Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale, Torment, NWN all coming to consoles this year

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#1 Posted by Rorie (5923 posts) -

Sounds like a whole lot of portage is going on.

February 7, 2019 (Los Angeles, CA) – Skybound Games and Beamdog today announced a publishing partnership that will bring classic roleplaying videogames Baldur’s Gate, Baldur’s Gate ll, Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear, Icewind Dale, Planescape: Torment, and Neverwinter Nights to console platforms in 2019.

Beamdog is known for bringing enhanced versions of Dungeons & Dragons videogames to fans both new and old on the PC platform, including the critically acclaimed Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights and Planescape: Torment. Six of Beamdog’s fan-favorite games will be released on console platforms for the first time ever via Skybound all as Enhanced Editions sold at retail stores and online (www.Skybound.com). These upcoming releases will allow RPG fans the opportunity to experience epic Dungeons & Dragons adventures in a whole new way.

This is all, uh, neat, I guess, but most of the games are available in perfectly good enhanced editions on PC, which is definitely where it seems like they should be played if you're going to play them. It'd be interesting to see how these run on the Switch, though; if they're at all decent they might be an interesting plane game? It's too bad no one knows how to port IWD2, though, as that's low-key one of the best Infinity Engine games.

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#2 Posted by DasaKamov (1171 posts) -

Interesting, but I'd be interested in who the target demographic for this package would be. As you pointed out, several versions of these games already exist on the PC (*and* the PC versions allow for community mods which fixed long-outstanding bugs and even restored cut content).

And for those who would say, "but you can now take these games on the go", all of these games have been available on both Android and iOS devices for years.

I guess the Switch version would be nice for those who want to take the games to-go and don't have a tablet?

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#3 Posted by Relkin (1222 posts) -

Playing any of those games with a controller seems like it would be...slow. I'd be interested to see it in action, but I already own most of those games (both the original and the enhanced) on PC, so I have no intention of purchasing them again. I'd be interested to see Beamdog try something original again. Siege of Dragonspear felt like a pretty good first attempt, and I would have really liked to see what their second would have been.

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#4 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8958 posts) -

I can't figure out who this is marketed to. Those games should basically run on everything, right?

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#5 Edited by Tennmuerti (9465 posts) -

Maaan, this prompted me to try and find out what the hell happened to rights to such classic IPs how come this lucrative nugget hasn't been scooped up by some bigger industry player; and that opened a whole can of worms of rights transfers and licenses between Bioware, Interplay, Atari, Hasbro, WotC, Beamdog. You could make friggin flow chart out of this along with a timeline.

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#6 Posted by Mike (17998 posts) -

I wonder if Baldurs Gate and Icewind Dale are just ports of the Android ports.

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#7 Edited by SethMode (2115 posts) -

Man, I know this is almost DEFINITELY going to disappoint me but I am still going to buy these because I am a fucking sucker.

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#8 Edited by Efesell (4645 posts) -

The real concern is I don't know anyone who has ever played these games not intensely modded out.

Like out the box Baldur's Gate is bullshit.

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#9 Posted by Relkin (1222 posts) -

@efesell: I've played through all of these games and never used a mod for any of them. Is there any particular mod or mods that you would recommend? I seem to recall someone remaking BG1 in NWN2, but that's all that comes to mind.

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#10 Edited by BrunoTheThird (857 posts) -

I get severely tired playing these kinds of games with a mouse and keyboard, and I don't have the strength/endurance to use touchscreens for long periods of time due to a wasting disease, so this is kind of a huge deal for me, as controllers require far less effort for me to use. I'm okay with imperfect versions of games if it means I can actually play them comfortably - not every release needs to appeal to the same people. Sometimes niché markets exist that you haven't thought about. This is news I've been hoping for since I first beat Planescape: Torment with agonized upper arms.

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#11 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1441 posts) -

D&D has seen a resurgence in recent years, but yeah, this is weird. Some of these games (like older versions of D&D) just don't appeal to modern gaming sensibilities, even a primarily console gamer with a non-gaming laptop could play these, and these games have been available for cheap for a long time on Steam and GoG.

Not only that, there are also a number of newer, pretty good isometric party-based games on PC and console these days (in no particular order): Pillars of Eternity, Shadowrun, Tides of Numenera, Divinity, most recently Pathfinder Kingmaker.

If someone checks these out and enjoys them, that's great! More people playing more games is good! It's just that, yeah, I'm with you all on asking who is this for?

The time for THAC0 has passed.

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#12 Posted by Onemanarmyy (4610 posts) -

i'd love to see sale numbers on these versions. I feel like it can't be more than a few.. hundred people for each game?

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#13 Edited by Justin258 (15693 posts) -

I would just like to remind people that there's a significant portion of the game-playing public that fits three different criteria:

1) Enjoys in-depth and complex RPG's.

2) Does not particularly care for playing games on the PC.

3) Strongly prefers controllers, even if that means the control scheme they have to use is clunky and slow. (Don't forget that Pinnacle Game Profiler is a thing and people make profiles for all kinds of games)

I own these games on GOG - all of them, actually - and at least a few enhanced editions on Steam. I don't really think I'll be purchasing these, but a few years ago this news would have gotten me pretty excited enough to re-purchase them so I could play them on the big TV, in good old console comfort. Pillars of Eternity and Divinity: Original Sin 2 seem to have done very well on consoles, so there's definitely an audience for this variety of game. And it's not like Baldur's Gate II and Icewind Dale are that much more complex or obtuse than their modern day counterparts. And if they are, there's a lot of resources online for explaining how to play the game. Also, don't forget that we live in a post Dark Souls world, where being obtuse and complex gets you compared to one of the most celebrated series of the 2010's.

That isn't to say that Beamdog and Skybound will do this well. They're going to need to do extensive UI adjustments, including making text much bigger and much easier to read, before these games are playable on a couch from across the room. They're also going to have to do a lot of work to make these games playable with a controller in the first place. I think it can be done, but it will take a heroic effort and a lot of very smart design decisions.

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#14 Edited by frytup (1368 posts) -

Zero interest in playing those games on console, but I admit I kind of appreciate the fact that Beamdog is still thinking up ways to squeeze blood from the Infinity Engine stone.

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#15 Posted by SirOptimusPrime (2072 posts) -

@brunothethird: Yeah, I'm glad you brought this up. I'm usually in the "Who would play this on console?" crowd but I guess I just hadn't thought about it that hard before. Hope you enjoy these, Baldur's Gate 2 is one that I wish everyone at least touched at some point if only to really see where all of the "BioWare-isms" from the early 2000's onward originated.

Without the full digression, it also replicates a tabletop experience that I've never really seen elsewhere. Glad even more folks can get to experience that.

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#16 Posted by sparky_buzzsaw (8958 posts) -
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#17 Edited by ArbitraryWater (15756 posts) -

The concept of playing any of these games on a console in 2019 is the most wild shit possible. There's a certain perverse appeal to something like Planescape Torment showing up on the Switch or something, even if these games are absolutely not made for a controller. It only took 20 years, but the dream of the canceled PS1 port of Baldur's Gate has finally been realized.

@efesell said:

The real concern is I don't know anyone who has ever played these games not intensely modded out.

Like out the box Baldur's Gate is bullshit.

To be fair, the Enhanced Editions of all of the Infinity Engine games incorporate a lot of the quality of life stuff you'd get from downloading a bunch of mods, like widescreen support, all of the BG2 class kits, difficulty tweaks, larger arrow capacity, etc. While one can definitely have a more customizable experience modding the hell out of the vanilla IE games, the EEs are a perfectly valid way to play those games if you don't want to spend multiple hours going through websites that haven't been redesigned since 2001.

Of course, the drawback to not needing to dig through a bunch of mods is that you occasionally deal with Beamdog's "additions." While I can't speak to their treatment of Baldur's Gate 2, the new NPCs in the first game stick out like a sore thumb tonally. There's also Siege of Dragonspear (AKA Baldur's Gate: The Pre-Sequel), which is, uh, weird? It's a half BG reunion special, half fan-fiction and also a surprisingly decent case for making a modern Infinity Engine game if Pillars of Eternity and Pathfinder Kingmaker didn't already exist.

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#18 Edited by Oodli (246 posts) -

If the controls are good, I'm gonna be ALL over this. I don't want to play on my PC at all so this is a good way for me to finally get into these games.

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#19 Edited by BrunoTheThird (857 posts) -

@siroptimusprime: You're right about not necessarily thinking deeply about every market that there could possibly be -- we all do it -- but in yours and others' defenses: why would you? It is pretty strange for old PC games that required so much clicking and quick key-presses to excel at to be converted into console-friendly variants, but there's a decent amount of people who favour controllers for whatever reason and want to play games they've heard are awesome. I doubt this was Beamdog's main reasoning, they're interested in maximizing profits like most companies, but I often benefit from seemingly pointless projects. Will it go gangbusters? No, no way, but I'm sure they'll make some thousands. Even if they don't come half as close to the Diablo 3 console experience in terms of intuitive controls, or if people say they control like shit when they come out, I'll buy all of them, adapt to their shortcomings, and finally experience some important games.

Justin258 mentioned Pinnacle Profiler, and that was my go-to program for enabling controller usage in games like Vampire: the Masquerade, etc., but Steam's native controller configurator has been a godsend. I have finished so many terrific games without controller support in the last couple years, but the classic CRPGs have eluded me like Moby Dick.

@sparky_buzzsaw: Yeah, I'm overjoyed tbh, haha.

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#20 Posted by nutter (2400 posts) -

Cool. I have a lot of these on PC, but I enjoy my couch and console more.

If the ports are perfectly servicable, and priced to match, I’ll rebuy them on a platform I’m more likely to use.

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#21 Posted by cloudymusic (2137 posts) -

I would definitely be down to play original NWN again (assuming the expansions come with it) on a console. I've been vaguely meaning to revisit it for a while, but I just don't usually like playing mouse-driven games for long stretches anymore.

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#22 Posted by YoThatLimp (2512 posts) -

I would buy them all on Switch - I know, I am a sucker, but being able to play Icewind Dale 2 while commuting sounds pretty baller.

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#23 Edited by frytup (1368 posts) -

@yothatlimp said:

I would buy them all on Switch - I know, I am a sucker, but being able to play Icewind Dale 2 while commuting sounds pretty baller.

Probably shouldn't hold your breath on that one. The Icewind Dale 2 source code was lost, which is why an "enhanced edition" doesn't exist. I don't claim to know what their process is for porting those games, but I'm guessing that without the source it's very difficult if not impossible.

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#24 Posted by DasaKamov (1171 posts) -

@cloudymusic: While I feel you, I think a NWN-on-console would be sorely lacking without access to the many fan-created modules (the SSI "Gold Box" re-creations were a high point of my time with Neverwinter Nights. ;) )

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#25 Posted by mavs (389 posts) -

NWN1 on a console is one of the weirder ideas I've heard for a video game.

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#26 Edited by Captain_Insano (3541 posts) -

I was completely indifferent to the idea.

Then I read Switch and I was totally back on board.

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#27 Edited by Hayt (1698 posts) -

I am totally okay with the infinity engine games becoming the new Doom. Port this shit to your smart fridge. At first I was a bit unsure as to who the games in these platforms would be for but accessibility sounds like a great benefit. I'm not sure I like Beamdogs additions to Baldurs Gate but if they did their own D&D game I'd be all aboard.

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#28 Posted by Efesell (4645 posts) -

Beamdogs unique stuff in those games is definitely super noticeable but it's also of a similar quality to what I had seen from fan made content throughout the years so some how it felt really at home.

I think it's mostly noticeable with BG1 since adding character stories to that game feels really weird considering how little of that stuff it actually had.

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#29 Posted by cloudymusic (2137 posts) -

@cloudymusic: While I feel you, I think a NWN-on-console would be sorely lacking without access to the many fan-created modules (the SSI "Gold Box" re-creations were a high point of my time with Neverwinter Nights. ;) )

I never used any mods, so it'll be fine for me. :P But yeah, I totally understand I don't exactly represent the majority here.

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#30 Edited by Efesell (4645 posts) -

I've had the CEP stuff for NWN for so long that I couldn't actually identify what is or is not just stock for that game.

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#31 Posted by norm9 (65 posts) -

I've got Baldurs Gate on my phone but it's a pain to play with the small screen. Looking forward to it on console so I can play it without mashing my screen multiple times and also straining my eyes.

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#32 Edited by Bonbonetti (108 posts) -

It's funny how people never question the validity of console games releasing on PC, but will always question the reverse. If they have reached a point where these games are simply not selling on PC anymore, it's natural to expand to consoles, since any sales is better than zero sales.

If PC developers can make Diablo 3, Divinity Original Sin 1+2, Pillars of Eternity 1+2, Wasteland 2, and Torment Tides of Numenera playable with a controller (including a Steam controller), they can make these ones playable with a console controller as well.

I never used any mods when I played these games on PC, they worked just fine I played them (not at launch), and they will "remaster" them before a console launch anyway to make sure they run well. To me mods have always been overrated. I really don't get why people think they are such a necessity, to me that's absurd.

My concern: is it not better to wait for the PS5 launch instead?