Icewind Dale II is the sequel to Icewind Dale, which is based on the Bioware Infinity Engine, and incorporates nearly all of the changes and additions to the series made by the Heart of Winter and Trials of the Luremaster expansion packs. Unlike its predecessors, the game is based entirely on the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition ruleset, which brings such things to the series as feats, the ability for any race to be any class, and the ability for any class to use any weapon. As in Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, the 3rd edition character classes of Barbarian, Sorcerer, and Monk are present in the game, but unlike that game there are also many sub-races, such as Drow, and Tieflings, which all have racial advantages and disadvantages.
Another significant change is the once more increased bestiary, which now includes such creatures as bugbears, hook horrors, and driders, as well as many returning monsters from the previous Icewind Dale game and its expansion packs, the Baldur's Gate series, and Planescape: Torment. In addition, a much larger section of Icewind Dale is explorable than in the previous games.
The game was praised by many critics for its pacing, music, numerous improvements over the original game and its expansions, although most found fault with the game's graphics, which consisted of sprite characters and 2d prerendered backgrounds, and were considerably less impressive than those of other CRPGs released that year, such as Neverwinter Nights and The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. Regardless, Icewind Dale II achieved mostly positive reviews.