I have a deep fondness for old school computer games — especially classic RPGs like Wizardry, Pool of Radiance, Wasteland, Starflight, and Baldur’s Gate. Those games helped get me through my teen years (and most of grad school, now that I think about it). So when Beamdog announced an Enhanced Edition of Baldur’s Gate in November 2012, I was thrilled.
Beamdog was founded by two ex-employees of Bioware, the company that created some of the finest computer RPGs ever made, including Baldur’s Gate, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, and Mass Effect. Co-founder Trent Oster and lead programmer Cameron Tofer formed Beamdog in July 2010 with the vision of bringing old school RPGs to modern platforms, and spent two years lovingly crafting a complete re-write of Baldur’s Gate — originally released only for Windows 95/98 — for modern versions of Windows, iPad , OS X, and Android. Their version eventually included over 400 enhancements, like new high-res cinematics, UI improvements, enhanced multiplayer, bug fixes and higher level caps, and over six hours of bonus quests & new adventures. It was, in short, the ultimate edition of Baldur’s Gate.
As excited as I was to see the Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition — and its sequel, Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition, released in 2013 — I was even more delighted to learn that Beamdog’s next project was Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition. Icewind Dale was my favorite of the Dungeons & Dragons Infinity Engine line of games (which included Baldur’s Gate I and II, Planescape: Torment, and several others), and I have very fond memories of playing it with my children over a dozen years ago.
Now Beamdog has made Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition available for pre-order on their website for just $19.99, in a package that also includes both of the expansion packs: Heart of Winter and Trials of the Luremaster. Check out the trailer for the enhanced edition above.
Much as I appreciate finally having a version of one of my favorite computer games available on modern platforms, I’m even more impressed with the thoroughness Beamdog has put into this release. Like the Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Editions, this isn’t just a quick port to cash in on the popularly of classic video games. It’s a sincere effort to create the definitive version of one of the greatest RPGs ever created. They’ve added a lot of new features, including — most marvelous of all! — a multiplayer option.
Here’s the complete description , including a detailed list of the enhancements in this new version:
Evil is growing beneath the Spine of the World.
In the northernmost reaches of the Forgotten Realms lies the region of icy tundra known as Icewind Dale. Journey deep into the Spine of the World mountains, a harsh and unforgiving territory settled by only the hardiest folk. Beneath the carven glaciers and mountainsides, you must confront an evil that schemes to wreak destruction upon the face of Faerûn. This is the world of Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition.
Originally released in 2000, Icewind Dale is a Dungeons & Dragons game set in Wizards of The Coast’s legendary Forgotten Realms. This Enhanced Edition allows players to experience the epic adventure on PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android tablets and phones, and includes a host of new features:
• Swords and Sorcery: Discover dozens of new spells and items, including new magic armor and weapons.
• Blackguards and Wizard Slayers: Select from over 30 new kits and classes to create the perfect adventuring party.
• Bring A Friend: Join your fellow adventurers in cooperative, cross-platform multiplayer games.
• See The Unseen: Explore quest content cut from the original game, now finished and restored.
• More to Experience: Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition includes both the Heart of Winter and Trials of the Luremaster expansion packs.
Unlike Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale was not actually created by Bioware. Instead, it was written by Black Isle, Interplay’s legendary RPG design studio, creators of Fallout 2 (1998), Planescape: Torment (1999), Icewind Dale II (2002), and many other games.
In other Beamdog news, the company has announced that it is also at work on Baldur’s Gate III. Initially thought to be a continuation of Baldur’s Gate: The Black Hound, the Baldur’s Gate sequel Interplay abandoned when Black Isle shut down in 2003, Beamdog has since clarified that the game will be an original creation.
I can’t let an article about Icewind Dale wrap up without mentioning the tremendous soundtrack by Jeremy Soule, strains of which you can hear in the video above. One of the versions of the game I bought years ago included the soundtrack and I wore that thing out.
Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition doesn’t have an actual release date (the website claims it “has entered beta and will release “when it’s ready” to ensure the best experience for players, likely within a month.”) Learn more — or place your pre-order — at the website.