Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Categories

Axis & Allies 1942 Online is now available in Early Access! Buy it on Steam. The FAQ is available.
New Premium Module: Tyrants of the Moonsea! Read More
Attention, new and old users! Please read the new rules of conduct for the forums, and we hope you enjoy your stay!

SoD Initial Thoughts

I'm a veteran BG and BG2 player and just rediscovered the games recently. Playing through a full saga and just arrived at SoD for the first time. My progress so far has been limited so this is little more than some first impressions. I'll also try and avoid anything that might trigger some of the fighting I've seen in other threads :)

1) The start is confusing.

We're doing what now? When is this taking place? Is it immediately after I killed Sarevok? No, Imoen is saying something about training so she's obviously had time to start that with the Duchess.

I get why Imoen isn't in the team and think this is handled well (with the exception of some of her gear - if this is not immediately after killing Sarevok I'd like a way to get some of it now, please. I know I get it back later BTW, but that's not the point). But, why is Safana here? I'd ignored her in BG1, but it's possible that she may have died for a player - someone completely new might have worked better (either a temporary recruit, or someone to bring along with the story). From what I've seen of the new NPCs they're interesting so this could be a way to showcase it as well.

A narrated scrolling text intro might have worked well to start us off and set the scene.

Also, worth pointing out at this time that Khalid was annoying me and I've always previously liked him.

2) The initial dungeon is curious.

There's some good stuff in here. The torch "puzzle" was interesting, but a bit too easy to miss, especially coming straight from BG1, which I don't think contains anything similar. The layout was good, not too dungeon-y and it looks great.

There's a few weird points - most specifically the random mage wanting moss just felt out of place.

3) The initial dungeon is tough.

Weird, as I don't think any of the individual undead, or the mercs/acolytes are necessarily that bad but I got pasted a good few times until I'd found my feet. The fact that previously learned tactics no longer work is both a good and a bad thing I guess. Particularly the large mob of initial undead including the spell caster forced me to reload a few times before I worked out a solution and even then I struggled a bit until the flaming fist stepped in (embarrassing, I know). Maybe I was just overconfident and not prepared.

The handholding from a plot perspective (with Imoen and the FF right behind you and ready to step in) seems incongruous with the actual difficulty of the fights. It's been a long, long time since I explored Chateau Irenicus (as a Dungeon Be Gone fan even back when I last played) and I remember the panic even minor opponents there caused, but then you start that practically naked, almost alone and in shock. This should have you starting from a position of power.

It's definitely better than the terrible "fetch a potion for Dreppin" prologue of BG1 though.

4) I'd forgotten how nice the BG2 style information, subtitles etc are - eg, "drinks a potion" when a combatant takes such an action. The feel with the relatively large number of actors on screen is good and nicely sets up what I'm expecting later with scaled battles.

5) We then get what seems like an actual intro and prologue.

At this point I started thinking that the whole initial dungeon was a bit irrelevant and we're actually starting the game now. The initial bits are nicely handled. Again, a mix of some good stuff (the overall feel, the panic in the streets, the art), with some less good (a few stupid quests, especially the lost money one, but these are really no worse than the vast majority in BG). It's also really easy to miss things, which isn't necessarily bad, but just a difference when coming from BG1. Again, some minor opponents are tougher than expected - Shank and Carbos these ain't.

We also start to see some of the clever touches - quests it's possible to get wrong (I got the wrong wine and had to go back for the right one), results of previous actions (sparing the life of Korlasz or not earlier actually has an effect).

A few niggles

* why force me to lose my money? It wouldn't be game breaking and I ended up with more than that again from selling assorted junk I'd brought with me.
* A better explanation of the chest would be good, if nothing else a "it's coming with you and it's safe/secure" would be reassuring
* An in game pointer to Imoen's adventuring stuff would also be helpful. It's not really obvious, especially since her room is not decorated like a bedroom AND when she's ill she's in the protagonist's bed.
* Why is this chapter 7? Chapter 7 was the hunt for Sarevok, if this is a continuation from BG it should be chapter 8. I'm still seeing quests in the journal that I obviously can't complete.
* Recruitment. I generally like the way the old characters are used and the explanation around why there are so limited a number is good (I'm glad that Jaheira and Khalid are finally getting some alone time). I'm in two minds about the way some of this is handled - eg, Tiax is the only cleric available, did I mess it up by him not coming with me (even though I enjoyed the encounter)? It felt like the available party is a bit lightweight - I was left searching for a fighter to join.
* The crusade. I word itself is a bit loaded, I'm wondering if different players have a different reaction to it? The purpose of it wasn't especially clear either. Not so much a criticism of SoD, but the entire series does not make it easy for a player to become immersed in the lore or really understand the world. I'm not sure how that can be handled in game. As a PnP DM you'd give players a handout on world background before starting a campaign.
* The hooded man sounds familiar.
* Skie's plot is a bit meh. Not a huge fan. Never mind the lack of fuss about her previously departed father. I think there's room for a character arc though so I could be persuaded on her merits.

6) Then we're off.

I like the way the quartermaster works (and don't recall seeing this used before). This is clever and even more so once I know he's coming along.

I wasn't overly enamoured with Corwin's scene with her daughter. I assume that means she's going to take a dirt nap at some point. The march through the streets is nicely done, including the change in mood of the crowd. Great to see Viconia, especially from a BG2 continuity perspective as I'd only had minimal interaction with her in BG.

We arrive at the first camp. This looks great (again) and reminds me of some of the locations in BG2 (which I now can't wait to see again). Again, the quartermaster, priest and guy who handles the sleeping arrangements are well done. This feels solidly set out, it's a temporary base but got the things I need to start exploring before we move on, so I get a feel for how this will play out. The only weird thing seems to be that Viconia's Duergar companion seems to have travelled with us, despite her being quite explicit about him leaving her alone.

Overall, a good first impression. It's better than starting BG (what am I supposed to be doing now? Argh, a wolf, RUN!), but not quite as strong as BG2 (I don't remember what it's like starting ToB).

Grond0JuliusBorisovThacoBelllefreutBlackravenAerakarSkatansemiticgodtypo_tillyMantis37

Comments

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,315
    The Crusdade is the big mystery of the expansion. You'll find out what's up with it later.

  • SikorskySikorsky Member Posts: 366
    SoD is a nice addition and I like it. The only thing that annoys me is that there are no connections in BG II. Beamdog should "follow the blow" and add some dialogues, missions, companions that would connect with SoD story. An example is a story of some dagger that almost everyone wants to continue in BG II. It just feels strange that this whole crusade story is forgotten because it was the hell of an accomplishment by charname.

    ThacoBell
  • XanadooXanadoo Member Posts: 12
    An update after I played through (most of) the first map - the Coast Way Crossing.

    Lots of positives here. It felt like there's a lot going on, with two or three separate side quests on this map alone, but that's a big contrast to the wide open space with nothing in of BG1. Each one of those quests seems pretty good and I like the multiple resolution points allowing me some agency and decision making. The "collect the items for the halfling" quest doesn't make a huge amount of sense (dude, you know they're mostly about 10 feet away, don't you?) but that's just picky and in the context of a game is not an issue.

    The dungeon is great. I really hate the traditional dungeon layout with corridors etc and always wonder "who built this and why?" so this was good. Felt mostly logical. Again, the different ways to let this play out seem well done. Only complaints are the appearance of the "evil" in there - seemed a bit overly epic for a first quest in a game (which suggests a scaling issue might occur later). That said, apart from his surprise reappearance, he wasn't that tough as I'd prepared properly (he's new at this and not fully powerful yet). I especially liked the fact that I wasn't drawn into that fight until I was ready- you can see what's going on then close the door again! One downside was the presence of Umber Hulks - I hate those things, they seemed out of place with all the undead and the first appearance of them (in real world chronology) gives an easy(ish) out to the player which was missing here.

    And then...

    I arrived at the bridge and everything went wrong. This may be my least favourite sequence in any game ever.

    No matter what you do it plays out the same - somehow the enemy notices you (invisible with non-detection? doesn't matter), has a conversation while you watch, magics everyone into a small kill zone regardless of the actual location of the group, casts a spell to trap you (again while you watch - why can't I shoot the guy to disrupt?), puts your group into a weird formation that exposes squishy characters, has another conversation (thanks Dynaheir, I can see the bridge is out, but maybe you could cast a spell or something?), BYPASSES THE AUTO PAUSE FOR ENEMY DETECTION, then lays into you. The first time through I lost Minsc (completely chunked) and Dynaheir. The second time through my PC was killed. The third time through I thought I'd got through it, had to suffer the "chat" with Caelar, then Minsc died after that, somehow. I can only assume the talk was the bit that actually did him in.

    This made me, probably unfairly, quite angry, but had a short time out and things picked up again. If I put that incident to one side this is rather good.

    JuliusBorisovThacoBellBaptor
  • MirandelMirandel Member Posts: 497
    Just keep in mind this is only the first railroading-no-player-agency-or-class-reactivity-or-any-sense scene. There are many positive things about SoD, but there are several plot/game/sense breaking too (not universal, though, some players easily ignore plot wholes of any size and keep going, you might too).

    JuliusBorisovBaptor
  • BaptorBaptor Member Posts: 209
    Mirandel wrote: »
    Just keep in mind this is only the first railroading-no-player-agency-or-class-reactivity-or-any-sense scene. There are many positive things about SoD, but there are several plot/game/sense breaking too (not universal, though, some players easily ignore plot wholes of any size and keep going, you might too).

    Agreed. I thought it was a great xpac on my first play through, because I actually thought the game was playing out according to my choices.

    Then I replayed it and made different choices and...got the exact same game experience.

  • megamike15megamike15 Member Posts: 1,778
    people don't like it due to you missing out on quests. where besides chapter 10 there are at most 2 to 3 side quests on any givin map and the maps arnt that big so it's not really hard to miss them. unless there the neera and khalid item quests but those are the exceptions.

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 233
    SoD had a much better reason to put you on rails than ToB did. You are, after all, marching to the front.

    ToB, on the other hand? That was an almost entirely unnecessary railroading. I've said it before, but it bears repeating. ToB was all the boss battles rolled into a single expansion without the intervening fun.

    megamike15semiticgodAndreaColombo
  • megamike15megamike15 Member Posts: 1,778
    tob does feel like it was rushed out. the first half is fine if faster paced. but when you get to the last 3 of the five it's just boss fight after boss fight with only the solar scenes to break it apart. it has some pacing issues.

    this is why i like the reunion mod as it adds some story stuff in between the two acts.

    i never felt that way with sod every chapter felt like it was the right length and never felt rushed.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,315
    ToB has all the Bhaalspwn basically declaring war on each other. What exactly do you expect charname to go off and do during all of this? People are dying by the thousands and you are actively being hunted by not only your "siblings" but also governments.

    lefreutleeuxBaptorsemiticgod
  • SkitiaSkitia Member Posts: 195
    I initially thought SoD's early chapters were fast in contrast, but I literally went straight to the bridge in chapter 8 and then straight to the next bridge in chapter 9, not wandering around. Chapter 10 felt rather beefy and the rest of it after relatively short.

  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 233
    edited July 4
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    ToB has all the Bhaalspwn basically declaring war on each other. What exactly do you expect charname to go off and do during all of this? People are dying by the thousands and you are actively being hunted by not only your "siblings" but also governments.

    One of the things I missed was the sense of mystery and tracing down the clues. For one, how about actually *hiding* the bad guy's hideouts and making you search for them? Kind of like how you had to hunt down the bandit hideout in BG1. Amkethran was small, but it wasn't so small that they couldn't have worked in some "work" to discovering the last two lairs.

    I think this was why I was so disappointed that the guarded (slaver) compound was never properly connected to the slaver's in the slums and why I wish there had been more of a connection between the skinner murders and the twisted rune. I know there is an unfinished business mod, and I'm not tempted to install it, because I always - even in the vanilla days - felt like this was unfinished.

    Bottom line: Make the player ferret out things. It's supposed to be a D&D game, not Call of Duty: Faerun.

    RaduzielDapiferAndreaColombo
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,315
    @Maurvir Because there is no way to hide anymore. Its literally open war and everyone is marching on each other. Where would you hide? What good wuld hiding do? You NEED to be out there taking the Bhaalspawn on, or else someone else will claim the Throne, game over.

    Ardulmegamike15leeuxStummvonBordwehr
  • MaurvirMaurvir Member Posts: 233
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    @Maurvir Because there is no way to hide anymore. Its literally open war and everyone is marching on each other. Where would you hide? What good wuld hiding do? You NEED to be out there taking the Bhaalspawn on, or else someone else will claim the Throne, game over.

    I see your point, but the lairs are bases of operation. Just as the bandits were attacking elsewhere, while keeping their hideout secret, so too could Sendai and Abazigail.

    I dunno, I just like a little intellectual work with my hack and slash. My favorite aspect of the games is the thrill of the hunt.

  • megamike15megamike15 Member Posts: 1,778
    as shown with the end of bg 2 and Illasera the five are fully aware of you. you can't hide from them they know where you are. your not an innocent running around in the woods anymore your taint is a beacon that makes you a target. you all have to die for bhaal to be reborn.

    ThacoBell
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,315
    @Maurvir Well, Sendai WAS hidden, and Abazishgal was far out into the wasteland, making it difficult for creatures that can't fly to reach safely, let alone unspotted.

  • BaptorBaptor Member Posts: 209
    I always felt like TOB was a chore that I had to do in order to complete the saga on each run. Now I feel like SOD is another chore I have to do each run, and it really sucks.

    I might move to doing only BG1 and then BG2 from now on and skip the add ons.

    SOD is a beautiful game but I think the one thing TOB has over it is character motivation. In TOB, as everyone has said, it's do or die because all the remaining spawn are battling for the throne. You have no choice but to fight.

    In SOD, I never really understood why the spawn would even care about this Crusade. The only reasons they seem to give are "it's the right thing to do" and "she tried to kill me!" But they quickly abandon the latter and focus on the former. If you're playing anything other than super good, the motivation to put up with all the suspicious bigoted people who praise you one second and denounce you as a monster the next gets really old.

    If SOD were just a content expac, like TotSC, I'd love it. I'd love just exploring all the new areas and doing all those sidequests.

    RaduzielAndreaColombo
  • megamike15megamike15 Member Posts: 1,778
    well your also the hero of baldurs gate. at this point it is your duty to protect the city so if the crusade is not stopped they will attack baldurs gate next.

    ThacoBellStummvonBordwehr
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,315
    @Baptor I mean, if someone powerful trying to kill you is not enough motivation to try and stop them from doing it, then why play BG2?

    StummvonBordwehrmegamike15
  • StummvonBordwehrStummvonBordwehr Member, Mobile Tester Posts: 664
    I love SoD. Plain and simple.

    I like both the narrative and the writing. You quickly get the notion that somebody is trying to kill you, and off course you go at that ones throat. The story makes enough sense (especially compared to BG2 - BG2 making no sense, but the game is otherwise just awesome).

    The sidequests in SoD are fun and the items with bonuses for special classes is a really good idea.

    If I have to find one thing that deserves a change is the fact that Beamdog didn’t place a tome/manual of stat alteration - or giving char name another innate bonus. Beamdog is once more making a knee fall for purism... Dang it, that pissed me off. Even took Melicamp the chicken to the old well, to see if there was a Easter egg (there isn’t). But I will to look for some mods for that.

    I just hope for the next 2.6 or 2.7 patch to open up for a tome or manual in the game - if so the game would be perfect. But besides that obvious mishap, the game is great.

    Ps. Trent. I know you read all the posts on this forum. Feel free to use my idea of lowering Melicamp the chicken into the well for a manual of bodily health. It’s yours for the taking
    Pps. You’re welcome Trent.
    Ppps. You’re welcome

    JuliusBorisov
  • BaptorBaptor Member Posts: 209
    edited July 7
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    @Baptor I mean, if someone powerful trying to kill you is not enough motivation to try and stop them from doing it, then why play BG2?

    I hear you TB, but SOD goes out of it's way to point out that the attack was half-hearted and the poison was meant to put you to sleep, not kill you. If the assassination attempt had been more visceral, and there had been more attempts, I could understand.

    In fact, I'd argue that one logical response to the single attempt by Caelar is to simply leave the Gate and head south away from her Crusade.

    It all comes down to the writing, which, where the Bhaalspawn is concerned in SOD, is very lacking. Had they done a better job, the motivation would've been stronger.

    Compare it to BG2, as you said we should. You are literally kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured, and more. You barely escape with your life and the mage who did it swears he won't stop til he gets you. He also kidnaps your best friend. He also murders two of your other friends, Dynaheir and Khalid. The latter gets a very emotional treatment during the opening dungeon. Both of your surviving friends swear revenge. There are loads more reasons to go after Irenicus than Caelar.

    I get where you're coming from, but comparing the single half-hearted attack in SOD to the kidnapping and torture by Irenicus is stretching it pretty thin.

    Post edited by Baptor on
    Raduziel
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,315
    @Baptor "I hear you TB, but SOD goes out of it's way to point out that the attack was half-hearted and the poison was meant to put you to sleep, not kill you. If the assassination attempt had been more visceral, and there had been more attempts, I could understand.

    In fact, I'd argue that one logical response to the single attempt by Caelar is to simply leave the Gate and head south away from her Crusade."

    Its not half hearted, Caelar explicitly wants to capture you so that she can use your blood (how much? dunno.) to open a portal to freakin Hell. That's not half hearted, that's Caelar pissing away every life on the sword coast. She could EASILY reach you in the Duchal Palace, the most guarded, safest place in BG. Why would anywhere else be remotely safer or put you out of her reach. Not to mention that her agents are pretty indiscriminate and have no problem poisoning everyone around you as well. Abandoning the Crusade and trying to run is probably the single dumbest decision charname could make in this situation. And don't forget, that Caelar is just being manipulated by Hephernaan, who DOES want you dead. Where exactly are you going to go that a greater devil (demon? I get them mixed up in D&D) cannot reach you?

  • BaptorBaptor Member Posts: 209
    ThacoBell wrote: »
    @Baptor "I hear you TB, but SOD goes out of it's way to point out that the attack was half-hearted and the poison was meant to put you to sleep, not kill you. If the assassination attempt had been more visceral, and there had been more attempts, I could understand.

    In fact, I'd argue that one logical response to the single attempt by Caelar is to simply leave the Gate and head south away from her Crusade."

    Its not half hearted, Caelar explicitly wants to capture you so that she can use your blood (how much? dunno.) to open a portal to freakin Hell. That's not half hearted, that's Caelar pissing away every life on the sword coast. She could EASILY reach you in the Duchal Palace, the most guarded, safest place in BG. Why would anywhere else be remotely safer or put you out of her reach. Not to mention that her agents are pretty indiscriminate and have no problem poisoning everyone around you as well. Abandoning the Crusade and trying to run is probably the single dumbest decision charname could make in this situation. And don't forget, that Caelar is just being manipulated by Hephernaan, who DOES want you dead. Where exactly are you going to go that a greater devil (demon? I get them mixed up in D&D) cannot reach you?

    You don't know any of this in the Palace when you make the decision to join the army and march north to go after her, except the bit about them being able to sneak into the palace, and you don't know the juiciest parts (Hell, Hephernaan) until almost the very end of the game.

    All you know after the attack at the Palace is that someone wanted to attack you and possibly kill you that's linked to Caelar Argent, a warlord who is leading an army towards Baldur's Gate. That is all. I didn't say there wasn't ANY motivation, just weak motivation. If I said otherwise that wasn't my intent.

    Compare this to the motivation in BG1 (I've already gone over BG2 above): you leave the only home you ever knew with the only man who ever gave a dang about you. An armored man appears who wants you, but murders your foster father instead. You are alone, and you can't even go home because it's locked you out unless you have a book worth a fortune. You have no choice but to hit the road and of course you know that there's a murderer out there looking for you who killed your foster father. Even here, though, you aren't expected to go after him right away and can literally go adventuring for months before you actually get around to the business of avenging your father. That you get roped into a political (but really religious) scheme is almost by accident. It's great storytelling.

    Like I said, SOD has motivation, but it's weak. I feel like the game is making me do stuff, rather than "yes, my character would logically do that or similar."

    It's not a dumb decision to cut and leave; or at least no dumber than to join the army to go fight the Crusade anyways. Based on the evidence you have at the Palace after the attack, you could easily surmise that Caelar simply sees you as a rival or as a threat (everyone's calling you the hero of BG). If you don't care about the Crusade, and they don't give you any reason to unless you are a very GOOD character, then leaving for Calimshan for a nice cool drink on the sandy beach is a very reasonable decision. You "take the hint," get out of Caelar's way, and she can do whatever it is that armies do on crusade.

    SOD is not a terrible game. It's a good game that IMO was hamstringed by trying to shove it into a story space where it didn't belong. It has flaws TB, real flaws that should be acknowledged.

  • megamike15megamike15 Member Posts: 1,778
    well with the execption of tob all of charname's motivations in 1, sod, and 2 can be summed up as: they screwed me i want revenge.

    BaptorThacoBell
  • BaptorBaptor Member Posts: 209
    megamike15 wrote: »
    well with the execption of tob all of charname's motivations in 1, sod, and 2 can be summed up as: they screwed me i want revenge.

    That's a valid point. It also makes sense from the standpoint that, good or not, the blood of the god of murder flows in charname's veins.

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 9,315
    @Baptor "You don't know any of this in the Palace when you make the decision to join the army and march north to go after her, except the bit about them being able to sneak into the palace, and you don't know the juiciest parts (Hell, Hephernaan) until almost the very end of the game."

    True, but your previous argument about why chasing Caelar is stupid, was that she didn't actually try to kill you. But you don't know this at the begininng. All you know is that assassin's attacked you and almost killed Imoen. It shows that they can reach you anywhere, and are dangerous enough to get your closest friends killed. So yes, running would be incredibly stupid, ESPECIALLY without knowing all the details. The actual details just make it even more clear how this cannot be ignored safely. The motivation isn't weak, its at least as strong as the motivation for BG2.

  • megamike15megamike15 Member Posts: 1,778
    as i'm replaying sod again at the moment i can talk about something. charname assumes the assassins were trying to kill them up until calar tell them otherwise on the bridge. she had no intentions on killing him. the poison was a sleeping drug at most it's why imoen is fine prior to you leaveing the city.

    i mean what is charname gonna assume? they had assassins trying to kill them through out all of bg 1 so it's safe to say they thought thats what calar was doing to. remember the time between bg 1 and sod is at most a few weeks.

Sign In or Register to comment.