More Baldur & Neverwinter, Soon-Ish

By Alec Meer on December 2nd, 2008 at 11:21 pm.

Yes, fantasy RPG sequels are inbound. It’s pretty much a dead cert that Bioware won’t be involved, as they’re busy being owned by EA these days, and Atari seem to have clung on the Dungeons & Dragons license without ‘em. Infogrames-in-disguise are definitely planning to revisit these two seminal roleplaying names however, though a developer’s not been announced. Neither has a release date. Maybe not next year, according to Atari’s Phil Harrison, but soon, and for the rest of your life. Or at least as long as Wizards of the Coast keep on letting ‘em make D&D games, anyway.

There being a third Neverwinter Nights wasn’t much of a shocker, given NWN2 expansions are still coming out in a slow, steady stream and, from what I gather, being fairly well-received. We’d also heard plenty of quiet rumours about a new Baldur’s Gate, but the question is what form will it take?

Will it really be akin to the BGs of yore – which original devs Bioware are aiming to revisit with their own Dragon Age – or will it be more like the hacky-slashy-Diablo-y Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance thingums that proved to be an agreeably mindless romp on the last generation of consoles? I’d actually lean more towards the latter, otherwise Atari risks having two fairly similar games – unless they’re planning on something like that Civilization IV/Colonization thing. Neverwinter Nights 3: Baldur’s Gate? Nah, seems far too obtuse. So right now, I’d bank on BG3 being something different from the cRPG norm.

So that’s Fallout and Baldur’s Gate both sequelised for the modern age. Pretty much leaves Planescape: Torment, then. That could get messy…

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78 Comments »

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  1. Genki says:

    Oh god… done right, a Torment sequel could cause the universe to implode from an awesomeness overload.

  2. Fumarole says:

    Dragon Age is all the Baldur’s Gate 3 that I need. I have high hopes for this game. A consoled-down version like Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance? Not so much.

  3. Pags says:

    My hamster’s getting antsy. If we be adventurers, let us adventure!

  4. Jonas says:

    But Torment 2 wouldn’t be done right.

    I couldn’t be.

    Planescape: Something Else, however, would be splendid. Make sure they put Avellone in charge, assuming he’s even interested in D&D after his first foray into custom IP with Alpha Protocol, and we have a winner.

  5. suibhne says:

    Planescape: Anything won’t be done, because WotC has totally retired the Planescape setting. Sorry, kids.

    That said, I dearly hope Obsidian is closely involved with the next BG incarnation, with Avellone/JE/etc. Avellone should be free after the goldenness of Alpha Protocol in the next handful of months, anyway.

  6. Larington says:

    Never mind a Baldurs Gate, I just want more games similar to it, with a similar strong level of narrative/story-telling/what-have-you that is more Baldurs Gate than, err, that other one which was never quite as good.

    I don’t even care if its not in 3D, I’d quite happily see a Baldurs Gate, but with a different story and in a roughly similar graphics engine (Updated to account for generally higher resolutions but not necessarily much more).

    In fact, the Baldurs Gate should’ve kicked off a trend of story-strong games, so its a shame they didn’t.

  7. Duoae says:

    I really don’t like the look of Dragon Age…. i don’t know what it is but it ‘feels’ nothing like a normal party-based cRPG and certainly doesn’t feel like it’s going to replace the greatness of the isometric crowd of the 90s. I think it’d be a shame if Baldur’s Gate 3 was more action-oriented.

    What role did Black Isle have in the BG series creation? I know they’re credited as co-publisher with Interplay on wikipedia but they had developers there under the Black Isle flag so i’m assuming that they contributed towards the actual creation of those games… no? I just feel like since they and Bioware parted ways that Bioware have gone off on their own little path that has increasingly dropped towards the Bethesda side of RPGs…. or maybe that’s my imagination?

    Saying that, I really liked NWN (I think one of the few) and it’s interface and gameplay design more than the story…. but it was no BG and certainly i didn’t think that NWN2 was better in quality or style/design.

  8. GibletHead2000 says:

    Aww, does this mean that Bethesda won’t be making BG3 then? <ducks>

  9. J9 says:

    At first, I wasn’t sure what to think about bioware not being the company to make the next Neverwinter Nights, but after some thought I’m convinced its the best thing that could have happened.

    Lately EA has made it onto my list of shit companies that make even worse of games (Right up there with Micro$oft games). The list being publishers of games that I’m not sure I’d want to play if I was being paid. So I really don’t trust anything sold under the aegis of EA, even if it weren’t infected with draconian spy-ware (which I’m sure is part of the EA guarantee now).
    And then onto the fact that I may not be in the majority but the only RPG from Bioware I’ve *really* enjoyed a lot was the first Neverwinter Nights and even then the original SP campaign was the worst of the entire series but the game itself + the mods I played on were just so fantastic I spent almost as much time as I did on my WoW addiction later. Their other RPGs including NWN2 just impressed me far less.
    So in the end I think its probably in everyone’s best interest that EA isn’t getting their claws on any yet another great series that they can wring cash out of until its dead. And that Bioware, who in my opinion was getting to the point of making remarkably similar RPGs, the best thing that could happen is to give the series to a new company and hope for something fresh and wonderful.

  10. Jochen Scheisse says:

    The game will be done by Epic, and it will be about Hack&Slay and Chainmail Bikinis, according to Atari’s Phil Harrison, who went on and told fans of the franchise: “Up yours! You gonna buy it anyway, bitches.”

  11. Ceremony says:

    Slightly off-topic, but somebody recently beat BG2 in 46 minutes.

    http://dl.speeddemosarchive.com/demo.pl?BaldursGate2_4131

  12. Funky Badger says:

    BG & BGII were great, Neverwinter Nights was meh but the second expansion was good fun. NWN2 was an atrocious pile of awfulness on release and still wasn’t fixed a year or two later when I tried to play it again. So thanks for that, Atari. (Nevermind the awful characterisation and storytelling therein…)

  13. qrter says:

    The game will be done by Epic, and it will be about Hack&Slay and Chainmail Bikinis, according to Atari’s Phil Harrison, who went on and told fans of the franchise: “Up yours! You gonna buy it anyway, bitches.”

    Will it also be exclusively coloured in greys and browns and never, EVERRR come out on the PC?

    Also, the introduction of a booming, disembodied voice saying phrases like “HEADSHOT!”, “MULTIKILL!!” and ofcourse.. “M-M-M-MONSTERKILL!!!!” at the appropriate moments.

  14. MeestaNob! says:

    I’m frankly horrified to think of the mess they’ll make of Baldur’s Gate.

    To be honest, it’s one of those (hnnnggg) IP’s that I wished companies would forget they own, purely so they don’t fuck up my joy of the originals.

    If they can promise on the holiest of bibles that a Baldur’s Gate III would be 2D on painted backgrounds, full nerd-o-rama D&D ruleset, requiring at least 2 keyboards worth of shortcut keys and the formers quasi-realtime gameplay I would be interested.

    But it wont be. And Black Isle/Bioware would have nothing to do with it, sadly. If Bioware took up the reigns of development, then there are possibilities.

    We all know none of this will go well, Atari. Just Dont. Please.

  15. Mattress says:

    I dunno… Has anyone noticed how dodgy a company Infogrames has become since it changed it’s name to Atari?
    Alright, they’ve released Neverwinter Nights and the old Unreal Tournaments – but they were games from major studios that Atari just published and marketed.
    If you look at the games Atari has commissioned or had a larger intrerest in (Terminator 3, Dungeons & Dragons Online, Boiling Point) and things start to seem a little funny.
    In fact the merit of the company grows increasingly dubious when when you take into account that several times in the past, Atari/Infogrames survival was predicated by the the success of a single blockbuster release (see Enter the Matrix, Driv3r, Alone in the Dark & plethora of Dragon Ball Z games) e.g.: http://www.gamespot.com/news/6182469.html? … also see the selling off of Shiny (though after those two mega Matrix flops that probably was good business…)
    Basically, what I mean to say is that Atari appears to be a company that’s hamstrung financially, which often causes it to force their developers to release sub-standard games in time for deadlines (again see Matrix through Driver3 to Alone in the Dark).
    If I was to guess, I’d say they’d keep NwN as a traditional PC RPG as that seems to have an existing market, Baldurs Gate 3 though is a bit of dormant franchise (which brand successfully transferred over to consoles a few years ago), thus I could see them trying to reinvent it for consoles the same way Bethesda has successfully done by making Fallout 3 a major blockbuster.
    Still though, if they pick the right developers and don’t force them to compromise on quality – then the possibility of two good games remains.
    Though you have to wonder, if Bioware or Obsidian aren’t going to tackle them, then who?
    -Bethesda? Eww…
    -Those Polish dudes who did The Witcher? Yeshkameshk?
    -John Romero & David Braben’s new studio???

  16. vinraith says:

    Who cares about Torment (sorry, all the great plots and well drawn characters in the world can’t compensate for crap gameplay). Give me an Icewind Dale sequel, which being a simpler creature is far less likely to get destroyed in the remaking anyway.

  17. Premium User Badge

    Saul says:

    Planescape: Anything won’t be done, because WotC has totally retired the Planescape setting. Sorry, kids.

    Not necessarily– they are planning to revisit old settings as expansions for the 4th edition line, and Planescape is rumored to be among them. It may be a somewhat different place, given the new cosmology, but the idea is still somewhat exciting.

  18. malkav11 says:

    Planescape’s a neat setting, but at least it’s been done relatively recently. I’d like to see a Dark Sun or Ravenloft game appear in modern times. (The SSI Gold Box ones are fun, but sooooo primitive.)

  19. Pags says:

    One thing I would like to see done with Planescape: Torment is have it ported to the DS.

    Perhaps this is blasphemy, but it would make train journeys a whole lot more awesome.

  20. Larington says:

    I’d prefer to see a new developer at least try to reach the heights of Baldurs Gate 1/2. I regard IceWind Dale as being a contributor to the decline of the genre, since it fell well short of what the BG games achieved.

  21. Adam Bloom says:

    One thing I would like to see done with Planescape: Torment is have it ported to the DS.

    Perhaps this is blasphemy, but it would make train journeys a whole lot more awesom

    You’d go blind. :P

  22. M.P. says:

    Boo must get his exercise, lest he bite us all in hard-to-reach places!

  23. SwiftRanger says:

    It’s gonna be a lot more difficult to justify a move to a first person RPG for this than with Fallout 3. BG = mini-RTS with pause party dungeon crawling with loads of interesting quests.

    Bioware has destroyed a lot of the BG legacy in their post BGII works (simply put: not as much quality or interesting characters) but Dragon Age seems like a return to form.

  24. dragon says:

    If said sequel will be to Baldur’s Gate 2 what Fallout 3 is to Fallout 2 — which is likely — then I really don’t give a shit.

  25. Psychopomp says:

    Planescape-

    There have already been mentions of places that were retired in 3rd Edition in 4th Edition material. Sigil has already been brought up in the Manual of the Planes.
    If Obsidian came back and did a Planescape:whatever, I would be able to die happy.

    AND PLEEEEEEEEEEASE don’t let Bethesda take over BG, or any other franchises for that matter. Then I’m going to have to fight with consoletards who think BG3 is better, because VA-er, a nu-uuuuking spell makes up for horrible writing, animation, and plot.

  26. JulianP says:

    Bioware has destroyed a lot of the BG legacy in their post BGII works (simply put: not as much quality or interesting characters) but Dragon Age seems like a return to form.

    I’m beginning to think that the whole “BG legacy” was totally thanks to Black Isle. I read just recently that Interplay constantly kept rejecting BioWare’s story ideas for Baldur’s Gate, so they put their own (read: Black Isle’s) writers on the job.

  27. Anthony Damiani says:

    I really miss this chain of games, once a proud icon of the PC platform.

    Malkav 11– I’d love another Dark Sun game, but Planescape “relatively recently”? It was nine years ago.

    That’s an age of the world, in game time.

  28. Kalain says:

    I hope they do bring them back in the same vein as the originals, because they were fantastic games. But, there is a niggling little gremlin in the back of my head thats yelling ‘Consolised…. Consolised’.

  29. dragon says:

    Kalain: I agree, and it’s evident in the CRPGs that have been released the last few years, and even on a game like L4D. It’s the worst thing about PC gaming at the moment–even worse than DRM, IMO.

  30. Meat Circus says:

    Them’s gonna balls it up.

  31. maerd says:

    No one touches Torment. Masterpieces don’t need sequels.

  32. Bhlaab says:

    Let’s wait and see if they will actually be rpgs

  33. Manwe says:

    BG3…say it ain’t so! I should start saving up holiday now. In order of time spent on games, I think it goes BG2, Diablo 2, X2, for me. With hundreds and hundreds of hours on BG2.

    Please let them just do an updated infinity engine, with high res & widescreen, and then focus on interesting chars, quests and places. We don’t need no stinkin’ fancy 3d shenanigans.

  34. Blaxploitation Man says:

    Please let them just do an updated infinity engine, with high res & widescreen, and then focus on interesting chars, quests and places. We don’t need no stinkin’ fancy 3d shenanigans.

    That will never happen, and anyone who believes doing that will improve the other aspects of the game are obviously the types who know more about (and spend more time) playing games then designing them.

    Tighten up those graphics on level 2 guys, but not too much, you’ll make the story and gameplay worse!

  35. Premium User Badge

    James G says:

    On the subject of ‘consolisation’ of RPGs, did anyone else see that the Witcher is apparently heading to consoles.

  36. Dreamhacker says:

    Atari have shown their like of one genre: hack’n’slash. But Baldur’s Gate is more than that! Leave it alone!

  37. Duouk2000 says:

    Until I see it, I’ll assume another Baldurs Gate game will be in the same vain of Dark Alliance. It’s easier that way :/

  38. Bobsy says:

    I would campaign vigorously against a new Baldur’s Gate game, Dark Alliance pap aside because it was merely trading on the name and I wouldn’t play it anyway.

    BG came to an incredibly satisfying conclusion and resurrecting it would serve only to water down what was the defining western RPG of the last ten years.

    Extra D&D Forgotten Realmsy stuff? Yes, sure, whatever. Extra Baldur’s Gate? NO, NO A THOUSAND TIMES NO.

  39. Heliocentric says:

    Yes, and apparently “BETTER THAN EVER” by that I assume they mean either simple or that it i’ll bare the fruits of extended work that we’ll likely get in a patch/expansion. In a post fable 2 landscape the witchiest could do well.

  40. Voidman says:

    New Dark Sun gets my vote as well.

    Sadly if those new games are to conform to the new D&D 4th Ed rules (and they will if WoC is to give it their trademark blessing), it won’t be much different then Diablo. Why can’t they just use a different ip – there are so many fleshed-out rpg settings out there ripe for the picking. How bout something tapping into renaissance period p’haps (like Lionheart – but done better for instance), White Wolf’s Dark Ages, Conan, Warhammer or some other more original fantasy world – Jorune anyone? This could work just like Arcanum worked.

  41. Premium User Badge

    Stense says:

    I think I’ll take this opportunity to say hooray.

    Hooray.

    I always welcome the chance to slay Orcs and get barbequed by Dragons.

  42. Tei says:

    I think what make these games great is the writting. People still buy these games on the long term, because the quality.

    So.. why not make games with that quality? you don’t even need to call it Baldurs Gate, or be about D&D. It could be about anything else.

    Make another game, make so the quest are intringuing, and the hechmen have interesting lines, and interesting side quest. That is what RPG is about: literature.

  43. Rob K-L says:

    I loved BG 1&2. (Despite never finishing the latter. I still have it installed, with high res/widescreen patches.)
    When I played through Titan Quest I was constantly wishing for two things. The first was that someone released a BG game that pretty. The second was that I could actually rotate the viewpoint.

    A modern BG game could and should never be 2D again, but the beauty of its landscapes could be retained as demonstrated by Titan Quest, which is not exactly a spring chicken nowadays and still looks great. A Titan Quest style viewpoint could also retain the tactical overview that was required for the semi-realtime combat. I found NWN 1&2 much less handy for that. Especially NWN2, which seemed to box the camera in to show of the graphics but resulted in not being able to see what was going on properly, particularly indoors. And the graphics certainly did not justify the compromise.
    But Titan Quest lacked the facility to move the camera angle (it did not need it). I suspect a BG style game would benefit from such a feature.

    Another thing I would like to see retained from the original BG games which seems strangely abscent from more recent games is the sense of the world and your character maturing in it. BG had this kind of pastoral innocence in there to temper any darkness. It all seems to have been replaced by dour grittyness and dark nights flashed by lightining and fire. Bring back my sunshine lit wanders through the wilderness. (Titan Quest managed that very well.)

    Having written that I realise that one of the things I loved most about BG was the aesthetics. (Not the technical detail, but the feeling that they evoked.) Happy days.

  44. danielcardigan says:

    “On the subject of ‘consolisation’ of RPGs, did anyone else see that the Witcher is apparently heading to consoles.”

    To be honest it was probably designed with consoles in mind, given the simplified combat. I don’t have a problem with that.

    I’d still play a 2D Baldurs Gate. I think the graphical detail in BG, IW and PS:T pees all over anything NWN-ish. That’s not even touching the story and ease of development.

  45. manintheshack says:

    I’ll tell you what; what they’ve always needed in BG is some more swordplay and less characterisation. The one thing that was always lacking from these games was the ability to watch someone’s head slide off in slow motion every time you poked them. It would really add something to the experience. Oh and make it first person! And add some half-arsed Hollywood talent to increase sales! There’s no way they can’t become the most celebrated developer of our time.

  46. Garrett says:

    Don’t sharpen your pitchforks and light your torches just yet. It’s far too early to start worrying about how a new developer is going to somehow “ruin” Baldur’s Gate III when such a game may not even exist yet. Phil Harrison’s comment is so vague it could mean almost anything.

    While it could mean developers like CD Projekt RED are working on “true next-gen sequels” to much-loved games, this may just be leading up to the revelation that inevitable sequels like Dark Alliance III and Neverwinter Nights 3 are currently in development (no surprises there).

    As for what developer would “ruin” it the least, that’s not the real issue. All future D&D games will be based on the upcoming 4th Edition, which has been accused of trying to turn the game into a sort of tabletop MMO. No matter which developer gets the job they will have to use the 4th Edition as a base.

  47. Thirith says:

    For me the only reason why Baldur’s Gate III doesn’t make sense is the plot: Throne of Bhaal completed the story. Other games in the same universe? Why not. But there’s no reason – other than brand recognition – to make it Baldur’s Gate.

    As far as Neverwinter Nights is concerned: the games (minus the expansions) are mainly toolkits, not single player experiences. As such they seem to be pretty okay. As long as Atari keeps this in mind – NWN for the toolkit and multiplayer experience, BG for the single-player story – they have a chance of pulling this off without becoming their own competition.

  48. Funky Badger says:

    Forgotten Realms is a farily rubbish vanilla setting though – the real highpoints of (A)D&D computer games have existed in other settings (Torment and Champions of Krynn) – any of the other settings (bar possible Greyhawk) would be more interesting.

    This is ignoring the whole 4th Ed = P&P WoW elephantine equation though…

  49. Funky Badger says:

    Damn you Garrett… ;-)

  50. Larington says:

    I really don’t think that reviving Baldurs Gate in terms of revisiting its story as being a good idea, a return to that kind of strong story telling and that gameplay, sure, but as others have said, theres not much to be gained by trading on the baldurs gate name. Theres also the risk you’d be started with another uber-powered character as part of this continuation when theres much more satisfaction to be had by starting with a new character.

    Perhaps it would also be a good idea to head-hunt down the core writers for the original BGs, but just tell them to start crafting a new story from scratch.