TL; DR: SoD represents the pinnacle of Infinity Engine-style RPGS; Beamdog has a vote-of-confidence for new original material, including brand new settings.
To start with: I loathed the early Beamdog additions to the BG games:
- I never play the Black Pits(es) and consider them a waste of development time
- the new NPC quests were shallow, unbalanced (sometimes irrelevantly easy), and badly written
- items added were frequently overpowered or obtained too easily (Gem of Seeing as a casual drop etc.)
I was just glad to be able play the BG games in new platforms hassle-free and that was that.
But Siege of Dragonspear (which I dreaded first and didn't play for over a year after purchase) represents such a huge leap from those humble beginnings that my opinion of Beamdog has shifted drastically:
1. Writing quality is much better. (The plot of SoD pulls the impossible feat of filling between the two games seamlessly while creating a deep and challenging story in itself. Scripted events are done much more fluently than even in the original games.)
2. NPC and quest depth is significantly better. (Let's table all the immature wailing about M'Zhena etc.)
3. Difficulty level is very nicely done. Particularly for a no-reloader, it will keep you on your toes without having any "you die just because" moments. (The original had such faults that SoD doesn't. Remember the kiss of death with Shoal the Nereid or the bandits-surround-you ambush when you are level 1 out of Candlekeep or other out of the blue shenanigans)
4. Items added were nuanced and carefully balanced
5. *** MOST IMPORTANT*** The AI is overhauled.
Yes, it is mostly adopted from the excellent SCS, but it is the right prerogative that Beamdog bothers with AI improvement. Having a no-tweaking-necessary version of SCS is excellent in a game.
Baldur's Gate series is popular after two decades for two simple reasons:
- engaging story
- excellent tactical challenge with depth
(Also, the same reasons why there is a dedicated "no-reload" following for the series.)
Beamdog's first forays to new content were amateurish (if polished) on both regards. Siege of Dragonspear, however, is a master class of both good story writing and tactical design. In my opinion, it easily matches and possibly exceeds the other state of the art such as Pillars of Eternity.
In short, I hope Beamdog will build upon this hard earned legacy, preserve its in-house talent of developers, and deliver us a brand new 100+ hour adventure that we will play for the next two decades.