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Retrospective for the 20th anniversary of Icewind Dale

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Twenty years ago, on June 29, Interplay Entertainment released Icewind Dale, a game based on a Dungeons & Dragons: Forgotten realms setting up the campaign with the same name. It was an instant hit, with US domestic sales of 39,285 copies for the first week, and would continue to perform well, selling over 400,000 in early 2001. He was loved by gamers and critics, and even now he is still at the top of the game lists. . So what is it that made this game a success, and why is it still loved and played to date? Come with us as we travel back in time and explore the origins of this iconic game.

RA Salvatore

While The forgotten realms it was the original creation of Ed Greenwood and earlier D & D, Icewind Dale is the creation of RA Salvatore and appeared for the first time in his debut novel The Crystal Shard. Later it would be the frame of his next two novels, Silver flows is Halfling’s gem, the three novels became known as the Icewind Dale trilogy. In addition to creating Icewind Dale, Salvatore also introduced Drizzt Do’Urden, a drow. Drizzt is heavily featured in Salvatore’s Forgotten Realms novels, including prequel and sequel trilogies which, when combined with The Icewind Dale trilogy, make up the The legend of Drizzt books.

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The videogame

Icewind Dale is a video game initially released for PC, joined 2 years later by a Mac version. It takes place in Icewind Dale, a region of The Forgotten Realms. The game is based on a modified version of the second edition of Dungeons and advanced dragons and uses a game engine adapted from BioWare, built with D & D video games in mind. This was also used on the titles Planescape: Torment is Baldur’s Gate. The player view is a pseudo-3D isometric view that uses sprites superimposed on pre-rendered backgrounds. This was a popular way of having a “3D game” while still using 2D mechanics.

There’s a star-studded cast behind the game audio featuring David Ogden Stiers’ vocal talents (Lilo and Stitch, Justice League), John Kassir (voice of the HBO crypt Tales from the crypt), Michael Bell (animated TV series transformers is GI Joe), Tara Strong (Powerpuff Girls, Teen Titans, My Little Pony), Jim Cummings (Winnie the Pooh, Shrek) and Tony Jay (Restart, Talespin).

The settings

The game, as mentioned earlier, is based in a region of The Forgotten Realms known as Icewind Dale. Players who are already familiar with the setting through RA Salvatore’s works will be happy to know that the game does not follow the events of the novels and instead has its own narrative arc. Icewind Dale is a region of Faerûn in the northernmost point, which takes its name from the deadly winds that is capable of destroying everything in its path. Its inhabitants have freezing temperatures for most of the year. The “Ten Cities” are where most people live and it is a partnership between the leaders of the city. Cities surround the Redwaters, Laac Dinneshere and Maer Dualdon lakes. Kuldaha, where the adventure really begins, is located southeast of Easthaven towards the northern reaches of the Spine of the World.

It is populated by the usual inhabitants of humans, dwarves, elves, halflings, half-elves and gnomes. Adventurers must be cautious in exploration as the wild lands contain bears, demons, lizardmen, orcs, ogre, squirrels and more.

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gameplay

The players manage a group of adventurers by giving them orders to complete. This could move around the map, interact with NPCs or manipulate objects. Paper and pen D & D players may find the absence of rolling a bit odd at first, but the game’s computational efforts and record keeping mean that the player can focus on the story.

The party can include up to six people and are created using a system similar to the pen and paper version. During the game, experience points are awarded through the successful completion of activities. Character abilities automatically increase as they level up.

Expansion and sequel

The success of the game led to an expansion, Icewind Dale: Heart of Winter in 2001. It was warmly received and has seen mostly positive reviews. The few criticisms received have surrounded the duration of the campaign compared to the original. An expansion for free download Trials of the Luremaster has been released to address this issue. A new prison-style location with new enemies and items has been included along with bug fixes. This would be the final version of the first one Icewind Dale.

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In 2002, Icewind Dale II It was released. The sequel gave developers several challenges when they updated the obsolete engine to use the third edition rule set. Some rules have been excluded due to technical limitations with the engine. Icewind Dale II is the latest game to develop using BioWare’s Infinity Engine. The critics gave mostly positive reviews, but alongside the players, they thought the graphics were lackluster compared to other titles of the time. The gameplay, however, was very well received and saw the addition of a local LAN multiplayer option for up to six players. The move to the third edition saw the focus move towards a more combat-focused game that uses a real-time adaptation of the turn-based combat found in the tabletop version. A negative aspect of the game is that the characters from the previous game could not be loaded Icewind Dale II, the players had to create a new party.

Screenshot from Icewind Dale II

Remake

In 2014, Overhaul Games released a remake of Icewind Dale. It features all the original game content and expansion but has been updated with remastered graphics. Available initially on PC, Mac, Linux and mobile, five years later it saw console adaptations. The game’s multiplayer option has been improved and now offers cross-platform play. The interface has been redesigned to make the game easier to play, especially on mobile platforms. The rendering engine has been replaced with one that allows multiple viewing angles to improve the game.

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Because of the similarities between Icewind Dale is Baldur’s Gate, many of the improvements to the advanced version of Baldur’s Gate seen inclusion in Icewind Dale Enhanced Edition. This included new items and equipment, as well as a new class. The inclusion of these new features has probably altered the balance of the original and some argue that it should be seen as a new game independent of the originals. This did not affect the reception of the improved edition, receiving mainly positive reviews

Icewind Dale II: Enhanced Edition the same treatment is unlikely to occur due to the loss of the original source code.

You meet in a tavern …

The story begins in a tavern in Easthaven, as so many adventures do. Your group meets with the city’s leader, Hrothgar, and is invited to join him as he sets out to investigate Kuldahar, a city southeast of Easthaven, following reports of strange happenings. As you travel to Kuldahar your group is surprised by Frost Giants causing an avalanche that blocks the way back. Your group is the only survivor of this meeting and must continue on its journey. Are you ready for the task?

Source: Icewind Dale, Forgotten Realms Wiki 1, Forgotten Realms Wiki 2, Wikipedia

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