The Greatest Computer Role Playing Game of All Time
An Opinion Piece by Salamander Ham
When I think of computer roleplaying games my brain immediately thinks of Zork, Ultima, Bard’s Tale and Wizardry.
These are the games that first got me away from the table and on to the computer for roleplaying. I was amazed by The Bard’s Tale.
I was even more amazed by Ultima. The freedom, the size of the world left me awestruck.
Once a friend told me to try the Dungeon and Dragon Gold Box games like Pool of Radiance and Curse of the Azure Bonds I was officially bitten by the computer fantasy roleplaying bug. This moved me to Planescape and Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale.
Yet as great as those games were something was missing. Not long afterwards I discovered that I was looking for the main ingredient in what I enjoyed most about tabletop role playing games.
So I turned my attention to the MMORPG. I first discovered Lineage 1 and loved it. I was at once swept up in the Player versus Player (PvP) struggles. The guild wars and one on one fighting was high drama indeed.
I did feel a more Player versus Environment (PvE) was missing from my Lineage ‘wars’ though. So I turned my attentions to Asheron’s Call. This game changed my idea of what a role playing game online could be.
The freedom of choice and deeper sense of community was what I was missing from the single player CRPG games and even with Lineage. Asheron’s Call remains my favorite MMORPG of all time. I believe what they accomplished was nothing short of remarkable for the time. I know Everquest was the big breakout of that time but I was not a fan of the game.
See me brief thoughts here: Everquest Was Over-rated
While I continued to play Asheron’s Call for 10 more years. I thought the one thing that the MMORPG genre lacked was a bit of the intimacy that the single player role playing game offered.
In all the grand verbose, vast woodlands, soaring peaks and hundreds of people running this way and that I always enjoyed the more personal feel of a good CRPG. It felt like a good book that you curled up with on a cold winters morning.
So I began looking for something that was a fit between the two worlds. What I found changed my gaming life forever. I turned my attention to Neverwinter Nights.
What I found in Neverwinter Nights was a perfect marriage between the multiplayer feel of an MMORPG and the intimacy of the single player CRPG. A game that allowed me to play with others in co-op or a grand adventure told solo. All while then providing players the ability to craft their own servers to create their own worlds for people to play in.
I was enraptured. The sights, the sounds, the freedom. To this day the game stays not only on my hard drive but in my normal rotation of played games.
While some believe that NWN2 was the better game I stick to my belief that the first one felt more like home to me. One way I believe that Neverwinter Nights stands above others is that we see games today replicate what NWN did back then. As we have seen the MMORPG development fade we have seen small server-based role playing games increase.
For one it is cheaper and faster to develop them. They are also much easier to control the environment. One other reason is that the MMORPG crowd is very spread out today. There are sub based games, F2P games, Mobile games, B2P games. Western, Eastern, PvE, PvP, both. Some prefer classic style MMORPG some prefer new style games. So developing 10’s of millions of dollars into a game that needs to compete with a thousand other games within the genre is a daunting task. Even the likes of an Amazon is finding the MMORPG crowd hard to develop for with their delay and revamp of total systems.
What Neverwinter Nights showed the world was that if you craft a game that shows what can be done and then provide those same tools to the players they will create their own worlds and carry out their fantasy dreams on their own and with others. I still believe that providing the tools of creation is the key to success for then, now and the future of gaming. Neverwinter Nights is the greatest game of all time in my eyes because it was the perfect game no matter what type of RPG fan you were. If you did not like the offerings that were available? Create your own. I wish beyond anything else in gaming development that we could get a reboot of this revolutionary title. While NWN2 was well made and a good game, NWN was transcendent. For it’s time and upon it’s release Neverwinter Nights captured what made tabletop gaming so magical yet brought it to a computer screen for all to see together. What a game.
Neverwinter Nights. The greatest Computer role playing game of all time.
The game has been remastered to play on newer systems and operating systems.