Posted on Friday, November 9th, 2012 at 8:30 AM by Chris Smith
When you say the name “BioWare”, most gamers will think of Mass Effect or Dragon Age. Some might say Knights of the Old Republic (or just The Old Republic, if they’re an MMO fan), while others will immediately reply with Neverwinter Nights. But before all of these gaming masterpieces came one of BioWare’s earliest franchises; one which is being resurrected and re-mastered for the gamers of today. The legendary Baldur’s Gate is set to return later this month in the form of the aptly named Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition… only it’s not being developed by BioWare.
This new version of the PC classic is being published by Atari and developed by Overhaul Games (a subsidiary of digital distribution newcomer Beamdog) for Windows, Mac OSX, Android and iOS. Beamdog is the creation of two former BioWare VIPs: ex-lead programmer Cameron Tofer and one of BioWare’s co-founders, Trent Oster. Together, they have lived up to their company’s name, having already overhauled another BioWare classic: the quirky, third person shooter MDK2 was re-released last year for the Wii under the moniker MDK2 Wii and for the PC as MDK2 HD.
Due for world-wide release on November 28th (with the exception of Android), the game incorporates the Tales of the Sword Coast expansion pack, but Beamdog are keen to stress that BG:EE is no simple HD remake. The official Baldur’s Gate website boasts “over 400 improvements”, including an updated game interface, better multiplayer support (incorporating matchmaking and cross-platform play) and impressive new cinematics. The UI is being completely re-designed for mobile platforms, meaning gameplay on a tablet should be as intuitive as with a keyboard and mouse. Several features that weren’t introduced until Baldur’s Gate II are also being included, such as key character classes and sub-races.
The game will stick to its roots in many ways; most notably, it will still use the 2nd Edition Dungeons & Dragons ruleset… fans of THAC0, rejoice! More striking, however, are some of the announced changes. Aside from future DLC, new characters and quests are being added, including some which will tie up loose plot threads. According to Trent Oster, some of the new content may even change some of the existing storyline, which has caused some concern among fans of the original game.
Such fears could prove to be unfounded if Beamdog’s dedication to their fans is anything to go by. They recognise that the modding community is a crucial part of what has kept Baldur’s Gate alive in the hearts of gamers, even going as far as requesting assistance from them in creating BG:EE. To reward such dedication, they have promised to offer mod support and continued development of the game post-release. Clearly, they remain confident that the game will be well-received, as a similar overhaul of Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn (and its expansion, Throne of Bhaal) are already planned. The company also hopes to go on to develop an entirely original Baldur’s Gate 3, should these first two efforts do well enough.
With the recent revival of Black Isle Studios, which was responsible for publishing the original two games, speculation is running wild as to whether or not something is already being masterminded behind the scenes. Black Isle certainly has quite the pedigree, having developed the Icewind Dale series, Planescape: Torment and Fallout 2 under the umbrella of Interplay. Gamers everywhere remain patient, albeit with baited breath, awaiting further news.
In the interim, there’s plenty to be excited about. November 28th will see the BG:EE‘s release via Beamdog’s proprietary digital distribution platform on Windows and through the App Store for Mac OSX and iOS – no Steam or GOG for you! Mark the date in your calendars – the Sword Coast awaits!