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20 years ago, Baldur's Gate made Dungeons & Dragons cool again

It is sometimes said that Baldur's Gate has made RPGs cool again. But there was a lot of competition for this honor. 1998 landed in the half of the decade that gave us Fallout, The Elder Scrolls, a preview of another world in Final Fantasy VII (though the original PC port was one of the worst things you could inflict on your computer virus), and has seen Diablo reach a level of success that continues to resonate in the industry today.

BioWare was a little-known company whose previous game, the Mech Shattered Steel simulator, had come and gone with great fanfare.

A better assertion is that it made Dungeons & Dragons cool again …this is almost impossible to deny. This allowed both to put the series back on PC and to ensure that most of the suite continues to be in debt through these tedious days of table dice throwing.

The irony is that even though for the moment Baldur's Gate felt rationalized and traditional, coming back to it now is finding a really difficult game. Not only is it flooded with terms like THAC0, but the original version was so strict that it would not let you pause if you were pinched in inventory during the fight. However, he was not competing with current role plays. It was compared to the famous Gold Box games in all their glory, in turn, and individual games for fans who are not afraid of names like "Menzoberranzan".

Beside these, the combined effect of Baldur & # 39; s Gate's beautiful backgrounds, its magical effects and its fluid interface gave the impression of being carried away by a gorgeous creek … at least for a time.

The Friendly Arm Inn, via AwesomeStrong

That helped Baldur's Gate take the world by surprise. BioWare was a little-known company whose previous game, the Mech Shattered Steel simulator, had come and gone with great fanfare. Suddenly, being confronted with this gloriously beautiful, complex and personality-filled adventure was … well, not a million miles away from Peter Jackson who was going from Bad Taste to Lord of the Rings.

Almost immediately, characters like Minsc and his giant miniature Boo Space Hamster became well-known names of the players, while the Forgotten Realms section from Candlekeep to the Baldur holder became his home after a good fifty or so adventures.

The combat system was perhaps the biggest individual success, far from the usual scrum of the two role-action games and Ultima, which was not particularly interested in this aspect of things. It also did not look like the turn-based action of Fallout and his pals: Baldur's Gate had a fluid system in real time with pause. This allowed the action to move quickly and freely, while allowing appropriate tactics.

While technically, everything was still played in rounds and with rolls of dice, all this was pushed under the surface to allow a much more visceral and freer action in 1998. The warriors charged the fight with their saber-and-board ready , while the casters stayed with spells and prayer books full of tactical options to help things one way or another. It was exactly what the genre needed at the time: the feel of D & D, with PC as an invisible dungeon master.

There were of course problems. It was BioWare's first role-playing game, and even then it was obvious. Most of the players soon came up against a roadblock at the first important point outside the friendly Arm Inn tutorial, where an assassin was waiting to end his quest. It was not necessarily a problem if you had hired help earlier, but the riders especially felt the edge of starting with barely enough HP to withstand a light wind. Later, the course of the game tended to push unsuspecting players too quickly into areas for which they were not ready, especially the mines filled with Nashkel kobold.

The story has often been overlooked (starting with a villain who sincerely thought that toppling his name from Sarevok to Koveras is a nifty project) and no one encouraged the addition of enemies like basilics capable of killing the character. (For reasons that were not welcomed until the second part, the party would not burst the resurrection spells of their fallen leader, which would make them look like ungrateful bastards.)

But none of that counted, at least at the time, mainly because of the personality of the rest of the party. This ranged from the long conversation with your party to the comical moments with the NPCs – the highlight being the opportunity to be pampered enough and come back with the best dialogue option in the history of gender. White:

"Okay, I have almost my enigma, a summons, insults, bedbugs, hostages, iron fools, arse idiots, monsters and criminals who continually test my will, my courage, my strength, my intelligence and more than anything, patience! If you have a direct response ANYWHERE in your little curved head, I want to hear it very quickly, or I'll take a big, blunt object the size of Elminster AND his hat and stuff it lengthwise. a crevice of your being so seldom seen that even the inhabitants of the Nine Hells themselves would not touch him with a twenty-foot rusty halberd! Did I make myself perfectly clear ?! "

All a jump from "Name? Employment? Goodbye."

The city of Baldur Gate

It goes without saying that Baldur's Gate 2 will see many improvements. The story is better, the path is better and the second chapter, in which you simply try to raise funds by taking jobs (each the equivalent of a D & D module per se), is one of the best of the kind. BioWare's writing and design has also improved, making romance a key element of RPGs and putting more emphasis on the party.

Something we have lost since then is the element of choice here, with the Baldur's original Gate offering some 25 potential party members from each class and alignment, with the possibility of real clashes between parties on the good and the bad, etc., against only nine mostly imposed by BioWare's latest fantasy, Dragon Age: Inquisition. Similarly, while Baldur's Gate offers only six seats, there are only four. You can even fill them with your own characters, though without stories, or play in multiplayer with friends.

The legacy of Baldur's Gate continues however, even after the departure of BioWare. Its engine, Infinity, gave us the fabulous Planescape Torment and Icewind Dale, and the RPG players remember so sweetly that Obididian managed to turn a promise of using something of his style into an extremely successful Kickstarter for what would become pillars of eternity. Beamdog continued to work with the original games to produce the improved editions of both Baldur's Gate adventures (including the final throne / final Trone of Bhaal) and created his own film, Siege of Dragonspear.

And that does not include the games that followed. Without Baldur's Gate, we would not have played games like The Witcher (the first was built on the engine Neverwinter Nights), Knights of the Old Republic, Dragon Age or Mass Effect. Oh, or Jade Empire. Whether you like or dislike BioWare's legacy, the genre would be at a very different place if Shattered Steel 2 had been created instead.


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