Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition
|Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition|
|Engine||Infinity Enhanced Engine|
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows
November 28, 2012
December 7, 2012
February 22, 2013
April 17, 2014
|Genre(s)||Role-playing video game|
Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition is a remake of the role-playing video game Baldur's Gate and its expansion Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast. The game was launched for Microsoft Windows on November 28, 2012, for iPad running iOS 6 or greater on December 7, 2012, and for OS X on February 22, 2013, with the Android launch expected soon after. On December 13, 2012, Trent Oster, the Creative Director on the game, announced a native port of the game to Linux would be forthcoming as well.
The remake of Baldur's Gate was developed by Overhaul Games, a division of Beamdog. The game was published by Atari and was scheduled for the summer of 2012 but the release date was later changed to November. The release includes remastered versions of both Baldur's Gate and its expansion pack, Tales of the Sword Coast.
Overhaul Games stated that the games are more than just remakes of the classic RPG and that there are many differences between the two versions. As of version 1.2.0, the game includes three new major NPCs which may join the party, new areas to explore, a separate arena adventure (The Black Pits), a revamped user interface, increased flexibility to mod the game, a new renderer, and multiplayer matchmaking abilities (which are currently in beta version). Overhaul Games decided to add an autoupdate function to the game and also to modify it based on suggestions made by users. Beamdog stated that the Overhaul team had added several hundred improvements to the original game.
For all editions, the game follows 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, licensed by Wizards of the Coast. The game features updated multiplayer, including cross platform multiplayer, which allows players from the different platforms being able to play with each other. As of version 1.2.0, the game includes an arena adventure (The Black Pits), a revamped user interface, increased flexibility to mod the game, a new renderer, and multiplayer matchmaking abilities (which are currently in beta version).
Major changes to the game include higher resolutions as well as different viewing modes, including widescreen, to enhance gameplay. The iPad and Android versions are described as a radical departure from the game's original interface, allowing for zooming in and out via multitouch gestures. This also allows for larger text. The tablet versions also allow for users to swipe between screens instead of clicking on tabs. Ex-Bioware employee and creative director for the enhanced edition Trent Oster said, "When I describe playing a Baldur's Gate combat scenario to someone, I use the analogy of a football playbook. ... When you think about Baldur's Gate in this light, the iPad makes so much sense. In fact, I think Baldur's Gate is almost the perfect game for the touch interface—it was just released a decade early."
To make the game easier, the level cap for the game was raised. Despite this, bonus quest enemies that have been added to the game are described as posing a "more vigorous challenge". In order to further ease the game, all improvements from Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn and its expansion packs were imported into the game; imported elements include classes, subraces and class kits previously unavailable. When initially launched the game included the previously unavailable Blackguard kit and as of patch 1.0.2014 the Dwarven Defender, Shadowdancer, Dragon Disciple, Dark Moon Monk and Sun Soul Monk kits have since been added as well. New party members were added to the game, with each having their own associated adventures and dialogue. Like the original game the player is given full control and customization of up to six party members at a time.
Set in the Forgotten Realms continent of Faerûn, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition takes place in the Sword Coast and the Western Heartlands. All locations from the original game are present, with the addition of new locations being available through new characters and adventures. While The Black Pits offers the exploration of the Underdark, the characters of Rasaad yn Bashir and Neera respectively offer the new areas of The Cloud Peaks, and a hideaway near Durlag's Tower.
Although the general plot of the game remains the same, game developers revealed that there would be multiple sidequests that would tie unfinished stories together. The original expansion pack for Baldur's Gate, Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast was packaged with the game.
The first major new adventure for the game, "The Black Pits", is an optional and standalone storyline within the game which does not need to be completed for the game to progress. In the "Black Pits" storyline, Baeloth the Entertainer, a mad drow, has imprisoned a colony of Duergar dwarves and forced them to create an entertainment complex of his own design. In the complex, Baeloth pits living creatures against each other for loot, which he earns through inviting hosts from all throughout the realms. Set in the Underdark, the Black Pits offers 15 levels spread over 6 hours of gameplay.
The game includes three new characters during its release. Initially, these playable characters were Rasaad yn Bashir, an orphaned Calimshite monk; Neera, a half-elf wild-mage; and Dorn Il-Khan, a half-orc blackguard. All characters have been credited as romanceable. Rasaad and Neera each come with their own adventure and location to explore, while Dorn comes with the Blackguard kit to create a champion of evil.
In a later update, a fourth new 'easter egg' character was introduced - Baeloth, a drow sorcerer who had previously been the antagonist of the game's spinoff 'The Black Pits'. Unlike the other three, Baeloth includes no new kits, locations, quests or romances.
Beamdog had negotiated to get a contract for the first two Baldur's Gate games from Atari and Wizards of the Coast for approximately fourteen months before they were allowed to start working on the Enhanced Editions. Beamdog also needed to get a license to use the Infinity Engine from BioWare. Upon development, the decision was made to make the game available on the iPad—it will be compatible with all three generations of iPad. On March 15, 2012, remakes of both Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II were announced. Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition was slated for a November 2012 release for both the PC and iPad. For assistance on the game, Overhaul reached out to the modding community of the original Baldur's Gate games. Overhaul Games has also said that they hope to port the game to other platforms after finishing the initial game. It was announced on March 29, 2012 that the game would also be available for OS X. The main art content creation program used to make content for the re-forged Infinity Engine was revealed to be 3DS Max. Via his Twitter account, developer Trent Oster revealed that they would not be making an Xbox 360 version of the game due to the controller not being a good fit for it. He went on to say that they would also not be doing a Wii U game due to their negative experience with Nintendo while developing MDK2 HD.
It would later be revealed that while negotiations for the game's availability on the PlayStation 3 had happened with Sony, who were the ones to contact Beamdog, nothing would come out of them. This would be due to Sony and Beamdog being unable to negotiate on a price required for funding such a redesign of the game. Such a redesign cost would be high due to the amount of work required to fix the controls and make the UI of the game work for the PlayStation 3. Oster later revealed that due to fan demand, time for more thought to be put into a console edition had been allocated to after the release of Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced edition.
The game is available in English, French, German and Spanish. The team was initially looking into a retail edition due to fan demand, but clarified that it would likely be a collector's edition. However, they would later reveal that due to talks having muddled down, a retail edition would be unlikely. The game's first playable demo was revealed to be at PAX Prime 2012. The game, originally scheduled for a September 18 launch, was later delayed to November 30. The reason for the delay would be revealed that the amount of support for the game had allowed it to have 16 different languages, improved gameplay and fixed glitches on launch. In order to make up for the delay, Overhaul would reveal the further addition of new characters, areas, story and hours of gameplay.
It was announced that Nat Jones would be the official art director for the project, with senior Dungeons & Dragons writer Dave Gross also joining the team as a writer. Sam Hulick is composing music for the game. Following the resurrection of Black Isle Studios, the producers of the original Baldur's Gate games, speculation would run that Overhaul would be co-developing the game with the new studio. However, Beamdog responded that although they wished the new studio luck, they were not involved together in any way at the moment.
Due to contract obligations, the game was launched on Beamdog for the Windows version, on the App Store for the iPad and Mac App Store for the OS X versions. The game can be downloaded via the Beamdog client, as well as a launcher available from the Beamdog site. It's not required to run a client to play the game after initial activation. On January 16, 2013, the game was released on Steam.
On June 19, 2013, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition was removed from sale on Beamdog and the Apple App Store over contractual issues. The contractual issues were resolved and the game became available for sale again on August 15, 2013.
Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition received mostly favorable reviews from critics; on aggregate review website Metacritic the game attains an overall score of 78 out of 100 on the PC. Shack News praised the remake, calling the game "a truly enhanced version of a classic game". IGN gave the game 8.1, saying "Despite a dearth of immediately obvious changes, Baldur's Gate has aged well, and new players will find many hours' worth of fun if they approach it with an understanding of its increasingly antiquated framework." RPG website GameBanshee gave the game a poor reception, listing many bugs and oversights and commenting that they "cannot in good conscience recommend Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, considering the original is still available, has hundreds of mods and bug fix packs, costs $10 USD less, and is just as great as it's ever been." GameSpy.com concurred with this, questioning whether $20 was a fair price and adding that it "would be more impressive if we didn't already have such easy access to the original and its mods, though its cross-platform support will be nice for other platforms."
The game was succeeded by Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition, a remake of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn and its expansion, Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. The game will include the new classes and content from Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, and will be available for all of the same platforms.
In addition, Overhaul Games has revealed their intent to make Baldur's Gate 3 following their completion on both enhanced editions, describing it as their "long-term goal". They would, however, reveal that Baldur's Gate 3 would only be possible if the Enhanced Editions do well financially and if the team demonstrates the ability to successfully make their own original content. Overhaul Games has also stated that they would like to produce overhauls of Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment using rules from Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, if it is successful. The Planescape: Torment overhaul would use the Infinity Enhanced Engine as well as possibly set up the stage for a sequel to Torment.
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