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Review RPG Codex Review: Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear

Crooked Bee

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Tags: Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear; Beamdog

Around these parts of the internet, Beamdog are well-known - or should I say infamous? - for the paint job of an "Enhanced Edition" they did for the Baldur's Gate series. Building on a not exactly uncontested series in and of itself, Baldur's Gate: Beamdog Edition turned out even more polarizing, especially when it came to the companions and other content Beamdog added to the original game.

Hence, it should not come as a surprise that a lot of people did not expect much from Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear, Beamdog's recently released interquel set between Baldur's Gate 1 and 2, which got heaps of praise from none other than Chris Avellone pre-release. We all know Chris is the ultimate paragon of game industry friendliness who'd never say anything mean about any of his fellow devs' work, especially when it comes to projects he himself worked on - and he did apparently give some feedback on BG:SoD's writing and main plot. So, in search of a more impartial opinion (in before it's not impartial at all), we enlisted esteemed community member Delterius to act as the Codex judge of what the game manages to achieve and where it fails.

Here are some excerpts from his review:

There are a lot of choices to make in Siege of Dragonspear. Don't get me wrong, most of it is just fluff. Being rude or witty towards strangers isn't that big a deal, and the game has this habit of writing the plot into a corner by giving you too many choices and then railroading you back to the script by force. It's definitely no Age of Decadence. However, it still has a good deal of reactivity based on your class, race, which quests you complete and how you choose to end some of them. This builds up to something similar to the finale of Dragon Age: Origins, where the factions participating in the final battle are determined by your decisions. In the words of an old sage, that makes Dragonspear more of a 'full-scale RPG' compared to its predecessors. [...]

While I didn't find Siege of Dragonspear's monsters to be incredibly innovative, it's good that Beamdog didn't shy away from combining Baldur's Gate and Icewind Dale's bestiaries to keep things fresh. Ghouls and Shadows have joined forces with Shades and Imbued Wights to make (un)life a bit more colorful. When helping the dwarven clerics I mentioned earlier, I had to deal with level and attribute draining, stuns, long-range health draining and enemy healing, not to mention those bastards who open fights with salvos of magic missiles. The dungeon caps it off with a final boss who far outclasses you, and who you may only be able to defeat by using a special item, much like the Unseeing Eye quest from Shadows of Amn.

Of course, enemies are more than just blocks of stats and abilities, and the AI in Siege of Dragonspear has also seen some good progress. I'd describe it as in between vanilla Baldur's Gate and the popular Sword Coast Stratagems mod. Thieves make use of invisibility and stealth to harass your squishiest party members (which won't always be your mage - the AI recognizes Stoneskin and other defensive buffs). Mages use their spells more judiciously and always buff themselves up with protective spells like Otiluke's Resilient Sphere and Minor Spell Turning. Archers in particular love to retarget, always on the lookout for an easier mark. Just about everyone uses consumables and even classic trash mob enemies like orcs and hobgoblins travel in larger numbers and have a few tricks up their sleeves.

Siege of Dragonspear's encounter design occasionally makes use of terrain. In one battle, poor Dynaheir was pelted by arrows fired through a broken window by a group of skeleton archers inside a locked room. Other highlights include an encounter with a squad of hobgoblins positioned on the other side of a bridge and an ambush in a dead magic zone. Unfortunately, battles like these are more the exception than the rule in Dragonspear. The expansion's more open areas tend to be stuffed with scores of filler trash mobs. [...]

I did not have high expectations for Siege of Dragonspear after my short playthrough of Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition. The new characters clashed mightily with the original game and Beamdog's original maps were atrocious. But now things are different. Simply put, the combat is what ultimately left me with a positive impression of the expansion. Sure, having played the original saga I've already seen most of these challenges in one way or another. Nonetheless, I feel that Beamdog have made good use of the wealth of assets built into the Infinity Engine games to deliver a solid experience.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear
 

oldmanpaco

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And so it begins.
 

Helly

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Fairfax

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The magical world outside the RPG Codex has always praised Baldur's Gate for its writing and memorable characters and disregarded everything else. I'm here to disagree with some of the reviews out there that insist that the Infinity Engine interface is archaic or that it's silly to expect people to learn their saving throws in 2016. It's sad that people are unable to appreciate the virtues of those classics - how reliable and powerful their controls feel, the sheer breadth of content that they have to offer. That's what I think this expansion is really about. It's a final farewell to that wonky, broken ruleset filled with personality. A farewell to facing off against everything the Monster Manuals can throw at you. A farewell to the greatest Monty Haul campaign ever. A whole era of game development has passed us by, and that's something that even crowdfunding can't bring back.

The story of a videogame is more than just an Irenicus voiced by David Warner or a Minsc and Boo. It's what you, the player, make of it. The Bhaalspawn Saga is about an adventurer of divine heritage surviving against all odds from one battle to the next. Much more than in any scripted dialogue sequence, you live through that narrative as you play the game. Because of that, the next time I play through the Baldur's Gate trilogy, I'll be sure to add a few hours more with Siege of Dragonspear.

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Shadenuat

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Mages use their spells more judiciously and always buff themselves up with protective spells like Otiluke's Resilient Sphere
*cough*
 
Weasel
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Bait could have potentially generated more butthurt by praising the changes to some of the characters from the "sexist BG" :shittydog:
 

pippin

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Drama for the Drama God!

There are some loud voices out there who will tell you that this is the great cultural war of our time. Here's a reality check. Nobody cares. Really. Gamergate is just a fun diversion for everybody except its most fanatical participants. Some of you may live on the Internet, but most of us just vacation there. If your life, your identity and future depend on whether a barebones broadcasting service can be used for civil discussion then you are not at the vanguard of human relations, you are at the bottom of it.

:salute:
 

Morkar Left

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Delterius
Pretty good review. Sounds reasonable and fair. Actually it seems to be one of the most favourable so far.
The addon actually seems to be what I expected. A lot of stumbling on the way but it seems to provide good encounter design.
The thing I missed was a mention of bugs. Didn't you find any and it was smooth experience?

When mentioning Steam and Beamdogs distribution service you should mention gog, too. At least it has a referral link on the page you did your review. And you could mention some problems with modding in the recent versions of Steam and gog, if it's still an issue (haven't checked for a while). And that there is a software solution provided by modders which seems to work.

P.S. Your avatar sucks
 

Delterius

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Pretty good review. Sounds reasonable and fair.
Thanks.
The thing I missed was a mention of bugs. Didn't you find any and it was smooth experience?

I played with the original patch, as per the release and was particularly wary of the 'map transitions reset the difficulty mode' bug that a lot of people reported. Because of this I generally played on Core Rules and changed to Insane if I felt that I was about to enter the map of a 'Boss' battle.

Aside from that I suffered from 3 seemingly random CTDs. One or two minor NPCs wouldn't talk to me even though the game wanted me to. But it wasn't much.

When mentioning Steam and Beamdogs distribution service you should mention gog, too. At least it has a referral link on the page you did your review.
That's on the Administration. Crooked Bee

And you could mention some problems with modding in the recent versions of Steam and gog, if it's still an issue (haven't checked for a while).
I didn't really play with any mods so I can't comment on that. Plus I wanted to review Dragonspear's content specifically, which is also why I didn't comment on general UI changes from the EEs or Beamdog original content for the old games.
 

Lacrymas

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Argent is an Aasimar trying to tear down the Wall of the Faithless? I don't know where I've heard that before -

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pippin

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Have Beamdog patched their BG2:EE game to have some connection?

Beamdog was asked how would they integrate companion stuff from SoD into BG2. They said it depended on SoD's success, so I guess it's pretty unlikely they are planning to make something to reflect the changes you make during SoD into BG2 at a somewhat large scale. I guess they can keep some levels and the inventory, but not much beyond that.
 

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