Beamdog has released Baldur’s Gate I & II Enhanced Edition for consoles to mark its 20th anniversary from when the first Baldur’s Gate was released back in 1998. The original Baldur’s Gate was part of a small handful of RPG’s released in the late 1990s during what was considered a renaissance period for CRPG’s. Baldur’s Gate simultaneously reinforces both the PC format and Western RPG’s against the extremely heavy competition of consoles and JRPG’s that were overwhelmingly popular at this time. I can understand why it’s a strong game with a strong foundation. After playing the first game for around 40 hours, I can now see why it has remained relevant for two decades. Even putting this amount of hours into the game already I have yet to complete the first storyline. From what I have completed so far I can tell you that the game has had a lot of thought and detail put into it from the developers.
The enhanced edition is not a magical ground-up reworking or spectacular remaster. Unlike most older games that are newly released now as remastered editions where you find the gameplay and graphics are adjusted to meet the needs of the consoles/ gamers of today, Baldur’s Gate has kept its originality and is therefore showing its age in many ways unlike the more recent games of the genre like Pillars of Eternity which are in many ways more readily accessible and appealing to modern audiences. Which makes these games classics of the genre that are completely worth persisting with. If you are new to this game like me, in the beginning, the game will come across as old school and possibly boring but this game is a great opportunity for anyone who missed these classics to see what all the fuss is about. There is a lot of joy to be had in playing these Dungeon and Dragon based RPG’s for both new and old players.
This game is a long haul to complete and it will occupy a lot of your free time because if you are anything like myself once you really start to get into the game you will become addicted to it and be determined to complete it. I myself prefer games like this that have such in-depth detail in the storyline that it takes longer than a few hours to complete as it makes me feel more challenged in the gaming community.
If you like to get your head under the hood in RPG’s, you are going to enjoy this game as you will find that there is a lot of complexity to this game. Not only are there several job classes to choose from but each one subdivides into kits, allowing you to fine-tune your chosen character to suit your specific needs during the game. You will find that there is a ridiculous amount of equipment to find, tons of magic spells to copy into your spellbook and memorize overnight, there is also a huge selection of party members to choose from to form your group. This gives you an awful lot to consider when selecting your group as there are all the side quests to consider as well as the different perks each character can bring to the group. Baldur’s Gate 2 is a much more challenging game than the first, so while you might be able to hack your way through the main plot without digging too deeply, you’re going to have to get your hands a bit dirty if you want to see and do all there is in this game.
The way the controls have been designed for the Xbox controllers are extremely easy to get used to, it seems to be more fluid for the movements during certain areas of the game compared to using a keyboard and mouse. The general game seems to run a lot more smoothly compared to pc games released back when this was originally released two decades ago, I personally think that this is because being released on a console gives you the opportunity to own the game as a digital download whereas in the past you could only own pc games on disk and therefore the game would have some long frame loading delays so having it as a digital download this cuts out the frame loading delays running a disk.
The game is set in the Forgotten Realms continent of Faerun, Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition takes place in the nations of Amn and Tethyr. As with the original game, all the locations from the production are present along with new locations. Depending on which character you chose to play with and which ones you decide to recruit determines which new locations are unlocked during the storyline. There are up to thirty new locations available to unlock throughout the game.
All the original characters of Baldur’s Gate II return in this enhanced edition, it also brings back the new characters that were introduced in the original Baldur’s Gate: Neera the Wild Mage, Dorn II-Khan the Blackguard and Rasaad the Monk who are all recruitable characters there are also two new characters that are also recruitable which have been specifically brought into this edition of the game Hexxat the Thief and Wilson the Bear. Like the previous editions of the game each of the characters have their own personal quests which sees you travelling to new locations on the map and completing quests along the way in order to bring closure to their personal stories.
Each specific character has its own special strengths and abilities, you can also customise these strengths when first selecting your character by increasing the points allocated to each strength and ability. There are also a number of ways to die throughout the game, during the early stages of the game while learning the controls I died a few times during tutorials on the combat and then after completing the tutorials and setting off into the world I found myself dying in battle, whether it was with enemies of the storyline or with wild animals while passing through the dark and mysterious woodland areas. There are numerous animals and mystical creatures that you will encounter while travelling through the woodland areas, then when you come to the different little towns that are on your journey path you will find that you can make allies in each town as well as gaining more enemies at the same time.
When entering towns and the buildings in the towns you will find in different rooms there are different things to investigate whether it be a desk or a bedside table, investigating these places allows you to collect a number of items which you and your group might find helpful for your journey. You might also find that some of the items you can find by investigating different spots of the game are items that you will later need to trade with a merchant in another town.
If you compare the RPG’s released now with the RPG’s released in the 1990s you will see that even the biggest RPG’s of today haven’t really explored any new territory that hasn’t already been covered by the Baldur’s Gate games. The fact that the game has kept its originality and haven’t made any harsh changes to the graphics or gameplay that is seen in the game remakes that are released from other games enables the old RPG players to continue to enjoy and truly appreciate the game genre they know and love, whilst also giving new RPG players the opportunity to see what RPG’s look and play like as well as gaining the knowledge of how detailed the storylines were during the earlier days of RPG games being released.
The game sound and graphics are an excellent fit for the game, its nice to see that even though the times have changed and consoles have advanced so far that there are still games out there that stick to the original formats and game specs instead of trying to modernise them too much to meet the consoles advanced graphic options. I feel that if this game did customise its graphics and the sound to meet the most recent of games available on console like the ever-popular Fortnite that the game itself would potentially lose a lot of its character and it would be a lot harder to actually get into the gameplay as the graphics for the game suit the storyline completely.
Overall I found these two games to be extremely enjoyable to play, although I have not yet completed the full games I’m looking forward to doing so in the near future, I would say the games are targetted more towards the older gamer who are already interested in these type of games and also who have the background knowledge of the game when it was first released. Although I myself am new to this game and found that I have become easily hooked into the game, I do feel that the younger generation of gamers would not fully appreciate the gameplay, graphics, or storyline. I would recommend this game to other gamers who enjoy a good storyline in a game that is not easily completed in one gaming session.
Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2: Enhanced Edition is available for Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.
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