If you’re going to make an expansion to a game that’s almost 17 years old, you might as well set it in an iconic location in its world. And that’s exactly what Beamdog is doing with its “Adventure Y” — a codename for a project that turns out to be a new expansion Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition.
The Canadian studio and Dungeons & Dragons owner Wizards of the Coast announced Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear this evening. It’s an expansion for the Enhanced Edition that came out in 2012, and it adds a new story set between the first game and sequel, Baldur’s Gate II, with new companions, a new class, custom magic items, and a new UI. It’s coming out later this year for PC, Mac, Linux, and iOS. It also shows that Beamdog has found an effective strategy for a small studio in the massive PC and mobile markets: updating older games and providing new content for them.
“We’re not quite finished with Baldur’s Gate yet, and we don’t believe the fans are either,” said Liam Esler of Beamdog. “People have been asking for more Baldur’s Gate since Throne of Bhaal was released in 2001 [for Baldur’s Gate II], and we are all diehard fans of the series ourselves. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to add a story of our own to the saga.”
D&D publisher Wizards of the Coast knows it may seem bananas that a studio in 2015 is making an expansion for a game from 1998, but it fits the model that works for Beamdog.
“It is crazytown, but it actually makes sense,” communications manager Greg Tito said via e-mail. “Beamdog has done a great job updating the older code for new operating systems and devices with Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition, the sequel, and Icewind Dale. In addition to the technical prowess of Trent Oster’s team, everyone at Beamdog is a hardcore D&D fan and loves the lore behind the Forgotten Realms. We think it is really exciting for them to bring a new Dungeons & Dragons story to life set in the timeline of the original Baldur’s Gate video game. I’m psyched for this expansion!”
The most exciting aspect of this expansion — one that’s already interesting, considering this is new material for an old game for a storyline set in D&D‘s 2nd Edition of the Forgotten Realms in 2015 (D&D is now in its fifth edition) — is that it deals with Dragonspear Castle, an outpost historically dominated by devils and evil humanoids. Five years before the events of Baldur’s Gate, forces from the keep attacked the town of Daggerford before a band of adventurers routed them.
But the castle also hosted a temple dedicated to the god of war, Tempus, and this appears to be how Beamdog is trying the expansion’s story to Forgotten Realms’ lore. A warrior known as the Shining Lady leads a crusade in the north (the Sword Coast, where many Forgotten Realms games are set). Rumors point to her being the child of a god — like your character, who is the issue of the dead Lord of Murder, Bhaal.
Dragonspear Castle is a site that means a great deal to fans of the Forgotten Realms — and those at Wizards of the Coast, too. It’s was part of the playtest for the fifth edition of D&D in Ghosts of Dragonspear Castle, which ended in the ruins, and was part of the post-Sundering era. The ruins were an aspect of the Horders of Dragonspear adventure in 1992, in which players took on armies of monsters in its vicinity. It also received ink in Volo’s Guide to the Sword Coast from 1994, which Tito said Realms creator Ed Greenwood laid out more of the legend behind the castle’s builder, the adventurer Daeros, and his bronze dragon friend.
“The people of the Sword Coast know the name of Dragonspear Castle as a place of great evil,” Tito said. “Centuries ago it was a structure built by an ex-adventurer from the loot he earned in his career, but somehow a portal beneath the castle belched out countless devils and other filth from the Nine Hells to terrorize the lands. Armies from Baldur’s Gate and Waterdeep traveled to squelch this terror many times, but the portal is yet to be permanently closed.
“… But the cool thing about the tabletop incarnation of Dragonspear Castle is that although it firmly has a place in Forgotten Legends lore, the specifics of the caverns below the castle were left open for Dungeon Masters to flesh out on their own,” continued Tito. “I think it’s really cool that Beamdog is taking up the gauntlet and presenting their vision of Dragonspear Castle to D&D fans in this expansion to Baldur’s Gate.”
Here’s what the expansion includes, according to Beamdog’s release:
- 25 hours of gameplay with new areas, new monsters, and new loot
- New areas, monsters, and treasures
- A new foe
- New hand-painted areas of the Sword Coast
- Continue the story by exporting your character to Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition
- New player soundsets that allow you to customize your hero
- The original cast returns to kick butt for goodness — along with four new characters
- Updated user interface and improved Infinity Engine features
- New quests and a new class: the spirit-calling shaman
- Original soundtrack by Mass Effect composer Sam Hulick
- Cross-platform multiplayer on all supported platforms
- “Story Mode” difficulty setting to allow players to experience the entire story with none of the Game Over screens
This isn’t the first time that Dragonspear has appeared in a video game: You could visit it in Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II, a 2004 action-RPG, and it received a mention in the mobile game Dungeons & Dragons: Arena of War in 2013. You could “check out the outside ruins, the first few levels of cellars and even some of the natural caverns beneath the structure” in Dark Alliance II, according Tito.