Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition includes both the original Baldur’s Gate and the Tales of the Sword Coast expansion. This fantasy RPG was released back in 1998 when many of today’s gamers were mere babes (this humble author included). Thanks to Overhaul Games’ revival of the iconic adventure, both new and revisiting gamers can experience Baldur’s Gate in its updated, improved form. With enhanced gameplay, graphics, never before seen characters, quests, cinematics, and the addition of the Black Pits arena, RPG fans both young and old can explore the newly energized Baldur’s Gate.
Baldur’s Gate takes place on the Sword Coast, the western coast of Faerûn. The gamer plays an orphan who has been living in the fortress Candlekeep under the care of mage Gorion. Impediments in iron production have caused the Sword Coast to become a hostile region plagued with uncertainty. Unbeknownst to the orphan, his (or her) existence is directly related to the source of the metal’s problematic production. Without warning, Gorion informs the orphan they must flee Candlekeep as it is no longer a safe haven for the adopted. The night Gorion and the orphan escape begins a series of unpredictable events that will shape the fate of the Sword Coast. Throughout Baldur’s Gate the gamer will make decisions and accept companions that will alter quest outcomes. Multiple scenarios and options will engage gamers as they explore and unfold the story that is their destiny.
Beyond beginner blues, gameplay in Baldur’s Gate is classic RPG style. Players begin by customizing their own character (or choosing a given character). Customization is elaborate. From abilities to racial enemies, players can make a character to really call their own. There are 7 races to choose from, multiple classes and their respective subclasses, alignments (character personality), abilities, and a litany of skills; gamers can also choose what their hero both sounds and looks like. Once the player’s hero is personalized, they can set off into the Sword Coast and begin perfecting their novice.
It is expected that the majority of gamers who pick up Baldur’s Gate will be familiar with exploration games, also known as “dungeon crawlers.” For those unfamiliar with the series, this game consists of going into ruins, dungeons, caves, homes, forests, and towns fighting off an array of enemies and collecting treasures/items/gear. That isn’t to say Baldur’s Gate isn’t exciting or addictive. Treasure hunters and adventure seekers will endlessly parade around slaying bad guys and accruing goodies to sell to a nearby merchant. Outside of the main quest, smaller side quests will reward the player with story diversity and introduce them to new characters. New quests and companions have been added to this enhanced edition. Neera is introduced as a young mage who struggles to control her power and masks her insecurities with a cheery disposition and humor. Non-playable characters (NPCs) in Baldur’s Gate are all very likable and it is easy for gamers to quickly choose favorites and build their perfect party.
Gameplay is smooth and only minor glitches were experienced. Occasionally issues with the cursor would make combat and communication initiation difficult. The cursor would elongate into one solid bar and not re-shape itself to let the player know what action they were selecting but the glitch would usually correct itself. Sometimes response from characters would lag, such as commanding them through a doorway or to shoot their bow, but these occurrences were few and far between and did not greatly hinder gameplay. It would be wise for players to SAVE OFTEN. It is an ugly awakening when gamers realize their 2 hours of forest wandering have been in vain thanks to a giant, grumpy black bear.
The Black Pits is also a modern addition that thrill-seekers are sure to enjoy. The Black Pits is described as an “entertainment complex” constructed by the malevolent Baeloth. Within these death holes gamers will gather their party members to combat through 15 arena-like levels. Players can customize their entire party in this mode making for a truly personalized adventure (and good character building practice)!
Currently the multiplayer mode only supports direct IP connection. However, later updates will announce when players can browse active games and join players without using their IP address.
Speaking honestly, gamers may find the voice acting in Baldur’s Gate a little cheesy. However, the voice actors are distinct and animated. Although the voice acting can often sound goofy, the characters fit their voices well and will never tire the player. The music of Baldur’s Gate changes depending on the environment. From battle music to the serene sounds of monks humming, there is a well done and varied soundtrack designed for each atmosphere.
Baldur’s Gate is an expansive world ripe with various terrains, towns, ruins, and opportunities. The variety of friends and pursuits to be had keeps Baldur’s Gate energetic and entertaining for players. Hours may transpire before gamers realize they haven’t paused or taken a break. Baldur’s Gate claims to have over 50 hours of gameplay and The Black Pits boasts an additional 6 hours of gameplay suggesting players will be busy for a long, long time. These hours may not take into account how many times a player rebuilds a character, learning how to further improve their character build with each play through. However long one particular player plays, they can feel confident they purchased their money’s worth with Baldur’s Gate.
Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition for PC is available on Beamdog.com and can be purchased for $19.99. Overhaul Games has stated that players will need to either install the Beamdog client or install the game through a stand-alone installer.