Ranking the D&D video games from best to worst

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In what has unquestionably been an even bigger undertaking than ranking the Final Fantasy games, its time to look back now at an astonishing 40 years(!) of history where Dungeons & Dragons was translated into the electronic medium.

To keep this manageable and less than 100 pages long, I'm going to skip the iOS/handheld games, as well as anything that's a MMORPG. Although there were some Intellivision games in the 70's, I'm essentially starting this list with Pool Of Radiance, which is the first title people are likely to have actually played and still have access to today.

When looking back through the many D&D games to hit PCs or consoles, there's an interesting tradition of publishing vastly different games with the same name, which is perhaps sustained by how the same material has to be re-tread repeatedly as new editions of the tabletop game are released over time.

For instance, if you were only born in the last 20 years or so, you probably did a double take when I mentioned Pool Of Radiance as the first real D&D game. That's because I'm referring to the '88 PC title, not the 3D game of the same name that tried out the 3rd edition rules back in 2001. Likewise, the name Neverwinter Nights means very different things to millenials than it does to people who had AOL back in '91.

From the basic D&D rules through five or more major overhauls, each edition of the game has made its mark with computer or console titles, and they all had varying levels of success. The only major exception to that rule was oddly with the 4th edition ruleset, which for reasons no one really understands was entirely skipped on the video game front. Frankly, the move didn't make any sense, as that ruleset was much more suited for an electronic presentation than either AD&D or 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons, which have the bulk of the video game titles.

Lately it seems like the golden age of D&D games is over, ending not too long after the demise of the Infinity Engine. I'm holding out hope though that somewhere down the line, Wizards of the Coast will give the license to a developer with a deep love of the game who is eager to rise to the occasion and give us something as good as Baldur's Gate once again.

Published Dec. 23rd 2015
  • GameSkinny Staff
    BG2 is better than BG1 and I'll fight you about it. Well, both are great, but only one has Jan Jansen!
  • Ty Arthur
    Featured Contributor
    Lots of interesting characters in the second game, and some you could even influence to change alignment well before the KOTORs and Dragon Ages were doing that sort of thing. I liked how that miserly evil dwarf would actually leave your party if your reputation went too high. Thinking back to those character interactions is again reminding me of how much Pillars Of Eternity just nailed the Infinity Engine style. I'm glad somebody is still making good D&D games these days, even if they aren't actually D&D games.
  • GameSkinny Staff
    Yeah! It was crazy innovative for the time. I understand that some people weren't a fan of the villain(s), but they were right up my alley. Plus, the BG2: Throne of Bhaal expansion is still one of the meatiest expansions to any RPG and I can't help but be super into that!

    And very much agreed, Pillars really nailed it this year and scratched that Infinity Engine itch that Divinity: OS and Wasteland 2 just coundn't. I'm VERY excited to see what Numenera brings to the table, whenever that game actually sees daylight.
  • Ty Arthur
    Featured Contributor
    I've been following Torment: Tides Of Numenera really closely since it was announced. The latest screenshots are great - they look sufficiently both like Torment and like the Numenera tabletop setting. Although a lot of people weren't enamored with the change from real-time-with-pause, I'm excited to see what they do with the turn based crisis combat system. I just hope its released in a stable state and not with a horde of broken quests.

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