Dungeons and Dragons has been experiencing a big upswing in popularity since the release of its fifth edition ruleset back in 2014. The popularity of the Netflix series Stranger Things provided a boost in visibility, as its main protagonists began the show playing the tabletop game and helped expose a new generation of players to the popular tabletop game.
Meanwhile, video games and Dungeons and Dragons are no strangers, as many big gaming RPG properties began life as adaptations of rules from DnD, and there are many entries inside the main canon of DnD to have graced the video game landscape. With the early access to Baldur’s Gate 3 and the upcoming release of Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance, the next wave of DnD-based videogames is just beginning.
After twenty years since its last release, and a definitive edition remaster release, Baldur’s Gate 3 is in early access on PC and has been met with largely positive reviews. Some players take issue with balancing between the various classes in Baldur’s Gate 3 but overall the game has been met with positivity. With Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance on the horizon, many players are pondering the possibilities of the next video games set in the storied universe of Dungeons and Dragons.
Back in late 2019, Hasbro announced that there would be seven-to-eight new Dungeons and Dragons video game properties coming in the near future. Apt fans correctly predicted the return of Baldur’s Gate after nearly twenty years, as well as a new Dark Alliance. The Dark Alliance games thus far have been an attempt to translate the rules-heavy and strategic gameplay mechanics of DnD into a hack n’ slash format more similar to Diablo than to some recent tactical outings like Divinity Original Sin. The world of Dark Alliance relies heavily on the huge influence of writer R.A. Salvatore and the protagonist Drizz’t as he makes his way across the Sword Coast.
While most fans of DnD‘s forays into the video game space were glad to hear of the return of these two gargantuan properties, many were left to ponder the possibilities of what other games would still be on the way. DnD encompasses many different settings and styles of storytelling that offer options to be adapted into video games in a myriad of ways. The hero-focused Dark Alliance is entering a space heavy with other titles that have similar frameworks like Diablo and Marvel’s Avengers, but the staggering variety of settings and characters that exist in the DnD multiverse offer many options for video game content.
In the modern gaming space, it can safely be assumed that at least two or three of these proposed properties will likely be mobile outings. Games like Knights of Pen and Paper did a lot to capture the essence of what a mobile DnD game might be, and Hasbro has likely paid attention. The prevalence of DnD Beyond and other virtual tabletops is hard to understate after the year that was 2020, and Hasbro is likely exploring ways to capitalize on an increasingly-digital tabletop landscape. Whether these properties are new forms of VTT or outright games is a matter of speculation for many fans that are keeping tabs on DnD‘s digital future.
But with the onset of next-gen gaming consoles and PC hardware, and the seemingly incipient fantasy renaissance, many of those same fans are pondering what next-gen DnD games might look like. With its wide berth of content, settings, and genres, DnD is a well from which many video games could theoretically be drawn. The new technical possibilities afforded by improved hardware leave the door open to more immersive and more player-impacted worlds, and DnD‘s variety of content allows for potential developers to match gaming trends with the proper Dungeons and Dragons treatment.
Delving like a new adventurer into an unknown dungeon, many fans are left to ponder the possibilities of what new Dungeons and Dragons games before or after Dark Alliance may be. With the extensive history and sprawling variety of settings inside of the core DnD lore, those options seem nearly limitless. The popularity of titles featuring sea-faring adventure like Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flags and Sea of Thieves could open the door for a similarly nautical adventure game set during the events in Ghosts of Saltmarsh comes to mind. The mechanics for seafaring and ship maintenance would blend well into an adventure rife with the classic DnD style that abounds in that setting.
Stealth games have remained consistently popular both for their divergence from the run ‘n’ gun nature of many modern games and the capacity for unique storytelling like in the Dishonored series. The rogue class is a perennial favorite among fans of Dungeons and Dragons, making the possibility of a game set as an operative inside Waterdeep as an agent of the thieves’ guild outlined in Xanathar’s Guide To Everything enticing. And with the latest expansions to the rules in sourcebooks like Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything, that alone guarantees that there could be a wealth of options for a DnD video game even if it focuses on on class within its wide gaming system.
On the large-scale speculative side, a proper follow-up in the MMO space is something many fans of DnD and Neverwinter may be hoping for. Again, with the approaching seventh-year anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons’ fifth edition on the horizon, there is a wide berth of possible options to help flesh out a large-scale MMO game set inside the DnD universe. Video game representations of the many subclasses available to DnD players could translate well into the MMO space, which encourages player options and community interaction in a way that was pioneered by its tabletop forebears.
With Dark Alliance on the horizon and Baldur’s Gate 3 healthily into its early-access lifespan, the video game space for Dungeons and Dragons is rife with possibility and many eager players are hoping that the upcoming release of Dungeon and Dragons: Dark Alliance will merely be the vanguard in an upcoming charge of Dungeons and Dragons video game properties on the way.
Dungeons and Dragons: Dark Alliance is set for PC, PS4, Switch, and Xbox One sometime in 2021.