Tech

An official digital desktop version of D&D powered by Unreal Engine 5 is in development.

What to look forward to: Video games based on Dungeons and Dragons games have been around since the 1970s, and in recent years there has been an increase in efforts to bring classic board games directly to digital. Now, fans of multifaceted dice and names with too many consonants can look forward to what could be the most authentic virtual D&D game ever made – and it comes from property owner Wizards of the Coast.

As part of its Wizards Presents stream, Wizards of the Coast has unveiled a virtual board game that is in early development, currently called D&D Digital. You can see it at the 7 minute 20 second mark in the embedded video below.

D&D Digital captures the desktop experience beautifully, using Unreal Engine 5 to make it look “cool”. Users will be able to create 3D environments filled with their favorite miniatures that can be moved around just like the physical versions. Characters will also be customizable with changeable features.

Wizards says it will be releasing pre-built environments and campaigns as playsets. Players will then be able to reuse these assets for their own creations. D&D Digital will also work with D&D Beyond’s existing digital tools and future ruleset.

The video offers a few glimpses of what’s in store: a virtual roll of the dice, character health bars and, one of the most interesting elements, the display of measurements as characters move, an aspect of board games that can lead to a lot of controversy.

There is a lot of focus on a camera technique called tilt and shift. This gives users the effect that they are playing on a virtual miniature table rather than a real video game like Planescape: Torment, for example.

D&D Digital is in its early stages of development, so it may be a while before we get to experience Wizards’ virtual desktop experience. It could be released alongside the next major D&D rules update due in 2024. It will be interesting to see how this official version compares to similar third-party alternatives such as the excellent Roll20.


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