The city of Baldur’s Gate located in the Forgotten Realms is a place with long and storied history, and some of this history was presented in video game format, not just through the tabletop adventures and licensed Dungeons & Dragons novels and comic books.

With Baldur’s Gate 3 coming, it makes sense to make a list of all Baldur’s Gate games out there, to bridge the time abyss between the past and the future.

Baldurs Gate Enhanced Edition 2013-01-16 RPG Overhaul Games
Baldurs Gate Siege Of Dragonspear 2016-03-31 Strategy Beamdog
Baldurs Gate II Enhanced Edition 2013-11-15 RPG Overhaul Games
Baldurs Gate The Complete Saga 2013-11-15 Action & Shooter Beamdog
Baldur's Gate 3 2020-10-06 RPG Larian Studios

Baldur’s Gate

Release date:1998
Genre:Role-playing game
Expected playtime:~60 hours

Baldur’s Gate is a game that has changed the way how RPGs are played for decades to come. To this day the Real Time with Pause combat system remains many players’ preferred way to do combat in party-based RPGs. It used an isometric camera looking down on detailed (especially back then) 2D maps and the 3D models of characters and monsters, as opposed to FPP dungeon crawlers of yore.

The story begins when your character’s foster father Gorion instructs them to gather their things, deal with any unfinished business, because they have to leave: somebody powerful and dangerous seeks to kill your character. What follows is a epic adventure on the famed Sword Coast of Forgotten Realms, with many allies, dungeons, and grim revelations of your character’s true origins.

Key features
  • The game which began BioWare’s long history of being an RPG developer
  • Quite faithful adaptation of 2nd edition of Dungeons & Dragons
  • 25 companions, including some all-time favourites like Minsc
  • A lot of room for roleplaying

Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn

Release date:2000
Genre:Role-playing game
Expected playtime:~90 hours

Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn is what the original Baldur’s Gate was supposed to be. It’s grander, looked a bit better, with a better UI, and it presented a few interesting mechanical options that were absent from the first game. There are three new classes, for example: barbarian, monk, and sorcerer, and many classes had “kits”: bundles of optional specialisations conferring useful bonuses at a cost.

The storyline picks up some time after the original game left off and begins with your character an a few companions captured in a mad mage’s dungeon. The action is shifted towards Amn, another region of the Forgotten Realms, and will take your character further along their journey as a Bhaalspawn. It’s an excellent game, and the inspiration for titles like Dragon Age or Pillars of Eternity.

Key features
  • Expanded class selection and progression
  • A few returning companions from BG1
  • Centred around a different region: Amn, the Merchant Kingdom
  • Coupled with the Throne of Bhaal expansion concludes the Bhaalspawn’s story

Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition

Release date:2013-01-16
Developer:Overhaul Games
Expected playtime:~50 hours

The Enhanced Edition of Baldur’s Gate was developed by Overhaul Games, a division of Beamdog. It’s by all accounts, a complete edition of BioWare’s classic, it includes the original game, it’s expansion: Tales from the Sword Coast, and numerous improvements ensuring that the twenty years-old game is going to run well on modern systems. It also adds some optional content and adventures.

One of such additions is The Black Pits, a standalone adventure taking place in the Underdark and featuring a full party of custom characters. The Enhanced Edition also took Baldur’s Gate beyond the PC, towards not only consoles, but also Android and iOS devices, which means a few changes to make playtime more pleasant, like swiping through menus on mobile devices.

Key features
  • Includes some elements that hadn’t appeared until Baldur’s Gate 2 for smoother transition
  • Introduces the Bhaalspawn to consoles and mobile platforms
  • Makes sure the game works on modern systems
  • Has a dedicated adventure: Siege of Dragonspear bridging the gap between BG1 and BG2

Baldur’s Gate II Enhanced Edition

Release date:2013-11-15
Developer:Overhaul Games
Expected playtime:~80 hours

Baldur’s Gate 2 Enhanced Edition does the same kind of updating and fixing that BG1EE did. There’s support for modern resolutions, code tweaks to make it work on modern systems, and a number of interface solutions to make the game playable on consoles and mobile platforms. There’s also widescreen support, which means the UI obscures much less of the map.

A neat feature is that the new companions introduced in Enhanced Baldur’s Gate make a return in Enhanced Baldur’s Gate 2 to maintain the continuity between both remasters/remakes. Without a doubt the Enhanced Editions are the definitive way to play old Baldur’s gate games today ahead of the release of Baldur’s Gate 3, unless you happen to have an old PC with an older version of Windows.

Key features
  • With BG1EE it forms the complete classic Bhaalspawn saga
  • Unlike the original BG2, this one you can play on any major platform
  • Features for mobile players
  • Widescreen support

Baldur’s Gate III

Release date:2020-10-06
Genre:Role-playing game
Expected playtime:TBD

Baldur’s Gate 3, developed by Larian Studios, brings the city’s story back, updated for the fifth Edition of Dungeons & Dragons are reflecting the weird things that happened to it in the intervening years. Presented in a fully 3D environment and using a turn-based combat system Baldur’s Gate 3 will allow everyone to exercise their tactical muscles in new ways.

The story involes Mind Flayers, brain-eating humanoid Cthulhuesque monster whose psychic powers allowed them to build an ancient empire, long since overthrown. You can make your own character, picking the ancestry, class and background, or pick one of the unique Origin characters, who can also join you as companions along the way. You also have a tadpole in your head and you start in Hell.

Key features
  • A new story in the Baldur’s gate, following after the tabletop campaign Descent into Avernus
  • Several Origin characters with interesting backgrounds and unique questlines
  • Tactical, turn-based combat following the D&D ruleset quite closely
  • Many dramatic choices to be made throughout the game

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance

Release date:2001
Genre:Action role-playing, hack and slash
Developer:Snowblind Studios
Expected playtime:~16 hours

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance was a curious game. Not only does its story have little in common with BioWare’s games beyond the titular city, but it was also developed only for consoles, and it’s not even a traditional RPG, but a hack and slash. An interesting thing is that it was the first game to use the rules of the third edition of Dungeons & Dragons, before 2002’s Neverwinter Nights.

There are three characters to choose from: dwarven fighter, human archer, and elven sorceress, all of whom you can customise as you gain levels. There was also two-player split-screen co-operative multiplayer with XP sharing. The story is linear and begins when the trio arrives in Baldur’s Gate and promptly gets attacked by a group of thieves. A rough welcome, but an engaging beginning.

Key features
  • Three characters with unique playstyles
  • The first video game to use the third edition of D&D
  • Inevitably you’ll encounter both dungeons and dragons
  • Linear storyline with many sidequests

Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance II

Release date:2004
Genre:Action role-playing, hack and slash
Developer:Black Isle Studios
Expected playtime:~16 hours

After the warm welcome of the first Dark Alliance, DA2 was inevitable. It came with a new, broader, cast of characters: a human barbarian, a drow monk, a moon-elf necromancer, a dwarven rogue, and a human cleric. Just like before, their abilities and effectiveness can be improved by levelling up and spending points on feats, spells etc. The split-screen co-op comes back too.

This time the quest progression is less linear, and core quests can usually be completed ani any order, withing reason. The story stays close to Baldur’s Gate (the city), unlike Dark Alliance 1 which quickly ventured beyond, and ends on a cliff-hanger that was never to be resolved, since the third instalment’s development was halted and never resumed.

Key features
  • The end of the Baldur’s Gate part of the Dark Alliance series
  • Five playable characters with their motivations
  • Two-player split-screen multiplayer
  • You can improve and customise your gear

Baldur’s Gate endures

In addition to the new Baldur’s Gate from Larian there’s also a new Dark Alliance game coming, which this time doesn’t have much to do with Baldur’s Gate itself, but it’s clearly continuing the old games’ legacy. What else the future holds? Who knows.