In late 1998, BioWare's role-playing game Baldur's Gate became a runaway success. It was a long, drawn-out role-playing experience set in the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons universe, and it featured great graphics and a huge world to explore. Yet even though the game received near-unanimous acclaim, the developers of Baldur's Gate II aren't resting on their laurels - the sequel to the best-selling RPG will feature many significant gameplay enhancements over the original.
Baldur's Gate II will let you import your character from the original game or its expansion, Tales of the Sword Coast. You'll also be able to create an original character from scratch, and either way, your character will begin at around the experience limit achievable in the original Baldur's Gate: You'll start out at seventh or eighth level depending on your class. In addition to the numerous character classes available in the original game, Baldur's Gate II will also feature support for many different expansion kits that will let you choose from specialist sub-classes that have various strengths and weaknesses. So instead of being a fighter, you could be a berserker or a kensai. The game will have an experience cap of 2,950,000 points, which will translate to a level in the late teens or early twenties by the end of the game, depending on the class.
Baldur's Gate II will run at a default resolution of 800 x 600, but will let you run at higher resolutions as well. The developers are going to add a difficulty slider to the game, which will influence the difficulty of combat. Furthermore, on the easier setting, the game will automatically give you full hit points whenever you gain a level, and you'll always succeed when you try to scribe a spell scroll. Your characters will walk about 30 percent faster than they did in Baldur's Gate, but there won't be a run option. Baldur's Gate II will also include a great deal of optional subquests, which will either be peripheral to the main story, or specific to the player character's class.
The game features huge, fluidly animated monsters, some of which will first appear in Interplay's forthcoming Icewind Dale, but most of which will be original. Baldur's Gate II will support all popular 3D accelerators for its special effects, which are looking good even in the unaccelerated mode. The game will have a more tightly knit story and a more organized journal to help you keep track, but overall it will be even bigger than the original. Baldur's Gate II is scheduled to ship this fall.