nashkel mines.

7. Icewind Dale 2

Icewind Dale 2 gameplay

The second Icewind Dale, like its predecessor, was quite good. The story continues smoothly from the first game, i.e. twin children begotten by Belhifet stir up trouble in the ten towns, by apparently creating a militant alliance of monsters they dub, wait for it, "The Legion of the Chimera". Cool name, huh? Tieflings and their creativity.

Either way, a daring party of adventurers take on the daunting task of taking them down. And after a trek through the frigid North, the intrepid adventurers finally track down Isair and Madae, and deals with them accordingly.

The game is great in that there are several novel areas to explore, the Jungles of Chult, the Yuan - Ti temple, and the Dragon Eye time loop were all well crafted ideas, and quite frankly, a little unpredictable. That being said, being released in 2002 does have its disadvantages, and the modern day gamer might find the game buggy (there are fixes available) and a bit on the aged side, As alas, old games are not like fine wine, being dated does them no favors, just look at Duke Nukem Forever.

Rally, o brave defenders of Targos!

The temple made of ice, built by Nickademus within a day, for the High priestess of Auril Oria. The crazy things we do for love!

8. Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara

Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara launch trailer

Next up, Dungeons and Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara. For those who didn't already know, this is a compilation of arcade games that has been ported to other, more modern systems, such as Windows, Playstation 3, Xbox 360 , and Wii.

Tower of Doom kind of reminds me of the other Capcom games like Final Fight, or more recently, one of those Chinese Journey to the West Arcade RPGS or one of those Water Margin games, not that lots of people in the West would know what I am talking about. But either way, it's High Fantasy at its most basic level, heart racing adrenalin pumping combat, all in 2D side scrolling motion, with some serious referencing of the Dungeons and Dragons source material. Of course, it's always a plus when you can see the artist's take on what dragon's breath or Cloudkill looks like.

Shadows of Mystara takes place in the same setting of Mystara and focuses on the power behind the Archlich Deimos, the main villain of Tower of Doom, and it is just as entertaining, if not more so. The graphics have been given a makeover, I actually thought in Tower of Doom everything looked too muddy. But in the sequel everything is noticeably improved and everything looks spritely and energetic, no pun intended.

Shadows of Mystara also adds two new characters, and all of the characters each have a playable double, making this game more flexible than its predecessor. The Thief and the Magic User are cool additions. It's very enjoyable to watch flasks of burning oil incinerate your enemies or the apocalyptic Meteor swarm, I guess this game satisfies the inner pyromaniac in all of us, among other things. It's like I am the Firestarter.

It is much easier to fight enemies in Shadows of Mystara in rooms full of treasure with the addition of the Sliding maneuver. This maneuver allows you to pick up items across a fair distance, also allows you to dodge certain attacks. That means these goblins are going to Hell in a handcart.

A typical boss confrontation in Tower of Doom.

9. Sword Coast Legends

Sword Coast Legends gameplay

The newest game in the Forgotten Realms setting to come out, the cRPG Sword Coast Legends is a game with some big shoes to fill. Whether or not it is successful in this task depends on the player. The dungeon crawling is fun, the story thick, but not all may like the fact that this game feels a tad bit recycled, i.e. the lack of innovations combat - wise may disappoint some veterans of the genre. The abilities, skills, spells all go on the all important skill tree, and there are quick slots on the bottom of the screen for when you want to use the said things.

I thought it played a bit like Diablo 3, actually. Of course in this case, you have a party, and lots of dialogue, so that your hero won't get lonely on a dungeon crawl.

There is also a Dungeon Master mode, where up to five player can join, and one is assigned the task of being Dungeon master. In this mode, the Dungeon Master chooses from a number of randomized tilesets, builds and maintains his dungeon, he also has the option of taking control of NPCs directly, taking the fight to the players up close and personal. There is a balance at work here, however, a currency, by the name of DM threat, is spent laying traps and obstacles and spawning enemies and earned by the player party overcoming challenges and enemies.

The mystery of the bloody room in Luskan. Den of Thieves and Pirates. What could possibly go wrong?

A mage powers up a spell... Mordenkainen's Sword II, excellent choice!

10. The Temple of Elemental Evil

Temple of Elemental Evil gameplay

The Temple of Elemental Evil is one of those games faithful to the Dungeons & Dragons ruleset, some would say to a somewhat excessive degree. Released right on the heels of the Baldur's Gate series and Pool of Radiance: Ruins of Myth Drannor, this game features a true turn based combat system instead of the real time with pause combat mechanics of the Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights games. In other words, whenever one is in combat, there is a radial dial menu where you can choose your actions, and you and the enemy take turns based on your initiative rolls.

The story takes place in the Greyhawk campaign setting, centering around the town of Hommlet. The actual Temple of Elemental Evil itself, or perhaps I should say its center, is the player's ultimate destination. Suffice to say, the Temple is a perilous place, fraught with danger and excitement, and Zuggtmoy, the Demoness lady of fungus is your optional superboss.

Even though the game is rather light on plot, it stands on its other virtues, and it is still a fun filled dungeon crawl, and one of the classics of the genre. Oddly enough, though, the developer of this game, Troika, which is Russian for three of something, only made three games, irony abounds!

Turn - based combat at its best.

Deep inside the Earth faction territory you will find the Earth temple altar... Looks kind of like a Mesoamerican Pyramid if you ask me. What god(s) do they worship I wonder?

11. Neverwinter

Neverwinter: The Cloaked Ascendancy

You know that saying: "There is no such thing as a free lunch?" Well guess what, that's not true in the world of online gaming, in which plenty of free - to - play games exist. Games like Mechwarrior: Online, Planetside 2, and the game next up on this list, Neverwinter are some examples.

A relatively new game, Neverwinter (2013) has an active modding community and a rather detailed story, amounting to 47 hours of play for the main campaign. Of course, as with all free lunches in real life, there are always hidden costs and externalities. In this case it's the items and certain options, crafting, convenience and otherwise, that can cost Zen, which is exchanged for using real money.

The in - game market place is quite robust, featuring an Exchange, a Market, an Auction house, a Bazaar, etc, etc. The game itself is story - driven, looks like a more cartoonish version of World of Warcraft, and the hero wins, a lot... Regardless, it's a worthwhile addition to the Forgotten Realms universe, particularly one that is set after the Spell Plague.

Protector's Enclave in Neverwinter is its seat of governance and the heart of that city's economy. See how busy the streets are...

Members of the Gray wolf tribe have the dubious distinction among the Uthgardt Barbarians of being Werewolves. The above is a transformed Werewolf Barbarian warrior.

12. Dungeons & Dragons Online

Dungeons & Dragons Online gameplay

One of the first MMO Dungeons and Dragons games that really caught on, DDO, or, Dungeons and Dragons Online is a game where you have associate with your fellow human beings and form well - rounded parties if you hope to have any degree of success navigating the twin worlds of the continent Xen'Drik of Eberron and the Kingdom of Cormyr of the Forgotten Realms. After receiving one's quests from NPCs, one can either solo the quest (those opportunities are rare) or embark on the quest with a party of your own choice, the "Social Panel", as it's called, help facilitate this, and you can either read other people's Looking for Members listings, and join accordingly, or start your own.

This is a fun game, you always feel like you are exploring something new, like you are in an undiscovered country, which is due to the fact that the dungeons and outside areas, aside from Towns, are instanced, meaning that your party will have that area to yourselves. It's like the Holodeck in Star Trek. People can occupy the same space without seeing each other.

The puzzles are progressively more challenging, and create a welcome diversion from the hack and slash, sword and sorcery etc. It's like riddle me this, Batman!

I am shipwrecked on a mysterious island, whatever will I do?

This is a scene from one of the quest given in the Shadow under Thunderholme Adventure pack. The player character must foil the Cult of the Dragon's evil plans and in this case, kill two red dragons.

13. Dungeons & Dragons: Siege of Dragonspear

Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear - Launch Trailer

Beamdog, the company with the bold vision to remake the Baldur's Gate series, hit another milestone back in March 2016, they made an entirely original expansion for the first Baldur's Gate, named Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear. This game is quite controversial, what with the transgender character, the somewhat brazen admission to being transgender by the said character, the Gamersgate crack by Minsc, and some personal quests which some people find distasteful.

The critics apparently think this is bad writing that is forced on people. I personally don't see what the big problems is, having to approach an issue too subtly already implies that there is a problem with the said issue in the world at large.

Either way, the game transplants some of the story from Icewind Dale, and generally fills in the blanks of the lost years of the Player Character in the Baldur's Gate series. It's an enjoyable game, combat encounters are noticeably larger, enemies are beefed up, new monsters, novel maps, and most of the things you do affects the ending you get. But in the end, all roads lead to Rome, or in this case, Irenicus' Dungeon beneath Waukeen's Promenade in Athkatla, but then again, that already happened. So, it's like, welcome back to the future, every time one finishes this game. 

Yes, I am a Crusader and an Orog.

Are you afraid of the Underdark?

And there you have it, the classics and up - and - comers of the genre according to this author! This is by no means an exhaustive list, but there are quite a few PC titles for Forgotten Realms out there that have aged beyond recognition, think the very first King's Bounty game released in the early 90's, that's what they resemble and that's why I chose not to include them on this list. But be that as it may, many of the games on this list are the bedrock on which the Dungeons & Dragons franchise rests, they can literally and unabashedly call themselves the cornerstones of the Industry without fear of ridicule. Which consequently makes me ponder the truthfulness of the following statement: "Heroes come and go, but genius is forever..."

If you enjoyed this article, you may also be interested in the following:

1) 11 Most Popular MMORPGs in 2016

2) 10 Games Like Baldur’s Gate

3) Neverwinter Nights 2 (2006)

Don't be alarmed, I come in peace. I am here to preach about the manifold glorious achievements of Earth civilization. I follow the teachings of Nathan R. Gunne. I am a Goner... :-)
Gamer Since: 1980
Favorite Genre: RPG
Top 3 Favorite Games:Baldur's Gate, Dying Light, The Elder Scrolls Online

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tuffhufflepuff's picture

tuffhufflepuff 5 years 2 weeks ago

Great article! I love love love DDO and need to look into these other games!

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