Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition is a lot of fun to play. I was introduced to Dungeons and Dragons when I was 12 by my best friend. Over the years I’ve played a myriad of games based on or related to what D&D offered to me in those younger years and the nostalgia is always strong for me in this regard. I often jump at the chance to purchase many older computer games with horrible graphics and extremely linear game plots. I enjoyed Baldur’s Gate when I had to purchase it on multiple CDs back in the day, and I enjoyed it even more this time around in its enhanced version.
Baldur’s Gate first came out in late 1998. The enhanced edition was released for PC in late 2012 and finally on consoles less than a month ago. It was also released for tablets several years ago, in case that’s a better option for you. Ultimately it does of course suffer from the limitations of it’s origination, being that old and built for PC. We are used to open world RPG’s with significantly better graphics, more processing power, and loads more options than what this offers. And despite all those limitations it’s still a good bit of fun to wander through a rather lengthy story line.
The story line is entirely linear, though there are many side quests. Some side quests you can’t get without specific characters in your party. You’re an orphan with unknown (to you) origins. Apparently quite a few others do know of your origins and are trying to prevent a specific fate from befalling you, or attempt to control that fate and ensure that it happens to you. Meanwhile, your antagonist knows your origins and is trying the whole game to kill you or to have you killed. Though he is always one step ahead, he fails repeatedly to achieve that goal.
You have choices to make, good or ill. The manner in which people treat you can depend on what actions you take during the game. Word gets around faster than you do, so be prepared to deal with those consequences. It’s still worth a run through and if you really think you’ve got the chops, play it on the hardest level.
All told and depending on your play style, you can finish in as little as 19 hours, or take as long as 100+ hours single player. A really fun addition in options is cross platform multiplayer. Among other updates are a few new locations and characters with their associated mini adventures, some additional locations, and two new difficulty modes: Story mode, a super easy, can’t die even though I found a way to die, “did I mention easy?”; and Legacy of Bhaal, you’re going to need blessings from several gods of the pantheon to complete this difficulty.
There’s only one part where I found you could die in story mode. I did it 3 times before I figured out what I was doing wrong. Don’t attack (insertnamehere) in the city, wait until you’re underground for the final fight to do it. Or if you want to laugh at it, save before going through the gates for the ending so you don’t have to work back through another 5 minutes of game play to get back to that fight. Of note: once you have the invitations, you can go straight to the gates and the guard will let you in. Don’t spend an extra half hour trying to figure out how to get in without going through the gates, like I did. There is plenty in the game going on for you to explore and find.
In addition to updating Baldur’s Gate and the expansion Siege of Dragonspear which serves as a segue to Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, The Black Pits was added to the mix. In this expansion you are imprisoned in a fighting pit in the realm of dark dwarves who are controlled by a merciless drow sorcerer. All you do is fight increasingly more difficult fights in an arena until you are successful enough to escape. It’s a basic concept of hack and slash, but it’s good for those days when you just need to get a fight or two in and don’t want to follow complex story lines.
Drawbacks for the game are actually very few despite its age. It turns out that on the PS4 during combat it’s more smooth and generally easier to just have everyone selected and give the command to attack a single target. Though it can still be difficult to get the pointer over that target. Otherwise combat is effectively stunted with repeatedly pausing and providing individual instructions. To be fair though, when getting higher up into the difficulty settings having that level of control is about the only way to survive a fight.
Here’s a short video of a basic fight.
The good news is that with one setting in party controls you can have each member do what they normally would anyway. Magic users will cast some offensive spells, anyone using a ranged weapon will use it from range, and melee will run up and attack. I tended to stick with issuing spell commands to the caster in an attempt to keep them out of combat and also more effectively utilize their spells for the party. In that same party setting section you can also create groups to provide faster commands to melee and ranged, or whatever other party setup you want to have for various group options.
The game was built for PC’s, and I found when playing on a TV that a portion of the screen was cut off from the edges, for which I was unable to find a solution. Hopefully the inclusion of an auto update feature by developers will lead to a correction of this problem at some point in the future. It’s not game breaking though, just annoying. When I tested it on a computer monitor, the entire screen showed up as it should, so it’s more an issue with TV’s and their imprecise nature. Of note, I tested it on a TV, computer monitor, and an HD projector. The computer monitor was the only one with a complete screen visual.
I don’t fault the game for it’s age, and thus the 2-D paper doll movement and style. While some 3D games had already come out by this point D&D based games were still coming along in the old style, though they had moved up from previous versions where you didn’t get to see the party other than as a list of characters on the screen. It has its limitations, but it was a big change to allow so many options in character creation. The results of which we see in many games today where you can customize your player in so many ways and at different stages of the game.
Overall, I enjoyed the game and I think anyone who has a love, nostalgic or otherwise of D&D would enjoy owning this enhanced edition. Even if it is outside of your budget right now, it’s worth adding to your library at some point, especially with all the additional content coming out; Not to mention the development of Baldur’s Gate 3. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go find a squirrel and get it to tell me what it knows.