I've been replaying Siege of Dragonspear lately and, man, I'm having fun. Yesterday I finished the Ruined Temple of Bhaal and was stunned by how BGish the dungeon felt.
A week ago the creator of The CRPG Book Felipe Pepe shared his view on what makes a good RPG dungeon
In that article, he says the Firkraag’s Maze from BG2 showcases the best encounter design ever in a very condensed combat gauntlet.
"Is not just a bunch of cool battles — almost all of them require special tactics. Trolls require fire or acid to stop regenerating, beholders require protection against magic, golems are extremely resistant to spells and weapons bellow +3, and so on. These force players to use their full arsenal of spells, items and equipment, which helps avoid the trap of “one tactic fits all” that many RPGs suffer from."
And the designers of the Ruined Temple of Bhaal nailed exactly the same approach. You start the dungeon with a mega-fight against a dragon in closed space (on the Insane difficulty also supported by younger dragons) which spams AoE attacks leaving the whole party either dead or heavily poisoned. There is also an option to kill the dragon silently before the battle starts.
An area with bugbears waits next.
Then you proceed to the fight against the half-dragon blackguard assisted by many cultists (previously neutral) who surround you in a narrow hallway, including several spell casters.
After that, you have to encounter a totally new enemy - Neothelid - which also summons a Magical Sword. The fight takes a while to get used to.
Next is High Priestess Akanna who summons 2 Ariel Servants. They hit like a truck.
And then you discover a hidden room with a nasty surprise - the Shadow Aspect - which can one-shot your tanks with unlimited backstabs unless you have abilities to dispel Mislead (constantly being re-casted).
And when you thought you had faced everything, a group of adventurers with a mind flayer and 2 umberhulks waits for you in the final chamber.
Of course, the dungeon is beautifully painted and provides epic loot (for this stage of the game) which feels rewarding. You also have 2 role-play choices to make in the dungeon: about the priestess of Bhaal and captured crusaders.
Overall, a great work, reminiscing of BG2 dungeons.