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Beamdog announces Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

Beamdog announces Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

Baldur's Gate is getting an Enhanced Edition, courtesy Beamdog, Overhaul and some ex-BioWare staffers.

Role-playing classic Baldur's Gate and its sequel are coming back, with Beamdog subsidiary Overhaul Games confirming work on an 'Enhanced Edition,' due for release this summer.

Developed by BioWare back in 1998, Baldur's Gate was the game which convinced role-playing aficionados that perhaps there's something to this computer game malarkey after all. Using a Forgotten Realms licence from TSR - now known as Wizards of the Coast - the team created an original plot set in an intricate world governed by a tweaked implementation of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd Edition rules.

Much of what has come to symbolise BioWare's work was first seen in Baldur's Gate: moral choices made during the adventure would affect the outcome of the game, while character development occurred in both combat and non-combat scenarios. Its launch saw critical acclaim, garnering a Metacritic aggregate score of 91 per cent, while two expansion packs and a sequel would be released alongside spin-off games Planescape: Torment and the Icewind Dale series.

Sadly, the world moved on from isometric role-playing games. BioWare would shift its focus onto third-person engines with its future titles, while the Baldur's Gate name would later be used to title a pair of watered-down console action RPGs.

Now, however, Baldur's Gate is getting a rebirth in the form of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition. Announced by Beamdog late yesterday, few details are available beyond the involvement of Beamdog subsidiary Overhaul Games - staffed, we note, by a selection of former BioWare employees who worked on the original release.

According to Joystiq, the Enhanced Edition is more than a re-release. 'We have the original source code,' a company representative told the site, 'and are doing a significant update.'

The company hints that the Enhanced Edition will include new content, expanding the limits of the game, along with an update to the original's Infinity Engine which will bring higher-definition visuals. Release platforms have yet to be confirmed, with a PC release almost certain but the possibility of a console release not being ruled out.

Further details are expected in future updates, which will be appearing from Beamdog on a weekly basis via the official site.

26 Comments

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Tyrmot 16th March 2012, 11:46 Quote
Well, I already own several copies of this, and it looks like soon I'll have one more. Can't wait!
Whirly 16th March 2012, 12:04 Quote
Oooh, the first game announcement this year that has truly excited me.
kosch 16th March 2012, 12:21 Quote
Loved the series I remember spending alot of time trying to do my own voice acting for the custom characters you could import. Drove my dad nuts me repeating the same lines over and over again. Think I still have some of the WAV files somewhere!
greypilgers 16th March 2012, 12:44 Quote
I would rather pay money for a remake of this than most games released in the past three years!
CrazyBlade 16th March 2012, 13:26 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by Whirly
Oooh, the first game announcement this year that has truly excited me.

I'll second that one. Cannot wait.
Spectrator 16th March 2012, 13:35 Quote
Sounds like perfect time to purchase this legend at last and go through it for the first time!! (o^-^o)
johnnyboy700 16th March 2012, 13:55 Quote
I'll think I'll get me some Baldur's Gate time again!!

I agree with the above sentiments, best gaming news in a long time - only beaten by the gameplay video of the X-Com remake.
AstralWanderer 16th March 2012, 15:34 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by
Higher definition content? You've got that courtesy of the Widescreen Mod (which works with BG2, Icewind Dale and Planescape).

New content? There's been a modding scene producing that for over a decade with the likes of The Darkest Day, Shadows over Soubar, Tortured Souls and Check the Bodies mods. You also have BGT Weidu (Baldur's Gate Trilogy) which imports Baldur's Gate/Tales of the Sword Coast into the BG2 engine, allowing you to play a single epic game from the Candlekeep Inn to Bhaal's Throne. And you can combine them all (with dozens of other mods, expanding BG to over 30GB in size) via the BiG World installer (see the Spellhold Mega Mod Help forum and How to install BWP for newbies (and up) for more details - it's a work in progress so not yet easy to use).

Internal game engine limits are being tackled by projects like TobEx (several features including increasing the number of kits selectable on character creation and the number of spells accessible in the spellbook) and Infinity Animations (increasing the number of creature graphics). And then there's the open-source GemRB which may even be able to increase the existing 6-character limit (handy, given the vast range of joinable NPCs available from various mods).

It's hard to see any "enhanced" version maintaining compatibility with the great swathe of mods and fixes out there - or being able to match the work done by hundreds of modders over the last decade. If a console release is planned, then it seems likely that the game engine would have to be dumbed down considerably to cope with joypad-only controls (e.g. always-on AI, smaller party size with weaker opponents to compensate, smaller spell selection, etc).

BG/BG2 was (and still is, with the appropriate mods) an awesome gameplay experience and one that deserves a refresh (maybe Beamdog could fix the craptastic pathfinding algorithm that dogged so many of Bioware's games?) but it's difficult not to see the potential downsides also.
yesitsme 16th March 2012, 15:55 Quote
[QUOTE=AstralWanderer]
Quote:
Originally Posted by

Pessimist!

I think it is great news. Although there are many good mods out there that improve the first two games, I think that members of the original development team will do a much better job and I can’t wait! This may even pave the way for a BG3, exciting times.
DLDeadbolt 16th March 2012, 16:33 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AstralWanderer
*snip*

I.. buh... wah.. *brain sizzles*

MUST BUY AND MOD!
loftie 16th March 2012, 18:25 Quote
Hmm, not sure about this. Never played BG, but I played BG2 and enjoyed it. Updating an engine and releasing new content seems a bit pointless. As someone already said, there's loads of content out there already, and it'd have to be a pretty big update to the engine to make it seem worthwhile.

I suppose it all depends how good the game will look. Imo, the game could be released again with a new graphics engine and would sell really well.
greypilgers 16th March 2012, 18:33 Quote
no no no no no no no!
LoL... You all miss the point! Its Baldurs Gate!

Cities always teem with evil and decay... Let's give it a good shake and seeee what faaalls out!

GW42 16th March 2012, 19:11 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrazyBlade
I'll second that one. Cannot wait.

3rd'd!

I came to the party late (i think my first play through was about 2004-05 ish) but easily one of the, if not the best gaming experiences I've had. I particularly enjoyed going back to it a couple of years and playing BGT all the way from candlekeep through to the end, in nice big widescreen.
CowBlazed 16th March 2012, 20:28 Quote
Baulder's Gate mobile on tablets and phones would be interesting.
AstralWanderer 16th March 2012, 20:41 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by CowBlazed
Baulder's Gate mobile on tablets and phones would be interesting.
You mean like:

ArsTechnica: How I rode a Samsung tablet PC to retro role-playing nirvana
YouTube: GemRB Baldur's Gate 2 on on Nokia N810
l3v1ck 16th March 2012, 23:05 Quote
Baldur's Gate 2 is still my favourite game of all time, so I'll be looking forward to this.
caruga 17th March 2012, 01:19 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by AstralWanderer
Higher definition content? You've got that courtesy of the Widescreen Mod (which works with BG2, Icewind Dale and Planescape).


No, it's they're the same low-definition graphics of over 10 yrs ago, scaled to a widescreen display so that it doesn't appear stretched. There is no extra detail; to achieve that would mean redrawing the graphics, either with 3D rendering software or by hand.

Also suggesting the modding community has surpassed the original creation sounds pretty arrogant to me. They're standing on the shoulders of giants.
rogerrabbits 17th March 2012, 01:35 Quote
I'd buy it.

Imagine if this ended up selling more than Dragon Age 2 :) That would be the greatest event in gaming, of all time.
XXAOSICXX 17th March 2012, 08:44 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by l3v1ck
Baldur's Gate 2 is still my favourite game of all time, so I'll be looking forward to this.

Ditto :)

Can't wait!!!!!1111one11
Roskoken 17th March 2012, 14:01 Quote
Planescape Torment too please.
AstralWanderer 17th March 2012, 21:40 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by caruga
No, it's they're the same low-definition graphics of over 10 yrs ago, scaled to a widescreen display so that it doesn't appear stretched. There is no extra detail; to achieve that would mean redrawing the graphics, either with 3D rendering software or by hand.
Have you tried it? Not to be funny, but it does change the game significantly (at least, it changes BG1 hugely) in allowing you to see 3-4x the area.

As for the "low definition graphics", this will very likely apply to the "Enhanced Edition" also - according to the Joystiq article, they've had 2 people working on it for the last year which hardly provides the time needed to redo all the area art and models (which aren't exactly in need of improvement anyway). One major graphics change could be switching to a 3D view (as in Neverwinter Nights or Dragon Age) and for a game as large as BG, that would mean a huge amount of work.
Quote:
Originally Posted by caruga
Also suggesting the modding community has surpassed the original creation sounds pretty arrogant to me. They're standing on the shoulders of giants.
Which I'm not - the point I'm making is that the enhancements currently available are significant. You try replaying BG1 via the Baldur's Gate Trilogy with addons like the BG1 NPC Project (which adds huge amounts of dialogue to the NPCs), BG1 Unfinished Business (which completes various quests that were unfinished in the original), Sword Coast Stratagems (general enhancement of enemy AI and beefing up of various encounters - the Nashkell Mines now boasts a significant kobold force to deal with) and one of the many rules, option and spell tweaks and you'll have a significantly different (and IMHO better) game.

BG modders may not be professionals, but they've had far more time to dedicate to their creations and with the best, the results are worthy of the original.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roskoken
Planescape Torment too please.
You may find this Planescape modding guide useful, if you've not already seen it. The additions there greatly enhance the game.
Fizzban 17th March 2012, 23:30 Quote
It will be a tall order to get this out the door, but I will remain cautiously optimistic. I look forward to seeing what happens. I would love to play those games with a more up to date Infinity Engine.
greypilgers 18th March 2012, 11:19 Quote
Rather than port to a 3d engine or redraw all the graphics, etc, I'd rather extra quests were added, and the original voice cast brought back to voice every line of written dialogue. That'd be amazing. I love the games as they are and I quite like the isometric view for nostalgia's sake.

:D
rogerrabbits 18th March 2012, 23:29 Quote
Have you all played Temple of Elemental Evil? If not you should get it! It's on GoG.
AstralWanderer 19th March 2012, 09:39 Quote
Quote:
Originally Posted by
Looking at Beamdog's site, I can see one big problem.

They run a digital distribution platform that requires online activation.

Now if the original Baldur's Gate had required this, it's very likely that none of us would be playing it legally since Interplay's effective closure in 2004 would have meant the activation servers going down. Even GOG would not have been able to help without access to the source code (they only distribute what the publishers give them - and all too often the publishers have used "scene" cracks to remove their DRM).

If Baldur's Gate Enhanced requires online activation, I'm not touching it with a bargepole for the above reason. I'd also consider Beamdog's statements on this ("On Beamdog, the games you purchase are yours. Once you’ve purchased your games, they won’t be taken away.") to be nothing less than an outright lie - anyone unfamiliar with the pitfalls of online activation should review Shamus Young's Authorization Servers article.

In addition, Beamdog require you to use their client software which seems to function as a BitTorrent client (which may adversely impact those users with bandwidth caps).
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