We started work on the original Baldur's Gate back in January 1996. Back then we didn't know a heck of a lot about how to develop a role-playing game - we had to largely rely on our memories of what made playing the great games of the past fun - games like Wizardry, the Ultima series, Ultima Underworld, System Shock, the Gold Box series, Bard's Tale, Betrayal at Krondor, and Wasteland, to name a few of our favorites.

We released Baldur's Gate to great commercial success and critical acclaim in December 1998. Baldur's Gate was truly a game that we poured our hearts and souls into; the development team of designers, QA Testers, artists and programmers at BioWare, and the QA testers, marketing, audio, sales and PR staff at our publisher, Black Isle Studios really put everything they had into making Baldur's Gate as good as it possibly could be. We were very proud of the result and as the producer of Baldur's Gate at BioWare I personally am thrilled and honored to know that more than a million fans have played and enjoyed the original BG.

But Baldur's Gate was the first roleplaying game that BioWare had ever developed, and frankly we learned a lot in the process. We have applied those lessons assiduously in developing the game that is now in your hands - Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn. Throughout the development of Baldur's Gate II our focus has been on ensuring that Baldur's Gate II is significantly better than Baldur's Gate in every way possible, and to make it appeal not only to fans of the original game but also to make it accessible to new fans who never played the original game. I am even more proud of what the Baldur's Gate II team has accomplished this time around. We felt we owed it to you - our fans - to make BGII not only a good game, but a significant improvement on the original game.

We have been careful to not break what was not broken, but we have worked on many areas in the game. Some highlights include:

  • we improved the story in Baldur's Gate II to make it much more immersive; characters interact with their worlds and other characters to make the roleplaying aspects very compelling, and very satisfying.
  • combat is more exciting than ever with the realtime strategy inter face improved from the original game and the incorporation of dozens of new character classes, over a hundred new spells (to a total of more than 300 in Shadows of Amn), an experience point cap of 2.95 million XP (resulting in maximum AD&D character levels of 17-23 level), new weapon proficiencies such as dual-wielding, and hundreds of new powerful monsters and villains.
  • turn-based fans can play the game in turn-based mode with new autopause settings
  • the scripting and design in Shadows of Amn represents the very best of what we learned in developing Baldur's Gate and its expansion pack, Tales of the Sword Coast.
  • the art in Baldur's Gate II is uniformly beautiful and represents everything we learned during the development of Baldur's Gate and Tales of the Sword Coast.
  • the graphic user interface has been improved in many ways such as adding in 800x600 resolution, 3D support for spells and background effects, dropaway side and bottom panels, a new color scheme, improved journal functionality, and map notes.
  • the multiplayer experience is very solid in Baldur's Gate II, with non-pausing dialog in stores and non-critical dialog.
  • you can start a brand new character or import your characters from Baldur's Gate or Tales of the Sword Coast; the tutorial included with the game shows new players how to get started.

We at BioWare and our publisher, Black Isle Studios, very much appreciate your support in purchasing Shadows of Amn, and hope that Baldur's Gate II brings you many, many hours of solid entertainment. I've been a huge fan of roleplaying games since the first time I booted my Apple II way back in 1980, so it gives me great pleasure to say that I truly believe that Baldur's Gate II is a great roleplaying game - one of the best that I personally have ever played.

Thank you very much for your support,

Dr. Ray Muzyka

Joint CEO, BioWare Corp.

Co-Executive Producer, Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn

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