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SoD Impressions

I've just finished Baldur's Gate I, II, & SoD in succession, and have only now been reading about the SoD 'controversy' that apparently had fans fuming upon its release (I'm behind the curve), and perhaps the SoD that I've just played, patched, is nothing like what it was upon release - but I'm left reading reviews and impressions thinking what the f--- is going on?!!! Having played all three in a row, I feel that SoD deserves its place in the BG canon: I felt that the art design and environmental effects were a real step up, the encounters were challenging and rewarded creative solutions, the story was well told, and I felt as invested in my character as ever. All things considered, I moved as seamlessly from BG2 to SoD as I did BG I to BG II. Which strikes me as testament enough to its quality. Standing next to two of the finest games EVER made.

And people were happy to sweep any accomplishment therein all under the rug to take issue with some (admittedly heavy-handed) inclusivity? There are youtube videos explaining why people 'hate' this game? Because they felt Beamdog was pushing some kind of 21st century social agenda? I find it depressing and baffling to be honest. Is the average gamer so threatened by a woman challenging in a small way some narrative conventions? That's what triggers a Baldur's Gate internet crusade? It sucks because the BG fanbase & community should consider themselves so lucky to even have a company breathing life back into this series, not to mention doing it justice with an entirely new campaign. People need to smoke a joint and calm the f down. Maybe I'm just pro Beamdog because without the EE I would never have even come close to this game with a 10 foot pole, and yet here I am, 150+ hrs countless magic missiles later.

ThacoBellContemplative_HamsterronaldoStummvonBordwehrGusindalolienJuliusBorisovtbone1HalfOrcBeastmasterSanctiferThe_Reverend

Comments

  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 5,845
    People who never played SoD or even any of the BG games joined in just so they could feel their hate validated. There are a distressing number of poor reviews of the game by people who never played it.

    StummvonBordwehrQuartzThe_Reverend
  • SharGuidesMyHandSharGuidesMyHand Member Posts: 2,367

    SoD has been polarizing for a number of reasons, beyond just the "controversial" ones. Notice that just a few threads below this one is one entitled "Just can't enjoy Siege" - that's typical of the widely varying opinions on the game.

    I gave my reasons for disliking the game here: https://forums.beamdog.com/discussion/comment/975050/#Comment_975050

    Quartz
  • batoorbatoor Member Posts: 595
    It drowned out most everything else as well.. Which is a shame because there are actually a lot of valid points both for and against SoD.

    I don't think the controversy will be the reason why people buy or avoid SoD in the future though. I don't imagine these topic have a long lifespan, not to be insensitive.. But let's be honest I seriously doubt Mizhena was ever written with the intention of being remembered or focused on that much...

    ThacoBellStummvonBordwehrQuartzThe_Reverend
  • megamike15megamike15 Member Posts: 1,013
    Mizhena is only really involved in like 2 quests. and they are a very minor npc. again it was over blown there was no reason for this to have happend. you also got to judge sod as an expanstion not a full on game. most people's complaints come from it not being anything like bg 1 or 2 [ same with tob] when an expansion is not meant to be the same type of experience.

    they are meant to be shorter and tighter experiences. look at motb for an example of what i mean.

    ThacoBellStummvonBordwehrHalfOrcBeastmasterQuartz
  • the_sexteinthe_sextein Member Posts: 511
    I've beaten SOD 3 times. I didn't finish Resident Evil 7 or Doom 5. I didn't even bother to buy Farcry 5. SOD may have flaws but I can say the same for games that were up for game of the year. At least SOD has deep 6 character RTS gameplay and more of that complex character building and battle system that hasn't been matched since it's importation into the CRPG scene. I have a monster computer that can play any of these more cutting edge games flawlessly, maxed out but I would rather play BG to be honest.

    ronaldoJuliusBorisovbleusteel
  • megamike15megamike15 Member Posts: 1,013
    well we now know who to blame :P

    that easter egg would have been hilarious

    tbone1batoor
  • tbone1tbone1 Member Posts: 1,916
    I've played through SoD three times and I really like it. No, it isn't perfect, and yes, some of the writing seems a bit ... seems to lack a certain finesse, if you will. But it is by no means the worst game writing out there; some parts of it are quite good. And I think a lot of people on both sides of that political divide need to tell a dozen marines how unfair this all was.

    But then I am very democratic; I hate everyone.

    ThacoBellbatoorQuartz
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 5,845
    @UnderstandMouseMagic "I hate the way it compromises the original games unless you dismiss it. "

    I really enjoy reading your opinion of SoD, you focus on legitimate issues without resorting to the fake controversy that surrounded it at launch. But I have to admit, the point that I have quoted above. I can't see it. I understand a lot of issues raised even if I don't agree with them (several I do). I've put actual effort into trying to understand why someone would see it as a compromise of the other games, but I can't. The only way I can see that happening, is through 15 years of nostalgia making someone compare SoD to some idealized memory, rather than the flawed games the originals really were.

    You put so much effort trying to focus on legitimate issues that chalking this up to just nostalgia seems like an insult to your opinion though.

    StummvonBordwehrContemplative_HamsterQuartzSkatan
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,875

    @ThacoBell

    Ok let's try and explain.

    BG1

    Classic hero's journey, dark forces hinted at through the game, revelation, "take arms against a sea of troubles", resolution.
    All this is set against a backdrop of a "real" world you get to know and a number of people you get to know and who get to know you.

    Up and down the Sword Coast you have run errands, rescued slaves, talked grieving fathers out of attacking you, stopped murderers, saved cows, ect.

    You "own" BG city itself, the people know you, You have run around sorting things out for a lot of people, from getting Petrie her cat back, to showing Ragefast that he shouldn't lock up nymphs, to working with the Shadow Thieves, to helping resurrect a little boy, ect.

    It's a game, so there are a lot of limitations. You don't meet everyone, shopkeepers don't react as they would if you turned up week after week with the kind of artifacts that would make them a fortune, Inn Keepers don't chat about your most recent quest, ect.

    But the game does enough that the player can fill in the blanks, this is a living breathing world and you have made your mark. And all of this has little to do with the authorities, the Dukes in this case. They enter the scene late and then of course their authority turns out to have been utterly compromised. So you have to go back to the "street", to sort things out.

    All that "world building" is thrown away by SOD. BG city might as well not exist, the people you have interacted with might as well not exist. How you have played the game and who you have played the game with might as well not exist.

    You are now part of high society, part of "the establishment".
    That's right, you and your Blackguard, your RWofT, your Drow, your wild elf, your mercenary dwarf, your fugative wild mage, your ex pirate thief, your halfling thief, your mad cleric, your would be abductor of a Duke's daughter, all accepted as totally OK.
    And that's without even beginning to accomodate that charname themselves can be utterly evil and still be "the hero".

    Yay, they are going to order you and your band of misfits to do their bidding, (like that's going to happen).

    When you write a story, you don't start at Point B and then work backwards to get to point A. You start at Point A and ask where can I go without it becoming ridiculous.
    And therefore set Point A up so that you can get to point B.

    But if Point A already exists and you can't change it, then you change Point B so that it can be got to from Point A without ignoring where Point A was placed.

    ArdanisThacoBellQuartz
  • batoorbatoor Member Posts: 595
    Hmm.. not necessarily speaking in defense of SoD here. But I disagree with your assertion of the RP aspects in bg. If we're talking about plausibility, you can potentially use the same logic for many points in bg2 as well. IMO the roleplaying aspects/reputation of the bg saga is a bit overblown and has been surpassed sometime ago (witcher, deus ex, torment, motb)
    And basically any game with dialog skills and mechanics.
    As for divisiveness..well there is a heavily opinionated bg1 vs bg2 debate among the community that i didnt even know about until i started participating on these forums.

    StummvonBordwehrThacoBell
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 3,327
    @UnderstandMouseMagic I can understand that the game doesn't do what you want, but I'm not sure that what you want is realistic.

    There's a vast choice in the way you play BG1, so I don't think it would have been possible (without annoying even more people) to restrict things like choice of characters, alignments and playstyle as you move into SoD.

    The requirement for choice means that there are always going to be inconsistencies at different points both within a game and in moving between games. That was the case when moving from BG1 to BG2 and I can't really see there's any change in principle with the movement to and from SoD.

    The sort of interactions you dislike in SoD occurred many times in the other games. As an example, the first time you arrive at the entrance to Baldur's Gate you are given a very sensitive mission to undertake (investigation of the Seven Suns). It doesn't matter if by then you are widely known as an oath-breaker, vicious murderer, officious paladin or anything else you get the same quest. I think that type of situation is inevitable given the framework of the game and the limitation of resources necessary to make a game commercially viable - the alternative would be to railroad the way you play the game, which I think would be a far worse option.

    However, I acknowledge that I don't role play the games, so it may be I'm not fully understanding your point of view.

    StummvonBordwehrThacoBell
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,875
    batoor said:

    Hmm.. not necessarily speaking in defense of SoD here. But I disagree with your assertion of the RP aspects in bg. If we're talking about plausibility, you can potentially use the same logic for many points in bg2 as well. IMO the roleplaying aspects/reputation of the bg saga is a bit overblown and has been surpassed sometime ago (witcher, deus ex, torment, motb)
    And basically any game with dialog skills and mechanics.
    As for divisiveness..well there is a heavily opinionated bg1 vs bg2 debate among the community that i didnt even know about until i started participating on these forums.


    If other games do RP better that's good, but how does that affect what BG does?

    It's all personal of course, but I think there could have been a better effort to accomodate the RP aspects which are very noticeable in BG1. It's a very personal hero's journey story, as they all are to allow the reader/player to identify with the main character. Trials and tribulations are created to help you relate.

    Quartz
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,875
    Grond0 said:

    @UnderstandMouseMagic I can understand that the game doesn't do what you want, but I'm not sure that what you want is realistic.

    There's a vast choice in the way you play BG1, so I don't think it would have been possible (without annoying even more people) to restrict things like choice of characters, alignments and playstyle as you move into SoD.

    The requirement for choice means that there are always going to be inconsistencies at different points both within a game and in moving between games. That was the case when moving from BG1 to BG2 and I can't really see there's any change in principle with the movement to and from SoD.

    The sort of interactions you dislike in SoD occurred many times in the other games. As an example, the first time you arrive at the entrance to Baldur's Gate you are given a very sensitive mission to undertake (investigation of the Seven Suns). It doesn't matter if by then you are widely known as an oath-breaker, vicious murderer, officious paladin or anything else you get the same quest. I think that type of situation is inevitable given the framework of the game and the limitation of resources necessary to make a game commercially viable - the alternative would be to railroad the way you play the game, which I think would be a far worse option.

    However, I acknowledge that I don't role play the games, so it may be I'm not fully understanding your point of view.

    I'd say personally it wouldn't even be that hard.

    Keep the core archytype, charname somewhat outside of authority with their band of followers, turns up to save the day.
    What restrictions does that entail?
    Put the sidequests as part of the independant journey to join the siege without telegraphing where everything is leading.

    Don't "conscript" them to put them where they need to be for the game, that's lazy. And utterly removes the illusion of player agency which the games depend on to make them engrossing.

    And to make a better story, don't insert a superfluous character to lurk around the edges and interfere with what's been established. You have dreams in BG, weird dreams that stem from your dead God Dad and Bhaalspawn essence, Irenicus doesn't exist in your world before BG2. All because late on in development the voice actor became available. And then make it worse by having them provide a plot device.

    I mean seriously, professional writers came up with a murder out of the blue to get you to the end?
    How convenient.

    ArdanisThacoBellOrlonKronsteenQuartz
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 3,327

    I'd say personally it wouldn't even be that hard.

    Keep the core archytype, charname somewhat outside of authority with their band of followers, turns up to save the day.
    What restrictions does that entail?
    Put the sidequests as part of the independant journey to join the siege without telegraphing where everything is leading.

    Don't "conscript" them to put them where they need to be for the game, that's lazy. And utterly removes the illusion of player agency which the games depend on to make them engrossing.

    And to make a better story, don't insert a superfluous character to lurk around the edges and interfere with what's been established. You have dreams in BG, weird dreams that stem from your dead God Dad and Bhaalspawn essence, Irenicus doesn't exist in your world before BG2. All because late on in development the voice actor became available. And then make it worse by having them provide a plot device.

    I mean seriously, professional writers came up with a murder out of the blue to get you to the end?
    How convenient.

    It seems to me that it requires the same sort of restrictions you're concerned about. For instance:
    - why trust a group turning up out of nowhere with saving the day?
    - what about if your group doesn't want to save the day, but join the Crusaders?

    As for the superfluous character that's an attempt to provide some continuity between the games to help address the obvious existing transition problem from BG1 to BG2 - something you've said you wanted.

    It's not that I think the story in SoD is particularly good - for instance I've been extremely critical before about the epilogue after dealing with Belhifet, which feels to me that a total waste of time. However, to me the problems and inconsistencies you're pointing out in SoD are actually worse in BG1 and BG2 - as there are more alternatives to dealing with quests in SoD than in the earlier games. I'm still unconvinced though that it would ever be possible to write a commercially acceptable story that eliminated this type of problem entirely, i.e. a story that is both seamless & logical, but also allows parties to indulge in the full range of RP behavior.

    StummvonBordwehr
  • jasteyjastey Member Posts: 616
    Funnily enough, being assigned to lead the troops against the crusade while being the hero of Baldur's Gate in SoD seems more natural to me than being assigned to investigating the Seven Suns as a more-or-less nobody independent on your reputation in BG1.

    But: in BG1, you had the possibility to say no, even if it was more of an illusion because the game progress got stuck (like giving part of your soul in ToB to Sarevok). Whereas in SoD, it felt like being railroaded because This Is The Story. (I don't remember whether it was actually possible to say no and accept later, so it's really more of a feeling. It remined me of the ritual in Dragon Age:Origins, which my PC wouldn't have done if the game would have let me have a choice. For me, such instances destroy immersion.)

    tbone1Quartz
  • UnderstandMouseMagicUnderstandMouseMagic Member Posts: 1,875
    Grond0 said:

    I'd say personally it wouldn't even be that hard.

    Keep the core archytype, charname somewhat outside of authority with their band of followers, turns up to save the day.
    What restrictions does that entail?
    Put the sidequests as part of the independant journey to join the siege without telegraphing where everything is leading.

    Don't "conscript" them to put them where they need to be for the game, that's lazy. And utterly removes the illusion of player agency which the games depend on to make them engrossing.

    And to make a better story, don't insert a superfluous character to lurk around the edges and interfere with what's been established. You have dreams in BG, weird dreams that stem from your dead God Dad and Bhaalspawn essence, Irenicus doesn't exist in your world before BG2. All because late on in development the voice actor became available. And then make it worse by having them provide a plot device.

    I mean seriously, professional writers came up with a murder out of the blue to get you to the end?
    How convenient.

    It seems to me that it requires the same sort of restrictions you're concerned about. For instance:
    - why trust a group turning up out of nowhere with saving the day?
    - what about if your group doesn't want to save the day, but join the Crusaders?

    As for the superfluous character that's an attempt to provide some continuity between the games to help address the obvious existing transition problem from BG1 to BG2 - something you've said you wanted.

    It's not that I think the story in SoD is particularly good - for instance I've been extremely critical before about the epilogue after dealing with Belhifet, which feels to me that a total waste of time. However, to me the problems and inconsistencies you're pointing out in SoD are actually worse in BG1 and BG2 - as there are more alternatives to dealing with quests in SoD than in the earlier games. I'm still unconvinced though that it would ever be possible to write a commercially acceptable story that eliminated this type of problem entirely, i.e. a story that is both seamless & logical, but also allows parties to indulge in the full range of RP behavior.
    Both the questions you pose can be asked with the existing SOD.

    Why trust a group of possibly ne'er do wells anywhere near your troops?
    Politically it's madness, Charname kills Sarevok when rulers too weak and corrupted to do so, ferments unrest in your army against you, revolution.

    The game does nothing to persuade you not to join the Crusade, it simply doesn't let you.
    How many threads and posts have been created complaining just about that?
    "Why can't we join Caelar", "Is anybody making a mod so we can join Caelor?"

    I've never wanted anything in that small timeframe other than a completely standalone adventure, more Tof TSC.

    As far as I'm concerned the start of BG2 couldn't be better than the way it was done. The dramatic shock of waking up in the dungeon and knowing nothing about who captured you or where you are is superb. Sets the unfolding game up brilliantly. Managed to reset you to the state you are in when Gorion is killed.

    I'm not even keen on the "leaving BG under dark circumstances" bit in the intro, it's unecessary IMO.

    ArdanisOrlonKronsteenQuartz
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 3,327
    There are quite a few of those 'illusory' dialogues in SoD as well. For instance during the parley with the leaders of the Flaming Fist and Crusade you can say you want to give yourself over to Caelar - but the game won't actually let that happen.

    In the final battle with Belhifet I mapped all the multitude of dialogue options to double-check whether it was possible to have Caelar fight against Belhifet without joining your party (I really hate forced joins when I'm supposed to be doing a solo run). That's not possible (other than by having a full party or in MP), so that fight seems very unsatisfactory to me. However, I recognize that the designers have already given more options than you would expect (join you / join Belhifet / get killed) based on BG1 / BG2 behavior, so I think it would be unfair to criticize them too much for not including the particular option that I would prefer.

    StummvonBordwehr
  • ThacoBellThacoBell Member Posts: 5,845
    @UnderstandMouseMagic That is quite a reply. Thanks for taking the time to help me understand your position better, which I think I do now.

    UnderstandMouseMagicStummvonBordwehrQuartz
  • Contemplative_HamsterContemplative_Hamster Member Posts: 774
    edited May 11

    Everyone is different obviously but the way I look at SOD is similar to the way I look at TOB. Many people had the same criticism of TOB and I have to say that I have always played the series to it's finale and I always appreciated the items, areas, fights and the attempts to tie it altogether with a story. I guess my ability to enjoy the game isn't related to roleplaying situations in a way that I would act in the real world because most RPG's are so far removed from reality that I have a hard time relating to them on a personal level. I try of course but I don't let it get in the way of my enjoyment. I had a hard time accepting any of the NPC's in the original Baldurs Gate the first time I played it because they didn't fit my own personality or come off as "cool" enough when I was a young teen. The story is just a backdrop or a line designed to connect the dots. I don't value it as much as many other players obviously.

    I look at SOD like I look at Durlog's tower or Werewolf island. It's just another adventure that happens to have more areas and more tactical battles than most. I don't criticize Werewolf island and complain that the roleplaying options don't suit me or that such and such is poorly written text or a certain character seems out of place. I don't get cought up in the items involved in the quest or complain that there is no merchants and the gameplay isn't open enough to allow me to roam wherever I want. I just accept it and try to work it into the mass of the game that I actually enjoy. I think I enjoy character building stats and gameplay strategy more than anything and everything else I have either head cannoned a way around the things I dislike or I have actually learned to appreciate them over the years.

    I agree with much of the criticism of the story in SOD but it doesn't get in the way for me. Personally, finding Minsc and Jaheira in the first dungeon of BG2 when they were not in my party originally was harder for me to accept than anything in SOD. Running into Xzar in BG2 and he acts like he hardly knows me, seems so off and poorly done. Surly they could have a party check from your imported final save that tells the game to have extra dialog options for characters you have adventured with before? In the end, I got over it and didn't let it ruin the experience. I've actually started using the cannon party a lot recently and I think it's partly because I am trying to reduce inconsistencies in writing and so I have altered the way I play the game to deal with it. In the end I don't see SOD as being any harder to enjoy than the rest of the series despite Duke Silvershield, the dream sequences, the soul taker dagger. I can think of just as many cool things about it and I simply deal with the things I dislike the same way I did with the other games.

    I think for me, the hardest part was that I had become so comfortable with the flaws of the older games that SOD stood out and it was easy to compare it to the way I feel about the old games and come to the conclusion that SOD was not as good because it was the only one I was not comfortable with. The issues I had with SOD were still fresh and my mind hadn't found a way to dim those issues or ignore them the way it automatically does with BG 1&2. In the end, I dealt with my issues with SOD the same way I did with the other games and now it feels just like the other parts of the series to me.

    Thank you. :)



    StummvonBordwehrGrond0the_sextein
  • Grond0Grond0 Member Posts: 3,327

    Thank you. :)

    Hear, hear. Your post @the_sextein was one of those rare ones where I would have given you an insightful, agree and like if that were possible :p.

    JuliusBorisovStummvonBordwehrOrlonKronsteen
  • the_sexteinthe_sextein Member Posts: 511
    edited May 11
    heh, thanks^ I wasn't sure if anyone was going to read the great wall of text with run on sentences that seem to never end. It takes some effort to describe a mental state and feeling that leads to your stance on a large body of work like BG. While I like the game, I don't have a problem with people who don't like it. I do think the issue comes down to people valuing different things and SOD's flaws bother those who value the story more than I. I'm just glad I am one of the ones who likes it because this series is my favorite and having more adventures and more items, characters, enemies, and story is a great thing. Especially with that boss box set they released.

    That being said. I still think BG2 had some story and character problems that are just as bad if not worse than SOD and the gameplay of SOD is different than BG2 but BG2 had different gameplay than BG1. They are close enough for me to enjoy them all.

    StummvonBordwehrThacoBell
  • UOLegacyUOLegacy Member Posts: 38
    I'm very much looking forward to playing SoD. This is how I look at it; if some NPC in a game has a problem with my PC, then it's "their" problem, not mine.

    From what I could tell from this whole debate was that some people playing the game felt that the NPCs were not criticizing the PC, but rather criticizing the human being behind the keyboard. and I believe that's when it crosses a line.

    That's just my two cents, and I'm looking forward to seeing what SoD has to offer as far as gameplay.

    SharGuidesMyHandRavenslightJuliusBorisov
  • QuartzQuartz Member Posts: 3,772

    I agree with much of the criticism of the story in SOD but it doesn't get in the way for me. Personally, finding Minsc and Jaheira in the first dungeon of BG2 when they were not in my party originally was harder for me to accept than anything in SOD. Running into Xzar in BG2 and he acts like he hardly knows me, seems so off and poorly done. Surly they could have a party check from your imported final save that tells the game to have extra dialog options for characters you have adventured with before? In the end, I got over it and didn't let it ruin the experience.

    ...

    I think for me, the hardest part was that I had become so comfortable with the flaws of the older games that SOD stood out and it was easy to compare it to the way I feel about the old games and come to the conclusion that SOD was not as good because it was the only one I was not comfortable with. The issues I had with SOD were still fresh and my mind hadn't found a way to dim those issues or ignore them the way it automatically does with BG 1&2.

    This is a very interesting point. I had a lot of issues with BGII and learned to just sort of ignore them. (Xzar being one of them as you mentioned––Faldorn, Coran, and Safana all seem incredibly "off" as well... Oh yea, and Imoen undergoes a complete personality change and railroads players into Mage/Thief, which I don't like)

    Next time I play SoD I'll try to go into it with this attitude.

    In BG2 you deal with the most stupid antagonist ever. A smarter man would have gotten the essence way quicker from someone else.

    Thank you lol, he really is overrated.

    JuliusBorisovStummvonBordwehr
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