Posted October 15, 2019 by Peter in News

Baldur’s Gate on console – nostalgia vs form

Beamdog cover art compilation
Beamdog cover art compilation

I won’t lie – the news of today’s release of the Infinity Engine RPGs onto console sets off a burst of nostalgia in me. Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 (released as one pack) are a pair of the most epic entries into story-driven CRPGs; Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale (released as a second pack) are a more juxtaposed pair, with Planescape representing one of the greatest stories experienced in my decades of playing games paired up with its more combat-oriented relative.

Do I feel old seeing the awards these titles won two decades ago? Yes. Do I think they are stories that deserve being re-told to a generation of gamers who might have only heard of them by reputation? Also yes. Do I feel worry about the desire to replicate them as closely to the originals as possible on console? Very, very much yes.

Baldur's Gate screen

This big guy – and his loyal hamster – are back. Or here for the first time, as the case may be

There are concerns where the conversions try to “be” the original game (albeit the updated, Enhanced Editions complete with the 2016 Siege of Dragonspear DLC for the 1998 Baldur’s Gate), reproducing pages of stats and menus and inventories – which were part of the appeal, yes, but more intuitive with a mouse. Playing on a controller? … I can think of very few titles that have made the change from mouse to controller well, and these have largely been thanks to an interface overhaul. When the game is trying to be as true to the original as possible, I worry that the strength of the titles – the writing and storytelling – will get lost in the weaknesses of a two decade old interface translated to a different control method.

But these are titles that deserve to live on. Two decades on the memories are still fresh of the adventuring party falling into an argument in the Nashkel Mines, and of the Nameless One helping the city of Sigil “grow” itself. Just… part of me wishes someone had seen fit to rebuild rather than re-release these games, maintaining the stories but presenting them as something built more from the ground up for console.

Baldur’s Gate/Baldur’s Gate II and Planescape: Torment/Icewind Dale are released today for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and Nintendo Switch. Neverwinter Nights is due for release December 3rd.


Peter can be described as an old, hairy gamer, a survivor of the console wars of the 1990s, and a part-time MMO addict. He has an especial fondness for retro gaming and observing the progressions in long running gaming series. When scandalously not caught gaming, he can also be found reading comics and fantasy fiction, or practising terrible photography.