You Should Play: Baldur’s Gate, Enhanced Edition

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These days, keeping up with games can be a full-time job. So how do you separate the signal from the noise, the wheat from the chaff, the Temple Runs from the Temple Jumps? Allow us to help by regularly selecting a game You Should Play.

Before we had video games, we had Dungeons & Dragons—the original, die-rolling role-playing game. Baldur’s Gate, originally released for Windows in 1998, is a direct descendant of D&D: The game takes place in D&D’s Forgotten Realms campaign setting and follows D&D rules. And now it’s on Android and iOS.

If you played the original Baldur’s Gate back in 1998, you’ll appreciate Beamdog’s enhanced mobile version of the game, Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, which includes the original 60-hour quest and two expansions (Tales of the Sword Coast and The Black Pits). The world looks similar, albeit enhanced—with higher-res textures, details, and animations—to the way it did back then, and gameplay is also similar, minus the obvious touchscreen modifications. Old and new players alike will appreciate a few other features:

Character customization: A big part of Dungeons & Dragons, and RPGs in general, is character creation. Unfortunately, mobile RPGs often skimp on character customization and development, mainly because the market is casual and developers expect that players are looking for a game they can quickly pick up and master. But not Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition.

If you want to start playing right away, Baldur’s Gate offers up three generic, balanced quick character choices (a fighter, a thief, and a mage). But if you’d rather spend a little time creating the perfect character, complete with name and written-in back-story, this is definitely the game for you. Tapping “create” on the character generation screen lets you customize your character right down to the very last detail, including gender, race, class, alignment, abilities, skills, and appearance.

Because the game does draw from D&D, you choose your abilities based on total roll points (you can re-roll as many times as you like) that you can distribute across strength, dexterity, constitution, intelligence, wisdom, and charisma. At the end of the creation screen, you can pick your character’s voice (additional voices are available as an in-app purchase), name, and you can even write in a biography. 

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Build your own character from the ground up.

Endless gameplay: Ten bucks for a mobile game—are you crazy? Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is pricey, for sure, although it’s actually not that far outside the range of similar epic RPGs (case in point: Square Enix’s $16 Final Fantasy V for Android). Plus, you get a ridiculous amount of gameplay for your $10, so by the end of the game (if you ever finish the game), you’ll certainly feel like you got a deal.

First, there’s the learning curve: If this is your first time playing the game, it’s easy to spend an hour just playing through the tutorial and learning what all the buttons and menus represent, and how you can truly use the game’s pause button—which lets you pause the action during battle so you can line up spells and attacks for your character and NPCs to perform—to your advantage. Once you’ve finished the tutorial, you can start playing the actual game, which includes the original 60-hour-long epic quest (and that’s not even counting the numerous side quests you can partake in along the way).

Although the initial complexity of the game can be daunting, once you get the hang of it, Baldur’s Gate is an easy game to pick up and play casually for an hour or two. Assuming you don’t sit down and pull a 60-hour marathon at once, this game should last you several months to a year.

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Though it costs some money up front, it promises a 60-hour-long quest, with side quests along the way. In short: It will keep you plenty busy.

A true RPG: I mentioned earlier that newcomers might find Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition a little dated-looking on their mobile devices. And while this is true—let’s just say you can tell that this world wasn’t made with Unreal Engine—the game still does an excellent job of drawing you in and making you feel like you’re really playing a role. The Enhanced Edition features high-res textures and fonts, as well as the ability to zoom in (albeit not far enough, in my opinion) to check out the action. The game also has a haunting soundtrack, day/night cycles, and an open-world format that lets you explore and interact with whomever you choose.

Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition isn’t just a mobile RPG: It’s a real RPG. Sure, it’s not something you’re going to pick up and know how to play in five seconds. But it also doesn’t make any concessions for the mobile market. If you’re looking for RPG elements you won’t find in any other mobile game, such as extreme character customization and development and conversations with NPCs that actually matter, Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition is absolutely worth the money.

Developer: Beamdog
Platform: iOS (Universal), Android (Universal)
Price: $10

This story, "You Should Play: Baldur’s Gate, Enhanced Edition" was originally published by TechHive.

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