Tragedy of the Baldur’s Gate Intro

When the Enhanced Editions of Baldur’s Gate were announced, there was one thing they said that worried long time fans. When they came out and I saw what they had done I was very sad. There was one experience removed from the game that I wish they had done better.


Before I say anything else about the Enhanced Editions of Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, I want to make it clear that I love what Beamdog have done to improve the experience of playing the games. They have many bug fixes, UI improvements and a huge amount of polish that make it much more accessible to modern day gamers. They took a classic video game and enabled an entire new generation to experience the best video game trilogy of all time.

This article isn’t meant to hate on Beamdog or the work they have done, rather to point out one part that they didn’t do so well, and I wish they could have done better. If you’re an old school fan of the game you’ve probably already guessed what I’m going to say. I’m talking, of course, about the in-game cinematics.

My First Time

It was some time around 1999 when I first got my hands on a boxed game with Baldur’s Gate written across it. I was around 15 years old. I had been obsessed with RPGs and Dungeons and Dragons for years, and was excited to play a game based on the system.

On the way home I opened the box and took out the manual and started reading. The manual was full of not only instructions, but detailed lore for many parts of the Forgotten Realms, especially the Sword Coast. It was my first exposure to the world of Toril and many of its major heroes, including Elminster and Volo.

When I got home I couldn’t wait to play it. I put in the first disc (the original game came on 5 discs) and started the installation. Almost an hour later the game was ready to play (actually I can’t remember how long it took, but it wasn’t fast). I loaded up the game.

Lightning struck a mountain and formed the Black Isle logo. A dragon flashed across the screen and breathed fire upon me. The screen went dark and Nietzsche quote flashed on the screen. And then I witnessed the best thing I had seen in a video game up to that point.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a video is worth a million. So at this point I’ll just link to the intro video so you can experience it for yourself.

After watching this I was instantly hooked. It was the perfect introduction to what would be the best gaming experience of my life.

And Beamdog removed this from the game.


There is a lot going on in this short intro that makes it work. It starts by showing us the top of a tall tower as the location.

This place is isolated – there is no escape. Thunder and lightning gives a sense of horror to the scene. It’s cliche, but it still works. The fleeing character stumbles through the door and collapses. He’s hyperventilating, obviously been running for a while.

We hear the footsteps of the armoured figure and the man turns to look at the door. We can only see his eyes, but we can see and feel the terror in his eyes. Our first shot of the armoured figure shows him bursting through the door, followed by a low camera angle to show how imposing he is.

The camera is always low when we are looking up at the armoured figure, and high when we are looking down at the victim as he desperately crawls away. The power dynamic is clear just from the positions of the cameras.

The dialogue is cryptic and gives some small clue as to the story of the game. If you haven’t played the game yet it stands out, and draws you into the mystery that dominates the first installment.

Then we are shown how strong the armoured figure is as he punches the helmet off the victim. The screen fades to black for a moment, putting us into the shoes of the man who just got knocked out. Then he is picked up and forced through the iron fence that surrounds this rooftop.

As the man struggles he hits the armoured figure’s mail gloves but to no avail. I always loved the detail of him kicking the broken fence as he struggled. That small moment always stuck with me for some reason.

The armoured figure’s hand tightens and we hear the man’s neck snap. He then hurls him to the ground and we follow him as he hits the cobbled streets below. Blood pours out of the man, and as the music reaches a crescendo it fades into the title.

Even the blood flowing into the game’s logo is symbolic. It would be a spoiler to explain why, but if you’ve played through the game, you know.

The New Intro

When the Enhanced Editions came out one of the first things I wanted to know was how they had redone the cinematics. They had announced that they would be remaking them since they didn’t have the original renders. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – one thing about the original movies is that they do look like they were made in the 90s. If they appeared in a modern game as they looked back then, they might put people off the game.

Unfortunately, the new cinematics didn’t hold a candle to the original.

A lot of the beats from the original movie are gone. It feels rushed and the armoured figure is less imposing. There is barely any animation. And a lot of the details are gone. No panting after the man rushes out the door. No crawling away trying to escape the inescapable. No struggling against the inevitable. No kicking the broken iron fence before we hear the neck snap.

The blood at the end forms a pool that forms a circle and becomes the logo. While being a bit more realistic, it also kind of damages the metaphor of the blood flowing into the logo. A moment that means a lot more when you know how the game ends.


There is a new Baldur’s Gate game out now. I don’t believe this could have happened without the Enhanced Editions. I haven’t played Baldur’s Gate 3 yet, but it’s high up on my list. I just need to finish playing the other games first.

There is a mod for the Enhanced Editions that adds the old movies back in where they belong, so it is possible to experience the game the same way. Unfortunately this might be a bit complicated for new players to install.

At the end of the day, it feels like a minor criticism. An old man yelling at clouds. But I am sad that people who experience the game for the first time won’t get to see the epic intro that blew 15-year-old me away.

But that doesn’t change the fact that the work Beamdog has done to bring these old games to a new audience is utterly fantastic. I cannot give them enough praise. This game has been influential to me in so many ways, in my hobbies, in my career, and it brings me so much joy to see a new fanbase form around a game that means so much to me.

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