Dungeons and Dragons is now more popular than ever, after a blockbuster 2019 the company is seeing a huge surge in people playing during quarantine. Myself included. At the start of our government shut down I ordered myself the newest rulebook (5th Edition) and started to read furiously. This version had rules for two players and I would be able to play with my girlfriend. Bless her soul. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out as planned and her interest in it dwindled leaving me to do what I do best, and enjoy the game by myself. That small taste of D&D made me want to search out more D&D content and Baldur’s Gate stood out. Baldur’s Gate is one of the most iconic locations in fantasy reality and was part of D&D’s 2nd edition.
I remember playing long hours of these games back when they first came out in the mid 90s but really had no grasp of it’s tie-in with Dungeons and Dragons at the time. I was 7, don’t shame me. I was drawn to the fact that I could be anyone I wanted, the fantasy elements and of course all the monsters. This would be my first foray into a Bioware game, a company I still love today.
Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Editions are now available on the Nintendo Switch so you can take your love of D&D on the road via the Nintendo Switch’s handheld mode. Or during quarantine, from the couch to your backyard or porch stoop. The steep price might put people off but rest assured there is a lot of content here. Besides the two main games, you get Siege of Dragonspear, Throne of Bhaal and The Black Pits 1 and 2. That’s hundreds of hours worth of content available at your fingertips and with lockdown still in effect in most areas and a possible wave 2 coming our way you’ll find time to sink your teeth into these isometric-RPG games.
Developer Beamdog had originally updated and refreshed both games back in 2012 and 2013 respectively for the PC, but that wasn’t enough. They have now gone and added in a ton of changes including, bug fixes, new difficulty modes (YES! Story Mode), new characters, and a more streamlined user interface. These games were originally made to be played with a keyboard and mouse but the updated control system really clicked for me on the Switch. I’m very impressed with how easy it is to switch between party members and control the entire battle while maintaining both the click and point system as well as the D&D traditional playstyle. All the buttons working together in perfect harmony took a few hours to master but once it did it was like it was meant to be from Day 1.
These of course are old games and are showing their age, but the story remains the same. It is phenomenal. Each character feels unique and full of life, thanks to the amazing writing and voice acting. These truly feel like games before their time and they paved the way for so many RPGs. Bioware’s morality and romance system came from these very games, and what you say and do in conversations and battles will matter. Like real life, your actions have consequences and simple side quests can come back to haunt or reward you later. While dipping my toes in at the start of the game, I explored a little too much and lost some friends along the way I’d never see again. May they RIP and be a reminder to you all to take it slow when starting these games.
As someone who plays mainly in handheld mode I did find the screen a little cluttered at times but not enough to strip the fun out of exploration. What looks daunting soon will become refreshing. The graphics can be a little dull and edges bleed into each other but cities still feel full of life and heart.
Sure you could play newer titles like Divinity: Original Sin or Pillars of Eternity, but I highly suggest both newcomers and old fans of Baldur’s Gate to give these games a try. They are incredible feats of work and still hold up 20+ years later. If you are yearning to play some portable Dungeons and Dragons give this massive game pack a go and remember, always go for the eyes!