Back in the late nineties, I gave up a lot of sleep for late-night Baldur’s Gate sessions. It was easily the best video game based on Dungeons & Dragons ever made. The sequel was even better. In 2002, when my wife and I were first dating, she bought a gaming PC and left it at my house so that we could play Icewind Dale together. And somewhere between 2002 and 2003, I spent a solid year coding an intricate adventure module for Neverwinter Nights. You could say I’ve got a history with these RPGs.
And now, it looks like they’re going to be making a third Baldur’s Gate game. I have some thoughts.
(Trigger warning for CG body horror.)
Black Isle Studios, publisher of the original two titles, closed down in 2003. With that, they killed two games everyone had been dying to play: a third Fallout game codenamed Van Buren, created in the style of the first two, and a third Baldur’s Gate game, The Black Hound.
BioWare, the creative force behind the original two games, has made a name for itself with Dragon Age and Mass Effect. The settings and characters in these games are amazing and intricate. I’ve written multiple articles in the past expressing wonder at each.
Obsidian Entertainment was a company formed from the remains of Black Isle after it closed, and it’s gone on to bring us games such as Knights of the Old Republic 2, Neverwinter Nights 2, and Fallout: New Vegas. While I’m not a massive fan of any of those, Obsidian also brought us Pillars of Eternity, which I played earlier this year, and loved more than I’ve loved any other RPG in years. The game mechanics in Pillars of Eternity blew me away.
The new Baldur’s Gate game is being created by Larian Studios, creators of the Divinity games. I’ve never had the chance to get into any of the games in the Divinity series, so I don’t really know what to think. The cinematic teaser shows us no gameplay, but the few screenshots I’ve seen give me hope, as they look more like Pillars of Eternity and less like World of Warcraft. The game will also be played with Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition mechanics, which will be fun. And it seems to feature illithids as primary villains, which I’m also happy about.
As much as I loved Pillars of Eternity, and as much as I expect to love Pillars of Eternity 2, I’ve got to admit that in many ways the D&D-based Baldur’s Gate series is mechanically a very different animal with a very different feel. That said, I’ll play all of them, and I hope to love all of them.