I would like to share how I feel about the Siege of Dragonspear expansion here with the community. I was really excited and hyped about the expansions, it seemed like Beamdog was going in the very right direction. I was excited to the point I pre-ordered the expansion, despite still having the release state of BG:EE in mind, and remembering how absolutely livid I was on that day. Yet, I trused Beamdog.
And it was worth it!
I was having a great time with the game, starting off with my signature character from the scratch, finishing Baldur's Gate and then playing through Siege of Dragonspear. I felt the excellent Baldur's Gate gameplay in whole new - and very important - adventure.
Let's start from the art side and overall design. New locations are looking very good, much better than in original BG1 and BG2 - and about as good as Icewind Dale's (which always seemed more detailed than BG ones). Not only that, the design was also better in comparison to base BG1. For example, I disliked the dungeons in BG1 due their bad design combined with terrible ai pathfinding (which was corrected in patch 2.0. Pathfinding still isn't perfect, but it made going through Firewine Bridge Ruins much less frustrating), but I didn't have any issues with them in SoD. They were actually pleasant to explore. Some of new effect, like fog, were also a welcome addition. I was however little dissapointed with some minor things, like with Shining Lady not having an unique avatar for her (it was just base avatar with some tweaks).
I generally liked the music, although I can't say I find all the new track as memorable as I wish they would. There are some songs that are very forgettable. But on each forgettable song there are ones I felt in love with, "The Shadow of the Shining Lady" is the perfect example. I can't stop listening to this.
Native English speaker will greatly appreciate the new soundsets and return of original voice actors. I however didn't find it that important. I was raised on Polish language version, and on Polish voice acting. That being said, I've played with English voices for the sake of consistency between BG1 and SoD. And I can't say my overall experience was damaged due of that.
Now, the plot. I don't want to spoil anything, so I will be generalizing. The concept of the plot worked for me, even if the game was more linear than BG1 was and you couldn't track back to areas you explored in previous chapters. It made sense, but it wasn't something I would expect from this series. We are introduced to the Shining Lady very early in the story, and I must said I found myself being interested in her and her goals - and most importantly - the means she intended using to achieve them. The plot managed to surprise me more than once in the end, but there also were elements where I mentally shouted "called it!". I also greatly appreciate filling the gap between BG1 and BG2. Many thanks for that!
I found general writing to be actually good, but there were a bits that made me roll my eyes (fortunately, there weren't really crucial). For example, Amulet of Abnormally Awesome Ankheg Summoning - I could accept it's ridiculous name, if it wasn't made by dark druid but by some crazy half-witted gnome! Now, for NPCs. Additional interactions and dialogues for older NPCs were so very welcome, and for the most part, I liked them. As for new ones, I've only had Corwin and Glint in my party. Let's start from Glint. In BG2, Jan Jansen was so annoying I felt like gnomes were killed for me. Glint, on the other hand, restored my faith in gnomes, as he was very likeable and useful companion, easily being able to fit in my party. Now, Corwin. Some of the trolls that were invading this forum as of late might consider her a result of some feminist agenda. But I'm smarter than that and I can see that Corwin being tough, serious and capable woman is rather the result of her being a Flaming Fist Officer, rather than trolls' delusions. She was also a very useful companion. What I seriously don't appreciate is her "ninjamancing" my character. I felt like her "suggestion" of hooking up with my char was way too sudden and forced (at least she can take rejection well). Come on, this could be done better - it needed only "build up" in SoD at most, the rest of the relationship would carry on to BG2 and ToB.
There was also apparently a transgender minor NPC included, that I overlooked and some reference made by Minsc that rustled many jimmies. I personally consider those a minor things that aren't taking from my overall experience with game, and definitely aren't ruining the franchise and it's legacy.
Worth mentioning, your character class and some abillity scores affects conversation in dialogues. In fact, in one of first interactions I had, my mage had an opportunity to show that she was - well, mage - in other way than throwing fireballs on the battlefield. It was something both BG1 and BG2 were missing and I am thankful for inclusion!
And now, new content. The Shaman class is certainly interesting in concept, but I fear it's not my thing. I never found the notion of standing in place, activating Shaman Dance and hoping for spirit to spawn. And some unique Shamanic spells were not worth the trade. As for new items - they are excellent. Very soon my mage found an item that made her cast spells on higher caster level than she was in - that's something new for Baldur's Gate and I gladly used the item. Items have more interesting properties to them in general, and that's always on plus. Many of them are able to be used by almost any class, but still gives some particular classes/kits additional bonuses and I think it's very good solution. That way, many items were not rendered useless for certain party combinations. Overall - great job at the items! I am very dissapointed, however, with the fact that there are no new spells, especially for classes like Druid.
There also some more changes and inclusions, but it would take too much time to discuss them all. The most important: new UI in SoD is simply beautiful, new map screen is awesome, sprites outlines are very welcome, life bars are good as an option. The difficulty setting actually dissapointed me. Sure, there is now way to rise up difficulty without damage taken increase, but it's achieved in very stupid way. I would rather wait for SCS to be compatible with SoD, than fighting with absurd ammount of enemies every turn.
There are some stability issues with the game. Few times during like 20 hours the game just crashed at random without any reason to it. Once it happended shortly before me finishing the game, and the F word I uttered (K word in Polish) was much louder than I intended... Aside from those crashes, I haven't had any stability issues.
I had to note that I managed to finish SoD only one time. I've probably missed a lot of stuff and I apologize for that.
All in all - for Baldur's Gate fans, I can easily recommend the expansion. As for trolls seeking to be offended by anything - just get out of here.
My character at the end of Siege of Dragonspear, just before final boss battle. Rolled with stats of 92. The rest are results of being buffed by items and tomes.
And finally, the other thing. After release of BG:EE and it's state on that day, I become very skeptical of Beamdog's doing. That disposition was later reinforced by certain circumstances I am now ashamed of. Some people might know what I am talking about. But now, I want to say two things to Beamdog. First of all, I apologize for my former disposition, it seems I was judging you too harshly and not always fairly. Second - you gained my trust and support as customer. Now, I am much like I originally was when I joined this forum for the first time - passionate and really interested in the series. The difference is that now I'm more mature and hopefully - more constructive user.
May the Boo be with you.