When I heard about BGEE as being part of a "trial" to create baldur's gate 3 I was really happy. I own the original trilogy and anyway I decided to give my money to beamdog. I bought BGEE and BG2EE, and I did it even twice, one for beamdog and other for steam. I also bought BGEE twice more in order to give it as a present. I really wanted to give my all to see this baldur's gate 3 project to become a reality.
And then the adventure Y was announced: an expansion to the original BG, more than 20 hours of gameplay, new content and telling the story inbetween the two games. It sounded very well. I knew that the original content of BGEE and BG2EE was not of the same quality as the original games but hell, I don't expect a masterpiece. I just wanted to go back to toril with the game system I loved. And as soon as I knew it was available I bought it: no questions.
And at first I got it. The music was in the wave, the character creation process reminded me of those times rerolling to get the perfect character and the first sight ingame was good. And then it all stopped at the moment my character starte talking.
First and foremost, the language. My default configuration is in spanish. The options are in spanish, the game configuration is in spanish and suddenly the texts were in english. But not all the texts. The very first dialogs weren't, but during the whole game I have spanish words mixed in english texts. I was reading texts saying something like él
was a hombre
. It was a hell to understand.
But even more, some texts were contradicting other texts. Something as important as the armor class was said in two different ways, and not following a specific order (like saying the default AC the smaller or the bigger value). Also it was a pain to check that the names were changing of language. GAC0 and THAC0 were indiscriminately swapped.
But that doesn't end there. My options for talking were always
- The extremely polite option
- The "I am a jerk" option
- The "I have to prove I am completely evil" option
- And sometimes the "I try to be fun but I am not" option
I was not able to debate with anyone. The correct options was so obvious because the dialogs were designed to have a correct option. And sometimes the evil answer was so forced that the "ignore what the MC said" answer felt too unnatural.
On top of that I found some extremely weird situations. First, encountering someone telling me that we should not prejudge orcs. Hell, this is the forgottem realms, not the schoolyard. There are monsters everywhere, monsters that are evil, that it's in their veins to do evil because that's how they are. It's how the world works. Some ogres felt like party friends rather than a group of ogres. It's a fantasy game and this just breaks all the inmersion of the game. Is part of storytelling to never break the rules of the world and this game makes that constantly. Having a divine celestial creature doing evil to get in the hells to selfisly rescuing family? Seriously? One of the basic rules of storytelling is to never break the suspension of disbelief, and this game does it on every step. It really felt more like I am with my friends in some kind of mmorpg where everybody is a dick rather than in the forgotten realms. Come on, english is not my mother language and I still can feel how bad the writting was done.
It keeps going. The user interface changes are horrible. I always defended the changes and I am against those thoughts of not touching anything. But hell, the navigation in the character sheet is horrible. What is that "ready to level up" button? Well, it's not a button. The first time I saw it I tried to click on it. But why blue? There is no blue in the whole UI and it stays in red for most of the time. Teach the player what every color code is and stick to it. Use a color code to drive the player through the important parts of the interface and stick to it, but don't use a single case scenario for something that doesn't even have a function.
Same applies to the spell screens. First, the biggest mistake is to move me, with on advertinsing, from one spell screen to the other. Second, there is no easy way to check the description of a spell. Before, left selects, right erases and hovering shows. Now I have to double clic. But this behavior is the oposite in the ingame interface. Right click shows description. Hell, be consistent.
Not to talk about features that feels like an excuse to say you worked on it. Now you can pause the game and make everything grey. Cool, so now you cannot know the differencee between timestop and pause. You can disable the animations of fighting if they don't really attack. So what is that for?
And then the NPCS. The game has thousands and thousands of NPCS scattered around everywhere. As you leave the palace, you cannot even move properly. But all those NPCS have shiny colors. You just have to look at the original baldur's gate to check how the not important characters are all using grey or brow palletes while the important ones uses shiny colors. You can recognice an important character just by looking at it. In SoD you don't. Not only you don't but also there are dozens. in the last camp I was not able to find anyone. I had to hold tab in order to see the names and even with that, there was a mess of names in the screen. When the three armies joined, I wasted my time searching in that amalgam of names. Not talking about some characters that had names but they still were behaving like random NPCs.
Let's talk about characters. What happened with Safana? I don't remember her like that. And with minsc? "It's not as evil as other evils... bla bla bla". What kind of childist comment is that? Minsc stopped being mad to be stupid and the jokes about Boo were so unnatural and forced that it was not fun anymore. What happens with the child of Corwen? "My mother can take care of herself". Where? In Toril? That place where I leave a trail of deaths where I go, where the god of murder walks around? Where the enemy is a half god? Where I am a half god... of murder? Where dragons are in random caves? Where the plane is surounded by other planes where each creature is worse than the previous one? No. This is not school where your mother is a model of a good citizen, it's the forgotten realms where you cannot sleep in the wild without being attacked.
But there are more design decisions that needs to be reviewed. Who was the mastermind who thought in having all the inventory collected by your characters in one chest? 6 characters full of loot had to be taken by one person. How the hell I am supposed to progress at the beginning if most of the characters appears after leaving baldur's gate? I cannot make an evil party until almost midgame. There is no freedom to search around before going to the main quest. Remember that in Baldur's gate the first boss was at the end of the mines. By that point you were able to have several different parties: good, neutral and evil. Here, you are forced into the field with a team you don't want but you need.
Also, why I am not allowed to go back? Because the story say so? Well: design lesson number x: if the gameplay is hindered by the story, the story adapts. But I missed to kill the green dragon because the game didn't let me go back.
And then we have the ending. First, Caelar was the character with a very strong personality. When reaching the nine hells, suddenly she can side the evil (a divine creature!!!) or she joins you just with one sentence. Cool. But then... nothing else matters. You are dropped directly in a completely different story. Basically I could have skipped the whole story and I would be exactly in the same place. And nothing happens at all. Well, you have a solo dungeon. A cool idea if it weren't for the genious idea of having enemies that can paralize you in a single hit. So cool, so if they hit you you are basically dead because someone thought that having an enemy that removes the control of the only character you can control was a good idea.
And not talking about progression. I started the game with the same armor I wear at the very end. I started with +2 weapons and I ended with +2 weapons. There was one +3 around, some bullets and arrows but that's it. 60% of my team's equipment was not changed during the adventure. I feel like I could use the same team I started the game with and still win the game.
I am sorry for my harsh writting, but I just finished the game and it felt awful. What happened with this game? The only thing Beamdog should have done is more of the same, just taking a look at what Black isle did and mimic it. I really wanted to ask for my money back for all the games I own, but that's not even fair. The only thing I want now is to know the names of the responsibles of the production, game design and story writting so I don't buy another beamdog's game until those disappear from the credits.