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Vintage Bits: Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition Available for Pre-Order

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014 | Posted by John ONeill

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:

Icewind Dale-small

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.

20 Comments »

  1. This still stands as my favorite game of all time. The original is still installed on a laptop running windows 2000 just so I can play it, and Star Wars: Battlegrounds.

    This game was better than the Baldur’s Gate game because it let you make your own party from the ground up. Also, subjectively, I’m a much bigger fan of the Icewind Dale area than Baldur’s Gate.

    Comment by darangrissom - October 1, 2014 3:38 am

  2. I’d like to hear some comments from folks who liked the Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition for ipad. I can’t count the hours I spent playing that game on the PC (and the expansions, and the sequel..).

    I anxiously bought the app as soon as it came out: and it felt like a slog. I gave up early in the game. It was absolutely a faithful rendition: but I found it a bit dull. And I REALLY wanted to like it.

    Maybe I just had the wrong mindset going in (and compared it to other, more up to date games). What am I missing about this game (which I’d love to want to play again).

    Comment by Bob Byrne - October 1, 2014 9:32 am

  3. I’m not playing it on iPad, but I’m currently about 35 hours into BG:EE on PC. Yeah, it’s a bit of a slog — I think in some ways it’s entirely too faithful an adaptation of D&D rules for very low-level characters. But I’m enjoying it, for the most part.

    I’m looking forward to ID:EE, and really hoping this means we eventually get a Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition at some point.

    Comment by Joe H. - October 1, 2014 11:15 am

  4. I need to get back to playing the original Icewind Dale, which I was in the middle of a while back but had some issues come up that kept me away from PC gaming for a bit. It always sucks when that happens because then you have to waste time figuring out what you were doing when you left off and where you’re supposed to go next.

    I prefer Icewind Dale to Baldur’s Gate because of the full party creation aspect and I think the game just has more flavor and atmosphere to it. For instance, the descriptions of the unique items are much more interesting than the BG counterparts.

    Comment by andy - October 1, 2014 6:44 pm

  5. I played Baldur’s EE on both tablet (Android), and PC. I ended up playing it mostly on my PC, because the touch-screen controls were imprecise. It is near impossible to play on my phone.

    I’ll likely wait until both versions are on sale to get them. My primary play though will be on PC, most likely through Steam.

    Comment by darangrissom - October 1, 2014 11:54 pm

  6. > This game was better than the Baldur’s Gate game because it let you make your own party from the ground up.
    > Also, subjectively, I’m a much bigger fan of the Icewind Dale area than Baldur’s Gate.

    Daran,

    I’m not sure I can put a finger on why I liked Icewind Dale more than Baldur’s Gate. Making your own party was part of it. But I think you’re right that the setting was just more appealing. Maybe it’s just the Canadian in me, attracted to cold climates. :)

    Comment by John ONeill - October 2, 2014 11:07 am

  7. > I anxiously bought the app as soon as it came out: and it felt like a slog. I gave up early in the game.
    > It was absolutely a faithful rendition: but I found it a bit dull. And I REALLY wanted to like it.

    Bob,

    I’m a little anxious about the same thing, to be honest. I’m not sure how the experience will translate to the iPad.

    Comment by John ONeill - October 2, 2014 11:08 am

  8. > I’m looking forward to ID:EE, and really hoping this means we eventually get a Planescape: Torment Enhanced Edition at some point.

    Joe,

    Indeed! I was heartened to see Beamdog do a non-Bioware product… presumably that means they’re open to porting a wide range of Interplay RPGs?

    Although I’m most excited about the announcement that they’re working on Baldur’s Gate III. Love to see a faithful continuation of the series.

    Comment by John ONeill - October 2, 2014 11:10 am

  9. > I prefer Icewind Dale to Baldur’s Gate because of the full party creation aspect and I think the game just has more flavor and atmosphere
    > to it. For instance, the descriptions of the unique items are much more interesting than the BG counterparts.

    Andy,

    I hadn’t noticed that! I’ll have to go back and compare the two. But I absolutely agree ID has tremendous atmosphere (and the great soundtrack doesn’t hurt either.)

    Comment by John ONeill - October 2, 2014 11:15 am

  10. Hmmm …

    http://www.pcgamer.com/nightmares-abound-for-icewind-dale-ii-enhanced-edition-beamdog-boss-says/

    Probably need to not hold my breath for IDII or PS:T. Sigh.

    Comment by Joe H. - October 2, 2014 12:12 pm

  11. Joe,

    Ouch. You’re right – that’s discouraging. But I suppose it makes sense. Here’s the quote I found most interesting:

    “The problem, Beamdog co-founder Trent Oster told RPGamer, is that Icewind Dale II is dramatically different from the first game, both inside and out. “If Icewind Dale is a brother or sister to the Baldur’s Gate games in terms of code and gameplay differences, Icewind Dale II and Planescape: Torment are more like third cousins. You can see the lineage, but the changes are deep,” he said.

    “Icewind Dale II implemented the 3rd Edition rules and has a completely different UI scheme. We’re really not sure how deep those changes run,” Oster explained. “The move to 3rd Edition rules would invalidate all the character classes and require a pretty thorough rework of the entire game to bring in the features from our Infinity Plus Engine. At minimum, nightmares abound.”

    I suppose I knew all that in 2002, but I’d forgotten how different IW and IW II were!

    Comment by John ONeill - October 3, 2014 12:53 am

  12. At least we have Pillars of Eternity and Torment: Tides of Numenera to look forward to to sate our isometric RPG cravings.

    Comment by Joe H. - October 3, 2014 10:13 am

  13. Joe,

    Believe it or not, I missed the news on Pillars of Eternity. I just spent 5 minutes coming up to speed. Looks awesome! Although I note it’s been delayed until 2015 (boo!)

    At least I knew about Torment: Tides of Numenera! And after seeing the rave reviews for the recently-released Wasteland 2 (also from inXile), I’m really looking forward to it.

    Comment by John ONeill - October 3, 2014 10:21 am

  14. That’s all right — I’ll be playing the decidedly non-isometric Dragon Age: Inquisition starting in November.

    I’m particularly looking forward to Numenera because I love the setting so much — I’ve always had a soft spot for the impossibly far future Dying Earth/Zothique/Book of the New Sun settings.

    Comment by Joe H. - October 3, 2014 11:49 am

  15. > That’s all right — I’ll be playing the decidedly non-isometric Dragon Age: Inquisition starting in November.

    Jealous. I still haven’t finished the first one!

    > I’m particularly looking forward to Numenera because I love the setting so much — I’ve always had
    > a soft spot for the impossibly far future Dying Earth/Zothique/Book of the New Sun settings.

    I haven’t bought Monte Cook’s RPG book yet, but I know what a huge success it was. It is worth reading for fans of these kinds of settings? (Even if I’m never likely to get the chance to play it — unless I can convince my 1st edition D&D group to switch.)

    Comment by John ONeill - October 3, 2014 12:04 pm

  16. I have the giant book but sadly I haven’t done much but skim the first few chapters; but from what I’ve seen of the book, and of the game (did you see the video with a couple minutes of gameplay), I’m very pleased with the setting.

    Comment by Joe H. - October 3, 2014 2:03 pm

  17. Joe,

    I haven’t seen the video yet, but I did find this description of the setting at the inXile website this morning:

    “Numenera’s Ninth World is a fantastic vision of a world in which massive civilizations have risen and fallen – disappeared, transcended, overwhelmed, or destroyed – and left their cities, monuments, and artifacts behind. As each rose and fell, their achievements became part of the accumulated detritus of eons… but much of it did not decay. And now this assortment of ancient power is there for the taking, ever-present, underfoot. The humans of the Ninth World take and use what they can. They call these wonders (and horrors) the numenera.

    One of these humans discovers a way to use the numenera to grow strong, to cheat death, to skip across the face of centuries in a succession of bodies. But he discovers an unexpected side effect: You.”

    The “Torment” suffix tells me the game is intended as a spiritual successor of the classic PLANESCAPE: Torment game, although I’m not sure how yet. I’m looking forward to finding out!

    Comment by John ONeill - October 4, 2014 1:07 am

  18. ““Numenera’s Ninth World is a fantastic vision of a world in which massive civilizations have risen and fallen – disappeared, transcended, overwhelmed, or destroyed – and left their cities, monuments, and artifacts behind. As each rose and fell, their achievements became part of the accumulated detritus of eons… but much of it did not decay. And now this assortment of ancient power is there for the taking, ever-present, underfoot. The humans of the Ninth World take and use what they can. They call these wonders (and horrors) the numenera.”

    I read that and my craving for the game (and could we have some novels please?) grows exponentially.

    Comment by Joe H. - October 4, 2014 11:49 am

  19. I expect there will be novels — Numenera seems like a rapidly growing franchise!

    Comment by John ONeill - October 6, 2014 1:21 am

  20. […] news on the new Enhanced Edition of Icewind Dale here, and enjoy Ian’s complete article […]

    Pingback by Black Gate » Blog Archive » The 10 Greatest Dungeons and Dragons Videogames - April 29, 2015 1:43 pm


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