Just seeing the name “Baldur’s Gate” in the title probably caused a lot of RPG fans who visit our site to “squee” with joy. It’s no wonder either: Baldur’s Gate is one of the most beloved role playing games of all time. Since its release in 1998, BG has been a mainstay of any RPGer’s library and for good reason. Baldur’s Gate set the standard for ALL Wizards of the Coast Dungeons & Dragons games that continues to this day.
It’s been with quite a bit of interest that we’ve been following the upcoming “Enhanced Edition” by Overhaul Games (a subsidiary of Beamdog). We had the chance to meet with Programmer/Scripter Coriander Dickinson during PAX Prime earlier this month and got a firsthand look at what this small team of developers has been able to accomplish.
Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition is not only bringing back the original game but is also bringing a new game play mode into the classic as well as three new companions, new voice sets for player characters, a huge number of improvements to the original game, new quests to support the new companions, new items and native wide screen resolution support to name just a few of the biggest changes to our old friend.
The three new companions each bring their own storyline and quest area into Baldur’s Gate. According to Coriander, each new character brings up to four hours of additional game play to the original game for a whopping twelve extra hours of Baldur’s Gate goodness.
The new companions are:
New Voice Sets, Portraits and Music
One of the biggest enhancements to Baldur’s Gate is the replacement and improvement of the player voice sets. I’m sure most of us can well remember some of the annoying voices that shipped with the game back in ’98 so anything new will be a welcome relief!
In addition, Overhaul Games brought in Sam Hulick to create new music for the additional quest areas and the multiplayer Black Pits. Hulick is best known for his work on the Mass Effect series with Bioware and has met with critical acclaim for his game scores.
Lastly, Overhaul contacted Jason Manly to work up new portrait packs. Manly is well-known for the portrait packs he created for Icewind Dale.
Multiplayer: The Black Pits
One of the biggest and most exciting changes in Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is the inclusion of the Black Pits, a cooperative multiplayer series of maps where up to six players can kick serious demon ass. The Black Pits allows players to fight their way through fifteen maps in the Underdark in an effort to escape. Boss monsters and hundreds of minions will face off against players. Coriander told me that there would be new items and completely unique areas for players to battle in.
Multiplayer controls for the host include the ability to pause game play to allow players to cast spells or abilities before combat begins. In addition, she told me that voice chat will be added in the coming months. Lastly, the inclusion of a matchmaking system will be something that Overhaul will look closely at after the game’s release in November.
What’s Been Done & the Future
Coriander spoke very proudly of what the team has accomplished since announcing BG: EE including the cleanup of the game code to suit today’s standards. Included in that cleanup is native wide screen resolution support. She showed me the game on an iPad and it looked terrific. Players who remember the original game will immediately feel at home with the UI and the look of the game. Interestingly, for those who play on tablets, the pinch to zoom in/out will be included so, for the first time ever, you’ll be able to see your party up close. Unfortunately, due to the loss of the original assets, character and companion models aren’t as spiffy as the team would have liked but, still, it’s awesome to see them up close and personal. They really don’t look that bad either.
Players will also be able to add map notes wherever desired to help navigate through the game. There is also a journal to record a character’s story and background in which is an amazing and immersive touch to the original that wasn’t there before.
Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition will be released on PC through Google Play, on iTunes and the Android Marketplace at the end of November. Right now, the game is on sale through Beamdog for a mere $17.99.
Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition looks really good and brings back so many memories. It’s one of those games that can’t be played enough, in my opinion. If you haven’t yet checked out what Overhaul has done with your old friend, you really should. I suspect you’ll be impressed. And the best news? Overhaul is already working on Baldur’s Gate 2: Enhanced Edition!
What about you? Will you be getting Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition? What are your favorite Baldur’s Gate memories? Let us know in the comments.