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inXile Tease Another cRPG Comeback: Bard or Baldur?

that's Torment: Tides of Nananana concept art, btw

With two successful Kickstarters under its belt, one well-received RPG sequel out in the wild and one spiritual RPG sequel on its way, what next for Wasteland and Tides of Numenera dev inXile? Sadly, it doesn’t involve ditching any crazy capitalisation. It does, however, involve bringing back another much-loved olden roleplayer. But which one? I’ve stuck a few guesses (two of which are in this post’s title) below.

In the shorter term, they’ll also be doing a bit more tinkering with Wasteland 2.

Wasteland 2’s future seems to primarily consist of bug-fixing, as apparently the majority of the team has switched full-time to working on unofficial Planescape sequel Torment: Tides of Numenera.

However, in a backer note earlier this week, project lead Chris Keenan wrote that “we still have a dedicated crew giving Wasteland 2 the love and attention it deserves. Amongst other things, we intend to do a serious balance pass in the future that should tighten up some of the loose ends. This process will easily take a month to complete (have I mentioned this game is massive?) so we will need a solid window of time to complete it between updates.”

No mention yet of whether there’ll be expansions, but that Keenan notes that he’s turning his attention another, undisclosed inXile game may not bode too well on that front.

Here’s all he gives away about said other game: it’s “another RPG that has been passionately demanded of us for a while now! It’s still quite early in the process, but we will have more news on that in the New Year.”

Ho-hum! What could it be?

Let’s look at inXile’s back catalogue, and more importantly those of its predecessors (of sorts) Black Isle and Interplay.

The smart money is probably on a new The Bard’s Tale game. That series (of sorts – it’s two games which share a name but not a lot else. Here’s Kieron on the first one) doesn’t tend to attract anything like the adulation that Fallout and Planescape did, but inXile have the rights, bossman Brian Fargo references it an awful lot, and the pastiche-heavy 2004 version has seen a decent second life on mobile.

The Bard's Tale, 2004 edition

Its satirical approach to fantasy roleplaying tropes has its fans and has its detractors, but I’d imagine there’s more than enough wind in its sails. Whether it’s enough for a third Kickstarter on the half a million scale, I’m not quite so sure.

Another option is inXile’s other 21st century RPG, Hunted: The Demon’s Forge. Given the mediocre reception and a swift parting of ways with publisher Bethesda, this seems highly unlikely.

Going further back into Interplay and Black Isle stuff, here’s an option: Baldur’s Gate III, either spiritual or actual. It is the other name in the Black Isle-associated holy trinity, after all. While BG1 and 2 were developed by Bioware, both the Wasteland 2 and Tides of Numenera projects have successfully conveyed the sense that they’re being made by an old school cRPG supergroup, and I don’t doubt that they could do that again if they can get a few big-name contributors on board.

Baldur's Gate II

In theory, Bioware co-founder Trent Oster’s Beamdog/Overhaul Games are working on an official BG3 (as well as retaining series rights generally), but I wouldn’t offer too many startled blinks if some collaboration came to pass. Beamdog have already suggested there could be a Kickstarter, though that was two years ago. I’d be even less startled if inXile went down the spiritual sequel line. Obsidian’s Pillars of Eternity is doing that to some extent, but I reckon there’s still gold in them that hills. It’s a big reach, sure, but it would certainly fit “passionately demanded.”

Similarly, Icewind Dale is an option, but it’s harder to hang “passionately demanded” onto that. See also Lionheart: Legacy of the Crusader.

Another out-there option is a new Arcanum: Of Magick and Steamworks Obscura title. That came from the dearly-departed Troika, which span out of original Fallout devs, so a link is there even if the rights situation looks a whole lot muddier (it was published by Sierra, now part of the Activision-Blizzard gestalt). It certainly has its enthusiasts, even though it doesn’t tend to appear in the same breath as Baldur, Fallout and Torment.

I reckon Bard’s Tale, to be honest, but I’m hoping for something more Baldury.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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