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6 best Dungeons & Dragons video games you should play before Baldur's Gate 3

Buttons are not how one escapes dungeons!

Image credit: Larian Studios

Dungeons & Dragons offers some of the most immersive social tabletop gameplay possible, but, sometimes, you may want to shift away from the mountains of character sheets towards something more low-maintenance. Over the years, D&D video games have offered some of the best roleplaying game experiences ever, with many of these games continuing to see countless hours invested by players.

Best D&D video games

In many cases, D&D video game adaptations refer directly to the original tabletop source material. Plenty of older D&D video games use Advanced Dungeons and Dragons’ second-edition system. With this year’s Baldur's Gate 3, the series will adopt D&D’s Fifth Edition ruleset, arguably making this easier for newer players as the source material is more refined compared to previous releases. Playing these D&D video games can even help you understand how to play D&D and its campaigns on the tabletop, with the comfort of knowing you have digital support to help you understand the mechanics and gameplay.

Liv plays D&D video game Baldur's Gate 3Watch on YouTube

Unlike a handful of Warhammer 40,000 video games, Dungeons & Dragons video game iterations remain accessible thanks to many getting the remastered treatment over the last decade. This recent attention enables you to play iconic titles such as the original Baldur's Gate on current-generation devices and consoles before the anticipated release of Baldur's Gate 3.

While the list of D&D video games remains a long one, here’s a handful of digital adaptations you should try before the highly anticipated release later this year.

6. Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara

"Is that your best?"

Chronicles of Mystara bundles together two classic D&D video games - Tower of Doom and Shadow Over Mystara - originally released in 1990s arcades.

Despite being somewhat forgettable during their original release, Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara is a collection of side-scrolling beat 'em-up games. Combining both Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom and Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara, this collection offers an arcade coin-munching experience as you fight bosses such as trolls, dragons and an archlich across numerous levels.

Even though this adaptation moves away from the classic RPG format often associated with D&D, the gameplay is addictive thanks to a remarkable blend of melee, ranged and magical attacks that help convey the epic conflicts experienced in a tabletop campaign.

If you want to veer away from the traditional RPG setting in exchange for something akin to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge or Streets of Rage 2, this bite-sized D&D video game adaptation is for you.

Available on: Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Wii-U

Buy Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara on Fanatical.

5. Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition

“The reality of existence here in Icewind Dale is harsh indeed, an unforgiving environment, where one mistake will cost you your life.”

Following in the footsteps of Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale offers more complex combat - based on Advanced D&D - in a dungeon-crawl setting.

First released in 2000, Icewind Dale takes place in the Forgotten Realms, where you and your adventuring party slowly unearth a plot that threatens the Ten Towns of Icewind Dale and beyond.

Despite sharing the same engine and gameplay formula as Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale has little in common with Baldur's Gate. Whereas Baldur's Gate prioritises characterisation and story, Icewind Dale offers a dedicated dungeon-crawler experience with advanced combat. As Icewind Dale references the Advanced Dungeon & Dragon ruleset, the combat is almost unmatched.

Admittedly, Icewind Dale's story is almost forgettable, but this is often a sacrifice with the games of developer Black Isle Studio, as they prefer to exchange in-depth stories for the ability to create your own adventure and customise your characters.

Since many of these Dungeons & Dragons video game RPGs came out during the 1990s and 2000s, many have seen a re-release under the Enhanced Edition banner, allowing renewed accessibility. In addition, there are graphical updates, easier mod integration and extra content within these releases, making the selection of classic D&D video games more convenient to play than before.

Available on: Microsoft Windows, Mac OS, Linux, iOS, Android, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Buy Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition on Fanatical.

4. Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition

"If nothing else, you proved that wits are no match for courage and skill."

Neverwinter Nights adapts Dungeons & Dragons' Forgotten Realms setting, and is especially good as a tool for making your own D&D dungeons and scenarios.

First released by BioWare in 2002, Neverwinter Nights is based on the Forgotten Realms Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting, adopting a similar format of rolling dice to randomly determine combat and usage of skills.

While it falls short of offering a highly memorable single-player campaign, Neverwinter Nights shines best if you treat it like a design program for creating dungeons, characters and scenarios. Upon release, Neverwinter Nights became critically acclaimed for offering an extensive toolkit providing players with a foundation to create their own stories.

If you wanted, you could serve as a dungeon master, running players through your creations in real-time for a different yet more immersive Dungeons & Dragons experience. In particular, this approach works if you don't want to use Roll20 but prefer to keep things remote to ensure your sessions remain consistent.

Overall, Neverwinter Nights is one of the most accessible D&D video game adaptations available; no matter how casual or enfranchised you are with the genre, there is something for everyone within this iconic release.

Available on: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Mac OS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Buy Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition on Fanatical.

3. Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

"Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, watch it! I'm huge! Magic is impressive, but now Minsc leads! Swords for everyone!"

The original Baldur's Gate is considered not just one of the best D&D video games of all time, but an outstanding computer RPG in itself.

Considered not just one of the best D&D video games but one of the most definitive video game RPGs in existence, Baldur's Gate takes place in the Forgotten Realms setting. Sharing a similar experience to playing tabletop D&D, each playthrough requires you to create a new character, determining what their name, gender, race, class and alignment are, along with the ability scores and weapon proficiencies they have. By creating a character from scratch, it allows you to play Baldur's Gate how you want - creating your own memorable story in the process.

What makes Baldur's Gate such an iconic entry into video game RPGs is the variety of choices when it comes to approaching the campaign. You can genuinely immerse yourself in Baldur's Gate - whether it's fighting an unruly mob or tolerating the dialogue of Jan Jansen and his unhealthy turnips obsession, these details lend an amazing worldbuilding experience when playing the game.

While the original Baldur's Gate hasn't aged the best, its Enhanced Edition offers a notable visual upgrade while adding the excellent Tales of the Sword Coast expansion, coupled with a revamped multiplayer mode where you can play cooperatively with other players. Despite the occasional bugs, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition offers the smoothest experience as you aren't restricted by cumbersome loading times associated with using CDs to play the game. Also, it's highly recommended you recruit Minsc to your party not only for the amusing dynamic with Boo, but because he's one of the more versatile characters you can have in your party.

Available on: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Mac OS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Buy Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition on Fanatical.

2. Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition

"Boo likes the forest, but Minsc? Oh, every time Boo plays in the leaves, Minsc has to give him another bath."

How do you improve on one of the greatest D&D video games ever made? With Baldur's Gate II, that's how.

Despite the critical acclaim of the first Baldur's Gate, its sequel easily follows that success with Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn.

The plot of Baldur's Gate II follows directly after the first, where your character wakes up locked in a cage, subjected to ghastly experiments performed by a wicked wizard. Despite the shorter development window compared to its predecessor, Baldur's Gate II offers a myriad of different environments while keeping true to the second-edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons ruleset that made the first so well-loved by many.

Jumping into co-op in Baldur's Gate 3Watch on YouTube

Baldur's Gate II boasts a massive, open experience that enables you to approach many of its challenges in whichever way you think is best. The ability to pause combat grants the opportunity to have a deep strategic mindset or to hack and slash any foe that stands in your way. With this flexibility in mind, it entitles you to understand the nuances of D&D at your own pace, regardless of your previous experiences with the franchise.

If you want a fantastic contrast of challenging combat and engaging dialogue, Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition is a must-play D&D video game, especially if you are looking to play Baldur's Gate III soon.

Available on: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Mac OS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Buy Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition on Fanatical.

1. Planescape: Torment - Enhanced Edition

"Hail... traveller. Your eyes have the weight of one who has travelled long to be in this place."

Planescape: Torment joins the pantheon of incredible D&D video games released around the turn of the millennium, thanks to its fantastic characters and deep combat.

One of the most well-loved D&D video game iterations is Planescape: Torment. Even upon its original 1999 release, the game became an instant cult classic despite initially disappointing sales. Planescape: Torment is a traditional RPG with a remarkably detailed story within the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons multiverse of Planescape. You play as The Nameless One, a character seeking release from the curse of immortality, which binds them to the multiverse until the curse ends.

The most prominent draw to Planescape: Torment is how it heavily leans towards personal interactions and dialogue, which can vary depending on how you assign attribute points to your character. If you are after a complete experience, creating a character with high Intelligence, Charisma and Wisdom will offer the best dialogue options to support the fantastic worldbuilding the game provides.

As with any D&D campaign, you can recruit members to your party where mages, thieves and even a floating, talking skull can aid you in battle. If you are hoping for something with in-depth combat, then Icewind Dale is a more suitable alternative, as Planescape: Torment is experienced best through dialogue and worldbuilding.

Similar to Baldur's Gate and Neverwinter Nights, Planescape: Torment received the Enhanced Edition treatment in 2017, granting updated graphics and accessibility on newer consoles and devices.

Available on: Microsoft Windows, Linux, Android, iOS, Mac OS, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, Xbox One

Buy Planescape: Torment - Enhanced Edition on Fanatical.

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