Neverwinter Nights 2

The perfect role-playing game? For legions of fans, that’s an easy one: the original Neverwinter Nights. The best Dungeons & Dragons-based game yet, Neverwinter’s dense single-player campaign marked an achievement in gripping, dramatic story development. And when you were finished with the basic story, you could create your own adventure with the robust custom-campaign generator. This became the hallmark of the franchise, and led to an avalanche of freely downloadable, fan-created content.

The sequel, currently being crafted behind closed doors at developers, Obsidian, will sport a complete engine overhaul. The long list of graphical upgrades includes full solar and lunar cycles, which will affect the lighting of the world. Will it also mean you'll need to pack your quiver with silver arrows during the full moon to defend against werewolves? We'll see. The familiar top-down look of the original remains, but also included is a close-up third-person view for more intimate encounters with characters and creatures. Best of all, NWN2's custom generator will be virtually untouched, so folks with modded NWN content can easily port their supplements to the sequel. Let’s hear it for respecting the fans.

Neverwinter 's sequel has a story that seems like a sleeper at first: the tiny fishing village of West Harbor was nearly destroyed by a battle between unknown forces and a dark wizard, known as the King of the Shadows. But strange events indicate the Shadow King has risen again, and seeks to be more than a faded memory. You'll investigate these odd happenings as a common villager, instead of starting as an instant celebrity in Neverwinter, a nod by the developer to add plausibility to your rise as a hero.