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Very pleasant surprise!

I’ve played Baldur’s Gate since it was new. Eh, within a few months of new anyway.
So no doubt, I take breaks, sometimes long ones. The release of BGEE in 2013 (?) ended one such break. After a few years of not playing I came back with a vengeance! For those who remember, on first release the EE arguably introduced as many bugs as it fixed! But Beamdog, to their credit, kept improving the product and by 2015 or so we had a better looking game, with a lot of new features, available on more platforms, and more STABLE and faster than it ever had been. Really an excellent product at that point.
But as often happens, my interest went off to other things. I often say I do not have a one-track mind; but I do have a one-train mind, and at any given time I may be wholly devoted to just one of my several interests.
Which is a long of getting to, by the time Siege of Dragonspear came out my interests had gone off to other things. I did buy it right away. I wanted to support the company, and I knew eventually I’d get around it.
That wound up being late 2022. Now I’ve played IWD a few times (4 times all the way through I think) and the BG saga once. Currently I’m in my second complete play through of my “return”.
Of course, Siege of Dragonspear is the big thing that has changed. So a few thoughts of a long time Infinity Engine guy, just forming new thoughts on a not quite new product.
First, I love it. It is gorgeous, I think the best looking of the IE games. I also love the battles. A lot of mixed groups, parties of opponents that include spellcasters; all laid out in more organic groupings (as opposed to the blocks of identical opponents we often saw earlier). I don’t mean to say this is completely new (every game had some such encounters) but it is consistently applied here in a way that feels “real”.
I also really like the story. It does NOT match how I previously imagined the interval between BG and SoA being. But I think that’s good. It’s a surprise.
I also like how this feels like the most mature and developed use of the IE. like all the best tricks and techniques being used together. Very well done.
I do have a few complaints. None extremely serious. For starters, some of the puzzles would be frustrating without a posted walkthrough (Game Banshee has an excellent one, so no worries). It’s not a huge thing to me, I’m more of a tactics guy than a puzzle guy, so I have no qualms about looking up answers when I don’t quite “get it”. Maybe this is just the expected norm now?
I think SoD does illustrate the silliness of the old experience cap on BG though. It was always obvious to me it just existed on the initial product so the designers didn’t have to develop all the way through level 30 or something just to get the product out the door. 161K was plenty powerful enough for a party to win the game (oversimplification there, TotSC was originally separate, adding it raised the cap to 161K. I don’t recall the original cap). But it’s always been annoying to me to have a whole party stop earning xp out on werewolf island or something when I know I’m continuing through ToB. And yes, I have a cap remover on my install. But it makes me laugh now to have my main character(s) waking up in Irenicus’ lab 2 levels higher than they used to, and it causes no particularly big “balance” issues. Balance was never the issue. I say remove the cap from the original game!
I also wish some of the story lines could be completed in BGII. I would love to be able to rescue Skie, or maybe continue (fix?) my relationship with Corwin. I may go looking for mods for these things before I do another play through?

As is so often the case, if my lasting thought is “more please” they obviously didn’t do too bad! I really enjoy this new interlude. I understand new content development really is at end at this point. Pity. But thanks for this last hurrah!

Comments

  • OlvynChuruOlvynChuru Member Posts: 3,075
    I'm not sure if it was the original devs' intention, but the 161K experience cap does serve a purpose besides limiting the power of the party as a whole. It also gives interesting niches to certain classes that would otherwise be less interesting than other classes. For example, it makes it so single-classed mages are the only characters who can learn 5th-level wizard spells. Even though sorcerers and multi-classed mages are generally more useful than single-classed mages, it's still fun to raise a single-classed mage until they get access to a special set of spells that no one else can cast. That specialness gets thrown out the window if any arcane spellcaster can reach a high enough level to get 5th-level spells.

    There are a few other examples. Single-classed thieves can reach a backstab multiplier of x4, while no other class or multiclassed thief can reach higher than x3. Single-classed druids can play around with spells like Insect Plague while the less specialized fighter/druids will have to contend with 4th-level spells and no more. Bards and Avengers at level 10 can turn enemies to stone with Chromatic Orb, in a game where there is no other spell or item that turns enemies to stone. Things like these make single-classed characters a lot of fun to play.

    The only things I would I change regarding XP would be to make it so single-classed fighters, clerics and monks could reach level 9 in BG1 prior to Siege of Dragonspear, so that fighters could get grandmastery, clerics could get 5th-level spells, and monks could get +1 fists. But we can leave that up to modders.
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,150
    I have no doubt the 161K total was carefully considered.
    But, at this point it’s an anachronism.
    Every class, multi-class and dual-class has different critical levels and combinations of abilities. That’s part of what’s awesome about 2E, it doesn’t have all the matchy/matchy same/same vibe of the later rules. If the cut off was a little less, you could stop warriors right after (or before) the all important 7th level. Or just a little bit more would have let single class fighters reach the all important 9th level so they can get that 5th pip in their one favored weapon…
    There’s always going to be something at any point chosen. Oh, I’d add mage/sorcerer is irrelevant to it, sorcerers did not exist in the original BG. Or in 2E at all for that matter.

    Most specifically, there is simply not much more experience than 161K per character in a 6 person party anyway (without excessive harvesting). Really less than 200k in most of my play throughs, so the difference really doesn’t even add a single level to any single class character. It might make a difference for some multi-classes, and of course it could be manipulated to be meaningful for a dual-class. So it is categorically not a balance issue.
    But it matters to me for two reasons. First) it is blatantly pointless to have. Not only does experience stop showing for no good reason, last I knew it reappears when you go to the next game anyway!
    Second) it does matter if you are playing a reduced party. A smaller party can gain another level for some or all characters, depending on how much smaller the party is. This actually improves balance! But even more to the point, it makes the game a lot more fun for those of us who occasionally like using a smaller party!
    I usually prefer the bigger team, but have run through with as few as three. Again, removing the cap facilitates this.

    To be clear, this is not a HUGE thing. I have removed the cap on my install anyway. But it looks broken to me now. It’s as obsolete as the original weapon proficiency system or the absence of class kits. Let’s fix it!
  • TrouveurTrouveur Member Posts: 488
    For rescuing Skie, I recommend the mod "Skie, the cost of a girl's soul" from Lava del Vortel.
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,150
    I will check it out!
  • AerakarAerakar Member Posts: 1,023
    I agree fully on your XP cap removal comments @atcDave , at least in regards to the BG2 start power impact. Not noticeable for me, although I do use SCS.

    I enjoy Siege and have played through it 10+ times now fully. It has become new cannon for me. I do think the new magic items are too many, but have come to accept that flaw. The combats are larger, more varied, and a refreshing change after BG.
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,150
    Yeah, I’m just coming up on the big battle at Dragonspear Castle now for my second time. It is so massive, unique, fun. An epic accomplishment.
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,150
    Just finished this for the second time. I love the huge battle at the Castle. I think it’s the real climax of the game. My main character this time was a cleric, which left me worried about the champion duel. But apart from taking much longer than when I played a Cavalier, the battle was still fun and decisive. No doubt I burned through a lot more potions and scrolls this time! But that actually made it all more fun not less. It was a hard won victory!
    The final battle in Hell is sort of anti-climactic. At least, I think it’s easier to win with sound team tactics.
    The end is sort of a gut punch. Apart from the pure tragedy of it, it really disappoints me I can’t FIX it. As previously mentioned, I will try the mod next time to see if I can save Skie.
    I do still have some minor complaints with SoD, but overall feel like its a worthy addition to the BG saga.
  • RelampagoRelampago Member Posts: 1
    So, i bought BG EE, SOD, and BG2 EE recently. I am a longtime CRPG and Dungeons and Dragons player (played D&D in the 70's and played CRPG's since the 80's), and eagerly anticipated BG when it was coming out, that PC Gamer spread prior to release was awesome. I loved BG and BG2. Surprisingly perhaps not as much as the gold and silver box games but absolutely loved them nonetheless! When the EE's came out initially i thought nah i already played the games but when SOD came out i thought i would jump into it again. The public backlash against the game being buggy and making for a worse experience stopped me from diving in right away. Now that i am playing i am LOVING it. We need more Dungeons and Dragons CRPGs and i should be supporting them whenever possible. I really wish Wizards was more permissive to the license, yes BG 3 is going to be absolutely amazing (i have over 300 hours in it already) but really we should be seeing like 2-3 games a year like we saw in the gold box/silverbox years. Beamdog should have license to develop new D&D games, as well as Shiro (D&D Wartales anyone), UbiSoft (D&D AC), Tactical Adventures (nuff said), Owlcat, etc. WotC is missing out on a huge opportinity here. They should be freely non exclusive licensing and providing overall guardrails and qa, no need to invest a ton in the development, perhaps identify at most 3 where they really invest in development like BG3.

    Anyway good job Beamdog and i wish you the best and hope to see you doing projects similar to SoD in the future.
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,150
    Yeah I wish the licensing was easier, especially for older rule sets. I’m profoundly not interested in anything after 2E, or in anything “real time”. Once upon a time, that still left me with many options! I also remember and loved the old Gold Box games; those were really extraordinary, and really, were even more faithful to the PnP rules than the later IE games.
    I recently replayed “Pool of Radiance”, and wow did that take me back! But, it really is painfully dated now. It really did not hold my interest enough to finish the series. Maybe I’ll try the “Savage Frontier” games after this current BG play through? I remember it as the most mature, the most ultimate (!) of the Gold Box games. But I do fear it won’t hold up.

    My dream would be more IE games. Although of course, at this point that is beyond unlikely.
  • AerakarAerakar Member Posts: 1,023
    2E is where it stopped for me too after cutting my teeth on basic/expert in the old boxes, but playing mainly later AD&D for many years.

    I have not seen any of the BG3 game or content yet. I did like and play NWN for some years, and especially liked a lot of the modding community content (shout out to @Savant1974 and his wonderful Aielund saga!). But BG/IWD and the IE always gets me back. It would be nice to see some new content or expansions in these games of course, but seems legally not realistic for now.
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,150
    Yeah I must have started gaming at about the same time, Basic/Expert D&D. The majority of my actual game time was with 1E, although 2E came along late in my PnP days, and it always struck me as a much needed editorial update of 1E. Smoothed out the edges. Then 3E went a whole other direction and I lost interest, seriously lost interest right from "point allocation". But, I have played NWN and a few other newer games, at least a little. The newer graphics are fun. But I always go back to IE, that just seems the most right to me.
    I'm not sure if the barriers are just legal? I mean the graphics are dated looking now. I don't know, it truly doesn't bother me one iota, but it might be a barrier to generating real new interest.
    But rest assured, when I play PnP these days (not often!), it means 2E.
  • TrouveurTrouveur Member Posts: 488
    atcDave wrote: »
    Just finished this for the second time. I love the huge battle at the Castle. I think it’s the real climax of the game. My main character this time was a cleric, which left me worried about the champion duel. But apart from taking much longer than when I played a Cavalier, the battle was still fun and decisive. No doubt I burned through a lot more potions and scrolls this time! But that actually made it all more fun not less. It was a hard won victory!
    The final battle in Hell is sort of anti-climactic. At least, I think it’s easier to win with sound team tactics.
    The end is sort of a gut punch. Apart from the pure tragedy of it, it really disappoints me I can’t FIX it. As previously mentioned, I will try the mod next time to see if I can save Skie.
    I do still have some minor complaints with SoD, but overall feel like its a worthy addition to the BG saga.
    For your next SoD playthrough, I recommend also some Jastey's mods that IMHO greatly improve SoD story : Road to Discovery, Borarskyr Bridge, and Another Fine Hell.
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,150
    I will look into those!
  • JuliusBorisovJuliusBorisov Member, Administrator, Moderator, Developer Posts: 22,717
    Great to read that from you, @atcDave! I still remember you from those early EE days, and it's great you returned (I remember valuable and thoughtful discussions). Such high praise of SoD from you here.
  • atcDaveatcDave Member Posts: 2,150
    You may be the first one who remembers me!
    Thank you for the kind words. It’s been awesome coming back to this after a few years away and actually having some new content. So big thanks to everyone involved!
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