Baldurs Gate Part I: Nostalgia

Posted on December 11, 2012 by

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Wow, we have some interesting comments on the last few posts. It’s great to see new commentators, though not every comment has necessarily been about the post exactly. Or anything related to our blog. We’ll figure out where these bizarre comments are coming from, but a thank you for all of you new people posting about D&D and the blog!

 Baldurs’s Gate: Enhanced Edition has finally gone live after some delay and rescheduling. Being close to impoverished did not keep me from shelling over the $20 to purchase the PC version of the game, and I am not disappointed. The game feels almost identical to how it did when I played it in 1998, yet cleaner, smoother, and with some fun additional content. I would definitely suggest buying it, if only to encourage further development in the franchise, but my review of the Enhanced Edition will come Thursday. For now, I’m here to wax nostalgic.

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My D&D group knows of my adoration for the Baldur’s Gate franchise. I’m probably obnoxious about it, and perhaps I glorify the game a bit too much. Still, it’s hard not to idolize your first love. And, like your first love, maybe when someone else sees her for the first time, they’re not as blown away as you were. After all, she’s fourteen years older now. But you still see her as you did the first time: young, exciting, new; nothing you’ve every experienced before.

This metaphor is getting emphatically weird, and I am dropping it.

Baldur’s Gate was a first love for me, but for RPGs. I remember it clearly: It was around 1999, not long after the game was released. I was at my friend Brandon’s house, the man who introduced me to more than a few nerdy things (yeah you crazy ginger bastard, I blame you for all my screen names being skywise for the last 15 years). He sat me down and had me make my first D&D character ever: A human Paladin. I think that is in large part responsible for my love of the class.

I was immediately hooked. I went home and convinced my parents to purchase the game for me, and spent hours locked away playing it. I played through the entire game as a dwarven fighter with a questionable team. I had Garrick, the bard. He is often considered one of the most mediocre NPCs a group can have. He was my only spellcaster. He’s also probably the cause of my bizarre fascination with bards.

That's right, guys. Blame this asshole.

That’s right, guys. Blame this asshole.

While Baldur’s Gate was fun, BG2 was simply amazing. An improvement in every way, from story to characters to mechanics and encounters. The game was beautiful, engaging, and epic as you can get. It is, in my opinion, a perfect fantasy RPG. Whereas the first game is appealing primarily through nostalgia, I truly believe that the sequel is a brilliant game for new and old players alike.

Baldur’s Gate was my first real encounter with roleplaying games of any sort, and it stuck. My game world was heavily influenced by the Sword Coast to begin with. So many aspects of the storytelling and NPCs of the Baldur’s Gate series has snuck into my games, in both subtle, and more obvious ways. I do not think I would be playing, or writing this, today if not for Baldur’s Gate.

I realize there have been many fantastic RPGs since Shadows of Amn was released in 2000: The Elder Scrolls series, Dragon Age, Star Wars KOTOR, and Mass Effect, just to name a few. Some of these game may overshadow Baldur’s Gate as an RPG, though I would be loathe to ever admit such a thing. I know I really need to play them. Generally, I’d rather just play D&D with my friends than spend time with a computer RPG, but I couldn’t resist when Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition came out. There is something deeply rewarding that a game once so beloved has been touched up and re-released by its creators.

My first love just lost weight and got a cute new haircut, basically.

I disgust myself.

Thursday: A review of Enhanced Edition!

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Posted in: Casual