While Baldur’s Gate 3 is still in Early Access I wanted to review its revered predecessor. I will summarise what exactly makes Baldur’s Gate 2 an absolute masterpiece.
In Baldur’s Gate 2 your choices truly matter. For instance, in one particular side quest you are instructed to save a Town in conflict with the local Druids. You can either solve the situation at hand or you can outright poison the Druid’s Grove.
Rewards and whether or not those who travel with you leave or worse, are heavily impacted by your choices throughout the game.
You can even betray your companions, hunting one down for a group of Wizards that seek him. Another companion, an evil Blackguard called Dorn, can be handed over to a group of Paladins eager to end his life. You can be as evil as you desire, slaughtering all in your sight. Just don’t be surprised if the city guards and forces of justice rise up against your tyranny.
Every good story needs a villain and in Jon Irenicus, Baldur’s Gate 2 has one of the greatest RPG villains. At the beginning of the game you mysteriously wake up in Irenicus’s dungeon. You have no recollection of how you ended up in his grasp, knowledge of where you are, or what is at stake.
As the narrative progresses you get a deeper insight into Jon Irenicus. His motivations, previous and future goals, his pain and his frustrations. Irenicus considers the main character an insignificant insect. To him, the main character is nothing. Simply a means to acquire power and gain revenge on those who have in his mind, wronged him.
Ironically enough, you spend a large part of the game pursuing Irenicus, someone who doesn’t even view you as an equal or rival. Which only furthers a dislike for the powerful and twisted mage.
There’s a vast world out there to explore. From the sewers underneath the city you start in, various towns you come across, and of course the many dungeons. Baldur’s Gate 2 has a massive world, packed full of quests and fights to be experienced.
Each area in the game presents the opportunity for glory and gold. You can force your way into a tavern backroom seeking a murdered ghost’s teddy bear, you can fight Vampires in the streets and investigate the heinous murders taking place in Athkatla’s Bridge District.
One of Baldur’s Gate 2’s greatest characteristics is the Memorable companions you meet throughout your travels. Look no further than Minsc, a crazed ranger with a hamster called Boo. Minsc is basically the unofficial face of Baldur’s Gate and is extremely popular.
Undeniably one of the greatest role-playing-game companions. Several of the other companions are romanceable, revealing a more personal side to themselves. The chemistry of a party is interesting too, as all companions have discussions with each other and some will fight each other to the death.
Companions are corruptible and redeemable, they will be influenced by events and a connection to the main character. Each companion has something to say, be it a remark during a discussion or their thoughts on a situation.
On every list of the greatest RPG games, Baldur’s Gate 2 has to be up there. The game has been influential in creating other RPG games and has been an inspiration in the world of gaming. From the memorable companions and open-world style play to everything else in between. We can only hope Baldur’s Gate 3 continues its legacy.