3 Games That Revolutionized The Dungeons And Dragons Genre

How D&D video games inspired RPGs and evolve over the years.

Story Highlights

  • Old RPGs inspire many modern “DnD” video games and are often classified as such.
  • The Dungeons and Dragons genre evolves every few years with new editions, shaping its future titles.
  • Games like Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, and Divinity Original Sin 2 shaped the modern DnD titles.

Most of us gamers are no strangers to Baldur’s Gate 3 after its clean sweep at 2023’s Game Awards. The success of BG3 brought a lot of new eyes to the Dungeons and Dragons genre in video games. Therefore, I thought it would be nice to dive into the genre and explore which games morphed this genre into what we saw in BG3.

An important thing to note when exploring DnD video games is that most don’t follow the rules set by the classic tabletop DnD games. Most of the “DnD” video games we know today are simple RPGs that borrow a lot of features from the DnD world. Additionally, these games are released based on editions, BG3 being the latest in D&D 5e, the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons.

  • About the Author: Ibrahim has always been protecting Faerun from threats of the Absolute, Bhaal, and Shar for almost 90 hours in Baldur’s Gate 3 while exploring Rivellon for the best loot he could find so you can trust him as it is backed by hours and hours of experience.

The Dungeons & Dragons Editions

Every new edition of Dungeons and Dragons holds some new important mechanics and features that alter the genre from its predecessors. In BG3, the 5e rules were kept with some changes to mechanics, like bonus actions and classes, to fit the video game setting better.

For a deeper understanding of the edition concept when it comes to BG3, I recommend checking out u/TonyRR’s archived Reddit post with comments explaining all the changes are variations in the title.

Differentiating RPGs and DnD
Some similarities between BG3 and D&D 5e | Source: Reddit

The Triad Of The “Dungeons And Dragons” Gaming Scene

Given the incredibly vast nature of the genre, coming up with just three games to represent it was no easy task. However, many DnD enthusiasts and I agree that the three titles listed below are the key players that influenced the DnD genre the most.

I named the titles the Triad from the Forgotten Realms as each represents a key aspect of the changes made to the genre, constantly evolving through time and getting better with each edition.

Divinity: Original Sin 2

DOS2 is one of the most well-known games in the DnD community despite not being classified as a DnD game. Original Sin 2 is an RPG but borrows a lot of features from the DnD rulebook, like character classes, combat, and overall exploration.

Original Sin was one of the first titles that unlocked the potential of DnD in a video game format and paved the way for many new titles, like the Baldur’s Gate series. It sets an unbreakable standard template for the game setting, environment, features, and overall experience.

Divinity Original SIn 2 Gameplay Comparison
Exploring Rivellon in DOS2 | Source: eXputer

A key thing to note about this title is that it was developed by Larian Studios, the same studio that developed Baldur’s Gate. It’s hard to differentiate the two by looking at the gameplay, but they are worlds apart regarding game systems and overall mechanics.

Neverwinter Nights

The Neverwinter Nights titles are one of the few games that truly capture the essence of DnD. With a title hailing from one of the regions in Faerun, Neverwinter Nights are held in high regard among the DnD gaming community for correctly portraying what Dungeons and Dragons is all about.

Neverwinter Nights influenced the gaming genre through its unique interpretation via DM and player clients. You can join or create games as a Dungeon Master or as a player and be bound to no preset narrative. From a bird’s eye view, it seems like titles like Baldur’s Gate are incredibly versatile with their narratives, but in the world of true DnD, they are no different than the preset narrative outcomes in the Telltale games.

Neverwinter Nights Gameplay Image
A DM Creating a Fight Sequence in Neverwinter Nights | Source: YouTube

In Neverwinter Nights, you could explore the narrative set by the DM in your views, bound just by the rules, with each Dungeons and Dragons edition corresponding to different versions in different titles.

The Baldur’s Gate Series

The Baldur’s Gate Series needs no introduction. Larian Studios has continuously poured its sweat and blood into this franchise, and it shows in its mechanics, character stories, and overall narratives. Baldur’s Gate lies right on the edge that separates an RPG from a DnD game. This discussion thread on r/BaldursGate3 sums up the BG3 comparison with DnD pretty well.

How Does This Compare to Actual DND?
by inBaldursGate3

Baldur’s Gate borrows the rules, mechanics, setting, lore, and overall world from Dungeons and Dragons, but for some, it still isn’t classified as a DnD game but rather an RPG. Nonetheless, BG has been a huge stepping stone in this genre by defining how diverse and versatile the narratives can be. Additionally, it gives players the feeling of “Do whatever you like to some extent and still end the game,” just like tabletop DnD does.

Baldurs Gate 3 Orin The Red Image
The Best Chosen of Bhaal in BG3, Orin the Red | Source: eXputer

BG3 was the last and possibly the most significant stepping stone for determining how different DnD e6 will look. The amount of success it found by winning GOTY from multiple sources has brought a lot of eyes to this genre. It has indirectly caused other studios to work more on titles in this genre and shape its future.

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Ibrahim Akhtar is a guides & features writer at eXputer. He uses his passion for gaming to provide insightful takes in his articles. Ibrahim spends most of his time defending Baldur's Gate from the forces of the Absolute. He has accumulated more than 15 years of gaming experience, having 1000 hours in The Witcher 3 and twice as much on Skyrim V. Ibrahim has previously worked at TopTierList. You can keep up with his Steam account to stay up to date on his latest explorations.

Experience: 1+ Years || Previously Worked for TopTierList || Education: Bachelors in Data Science.

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