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Surprising observation about the quality of writing in BG2:EE - anyone feel the same?

xzar_montyxzar_monty Member Posts: 565
I recently started yet another playthrough of this game, which remains my all-time favorite, head and shoulders above anything else. And it turned out to be a surprise.

When I first played BG2:EE, most of the new stuff seemed very interesting, delightful even, because it brought new life into an old favorite.

But this time, it wasn't quite the same. I let Clara/Hexxat join my party, and her anguish was so clear and obvious that I went with her to the graveyard district, entered the tomb and eventually met the real Hexxat. At which point I lost my interest in that character completely. Do I want a bossy, arrogant vampire in my party? No.

At the bridge district, I met Neera, and I helped her help that girl escape. Then I got the coordinates to her wild wood, and I thought, do I have any interest in letting that stereotypically girly girl into my group? Do I want to hear her clumsy jokes? Do I want to get involved in quests where I'm chasing cats around? No, no and no. So that was the end of Neera for me.

In Trademeet, I noticed Rasaad fighting with some other monks. We talked. He told me his story concerning some figures I'd never even heard of, and it was articulated badly enough to leave me somewhat unsure as to what had really been going on - but hey, at least I was able to make a snarky comment at every opportunity! (Which I didn't do, by the way.) My interest in getting involved in Rasaad's travails was... negligible. So I didn't take him with me.

Then there was Dorn. I didn't even initiate dialogue. I have played his SoA path all the way through once, just to see what it's like, but it's not interesting. So, no thanks.

I ended up pretty surprised: each of the new characters has dated a lot quicker than any of the old ones excluding Minsc (whose comic relief style got old very quickly but was fun once). In fact, I think both Isra and Kelsey, the two mods, are better than any of the EE characters.

Don't take this too strongly, though: on their first playthrough, three of the four EE characters did impress me, and having them along was definitely worth the money I paid for EE, so absolutely no complaints from me. But boy have they got old quickly.

Any thoughts on this?

Contemplative_HamsterOrlonKronsteenRavenslightQuartzrecklessheartAerakar
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Comments

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 5,239
    Hexxat stands out to me writing and trope wise from the other NPCs. She is the only NPC that I feel this way about.

    Dorn feels weird because he comes across as a 90's cartoon villain to me. His writing doesn't seem particularly odd, its just not something I could get into (in BG2 at least, BG1 Dorn was more interesting).

    Neera is a female half elven Jan Jansen. She is clearly the comedy NPC of the selection. She stands out from the serious NPCs, but fits right in with the likes of Jan, Minsc, and Edwin (ironically she cannot party with Edwin).

    Rasaad is basically perfect. His tone and demenor fit so well with the rest of the good cast, I probably wouldn't have picked him out as new if I hadn't played the original game. His writing quality is also top notch, and probably some of my favorite in the whole series.

    Should I comment on SoD NPCs in spoilers? Or is this thread focusing on BG2 exclusively?

    xzar_montysemiticgodAerakar
  • jasteyjastey Member Posts: 544
    I have this with films sometimes. the more impressive, dramatic... pompous they are at the beginning, the less are chances I'll watch them again. Great films, really impressive, but I can't make myself go through them again, suffer the protagonists' mistakes and destiny blows again. (In case someone wants an example: "Troja" with Brad Pit and Orlando Bloom in my case. Really impressed me first time I watched - never looked at it again.)

    To stay with the topic (sort of): I fear that I might show this reaction with SoD at some point, with all the drama especially at the end.

  • xzar_montyxzar_monty Member Posts: 565
    Indeed, it was a bit strange that you had to have those new NPCs with you to be able to do anything related to their quests.

    @ThacoBell: SoD comments are perfectly fine with me. I loved M'Khiin, she is by far the best new NPC in the series. The others were OK, except for Voghlin, who was frankly poor. Corwin was good as a character, but I was slightly annoyed by the fact that the archer kit is so overpowered. No fault of the content writers, though.

    NeverusedContemplative_HamsterThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 5,239
    @jastey I have not romanced Rasaad.
    I was spoiled on his ending and was NOT a fan. Now I know how Viconia fans feel.


    But his character gels really well with me, and I find him quite believable. The great performance of the actor doesn't hurt either.

    tbone1
  • CahirCahir Member, Moderator, Translator (NDA) Posts: 1,845
    Yeah, I have translated Rasaad's, Dorn's and (partially) Hexxat's quest to Polish (and proofread Neera's) and I remember that Rasaad's dialogs were the most entertaining (and Hexxat's were the most meh). Plus Mark Meer's performance was really great (although he's done even greater job with Baeloth).

    ThacoBell
  • megamike15megamike15 Member Posts: 927
    ThacoBell said:

    @jastey I have not romanced Rasaad.

    I was spoiled on his ending and was NOT a fan. Now I know how Viconia fans feel.


    But his character gels really well with me, and I find him quite believable. The great performance of the actor doesn't hurt either.
    yeah i always see him as the female version of the viconia romace ending. the only diffrence is charname dies to making it worse.

    ThacoBelltbone1
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 5,239
    I share @UnderstandMouseMagic 's crticism of Neera's quest, that doesn't make sense. Hexxat as well. Though I'm curious why people getting married at the Radiant Heart is a problem? If the couple follows a specific deity, wouldn't it make sense to get married in a temple of that deity?

  • AKrugBierAKrugBier Member Posts: 100
    They really should have just added some NPC's from our modders into this game.

    Rhaella's Adrian alone beats every EE NPC in terms of writing, and quests.

    Mirandel
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 5,239
    AKrugBier said:

    They really should have just added some NPC's from our modders into this game.

    Rhaella's Adrian alone beats every EE NPC in terms of writing, and quests.

    Debateable. Mod added NPCs really tend to stand out to me.

    tbone1
  • subtledoctorsubtledoctor Member Posts: 8,957
    edited April 23
    Dorn is a dumb concept. That's quite a different thing from having bad writing.

    Hexxat is bad writing.

    Neera seems to be based on how Imoen was written in the BG1NPCProject mod. Seens totally fine to me. Saying she's a "girly girl" isn't a knock, that's called characterization. She's basically Punky Brewster, which is good - the game needs a woman like that. (Nalia is a poor, poor substitute.)

    Rasaad seems fine.

    But man, the OP and @UnderstandMouseMagic give WAY too much credit to the original NPCs. Like, to the point whete it robs their opionion of credibility. A lot of the original NPCs are SUPER annoying. As bad or worse than anything Beamdog added. To pretend that's not the case makes me honestly wonder if this isn't just trolling.

    Post edited by subtledoctor on
    ThacoBelltbone1MirandelStummvonBordwehr
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 5,239
    @subtledoctor Sounds about right. Though I think Dorn had potential, his BG1 incarnation was interesting. They just drove way too far into cartoonish evil in BG2.

    UnderstandMouseMagicMalicronContemplative_HamsterNoloir
  • NeverusedNeverused Member Posts: 484
    One thing I like about the original NPCs is that their personalities are not really defined by their class/kits the same way the EE NPCs are. Take Keldorn, for example: if made in the same style, he'd likely be this fierce mage-hater who's always looking for the truth in situations, simply because that's what most conceptions of Inquisitors are. But he's really this grizzled veteran that avoids his family by claiming that there's always more important things to do, mildly racist (with good reasons to be) against Drow, admires the axework of a bloodthirsty dwarf... The only thing he has in common with his kit is that he's a Paladin of the Radiant Heart. You can do this with... every original NPC, I think.

    Meanwhile, I can't separate Neera, Rasaad, or Dorn from their classes. It seems like the writers started with the class, and formed personalities around them, instead of assigning a class to a personality, if that makes any sense. Voghlin, Baeloth, and Corwin are better here, and M'khiin seems to be in the middle of the two. Which is funny, since M'khiin is easily my favorite NPC of the lot as of now.

    Contemplative_Hamster
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,794
    ThacoBell said:

    I share @UnderstandMouseMagic 's crticism of Neera's quest, that doesn't make sense. Hexxat as well. Though I'm curious why people getting married at the Radiant Heart is a problem? If the couple follows a specific deity, wouldn't it make sense to get married in a temple of that deity?

    The RH is not a temple is it?
    It's the headquarters of an organisation.
    An organisation that is portrayed in game as well respected, influential and INHABITED by the knights/paladins.

    It's the equivalent of somebody hiring the main hall at West Point (that's the famous US college isn't it, in the UK it would be Sandhurst), a massacre takes place and two days later it's as if nothing happened.
    Incredibly immersion breaking and so clumsy.

    @UnderstandMouseMagic: I don't agree with most of your criticism, but I have to say that you are spot on about the Red Wizard enclave in Athkatla. Given the status of magic in Athkatla in the original game, and given how much money and effort we had to spend to get around that fact (and given, as you say, Valygar's story), it is indeed downright ridiculous to suddenly install a wizard enclave right in the Promenade.

    I hadn't thought of that (embarrassingly enough, I have to say), but you are correct.


    It wasn't Valygar I was thinking of, Edwin is hiding from the RW.
    And he'd stick around with a well staffed enclave down the block?
    Sashaying around in his red dress?

    The whole Neera insertion in the game shows a dreadful laziness.
    She's a "wild mage", good, new class.

    But nobody could come up with an alternative "wizard organisation" that might take an interest, in the whole of Faerun?




    Contemplative_Hamster
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,794
    Ardanis said:

    Given the status of magic in Athkatla in the original game, and given how much money and effort we had to spend to get around that fact (and given, as you say, Valygar's story), it is indeed downright ridiculous to suddenly install a wizard enclave right in the Promenade.

    I think a high-ranking RW official would have very little trouble getting the license.
    An individual obtaining a licence from a corrupt individual is one thing.

    Setting up a base, an organisation, in the capital city of magic averse Amn, is slightly different.
    It's not as if they are discreet.

    And how does it fit with the Thief Guild existing quest which causes you to kill a CW because he's taking too much interest in, yep, you guessed it, a RW.

    ThacoBellContemplative_Hamster
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 5,239
    @UnderstandMouseMagic Isn't it a temple to Torm, Tyr, and Helm? Being staffed by paladins doesn't mean its not a temple. Paladins are still members of the church.

  • MalicronMalicron Member Posts: 627
    While I think they could have been implemented better, I agree that putting the original characters on a pedestal is a bit disingenuous. Can you imagine the response if Beamdog implemented an insane, heroic/comic relief character, or a cartoonishly evil, transgender wizard?

    tbone1ThacoBell
  • CashewCashew Member Posts: 12
    edited April 22
    jastey said:


    I like Rasaad as a character, but I don't think I could play the romance because of the limited reply options. My PC is as lawful, as socially incompetent and earnest as Rasaad - but all she is allowed to is make fun of him (sometimes in a patronizing way), which is completely out of character for my PC.

    it's not just rasaad, I found the same thing with the Hexxat questline. There are too many "be an asshole by making fun of NPC and throwing puns around" and not enough other types of dialogue. My PC is very rarely a sarcastic asshole who throws puns around, so I generally don't take any of the new NPCs. As limited as the original Bioware dialogue can be in some situations, these new ones are even more limiting.
    ThacoBell said:

    I share @UnderstandMouseMagic 's crticism of Neera's quest, that doesn't make sense. Hexxat as well. Though I'm curious why people getting married at the Radiant Heart is a problem? If the couple follows a specific deity, wouldn't it make sense to get married in a temple of that deity?

    I've never done Dorn's stuff because generally speaking I rarely play a PC that would accept someone like Dorn in the party. But RH is not a temple. Isn't that the Paladin Guildhouse/Stronghold? It doesn't really make sense to have a wedding there.

    UnderstandMouseMagic
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 3,015


    The new ee NPC read, to me, like competition entries for getting a job at a bigger, more famous game developer.

    I see,
    no affection for BG,
    no respect for BG,
    an arrogant disrespect of what the original writers created

    in virtually all of the EE written content.

    (not talking about engine technicalities, engine overhaul, making the game work better, just the writing)

    I'm sorry that this seems harsh, but that's the impression that I've picked up.
    And it is a reasonable question to ask why this happened to my perspective of the writing.

    Some examples,

    Dorn quest to murder the wedding party in the RH. Laughably disrespectful to what was trying to be created by the original writers when they came up with the concept of the RH. It's place in society, it's importance in Athkatla mean nothing because they needed to have Dorn playing the big "look how evil I am".
    It's reduced to a hotel wedding venue.

    Neera quest has a Red Wizard Enclave shoved into Athkatla.
    The same Athkatla that has mages teleporting around cracking down on the unsanctioned use of magic.
    The same Athkatla that has an original character residing that has to hide from RW.
    Don't they visit the cafe next door? Wander around in red robes?

    Hexaat quest kills a party member and player has to accept it and then to add insult to injury, actually has the gall to turn around and say, "here you go, this is your new NPC."

    Rasaad quest, overlong, too important, broken. But it's not the writing for that, it's the concept.
    And again, Viconia follows Shar.
    Was it beyond them to widen the net a bit and have an EENPC who wasn't treading on the toes of an existing character?
    We are not children, you don't get to escape critisism because you threw in a teddybear.

    Damn that was a rant, sorry, the EE written content is poor and it's so unecessary that it had to turn out like that.

    I don't feel I've explored the NPC quests enough to compare the writing properly (and by that I mean the Bioware NPC quests as well as the Beamdog ones). However, I don't see any great discontinuity based on what I do know.

    Some of the above looks like drawing up explanations to fit a dislike rather than the other way round. For instance:
    - complaining about the use of the RH as a wedding venue. The building was clearly constructed with ceremonial purposes in mind, rather than being purely administrative. As such it would seem like an entirely obvious choice of venue for someone connected to the RH.
    - for Hexaat I can certainly understand your annoyance about an NPC being forced on you - all these years later I'm still aggrieved that BG2 starts by adding Imoen to your party (and regularly console myself by killing BG1 Imoen before she has a chance to join). However, this is a problem (as far as I'm concerned) with the game design rather than the writing. Your opinion of Hexaat is shared by many, but I've also seen quite a bit of support for her on these Forums.
    - the use of Shar seems entirely reasonable. I can easily imagine that if they had used a deity not previously referred to in the games, Beamdog would have been criticized for adding new things for the sake of it.

    ThacoBellsubtledoctor
  • inkblowoutinkblowout Member Posts: 45
    I just finished the BG series for the first time ever and I have some opinions about the EE NPCs which I'd like to address.

    I remember when I was playing through BG1 and I finally reached Dorn and Neera early in the game. (which I didn't know they were EE NPCs.) And I remember my first reaction to them is that they felt really off in terms of the original NPCs which actually kinda put them out of place. Like the voice acting didn't fit well in terms of tone in the game. When I realized they were EE NPCs it did kinda make sense but it didn't stop there...

    I felt that they were always shoved on you... like they always had some mission or event that they wanted you to complete in order to take them in your party. And it got annoying too. Like Neera's forced comedy (doesn't help she sounds like a modern late 20 year old woman as well.) Dorn I dumped instantly after the waylaid event because he's a walking cliche (Same with Bayoleth too) Rasaad is just boring and uninteresting, like I felt no emotion when I found out the spoiler in his quest... And that's the main issue, because they feel so out of place (doesn't seem to be apart of the BG universe) I didn't invest in them as I did with the OG NPCs.

    And BG2:EE screwed this up by not fixing the main issues of the EE NPCs but screwed it up even more by adding even LONGER missions which were dragging on and held no value to the story. And worst of all... when I thought the quest line feels unfinished. I was massively upset that their quest line continues in Throne of Bhaal... if I found that out sooner, I wouldn't have bothered to do their initial quest in the first place.

    And just remember this is only my opinion... The class kits are good... but the personalities and writing just ruin the character for me, which ends up being wasted potential in the end.

    tbone1UnderstandMouseMagic
  • ArdanisArdanis Member, Developer Posts: 1,127
    edited April 22


    An individual obtaining a licence from a corrupt individual is one thing.

    Setting up a base, an organisation, in the capital city of magic averse Amn, is slightly different.
    It's not as if they are discreet.

    Why bother with questionable schemes, when you can get official permission on diplomatic grounds?
    Considering their goal is to hunt the wilds, it's not like anything they do is decreasing the magical order in the city, quite the contrary. So why would CWs object to that - as far as they're concerned, it's a load off their shoulders.


    And how does it fit with the Thief Guild existing quest which causes you to kill a CW because he's taking too much interest in, yep, you guessed it, a RW.

    Edwin is a rogue individual, Lanneth is on official business.

    Post edited by Ardanis on
    tbone1ThacoBellMirandel
  • xzar_montyxzar_monty Member Posts: 565


    Neera seems to be based on how Imoen was written in the BG1NPCProject mod. Seens totally fine to me. Saying she's a "girly girl" isn't a knock, that's called characterization. Look it up. She's basically Punky Brewster, which is good - the game needs a woman like that. (Nalia is a poor, poor substitute.)

    D'oh. You are not the only one familiar with the terminology of drama, so the unjustified superiority in "Look it up" doesn't reflect well on you. Girly girl isn't a knock, and it is characterization, but whether said characterization works is a different question altogether. To me, it doesn't.

    Could you specify the ways in which the original NPCs are "SUPER" annoying?

    To me, their failures would include the following:

    - Apart from comic relief, Minsc has nothing. After having him in the party once, there's never any need to have him come along again.
    - Aerie is contradictory in the sense that her wisdom is pretty high but she's clearly both naive and severely traumatized. The contradiction is not really resolved.

    I find Anomen quite irritating, as a person, Jaheira too bossy and Edwin annoying to the point that I won't take him with me despite the fact he's a great option. But this, to me, indicates good writing rather than bad.

  • tbone1tbone1 Member Posts: 1,879


    Could you specify the ways in which the original NPCs are "SUPER" annoying?

    Minsc is just comic relief. I also think his AC is, internally, three points worse than is shown, because he gets hit way too often.

    Aerie really grinds some people's gears with her personality. I don't mind her, but the invective I've seen here shows the writers hit a nerve.

    Ditto Jan.

    Anomen is a real wanker. He's well-written, he has an interesting quest and an interesting character development, but he is annoying.

    Haer d'Alise is a pompous, pretentious tw*t who uses women.

    Edwin is as punchable as a preacher's kid.

    You save Viconia twice, and she still treats you like that smug, entitled grade school teacher that all guys loathe. She is the "1%er ex-wife" of the BG series.

    ThacoBell
  • xzar_montyxzar_monty Member Posts: 565
    @tbone1: None of what you say, except perhaps for Minsc, implies bad writing. Some of it actually implies good writing, if anything -- particularly the way Aerie irritates some people, which I have also noticed. It's the personality, not bad writing, in my opinion, although there is that contradiction between her wisdom score and naivety.

    Personality-wise, the characters that appeal to me the most are Valygar, Yoshimo, Mazzy and Jan. (And M'Khiin, if you include SoD.)

  • ArunsunArunsun Member Posts: 1,523


    Could you specify the ways in which the original NPCs are "SUPER" annoying?

    Tough to give an objective view on that, as it's all opinion-driven but my list would be:

    In BG1, Quayle is pretentious and annoying, Imoen and Alora are overly cheerful characters in such a world and they feel out of place. Xan is depressing.

    In BG2, I personnally like Aerie but I can understand why many find her annoying. I can't stand Anomen, Cernd is so shallow it gets on my nerves.


    But I think most of us here do not separate the writing quality and the "annoyingness" of a character.

    The writing quality is what makes the character a credible addition to the game. Of all the new Beamdog characters, the only one I find to be a forced addition in the way she is written is Hexxat. I find her personnality to be forced because it is shallow, her questline as well because it lacks choices. Concept-wise, is she viable? I would say yes, but the execution is, in my opinion, not so great, especially the SoA part. I like the ToB part of both her quest and romance however.

    Neera may feel out of place, but she's meant to be exactly that. She doesn't feel more so than Jan, for instance. And I tend to really like Neera because when you romance her, you realise that beyond the first appearances is a much deeper personality. She is really well-written in that respect, and shows more depth than Imoen, for instance.

    Now every character may be annoying or pleasant to someone regardless of writing quality. In real life, there are people with whom you'll naturally get along, and some with whom it'd be impossible. Well, same here, I find Anomen to be a jerk and I really, really dislike him and will hardly ever grab him along. Still I think he is a well-written and certainly not out-of-place character.

    Grond0ThacoBellMirandel
  • CashewCashew Member Posts: 12
    I don't think Xan is depressing, he always struck me as super sarcastic. All his "we're going to die" type lines are delivered with a sarcastic tone.

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