Welcome to the final part of a critical look at Beamdog's creative contributions to Baldur's Gate
.This is not the place for statements of blind support or blind hatred of Beamdog. If that's all you have to contribute to the conversation, please take your comments elsewhere.
Having covered all the new additions - Dorn
and easter eggs Baeloth and Wilson
- it's time to wrap up our discussion and try to draw relevant conclusions.
It seems clear to me that the EE characters were all designed, at least in part, to address existing gaps in the character roster. Beamdog has given us the first half-orc, the first evil thief, the first wild mage, the first monk, the first sorcerer; the first same-sex love interests; and the first characters to have ToB quests (which goes a long way towards beefing up that last part of the saga).
Giving BG fans new things, as opposed to more of what we already had, is a good aspiration to have. And in this, the devs have largely met their goal. But if we give Beamdog credit for their successes, we must also note where they fall short.
It is, perhaps, a point of discussion that the EE NPCs break down along established gender lines: the men fight, the women cast or steal. It's not a pattern unique to Beamdog, or even BioWare - in the entire history of D&D video games, the only women who could properly swing a longsword were Shar-Teel Dosan, Mazzy Fentan, Aribeth di Tylmarande and Shandra Jerro. It's a short list, and it might have been nice for Beamdog to add a name or two... but one can't meet all needs simultaneously, and as I noted before, there's a lot
to be said for the fact that Dorn, Neera, Rasaad and Hexxat fulfill specific roles and functions that weren't part of the BG games beforehand.
Unfortunately, there's a larger narrative problem with these games: the overall quality of the writing is wildly inconsistent. From an analytical perspective, it seems like not enough effort was made to ensure that all four characters had the same basic necessary components of good storytelling in place. Neera's arc is clear, concise and flows organically from one stage to the next; Hexxat's is a mess from start to finish, with muddled motivations and too many questions left unanswered. Rasaad's plot offers several opportunities for the player to express agency; Dorn's is based on a central, critical choice that ultimately turns out to be false. It's a disparity that, in my opinion, constitutes as much of a "bug" as missing triggers or incorrect weapon descriptions, and should be addressed.
On that note, I'd like to end this series with a direct appeal to Beamdog, specifically @LiamEsler
and the other writers.
As they currently stand, the Enhanced Editions represent a good creative effort, warts and all. But you have the rarest of opportunities afforded to video game writers: a chance to review the stories you've told, find the weak spots, and address them post-launch. As long as BG:EE and BG2:EE are being updated, you have the ability to do better
. And if there's one thing I hope this series has demonstrated, it's how easily
you can polish what's already there: a few unvoiced lines of dialogue here, an additional variable there, is literally all it would take to fill in the plot holes, clarify the obscure, resolve the inconsistencies, and make that jump from "good" to "excellent". I hope you'll consider this as Beamdog moves towards the release of BG2:EE on Android, and do what you can to make the most of the potential you've demonstrated thus far.
Thank you for your time, your patience, and your contributions to this old favorite game.