Baldur's Gate is a fantasy role-playing game developed by Bioware and released in 1998 for the PC. It is the first role-playing game developed by Bioware and it ushered forth a new age of PC role-playing games set within the numerous Dungeons and Dragons universes. It was first game to use Bioware's Infinity Engine which was used for several RPGs to follow. In Baldur's Gate, the player creates their own customizable hero, selecting their sex, character portrait, race, class, abilities, alignment, and voice. In the role of this character, the player will set off on an epic adventure along the Sword Coast.
The player will battle powerful characters and savage monsters, investigate the iron crisis, and gain numerous allies on the way to finding their mentor's murderer. The game's story is told through in-game scripted cutscenes, text-based dialogue with hand drawn portraits of significant characters, pre-rendered movies at significant places, and voiced intros for each chapter.
An enhanced version of Baldur's Gate is now available for tablets and modern PCs.
The game opens with a quote:
"He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster... when you gaze long into the abyss, the abyss also gazes into you..."
As the pre-rendered cutscene plays, a fully armored knight stumbles out onto the roof of a building. The door to the roof shuts behind him as he falls to his knees in exhaustion. He hears his pursuer coming, and as he turns his head to see him his pursuer breaks through the door. It is a large figure, clad in dark spiked armor and bellowing a deeply sinister laugh. He stands in the doorway a moment, signifying his presence. The scared knight scoots away on his back, whimpering, "No, you can't!" The armored figure states, "I will be the last, and you will go first," as if to explain his following actions. He laughs and continues walking towards the knight, who has now backed himself against the iron fence bordering the roof. "There are others. I can show you! Please! Please!" the knight cries. He turns and tries to grab the iron fence. He looks back at the armored figure just as he punches him to the floor, knocking his helmet off. The figure laughs as he grabs the man by his throat, pulling him to his feet and pushing him through the iron fence. He now has the man dangling over the city below, kicking frantically and choking. "Please" the man is able to say once more. The camera pans towards the glowing yellow eyes of the armored figure as a loud snapping sound is heard. The figure continues his demonic laugh and then hurls the man off the building. He falls lifelessly down to the cobblestone streets below. Blood drips from his body, making its own path through the bumpy cobblestones. A single trail of blood flows into the top of an out-of-place "S," and as the streets fade to black, the camera zooms out and reveals the game's title, "Baldur's Gate."
You start the game in the manor of Candlekeep, a secluded academy dedicated to the preservation of literature and knowledge. You learn that you were raised in the Keep after being found as an orphaned child out in the world. Your adoptive father is a powerful mage named Gorion, and you have just received word that you and he have to leave the citadel. You are told to see Gorion as soon as possible, as there is something very urgent he needs to tell you. There are various tasks to be done and supplies to gather in the city, but once you feel you are ready you set out with Gorion. He instructs you that if trouble should befall him on your journey, you are to head to the Friendly Arm Inn, where he has friends. As night falls on the first day out of the Keep, you and your mentor are suddenly ambushed by the man from the earlier cinematic as well as two Ogres and a woman. Gorion tells you to flee for your safety and prepares to fight the band of villains. Gorion is able to kill the Ogres and woman, but in the end he is slain by the Armored Figure.
Following the death of your foster father, you will (if you follow the suggested game outline) head to the Friendly Arm Inn to meet with Gorion's old Harper friends, the strong-willed Jaheira and her timid husband Khalid. On the way to the inn, an old man stops you. While it ostensibly has something to do with the plot, it is merely fan service because it is Elminster. After you join up with your father's friends, they tell you how they were planning on heading south, to Nashkel, to deal with an iron crisis that has gripped the entire Sword Coast. You agree to help them, and your new party heads off south to find adventure. The game is, however, designed with a great amount of flexibility, and even though dealing with the situation in Nashkel is required to unlock later chapters of the game, you are free to pick your own path in getting there. One options is for instance to travel with Xzar and Montaron, who meet you on the road out of Candlekeep and are also headed to Nashkel to investigate the iron problem. The only path that is closed to you is to return to Candlekeep; nobody is allowed inside without offering an expensive book as their entrance fee.
Soon, you are caught up in a major crisis that on the surface appears to be an economic plot, led by the Iron Throne, to destroy all iron reserves on the Sword Coast and force the local governments into capitulating to their demands. However, it turns out that it is all part of a plot by Sarevok, your father's murderer and your estranged half-brother, to kill as many children of Bhaal as he can in order to gain power. It turns out you and Sarevok are both the mortal progeny of the former God of Murder - and no one will be able to take his mantle until all the other children of Bhaal are dead. As more children of Bhaal are slain at the hands of another, powers and abilities are unlocked within themselves due to the dark nature of their blood. Sarevok was targeting you - and it ends up being your quest to put an end to his reign of terror, and temporarily free the Sword Coast from the grips of evil.
Baldur's Gate is set in the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. More specifically it takes place on the continent of Faerûn on the planet of Abeir-Toril, an Earth-like planet. The world of Baldur's Gate most closely resembles the Medieval time period of history in terms of technology and social structures. However, the major and obvious difference between Faerûn and a Medieval Europe is the cornucopia of enchanted weapons, magic, monsters and other fantastic elements.
- Sword Coast
- Cloudpeak Mountains
- Wood of Sharp Teeth
- The Harpers
- The Red Wizards of Thay
- The Iron Throne
- The Flaming Fist
- The Black Talons
Baldur's Gate is a role playing game based on the AD&D 2nd Edition ruleset. Although it would be difficult to incorporate every aspect of a pen and paper RPG, Baldur's Gate offers a faithful translation of the source material into video-game form. The game can be played in real-time, much like an action game, can be manually paused at any time to give orders, or can be set to automatically pause when various conditions are met (someone is injured, someone runs out of ammo, after every round, etc.) Having the game pause after every round of combat closely mirrors the gameplay of the tabletop versions of D&D, and makes Baldur's Gate feel very much like a turn based strategy game. Some concepts in Baldur's Gate, such as spell-casting, questing, stat-based gameplay, inventory management, and even non-combat solutions to problems have direct correlation to core gameplay elements in Advanced Dungeons & Dragons.
Also from AD&D come the races and classes available for player characters. Characters can be either male or female versions of a Dwarf, Elf, Gnome, Half-Elf, Halfling or a Human. Each of the races offers different bonuses or handicaps in different areas of gameplay. Once a race is selected, the player can then pick from one of eight classes: Cleric, Druid, Thief, Bard, Fighter, Ranger, Paladin or Mage. Furthermore, Mages can specialize in one of the schools of magic, gaining bonus spells from the school while losing access to spells from an opposing school. Each class has unique abilities and this choice largely dictates how your character would approach combat situations. There is also an option to Multiclass or Dual Class. Human characters who have reached at least level two in their first class can choose to Dual Class, and start leveling in a different class. Once their new class outlevels their original class, they regain all the skills and abilities they had gained in their first class. Non-human characters can be created as Multiclass characters, where you can gain the abilities and features of two or three class at the expense of a slower progression in each class; a "jack of all trades, master of none" approach. Human characters can't Multiclass and non-human characters can't Dual Class, and both Multiclassing and Dual Classing are limited to certain combinations of Fighter, Mage, Cleric, Thief, Ranger and Druid.
There are also attributes that represent how effective characters are in the game. Strength, Intelligence, Wisdom, Dexterity, Constitution and Charisma all influence how well characters attack, defend, and interact with others. These attributes are rolled by the engine as 3D6, with some modifiers for the Non-human races. Important attributes for each class will have an elevated minimum value. A Human character's attributes will also determine whether or not the character can be Dual Classed; the character must have at least 15 in the prime attributes of the first class, and at least 17 in those of the second class, in order to be eligible for Dual Classing, and the character's alignment must also be compatible with the desired new class. For instance, a Fighter would need Str 15 and Wis 17 in order to Dual Class to Cleric, but there would be no alignment incompatibilities. A fighter who wanted to Dual Class to Druid would need Str 15, Wis 17 and Cha 17, and would also need to be of True Neutral alignment.
The Infinity Engine
The Infinity Engine was developed by BioWare for a project called Battleground Infinity, which ultimately became Baldur's Gate. BioWare used it again in several installments of the Baldur's Gate Series, and also licensed the Engine to Interplay's Black Isle Studios. The Infinity Engine allows real-time gameplay. The AD&D RPG stats are 'rolled', and the player can either pause the game or let the events happen without stopping the action. The engine uses an isometric perspective with pre-rendered 2D backgrounds and sprite-based characters. It was one of the very first games to use the LUA-Scripting Language, allowing to script events and customize the behavior of NPC's. The game also allows the players to import custom sound files and pictures for the playable characters in the game. The mod-scene embraced the Infinity Engine, and there are many mods and files available for the game - even a custom character sound set featuring the voices of Dr. Ray Muzyka (CEO, Producer of the game) and James Ohlen (Lead Designer) of BioWare.
Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition
An updated and remastered version of Baldur's Gate developed by Beamdog (consisting of former Bioware employees and Infinity Engine modders) was released on PC November 28th, 2012 with an iOS version following shortly thereafter. Features of the Enhanced Edition include:
- many of the tweaks and enhancements added in Baldur's Gate II
- built-in functionality for some of the most popular community made mods
- rebuilt engine that improves framerate and responsiveness regardless of underlying hardware
- support for modern resolutions and camera zoom levels
- improved pathfinding AI
- hundreds of new bugfixes
- 3 new companions with personal side quests of their own, and another secret companion
- new playable class kits, such as Dwarven Defender and Blackguard
- The Black Pits, a standalone mini-campaign focused on combat arena battles
The Siege of Dragonspear
An all-new expansion campaign was added as paid DLC on March 31, 2016. Siege of Dragonspear bridges the story from the end of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition to the beginning of Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition. It includes new areas, items, enemies, and companions. Some classic characters, such as Minsc and Irenicus, return with newly recorded voice acting by their original voice actors who have reprised their roles.
The Stage Is Set
Attacked By Assassins
Exploring The Plains
Hobgoblins And Worgs
Night On The Plains
The Gibberling Horde
The Ruins Of Ulcaster
Swords Against Darkness
Safe In Beregost
The Beregost Night
Attacked By Bounty Hunters
Night In Cloakwood
From Out Of The Storm
The Friendly Arms Inn
Stealth In The Bandit Camp
Entering Baldur's Gate
Streets Of The City
Night Falls On Baldur's Gate
The Lady's House
Down To The Sewers
Fighting For Survival
The Last Battle
End Of The Quest
PC System Requirements
Minimum System Requirements
- Windows 95/98/NT/ME/2000/XP/Vista
- 2 MB Video RAM
- 166 MHz Intel Pentium 3 or AMD K6-III
- Hard Drive Installation 320 MB
- 4x CD or DVD-ROM (depending on your retail-version)
- Direct X 3.0 or higher
Recommended System Requirements
- Windows 95/98/NT/ME/2000/XP/Vista
- 200 MHz Intel Pentium or equivalent AMD Duron/Athlon
- 4 MB Video RAM
- Hard Drive Installation 570 MB
- 8x CD or DVD-ROM (depending on your retail-version)
- Direct X 5.0 or higher
- Multiplayer-Mode ( Modem-to-modem, null modem, IPX, TCP/IP)
Unreleased PS1 Port
Baldur's Gate was ported to the PlayStation by UK based developer Runecraft with a tentative 2000 release. However, due to quality and cost concerns it was canceled with only a few rare prototypes being produced. As of December 2009, the ISOs for one of these prototypes was leaked onto the internet by a private collector. The leaked build is playable and features significantly scaled down art and sound assets from the PC version, but is clearly not final.
- 1998: Original release
- 1999: Release of the Tales of the Sword Coast expansion pack
Baldur's Gate was re-released by Good Old Games as "Baldur's Gate - The Original Saga" and contains the main game (Baldur's Gate) and its expansion ( Tales of the Sword Coast) for $10 (at normal non/sales price) with compatibility & support for Windows XP, Vista, and 7 for both 32 and 64-bit.
Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition is now available through digital distribution by Beamdog.