Baldur’s Gate II Retrospective

Having recently reminisced about the original Baldur’s Gate, you might now want to look back at the second entry in this venerable series. If that’s the case, you should check out this GameCrate article that tells the tale of Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, its Throne of Bhaal expansion, and the canceled Baldur’s Gate III: The Black Hound. The article also mentions all the studios that at some point worked on the series, which is another interesting angle.

Here are a few sample paragraphs:

Looking back on it now, it’s not too surprising that Baldur’s Gate 2 wound up being such a massive success since BioWare was technically playing with a stacked deck from the start. The studio had taken the feedback it received for Baldur’s Gate, both the good and the bad, and distilled it down into a list of key features and improvements that would be added into the sequel.

This list of features included, among other things, support for higher screen resolutions, non-pausing multiplayer dialogue, romance options for NPC’s, dual wielding of weapons, specialized kits (sub-classes) for all of the game’s character classes, and the presence of iconic AD&D monsters such as dragons. Along with the eight D&D character classes from the original Baldur’s Gate (fighter, paladin, ranger, thief, druid, mage, cleric, and bard), three additional classes (sorcerer, barbarian, and monk) were also added in. These new classes and kits meshed perfectly with the sequel’s expanded alignment system, affording players more leeway in how they roleplayed their characters.

The sequel’s story, while functioning as a continuation of events from the first game, also introduced enough original elements that those who hadn’t played the original Baldur’s Gate didn’t feel like they were missing critical information. Existing fans, meanwhile, appreciated the many upgrades BioWare had made to Baldur’s Gate 2’s gameplay and story. If Baldur’s Gate was BioWare’s proof-of-concept for how a digital D&D game might work, Baldur’s Gate 2 was the best possible representation of the studio hitting its stride.