Baldur's Gate is a popular series of computer role-playing games that take place on Faerûn, the main continent from Dungeons & Dragons's Forgotten Realms campaign setting, set in the years following the cataclysmic Time of Troubles (1358 DR).
The original series, developed for Microsoft Windows and Mac OS by BioWare, includes Baldur's Gate (1998), Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast (expansion pack, 1999), Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (2000) and Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal (expansion pack, 2001).
The Baldur's Gate series brought many technical advancements over computer-based role-playing games of the past. BioWare's Infinity Engine offers a pre-rendered isometric worldview, with sprite-based characters. Baldur's Gate was also the third computer game ever to make use of the Lua scripting language. The engine was also used for Planescape: Torment and the Icewind Dale series.
The games are based on a real-time modification of the second edition AD&D (Advanced Dungeons & Dragons) ruleset. The player's party can have up to six members, either created by the player according to the AD&D rules or NPCs recruited by the protagonist from the game world. Numerous side quests and plot twists are associated with particular NPCs and can be activated if they are found in the player's party. Through extensive, context-dependent dialogue, many characters inside and outside the player's party are fleshed out and given an added level of complexity.
In 1999, Baldur's Gate won the Origins Award for Best Roleplaying Computer Game of 1998, and in 2000, Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast won Best Roleplaying Computer Game of 1999. Baldur's Gate has also been often compared to Diablo (an action RPG), perhaps for similarities in dungeon-crawling and the isometric view, but is much more story driven with less hack and slash.
The first game in the series had the player character start out as a powerless orphan, raised in the monastery of Candlekeep, to the south of Baldur's Gate and north of the kingdom of Amn. The main character has to investigate the death of their foster father Gorion as well as an iron crisis which is causing metal to crumble, while battling to stay alive.
Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword CoastEdit
An expansion pack for Baldur's Gate, Tales of the Sword Coast did not add anything to the primary storyline, but presented the protagonist with more areas to explore along the Sword Coast, more powerful enemies and better equipment. It also lets the player character reach higher levels of experience.
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of AmnEdit
The main character is captured by Jon Irenicus, and must escape into the city of Athkatla, the capital of Amn. Here the protagonist faces several ways to figuring out the reason behind the capture, as he or she journeys through the region of Amn, as well as the Underdark. The game presented a number of innovations over the first Baldur's Gate game, including further specialization of character classes, better graphics and even higher power levels.
Baldur's Gate II: Throne of BhaalEdit
Throne of Bhaal was an expansion pack for Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, and included both an expansion of the original game, including new areas to explore, as well as a conclusion to the Bhaalspawn story arc started in the first Baldur's Gate game. Through the game, the player character reached almost god-like power levels.
Baldur's Gate IIIEdit
Baldur's Gate III: The Black Hound (code named Jefferson and FR6) was mentioned in early 2001 as a new game in the Baldur's Gate series to be made by Black Isle Studios using a completely new 3D engine.
BG3 was originally going to be a departure from the high-powered epic of the Bhaalspawn saga to a low-key, roleplaying plot. With protagonists progressing to around level four at the end of BIS' typically enormous campaign and a hard cap at level eight, gameplay was refocussed to a flat and wide adventure emphasizing quests over combat. In fact, the game was only titled "Baldur's Gate" due to Interplay having lost the general D&D license to Atari, but still retaining the right to make Baldur's Gate branded D&D games (the same reason as for BGDA's title.)
The game appeared to be cancelled in 2003, just before its engine was repurposed for Black Isle's ill-fated Van Buren Fallout 3 project. The Black Hound is currently under development as a module for Neverwinter Nights 2, being developed by Josh Sawyer, one of the designers of the cancelled game.
However, in April of 2004 IGN released information that a Baldur's Gate III is in the works. Any other information has, for now, not been released. There is no solid evidence as to whether or not the game is actually in development, although it will likely go ahead due to its commercial potential.
In the January 2008 issue of PC Gamer UK, the editor claims that he knows that Baldur's Gate III is indeed being worked on.
Baldur's Gate CompilationEdit
The ability to modify the resources used by the engine underlying the PC Baldur's Gate games allows fans of the series to make their own homegrown additions to it. With the right tools, the game is relatively easy to modify. While some projects merely seek to enhance cosmetic attributes of the original games, others exist that improve the quality of the games by adding new characters, quests and alternate endings. A comprehensive list of mods is available. Some of the most ambitious and popular are:
- Ascension, a mod primarily written by BioWare staff member David Gaider. It changes the ending of Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal, while increasing the difficulty of some encounters and providing a variety of bonuses. According to Gaider, Ascension is what Throne of Bhaal should have been like, if only the developers had more time to tinker with the game.
- Unfinished Business attempts to tie as many loose ends as possible by recreating and completing aspects of the game that were removed or left unfinished by the original developers in Shadows of Amn. The developers have recently started a Baldur's Gate version and a Throne of Bhaal version is also expected.
- BG1Tutu is a project which automatically converts the resources in a Baldur's Gate, or Baldur's Gate + TotSC install to the BGII engine, allowing for Baldur's Gate to take advantage of higher resolutions, as well as various other improvements in the BGII engine. A simpler installation method, EasyTutu, is also available. Most mods for Baldur's Gate are produced for Tutu distribution, primarily BG1 NPC Project.
- Baldur's Gate Trilogy (BGT) combines Baldur's Gate, TotSC, Baldur's Gate II: SoA, BG:ToB into one massive game using BGII engine. The main advantages over Tutu is that BGT generate[s] some kind of [transparently to player] continuity between the events the Child of Bhaal experiences in the Sword Coast and subsequently Amn. Additionally it is compatible with a large number of mods , noticeably BG1 mods like Dark Side of the Sword Coast , Northern Tales of the Sword Coast, The Secret of Bone Hill, Drizzt Saga, BG1 NPC Project along with The Big Picture family of mods for BG2. They can be installed with BGT when BP-BGT Worldmap is installed after them all.
- Redemption: The Longer Road by "dorotea" of Spellhold Studios, is a mini-expansion that allows the player to incarnate Jon Irenicus, the tormented antagonist in Shadows of Amn.
- Kelsey by Jason Compton and Ghreyfain of Pocketplane Group and Solaufein by Westley Weimer are among the many popular mods which add romanceable NPCs to the game. Several additional mods exist that add romance options with existing NPCs, including Valygar, Nalia, Imoen, Edwin, Kivan and Xan.
- The Darkest Day, Shadows over Soubar, Tortured Souls, Check the Bodies, Region of Terror and Return to Trademeet are large mods that add further adventures to the game, most of them unrelated to the main plot (i.e. side quests). Another mod, The Big Picture, allows you to play a game featuring all these mods except for Return to Trademeet, therefore they are traditionally called Big Picture family mods and are compatible with Baldur's Gate Trilogy.
A thriving modding community is The Gibberlings Three.
Most newer Infinity Engine mods use WeiDU, a command-line utility made for editing the Infinity Engine.
Philip Athans, editor of the Forgotten Realms novel line, wrote the first two novels in the Baldur's Gate trilogy of novels: Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, both based on the storylines of the computer game series. The novels follow the bare basics of the original stories, but eschew several of the games' numerous subplots and include only a few of the NPCs. The Bhaalspawn main character is named Abdel Adrian in the novels. The third, and final, novel - Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal - was authored by Drew Karpyshyn.
The novels are often criticized by fans of the series for being unfaithful to the game's original story and spirit, as well as for leaving out or killing off many well-loved NPCs. Many fans have also leveled venom at the character of Abdel, calling him a sadistic, unlikeable protagonist.
- Athans, Philip (June 1999). Baldur's Gate : A Novelization. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0786915255.
Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of AmnEdit
- Athans, Philip (September 2000). Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0786915699.
Baldur's Gate II: Throne of BhaalEdit
- Karpyshyn, Drew (September 2001). Baldur's Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. Wizards of the Coast. ISBN 978-0786919857.
Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance & Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance IIEdit
The Baldur's Gate: Dark Alliance series was produced by BioWare's publisher Black Isle Studios, a division of Interplay Entertainment. Although they take place in the Baldur's Gate rendition of the Forgotten Realms setting, they are not often regarded as a part of the Baldur's Gate series, as the plot is unrelated to previous games, and they were console-exclusive titles. These were not released for Windows and Macintosh platforms and were not created using BioWare's Infinity Engine.
BioWare, developers of the original Baldur's Gate games, is currently developing Dragon Age. The game will have an original story and will be set outside of the Forgotten Realms D&D universe, but it has been described by Ray Muzyka as a spiritual successor to the Baldur's Gate series.
- ↑ "The Black Hound FAQ". http://theblackhound.googlepages.com/theblackhoundfaq. Retrieved 2008-02-13.
- ↑ "Baldur's Gate III, Neverwinter Nights II in Development?". IGN. http://pc.ign.com/articles/504/504160p1.html. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
- ↑ "Baldur's Gate Compilation (PC DVD)". amazon.com. Amazon. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Baldurs-Gate-Compilation-PC-DVD/dp/B000FGA1US. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
- ↑ Infinity Engine Modlist
- ↑ "BG1Tutu". Pocket Plan Group. http://www.pocketplane.net/tutu. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
- ↑ EasyTutu
- ↑ BG1 NPC Project
- ↑ "Weimer's BG2 Mods". http://www.weidu.org/main.html. Retrieved 2007-04-02.
- ↑ Blevins, Tal (May 12, 2004). "E3 2004: Dragon Age". IGN. http://pc.ign.com/articles/514/514514p1.html. Retrieved February 6 2008.
- BioWare website
- Sorcerer's Place - Extensive coverage of the Baldur's Gate games
- Planet Baldur's Gate