Baldur’s Gate II Is Still One Of The Greatest RPGs Ever Made

Baldur’s Gate II Is Still One Of The Greatest RPGs Ever Made

Thirteen years after release, Baldur’s Gate II is still one of the best role-playing games of all time. No joke. If you consider yourself an RPG fan, this is a game you have to play.

“But wait,” you are most likely thinking, ready to type out a comment about how lame I am. “This game is old! Surely it is unplayable today.”

Aha. That is where you are wrong, my persnickety friend. With a couple of mods and a functioning graphics card, Baldur’s Gate II is just as stellar now as it was back in 2000.

On Friday, inspired by our compilation of the best classic PC games, I fired up Baldur’s Gate II for the first time in many years. I planned to spend a few minutes playing just to see if the game has aged well. Now it’s Monday. The past two days are a blur of space hamsters and shadow dragons and +3 swords with extra THAC0 against orcs. I’ve barely slept. I can’t look at a screen without twitching. I can barely even work without thinking about how I’m gonna get Minsc a better sword and go try to slay that demi-lich when I get home tonight.

The lesson of this story is, you can’t just spend “a few minutes” playing Baldur’s Gate II.

How To Optimally Play Baldur’s Gate II In 2013

1) Buy the game on GOG. For $US10 you get both BGII and its must-play expansion, which you can go through together seamlessly.

2) Download and install the BG2 fixpack. This is a large mod that fixes hundreds of bugs you might not even know about. Totally worth it. As you install, the mod will ask if you want to add a number of optional fixes: consult the Readme file for specifics on each one. (If you’ve never played Baldur’s Gate II, you might not understand most of these, so feel free to just say yes to everything.)

3) Download Unfinished Business, which fixes and adds stuff that was broken and/or left out in the final version of BGII. Again, feel free to pick and choose whichever options you’d like in your game, and feel free to say yes to everything.

4) Download the widescreen mod, install it, then select whatever resolution you’d like to play as (X = horizontal; Y = vertical).

5) Get bigger fonts. Not necessary, but nice if you don’t want to have to squint.

6) Play.

Six Reasons You Should Play Baldur’s Gate II In 2013

1) The writing: My #1 takeaway from this weekend’s Baldur’s Gate II binge is that good writing holds up forever. Even the little bits of random party banter are engaging, particularly if you stick with the ridiculous gnome Jan Jansen.

2) The density: Baldur’s Gate II doesn’t have as big a world as, say, Skyrim, or Fallout 3, but every map is packed — packed! — full of people and quests and cool things to see. They’re all interesting, too.

3) The variety: In Baldur’s Gate II, you can solve a murder mystery, try to defend a city from wild animals, convince feuding families to kill one another, join a guild of vampires, and meet a talking sword. In one day.

4) The customisation: When you start Baldur’s Gate II, you get to fill out a D&D-style character card, complete with class, race, alignment, appearance, and so forth. Rolling character stats in BGII is almost as fun as actually playing the game. I’m playing as a half-elf Sorceress. Highly recommended.

5) The challenge: If you take on a lich or a dragon without proper preparation, you will die. If you don’t keep a rogue hunting for traps and scouting through dungeons, you will die. This is a game about planning and progressing, not running and shooting. And for that we are thankful.

6) The little things: As you play Baldur’s Gate II, if you take the time to explore and adventure and really take advantage of everything in the world, you’ll find little stories and moments that feel like they were placed there just for you. They were. Enjoy them.


  • I’ve always wanted to revisit Baldur’s Gate 1/2 but I can’t for the same reason I can’t launch Morrowind/Oblivion/Skyrim or give Mass Effect 1/2/3 a go. Paralysed by the knowledge that these games all require a lot of hours of free time and I just can’t.

  • The enhanced edition is coming out in a couple of days and you post this, prolly should have waited so people can go out and support all the hard work Overhaul games has put into that franchise.

    • By most accounts the original games with the graphics mods look and run a lot better than BG:EE. There’s a bit of additional content in BG:EE, but none of it is worthwhile. It’s not up to me to support the enhanced editions just because they ‘put in a lot of hard work’.

    • Having both BG and BG:EE, I suspect this article is more for people who were turned off getting Beamdog’s version of the sequel (which actually comes out in a couple of months – November 15, in fact). Hard work doesn’t make it worth playing, and BG:EE had some significant issues.

      I’ll probably still get BGII:EE, in the hopes of encouraging the making of BGIII, but I wouldn’t blame anyone for not doing so and just getting the original of GOG.

      • To not even make mention of the fact that there is a soon to be released new release of BG2 coming out that includes the expansion and is available on mobile platforms in such an otherwise out of the blue article is not just an oversight, it’s sticking the finger up at BGII:EE. Jason is more than aware that BGII:EE is coming out and distinctly didn’t reference it, so either he wants people to not play it, or he wants us to talk about it in the comments.

        BG:EE was bug ridden at release (at least on iPad), I couldn’t play it till they patched it. Now it’s been patched it’s actually quite good. AOE spells still slow down the game far too much though.

  • When all’s said and done, I think BG2 may actually be my favourite game ever. The amount of hours I put into that thing..

    I worry that playing it again (or buying the Enhanced Edition) might ruin my nostalgia though. Like that time I bought the Street Fighter anime movie on DVD and was not half as cool as I remember.

    Go for the eyes, Boo!

    • I don’t want to play the BG games again for the same reason. But I totally disagree, street fighter is still the best movie ever <3

    • I had that with Beast Wars. Teenage me thought it was awesome. Mid-20s me is unimpressed.

      <3 BG though. Nostalgia isn’t ruined. You just get bored quicker per session. However. I didn’t know about the mod fixes (never looked). So that might be pretty cool.

    • I still have that book, I used to love reading through that thing. Definitely don’t make ’em like they used to!

  • I spent 200+ hours on this game back in 2000. When someone invents a way to remove memories, the first thing I’ll do is delete my memories of BGII (and its amazing expansion) so I can experience them for the first time… again.

  • I’ve actually never finished BG2. I finished BG1, and have played through a good chunk of BG2. Now, I’ll agree, definately one of the greatest CRPG’s ever. I do however, rate Planescape: Torment higher than the BG series. Only problem with Planescape is that it was too short. Seems strange? Well, I think the reason I haven’t finished it is because I don’t WANT to finish. I don’t think I finished BG1 until after BG2 was released, because I knew that I’d be able to continue the adventure. At the moment, I think I can always go back and play it and experience new things, that is something I can’t do if I finish it.

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