Now, since the entire thing is about the new characters and content, I will start out by asking, shouldn't there be a way to remove any EE content from the game, having a pure version instead?
I personally think the EE content seems to be another game entirely, and the writing doesn't match the original writing at all, so please give me your thoughts on this! You like the new writing? Hate the new writing? Let me know! Also, thank you beamDog for reviving the game. This is criticism that isn't anger or anything, just my issues with the stuff I've tried in the game. It's not meant as an attack, and I hope others will keep it like that as well.
I have been thinking about this for a while and I decided to air my thoughts here to see whether I am the only one with these thoughts.
Now, I would like to start off with saying that my comments here have nothing to do with the siege of Dragonspear game. I have not tried it and I only just stumbled upon the controversy it would seem to have had when I started researching a bit about this post I am about to make. My comments are only on BG1 and BG2 + the old expansions. I have not researched the Dragonspear stuff nearly close to enough to start weighing in on that, and I would prefer (for my sake) comments try to stick to the original games here.
Now, I am a huge fan of the Baldur's gate games, and when I heard a company was picking up the mantle I could not help but be thrilled! I still play the game tons, and I am as much in love with it now as I was years and years ago when I first started playing the games back in 99 or 00 or whenever it was. I can't remember to be honest.
But what has been bugging me about the EE versions of the games have been the added content to be honest. I think the original stories are superb and really well thought out, with some interesting dialogue options for the player to explore. So interesting that I often (well, not anymore, as I have done so hundreds of times already) reload and retry another set of dialogue options.
However, as I first tried the EE version of the game I must admit, it felt bad. As I tried the new characters they simply felt weak and not very well thought through. And the worst thing of all, they felt like they belonged in another game altogether. Their feel is as if they came from another world. Their language differs, and options in speech are ridiculous, making me feel like a teen trying to act cool with my answer choices.
Take for example the first time the player meets Hexxat, the vampire in bg2EE. I will use this to describe what I feel is scattered around the entire game with the new content rather than making this post longer than it already is by finding all examples I can lol. So, let's use Hexxat as the symptoms of my issues with the game and see if you can relate with the other content they added, since I know I felt this way throughout the games new content.
First of all, (back to Hexxat) why is there no "I'm not really all that keen on grave-robbing" option that would come naturally to the majority of people playing as good when they met a suspicious person in the inn asking for some grave robbing partners? Like with Korgan. Instead I get to dance around the subject with "UUuuuuuu! Treasure! How much milady?" kinda dialogue, or a long joking line that seems very different from the main game.
Fast forward to the entrance of the tomb, and you have three options. A joke saying you don't want to anyway, and two about entering. There is no normal "Know what, I'm not too keen on this" option. It feels like the writing of this character is very one dimensional to the point that it has infected my own character with this sort of one dimensional-ness.
Now inside, something that really bugs me from the writing... The new commentary from your own party members from the old games. It feels like I am traveling with people with multiple personalities. Minsc becomes a child rather than a very simple man. "It's alright boo, they're dead but I'm sure they are nice people" followed by the "You were right Boo, they weren't nice at all" (not 100% accurate quote) comments which seem weird for him. He would, in my mind anyway, normally just yell at them for being evil shades, no? I don't know, but the way he talks is just so different from what I expect from Minsc that I get thrown out of the game whenever it happens, and I find this throughout the game. (this example is actually one of the closer ones to my perception of Minsc) It's like they are new people. Even when I find things that were from the old game I had forgotten about or maybe never seen since it was for some sort combo only that I never tried, it is so easy to identify Beamdog content VS. the old content in the writing. I remember starting a quest I thought I had found (before I knew there was new content in the EE version back when I had just purchased it) and I realized that it seemed off, and that was when i found out there was new content in the EE version.
Now, here comes another really obvious thing to me... The encounters with new people...
I have just lead a woman who I believed was Hexxat to the tomb, and I see her beg her mistress to let her live and when she is killed the reaction I get is as if my memory was just wiped clean. I will write the options I have here, keep in mind a "friend" or at the very least, a party member I have been helping has just been murdered in front of my eyes...:
(Char name) Good to finally meet you.
1-I wish I could say the same. Who are you?
2-Did you say "meet," or "eat"?
3-You'll not think so in a couple of seconds!
Now, this to me goes back to the teen feel. it feels like I am a teenager trying to act cool in front of this killer, god forbid I show any anger or extreme surprise without at the very least looking cool. After all, it's just a party member that has just died... No biggie...
The "you'll not think so in a couple of seconds" comment is closest to what i would normally pick after having seen that, but even that seems like an excuse to have the last laugh. "Hahaha, I still have my composure and I can come with a cool comment in spite of the circumstances!" And the others are just weird.
As I said in the beginning, it feels like I have amnesia. I am not looking at her as the killer of a party member but rather a vampire, and my options reflect that. Like I would react if I had just met a vampire that tried to talk to me, not one that had just murdered my party member. My gripe here is my own characters dialogue, rather than Hexxat's as I actually find her character kinda cool in this dialogue.
Now, take the "you'll not think so..." option, you would expect my character to jump in trying to kill this evil that has just murdered my friend, but instead we stand around talking like nothing happened.
I need to come with 3 comments before I can attack her. Why? It's so redundant when I am obviously hostile towards her. Especially since I am standing RIGHT NEXT TO HER. The Werewolf at the dark temple at the very least stands far away, so it feels like a standoff. This just feels like me trying to be a calm badass before the killing
of my enemies can commence.
Now, Hexxat herself seems to have decent dialogue, as mentioned, but the issues with her lie in my own reactions. I honestly felt like just loading a previous save and not doing it like all the other new characters.
Some of the other characters are simply weird, and their personalities seem weak somehow.
I realize this is a huge post already, but I really felt these issues were important. It really feels like teenage writing in my mind. The swearing in a lot of cases seems off. I remember the first time I partied Dorn and he said "fuck" if I remember correctly. I have never seen another character say that. The characters in this universe have a certain way about them that the EE version seems to forget and write around rather than with this universe. I get that the writers want to add their own touch, but it just seems weird as the game is already there. I think they should try a new game where they could let loose, as I'm sure they would do great at that!
Now, to say one thing about these things, of course the character is made as an individual and may thus act in any way they want, but it just seems like when they are there, the world around you changes to their level. They don't seem shaped by their own world. Much to the contrary.
Rather than them being in the world, it seems they draw the world inside them, changing it to their style, which has made me avoid the EE content all together. I simply feels like it makes the game worse. Even if it is more content, it actually makes the existing content worse, so I just ignore them.
This is the main reason why I haven't bought Dragonspear, and more importantly, this is why I hope they either never make BG3 or have a major change in their approach to the old characters and the main character. I could see them doing it if they had more respect for the old titles and their way of conveying stories, rather than imposing a modern language and such to an old world. Also, it really bothers me how they always abbreviate, as it was somewhat rare in the originals lol. But that's just nitpicking.
To expand on the comment I made above with them making a new game. I would love to see a new IP from Beamdog! It could be in the D&D universe, and this way they could do whatever they wanted and have their writers truly shine without stepping on any old toes. The BG universe seems to have a set way of being already, and the way the EE content has been added just seems to not fit. Another game would greatly improve the experience of
which this sort of writing would give me.
Fun little thing I noticed too is how they made cutscenes skipable.... But the new content they made is unskipable lol. Had it been the other way around it would have been better, but the option to skip all would be best, since I like the option.
Sorry for the long post, I hope some of you will give me your own thoughts on this! I am up for some healthy discussion! I may be wrong in my assumptions too, so let me know if you want to join the conversation!