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About eighteen years or so after marking Baldur’s Gate off my To-Save list, I’m knee-deep in the Infinity Engine once again with Siege of Dragonspear. I’m not going to talk too much about it here, not least because there’s a full review coming soon. But there’s one thing I do want to talk about – not one new to the Enhanced Editions, admittedly, and that’s its Story Mode option. Essentially, at any time you can flip a switch and even a Level 1 mage can suddenly wander into a Beholder’s lair and poke every single one of its eyes out without the slightest danger. You can’t die. At all. In every possible way, you render playing large chunks of the game pointless.
I entirely approve of Story Mode.
More than a decade after the Baldur’s Gate [official site] saga appeared to come to an end, there’s a brand new expansion available to buy right now. I know how this might look – it’s classic April Idiots’ fodder, telling you about a new chapter in a much-loved series and then revealing that all of your favourite characters have been transformed into unicorns or somesuch.
This is real though. You’ll need the Enhanced Edition of the game to play and we’ll have our own judgement on the expansion next week but, for now, here’s a trailer and some details.
We move from custodian to creator.
That was how Trent Oster described it. Beamdog s co-founder who, twenty years ago, was also there when Bioware began, is once again returning to one of roleplaying s most beloved and most influential series. This time, he won t just be adding a new lick of paint here or a subtle embellishment there, as he has with the company s Enhanced Editions of the Baldur s Gate games. No, Baldur s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear [official site] is something wholly new. While Beamdog are calling it an expansion pack, its scope and scale mean that it outsizes both Tales of the Sword Coast and Throne of Bhaal. For all intents and purposes, it s Baldur s Gate 3.
We live in interesting times. The Baldur’s Gate RPGs are amongst the most well-loved, well-regarded and influential the PC has ever seen, but surely they’re now a relic of an ever more distant past? Along with most things that we consider legendary, they have begun to fade into the past and, like weathered statuary, are slowly losing their definition. We remember them fondly, but indistinctly, imperfectly. We forget the rough edges. Beamdog’s Enhanced Editions were well-curated, well-preserved museum pieces. Classics polished for one last, albeit glorious, hurrah.
Or that’s how it was until last night, when Beamdog announced they have been both working on a new expansion for Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, as well as planning to bring the rest of the series back into sharp relief. The expansion’s called Siege of Dragonspear [official site], a name that may sound familiar to those well travelled in the Forgotten Realms. It features a new shaman character class, scores of new maps, new companions, and what Beamdog’s grand magus Trent Oster says is “at least twenty-five hours of adventuring.”
Do you remember when Beamdog, the folks who’ve been revamping Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale, announced they were making a new Baldur’s Gate game? Do you remember – one set between the first two games and using the same dear old Infinity Engine? No, me neither. But, acting as if we all totally knew all along, they’ve now announced that it’ll launch this year. Beyond that, it’s a bit of a mystery, but gosh! An actual new Baldur’s Gate!
Isometric-turn-based-point-and-click-platformer is a string of words taken for dead. Sent to the abattoir. They re all huddled for warmth, waiting for the reaper, when along comes the sausage man and snip-snip-snip> he sets them free. Go on, he says as he pats their bottoms. Go back home.
Recent years have seen remastered versions of Baldur s Gate, Monkey Island and MDK, Steam and GOG have provided new platforms for old titles, and the most successful Kickstarter projects have been new games in old styles. Classic games are seeing a surge in popularity and it s a trend that s so far been largely attributed to nostalgia – to people wanting to play the games they remember from their childhood. Is that all this is?
It looks like Baldur’s Gate II’s spam filter has let through an enhancement e-mail. You know the kind I’m talking about. In search of an ego boost, though I know plenty of people who like the venerable organ just the way it is, it has succumbed to the cheap thrills offered within, and ordered a course of treatment: “Why settle for less when we can boost your resolution and remaster your original renders with our all natural process?” So Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition will be arriving in November, all enhancedy. (more…)
For a while there, it looked as though Baldur’s Gate had finally emerged from the dank dungeons of obscurity, prepared to crush modern glitz-and-glamour RPGs under a mountain of depth and 20-sided dice. But then things happened. Law things. Now Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is stuck in neutral – with Beamdog unable to continue fixing some rather worrisome launch issues – and Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition has been put on indefinite hold. Yikes. But are things really as bad as they sound? And where does this leave Baldur’s Gate III, which Beamdog described as a “long-term goal” no so long ago? I got in touch with Beamdog head Trent Oster to find out.
I am worried. I still don’t know what a Beamdog is, and now my chances of finding out are looking rather slim. The Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition developer has hit a slightly>, um, fatal rocky patch, with messy “contractual issues” leaving the update effort’s future in doubt. For now, the first Enhanced Edition has been yanked from all relevant e-tailers, and Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition is officially on-hold for the time being. Also, it probably goes without saying that this pushes Trent Oster and co’s Baldur’s Gate III pipe dream to the backburner’s furthest reaches. The back of the backburner>. Ye gods, they said it was only a myth. You’ll find a statement from Beamdog after the break.