Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition Review

Baldur's Gate remains the same enthralling epic that it was in 1998, but bugs and lackluster extras make it tough to call this an enhanced version of the classic.

Calling a game "enhanced" justifiably raises expectations. You go into it looking for something extra, an improvement over the original plain-Jane version that you can see and feel. With that in mind, it is hard to view Overhaul Games' Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition as anything but a disappointment. Yes, this revamped and pumped-up take on the 1998 Dungeons & Dragons classic from BioWare is just as compelling and hard to put down as the 14-year-old forebear that became a gold standard for role-playing games. But it doesn't add anything of real value to the experience aside from interface and graphical tweaks long available to the original game through free mods, along with largely forgettable new content in a trio of potential party members and an arena combat mode. And to make matters worse, the game arrived loaded with bugs and remains shaky even after a few patches.

Most of the changes have long been available via mods.
Most of the changes have long been available via mods.

Fortunately, the core game (along with the 1999 expansion pack Tales of the Sword Coast, also rolled into the mix here) remains strong after more than a decade, and is a deep, incredibly engrossing role-playing game. The plot driving the swords-and-sorcery derring-do is far from gripping, the game instead focusing on your relationships with party members--a diverse and relatable group of individuals with different personalities and motives. Alignment is a vital concern: mix good and evil in the party for long and adventurers eventually come to blows. You can even face defections if your actions aren't somewhat in line with party members' philosophies.

You have to have real affection for the arcane rule system of D&D to appreciate how much this game offered to Gygax enthusiasts back in the late '90s--or to even appreciate it now, because the Enhanced Edition sticks with the labyrinthine second-edition Advanced D&D rule set from the late '80s that powered the original game, rather than the totally overhauled rules that have been around in third and fourth iterations since 2000. If you have no experience with D&D, you may have some reading in store. Even if you have some familiarity with the modern versions of the great-granddaddy of RPGs, you need to understand how the game was played over a decade ago to get the most out of the complex mechanics.

Even with rules likely to confuse a newcomer, the manner in which Baldur's Gate combines its numerous elements in such an uncompromising way can brew up serious ambrosia. This blend of largely open-world role-playing with strategic, pausable real-time combat conducted by a party of up to six disparate adventurers can make for an incredible experience. Both the role-playing and strategic depth are tremendous, forcing you to manage your party and think seriously about spellcasting and swordplay when delving into battles.

The Black Pits allows you to focus entirely on the great tactical combat aspect, but the mode is too bland and repetitive.
The Black Pits allows you to focus entirely on the great tactical combat aspect, but the mode is too bland and repetitive.

The Enhanced Edition brings back these great features, and even expands upon them by tossing in extras that were not incorporated into the series until Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. With or without these add-ons, the game hits a sweet spot between role-playing adventure and tactical squad-based combat. Parties must be properly structured to take advantage of different character classes. Concocting a good mix of warriors, mages, and specialists like thieves, rangers, or even bards is vital to simply surviving against some of the opposition. You can't throw your party into the fray without serious contemplation and preparation, especially after you hit the midway point and encounter enemies who will shred you with magic if you don't have ways to counter their incantations. A wide range of available adventurers provides nearly unlimited choices when it comes to party composition.

Despite such deserving praise, there isn't much in the Enhanced Edition to merit such a high-reaching subtitle. Most of the improvements have long been available free of charge online with the fantastic BG1Tutu and a host of other mods that add an incredible number of features to the original game. There are few benefits to paying $20 for this version of the game as opposed to shelling out $5 or $10 for the original game and then taking a half-hour or so to download and install the mods. For some, the Enhanced Edition might be a preferable one-stop shopping option, but there are serious drawbacks with this approach.

For starters, this is not a completely fixed-up game. Overhaul did not address some old, glaring problems. Though some of the original's issues have been tightened, many flaws have been left depressingly intact. Pathfinding with party members, for instance, is as messed up as it ever was. Characters still routinely run into one another and wander away into the scenery. Even something like a copse of trees can turn an orderly march into a scramble through the woods where your weak mage winds up being the first guy to run into a gang of hobgoblins.

Cinematics have all been redone with a new comic-book art style. And hey, what happened to the Nietzsche quote at the beginning of the game?
Cinematics have all been redone with a new comic-book art style. And hey, what happened to the Nietzsche quote at the beginning of the game?

Indoors, things are worse. Corridors and chambers are too cramped for characters to turn around without roaming off on their own. You can walk into a room and find some of your party unable to move, which is a real problem if the frozen guys are your heavy-armored brawlers. Characters also mill around when leaving a screen, with the whole party still needing to be on the edge before you can travel to another area. Hearing that familiar "You must gather your party before venturing forth" triggers nostalgia, but it's also a reminder that things weren't always so great in the good old days. It's disappointing that these essential functions have not been smoothed out.

The new content does not do much to improve the overall character of the game. The main saga has been bolstered with three new characters that draw on character classes and skills not available in the original Baldur's Gate. But while the half-orc Blackguard Dorn isn't a bad addition, because of his two-handed magic sword and ability to level up quickly into a melee powerhouse, both the wild mage Neera and the monk Rasaad are tougher to appreciate. Neera is wild, which can dramatically affect her spells to the point where you never know what she's going to cast. This is true to the class, but it also makes her a much less attractive option than a dependable mage like Dynaheir.

Rasaad is a more tempting addition to your party, although monks are so weak in their starting levels that it is difficult to keep him alive without burying him in your party formation for many hours. The trio at least comes with quests that flavor the game, which are decent additions, particularly Dorn's quest for revenge. Still, you won't miss anything memorable if you skip them, and some of the new art assets are terrible. The area added for Neera's quest to become a better wild mage, for example, features water that looks like old-fashioned television static.

As always, you can expect a visit from some of the Forgotten Realms' biggest celebrities over the course of the story.
As always, you can expect a visit from some of the Forgotten Realms' biggest celebrities over the course of the story.

Another totally new feature is the Black Pits, a gladiatorial arena run by a sadistic charmer of a drow named Baeleoth who seems to be channeling Killian from The Running Man. This mode stands apart from the story-based campaign and is launched separately from the main menu screen. It is an interesting way to try out battle tactics and play with items and spells that might not be available in the main game for many hours, or maybe even at all, but in the end it turns into a battle grind loaded with repetition. There's no great context for this mode: You select characters from a pre-rolled list and have at it. Baeleoth and his sidekick djinn are nifty antagonists with some good dialogue, and the market for gear is staffed by a colorful collection of weirdos, including a myconid and a mind flayer. But that's about it for story and setting.

The arena's one plus is how fast the action moves moves. Battles fly by, even when you're taking on large numbers of foes and powerful mages, and you level up very quickly. So even if everything seems monotonous, the action speeds along fast enough to hook you for a good few hours of trying to win the competition.

The original's visuals have been improved to support high resolutions that give you a more panoramic view of the still-attractive 2D backgrounds, most notably the autumn-tinged leaves of the forests that cover the Sword Coast. You can now zoom in on the map with the mousewheel, but those old sprites and character models lack detail at the default viewing scale and turn into fuzzy messes if you look too closely. Zooming in is suitable only in the midst of tough combat where you absolutely need to see who's laying a warhammer on whom. Otherwise, it's best to leave that mousewheel alone.

If it keeps coming down like this, they're gonna have to postpone the battle.
If it keeps coming down like this, they're gonna have to postpone the battle.

There are other graphical problems. Cinematics have all been redone, but in a rough graphic-novel style that is almost as dated as the videos that they replace. Much of the text has been roughly blown up to a higher resolution, so it often looks blurry. Rain and spell effects can combine to cause slowdown, and flickering is an occasional issue. Some new character portraits are available, although all are done in a different, grungier art style than those in the original game. The user interface is also disappointing. While it comes with some welcome adjustments to inventory management like an increase in the number of arrows that can be held in a quiver and gem bags and scroll cases to make it easier to store ill-gotten gains, the UI is as big and clunky as that in the original game. You can't even access significant graphical options within the game to adjust settings like resolution.

The audio has weathered the years better than the video. The haunting musical score returns intact and has been bolstered by some new tunes that fit in well with the old ones. If you haven't played the original for a while, chances are good that you won't be able to tell where the old stops and the new begins. Weapon and spell sound effects carry weight, too, although death still comes with such a quiet whimper that you can sometimes reach the end of battles and quick-save before realizing that someone was sent to an early dirt nap. There is also no audio notification of big character changes, like a paladin doing one too many evil deeds and falling to the status of a regular fighter (which is irreversible here).

Character voices remain as distinctive and loaded with individuality as always. The new voice samples for the three new characters fit in pretty well for the most part. Not one is as irritating as some of the cast from the original game. There is a fair amount of repetition, however, so lines like Neera's combat rant about baddies getting ready for a "frosty--or maybe flaming--death!" go from cute to maddening after hearing them a couple of thousand times. Most of the new romance dialogue is horrific, although the worst lines--your responses, which include banter like "Give me some sugar, baby"--go thankfully unvoiced. There are also some new character voice sets for the protagonist, although not enough to offer much in the way of real choice.

Werewolves and orcs living together, mass hysteria!
Werewolves and orcs living together, mass hysteria!

Performance is another issue. Stability problems are gradually clearing as patches are released, but issues are still widespread. Initial problems getting the game to run at all have been mostly addressed, but other bugs linger. One of the more irritating glitches involves former party members wigging out after being dropped from the gang and constantly asking to be let back in until you finally make it off the map and escape them in a new location. Conversations with new characters are also off-kilter. Get tight with someone like Dorn or Neera, for instance, and you regularly trigger the exact same chats over and over again, sometimes three or four or five times in a row, which halts the game because you can't ignore them.

Being negative about anything relating to Baldur's Gate is tough given lingering fond memories and how good the original game remains. Still, you can't view this remake in a fully positive light. Additions and enhancements are of questionable merit and are already largely available with very comprehensive, very stable mod packages for the original game, and major bugs have caused a lot of frustration. Even though replaying Baldur's Gate is a worthwhile trip down memory lane for anyone who appreciates a deep RPG, the lack of notable improvements and new features throws more than a few roadblocks in your way.

The Good
Still the same old Baldur's Gate
Huge world and an expansive storyline
Deep, tactical party-based combat
The Bad
The improvements and additions are underwhelming
Too many flaws in the original game are still present
A number of bugs remain, even after multiple patches
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Avatar image for genjuroT

Can someone please let me know how the dialogue works in this edition? I plan on trying to get a few friends that haven't played or finished the game and hope that there is a type of "radius" dialogue when talking to NPCs so that party members don't have to stop what they are doing. Or if they could just choose to see what the dialogue is between the person talking and the NPC. Thanks in advance.

Avatar image for RavenCultist

Looks fun, Touch expensive for the price though. I enjoy playing pen and paper DND so might as well pick it up some time. Steam Easter sales ahoy!

Avatar image for xeis-net

Lets see Baldurs Gate 6.0, Dragon Age II 8.0.

Most people would agree Baldurs gate is in the top 5 of greatest RPG of all time, where as Dragon Age II is...well shall we be generous, the second best dragon age game.

Let me just repeat this gamespot rates Baldurs Gate (6.0) as significantly worse than Dragon Age II (8.0) and Final Fantasy XIII (8.5) two of the most divisive (read rubbish) RPG's of this generation.

Avatar image for Warlord_Irochi

@xeis-net The let me just repeat this: Gamespot's review are personal opinions 100%. It's on the guidelines. Now could we please stop with the obsession with numbers?

Avatar image for TheGreatPhoenix

@xeis-net you truely are an idiot

Avatar image for NinjaCoopa

@TheGreatPhoenix Informative and interesting input. You must be a real treat to have around.

Avatar image for Arther-la-Blunt

@xeis-net Yeah, uh, GS did not rate Baldur's Gate a 6.0, they rated the Enhanced Edition a 6.0.

Avatar image for Bepedos

@xeis-net Well actually :

Baldur's Gate 9.2

Baldur's Gate TotSC 8.1

Baldur's Gate II 9.2

Baldur's Gate II ToB 8.7

Which I mostly agree with (I would have given even more to BG II). The bad score for the "Enhanced Edition" is a direct consequence of the fact that it doesn't really enhance the original game.

Avatar image for sodiumpentathol

@xeis-net Quantity does not equal quality. If popularity is what pursuades your views then, sure, you'll be part of a large, loud crowd.. but not necessarily in the right.

Avatar image for Setho10

@xeis-net Did you actually read the review? The complaints weren't about the original game, but about the numerous bugs present in this version and the fact that the "Enhanced" content can be gotten for free with mods. Outside of the pathfinding, which was always the game's biggest flaw, he states that the game holds up remarkably well.

Avatar image for DraconisRex

Sounds like a step-back more than a step-forward. Maybe I'll dust off those old disks and re-install. Those community mods were great back-in-the day. I should only think they'd have gotten better.

Avatar image for Merlanni

With a metacritic of 80 and a users of 75 I do not need to add more.

An Icon of gameplay restored for a second generation. 80 sums it up

Avatar image for Arcturuss

@Merlanni The review isn't for Baldurs gate.Its for the enhancements.. Who are very underwhelming..

Avatar image for Merlanni

@Arcturuss The bulk of gamers today did not play it. They see a low score and move on.

You do not review a part of a game except if it is an expansion

Avatar image for xsonicchaos

@DraconisRex Or you can just buy the original from Gog and be done with it. Except for the nicely redone animated cutscenes, I couldn't see much enhancement over the old Baldur's Gate.

Avatar image for dissevered

@DraconisRex @TechSin

Well there you go, so what is the point of buying an unenhanced "enhanced" baldur's gate when you can indeed play it on the new windows?

Avatar image for DraconisRex

@TechSin @dissevered

You can play the old game on Windows 7. You just need a freeware emulator like GemRB.

Avatar image for dissevered

@TechSin I haven't tried the game on win7 but I played it on XP. I've also played some old school dos games as well via xp programs that allowed you to run dos games. Point being that if there is a will, there is a way... to play old games on a new OS.I didn't bother playing the "enhanced" version because its not enhanced. The company did what most companies do. They put profit above quality. Some CEO figured the math out, and they thought they could make more money with some crap tweaks on an old amazing game.I am disappointed because this is the best RPG ever made and they could have done so much with it... When I heard they were remaking this I got all warm and fuzzy inside. Instead they changed a few things, added some more bugs and slapped on the "enhanced" name to make a few bucks. :(

Avatar image for TechSin

@dissevered The thing is you cannot play the original on newer Windows versions and the Enhanced version makes that possible. If the original was just as widely available then that would justify your comment. The goal of this edition despite it's badly chosen name, is to make sure the current generation can also enjoy the wonders of Baldur's Gate which comes from a time where the creators still took gamers seriously and created something unique and absorbing instead of mass producing good looking shallow games.

You strike me as someone who has never played the game. I understand your response, but it is unwarranted. It is the exact same game (with some patches included and some minor tweaks) and as the original is no longer playable it's become its replacement instead of a new version. As such the original score stands. The game didn't suck, it was awesome before and nothing changed that.

Am I disappointed? Yes, but that's because my expectations were wrong.

Avatar image for dissevered

@TechSin @Merlanni

This is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Just because it is the same game doesn't mean it gets the same score. If it is the same game, why should anyone waste their time and money playing it? If they redo a game and call it enhanced and don't enhance shit, then it deserves a bad score.

Avatar image for TechSin

@Merlanni I agree. I was disappointed when I saw this enhanced edition. But the original BG is probably the best game in video game history. If it's being rated solely on what it was it should get the same ratings as it had before. The review even states that the game is the same and it mentions it shortcomings as the same as in the original. Effectively it should have gotten 9.2/10 as did the original.

Best game ever made.

Avatar image for Davimus518

My question, where are the sub-races?

Avatar image for Honcho316

Big World Set-up worked pretty good for me (on Windows XP). This seems like peanuts compared to that.

Avatar image for Scritty

Beamdog were not allowed to change any ferature of the game. As someone who couldn't get any of the fan patches to run consistently (or at all) on Windows VIsta, 7 or 8 and therefore hasn't played this game since 2006, I would gladly have paid $60 or more for the chance to play it again. It is the same game - that is all it was ever going to be. The reviewer doesn't seem to understand that being the exact same game WAS the remit of the project and was also IMPOSED by Bioware. Still - almost through my first run through and looking forward to BG2 in a year or so.

Avatar image for valdarez

This game was way over priced. When you can pick up NeverWinter Nights Diamond edition for $4.99, calling Baldur's Gate an 'Enhanced Edition' and charging $19.99 is little more than bait and switch. It's a $1.99 game masquerading as a $19.99 and nothing more than a money grab by the company by playing off the fond memories of gamers. Thanks for ruining the fond memories beamdog - may you and your company's ilk rot in hell for it.

Avatar image for WillyChong

@valdarez Play Dragon Age Origin, its on discount right now :|

Avatar image for sonicpNiNe9

What most people don't understand is that beamdog was forbidden from changing literally anything from the original game. That is the real reason why the game came out as it is. The only actual talent that can be seen from this developer is in the 3 new characters and the bonus dungeon, which is not very much to judge them by. I can see why it got a 6, when I booted it up it was literally the exact same thing and I have to say I was a tad bit disappointed. But it really isn't the developers fault, they just literally can't change anything at all thanks to corporate scum.

I just hope their revenue is enough to fund BG2 and then hopefully work on BG3 like they mentioned. In my opinion BG3 is when we will truly taste Beamdog's skills.

Avatar image for ramonl2

I played this back in the day and I'm playing this version now

Its still allright regardless

I have to say even Fallout 1 has stood the test of time better than this.

Avatar image for pitosga

@ramonl2 Hell, yes, it has. Just like anyone, I remember a fondness for games of old I'd play as a kid. And often times in recent years I've gotten them and tried replaying. Without fail, I end up regretting having wasted time, to a variable degree. The games are inevitably dated and I consistently conclude that I remember the feeling of the games, at the time, rather than how they are objectively. Yet I keep doing it, as just today I reinstalled Hitman Contracts, first time ever replaying it. And again I replayed Fallout, earlier this year, and it's got to be the old game I least ever regret replaying. I've always been very much into this series - the original titles, not Bethesda's, of course - and ever find it such a shame and a waste that Black Isle had to rush the sequel a bit and never have the chance to release more of that goodness due to Interplay's financial problems.

Avatar image for rasputin177

I have to say I love how Gamespot and its writers are not giving into the joke that have become video game review scores. If someone even just enjoys a game these days they expect it to get at least a 9 and whine when it does not. Its making the whole number score even more pointless then it already inherantly is. A 10 is for a "perfect game" and a 9 should be or an almost masterpiece. A score of 8 is for a really great game and 7 is a good game with some issues. The community needs to stop feeling every game they enjoy has to have a score of 9. Its like if it does not it takes away their ability to fully enjoy the game. Nevermind its just one persons opinion. This is not done is movies, music or books and I feel video games can be just as much of art form. Anyway, bravo to Gamespot for trying to lift up the intergrity of video games and their reivew scores and not giving in to the often petty and immature gaming community.

Avatar image for blueinheaven

@rasputin177 The problem here is they haven't reviewed the game they've reviewed the non enhancement and given it a score of 6 when the original game deserves a 9. People new to BG will think the games deserves a 6 (it's just how people are, you're never going to change it).

They should have done a news item on this and mentioned Overhaul haven't really done anything to it you don't get from mods. This wasn't worth a standalone review at all it just sullies the BG name.

Avatar image for sonicpNiNe9

@blueinheaven @rasputin177 I agree to this, they went into the review as if people knew exactly what was going on. But you are right new comers will now think the game is terrible and not buy it. IMO they are screwing over the developer. It was never meant to be released as an all new game, yet it was reviewed that way.

No one reviewed FF7 for PC when it was re-released a few months back...

Avatar image for Rashgod

@blueinheaven @rasputin177

You can't review a game in a vacuum. So the fact that Baldur's Gate was a great game for the time doesn't mean that a supposedly enhanced version of Baldur's Gate is exempt from the progress made in Baldur's Gate 2 or any later RPGs. That, combined with a massive load of unnecessary bugs, leads to a understandably lower score than the original.

Avatar image for blueinheaven

@Rashgod @rasputin177 My point was it is NOT an enhanced version. It's not a remake or even a re-design it's the same game with widescreen support.

A genuine remake with improved graphics and interface would score a lot more than 6. This comes across as fan mod not the work of professionals and therefore does not deserve a review at all.

Are they going to review every old game that's had a mod or two released for it?

Avatar image for Crush_Project

lol a sign of the times; cant even enhance a 14 year old game.

I truly feel sorry for kids today. The fact that they think this era of idiocy is normal makes me weep for them. The industry is just pathetic, and they just think its business as usual.

Avatar image for Arsyad00


Avatar image for blueinheaven

An enhanced edition that hasn't really been enhanced. Yes, we need more of those.

Avatar image for rasputin177


Its introducing it to a new generation, which could in turn lead to new games in the series coming out. Its not like its a ton of money, its a good game for people who have maybe never played it before. Or for those who don't want to bother with mods. Its still a classic game with a little new paint. Its just seen as "the cool or hardcore" thing to mock so thats what 80% of you mindless followers are going to do.

Avatar image for blueinheaven

@rasputin177 I loved the game when it came out. No high res graphics or major interface enhancements is not going to endear the game to modern gamers. They tweaked it, they didn't 'enhance' it. What have they been doing all this time?

As Bloodmist says, you can get the same for much less, I don't get your optimism about these people doing new games in the series when they've done pretty much sod all to this one but still want 20 dollars for it.

Avatar image for BloodMist

@rasputin177 @blueinheaven A simple and basic reality is that you can buy the same game on GoG for currently 5 dollars, add a couple patches, and get the EXACT SAME THING.Sometimes mocking is entirely deserved when you actually use logical thought and reasoning and it is deemed appropriate based upon that.

Avatar image for DraconisRex

@I_ArCh0n_I @BloodMist @rasputin177 @blueinheaven

It's not hard..

Avatar image for BloodMist

@I_ArCh0n_I @rasputin177 @blueinheaven They have Windows based installers for everything these days man.What do you think this is, 1994?

Avatar image for I_ArCh0n_I

@BloodMist @rasputin177 @blueinheaven

spend $15 more and those newcomers could save a bunch of time searching on how to install those mods and then avoid staring at the black box of cmd.exe as baldurs gate trilogy installs.

Avatar image for rasputin177

I am not going to hate because anything "new baldurs gate" is good by me.

Avatar image for calanorn


don't feel bad its not a new baldurs gate they are rehashing the old game and they are not the original devs so this is pure cash cowing

Avatar image for iknowthepiecesf

6.0 point is way too much for this piece of s... so called "enhanced version". I found it funny how people reacted though; telling that modding is difficult to accomplish in so many ways. Well, it is NOT. This is called "milking gamers" and i'm not buying it.

Widescreen mod and TUTU mod did everything they can to give these games a precise playability in modern PCs. Also, unofficial patches fixed the game almost completely. Just go to Gibberling's Tree and mod than patch the original games. You save $20 by doing that. By these mods you can play Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, Icewind Dale 1 and 2 and Planescape: Torment in HD resolution with a revised GUI.

This "enhanced version" is totally useless and it's alignment is pure evil, for sure. Don't even think about buying it.

Avatar image for chyng85

I'm gonna get it~!

Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition More Info

  • First Released Nov 28, 2012
    • Android
    • iOS (iPhone/iPad)
    • + 6 more
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • Nintendo Switch
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Xbox One
    Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition includes the entire Baldur's Gate adventure, the Tales of the Sword Coast expansion pack, and some never before seen content as well.
    Average Rating191 Rating(s)
    Please Sign In to rate Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition
    Developed by:
    Overhaul Games, Beamdog
    Published by:
    Beamdog, Overhaul Games, Skybound LLC, Deep Silver
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Blood, Mild Language, Sexual Themes, Use of Alcohol and Tobacco, Violence