5/26 – Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn

Hello and welcome! My name is Katosepe and I’ll be your host for today’s Video Game of the Day.

It’s the penultimate day of Sequels Week and there are few sequels I love more than this one. Pull out your d20’s for today’s game, Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn.

While Baldur’s Gate 1 was critically and commercially acclaimed, Bioware had much they wanted to improve upon with their second go at making a computer RPG. They spent a significant amount of time working on improving the Infinity Engine used to power both games. They increased support for D&D mechanics such as dual wielding that were left out of the first game. Graphics and UI were also improved greatly, allowing for added 800 x 600 support. Finally, pathfinding for the characters was worked on significantly, as many players complained that getting characters to move precisely was difficult in the first game.

After two years, a long development cycle for the time, Baldur’s Gate 2 was released in 2000. The game allows players to import their saves although only certain items are brought over. Players start the game kidnapped by the evil wizard Jon Irenicus. After reuniting with a select group of allies from the first game, players escape but Imoen, the player’s childhood friend, is arrested by a group of wizards who teleport off to realms unknown. The player is tasked to find Imoen and discover what Jon Irenicus wants.

Baldur’s Gate 2 uses 2nd edition Dungeons and Dragons rules in the background but has players battle in real-time, pausable combat. Players can venture with up to six characters with their own character fully customizable. Companions are pre-made characters, each with their own personalities. While Baldur’s Gate 1 used a similar system, Baldur’s Gate 2 attempted to increase each companion’s agency and characterization, leading to more, deeper conversations with each companion. Like the first game, each companion also has their own motivations and if those clash with the main character, the companion may leave the party. Baldur’s Gate 2 also offers multiplayer where up to 6 players can play together, each with their own custom character.

Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn was regarded as being even better than the already great Baldur’s Gate. The side-quests were loved for being always more than simple fetch quests. Each quest had its own involved story for the player to invest in as much or as little as they liked. While the plot was not praised as much as Planescape: Torment, it was still seen as a big step up from Baldurs Gate or Icewind Dale. To this day, Baldur’s Gate is one of the most beloved computer RPGs ever made. In February 2019, it was announced that Baldur’s Gate 2, along with all of the other Infinity Engine games other than Icewind Dale 2, would be getting ports to modern consoles.

Thanks so much for listening to the show. If you want to hear more episodes, check out the archives on videogameoftheday.com and also follow me on Twitter @vg_oftheday for updates and polls and random thoughts about whatever I happen to be playing or watching. Don’t forget to check back here tomorrow for another Video Game of the Day.

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