While there's absolutely no denying that Dungeons & Dragons has had an enormous influence on the video game landscape over the past 35 years, I can't help but feel that this three-page feature on Tom's Guide misses the mark by only focusing on Baldur's Gate and the several other D&D-based or D&D-inspired titles to be developed by BioWare, Black Isle Studios, and Obsidian Entertainment. I guess we'll just forget about the Gold Box, Ultima, Might and Magic, Wizardry, and Bard's Tale series for now:
As the project progressed, BioWare began to shape "Battleground Infinity" into something that would change gaming history. In 1998, Interplay's RPG division renamed itself Black Isle Studios, and released "Baldur's Gate" to the adoration of critics and fans alike.
"Baldur's Gate" was not the first D&D RPG; they had been around since the '80s. But "Baldur's Gate" offered something that most other PC RPGs could not deliver: accessibility.
Although you could bludgeon small animals to death with the game's doorstopper of an instruction manual, all you really needed to hit the ground running was the willingness to read in-game information. As you created a character, the game walked you through how a Fighter differs from a Ranger, and why a swordsman needs a lot of Strength while a Wizard needs Intelligence.
Extremely high production values also made the "Baldur's Gate" an attractive point of entry for newcomers. In the style of all today's games, a gorgeous full-motion video set up the game's well-paced story, and each important character had dozens of lines of spoken dialogue. The character models were big and colorful, and looked different depending on how you equipped them.
"'Baldur's Gate' is the whole package: narrative, quests, interesting dungeons to explore and an overarching epic storyline," said Avellone.
Taken together, the D&D games from BioWare, Black Isle and Obsidian form a massive, loosely connected series. "Baldur's Gate," "Icewind Dale" and "Neverwinter Nights" all take place in a specialized D&D setting known as "Forgotten Realms."
This fan-favorite locale has everything a discerning adventurer needs for an heroic tale: roving wizards, enchanted weapons, warring political factions and a huge world with frozen mountains, lush jungles and everything in-between.
"It's the natural setting for high fantasy," Avellone said. The only exception, he said, was "Planescape: Torment," which lets players journey through multiple dimensions that house strange and otherworldly creatures.