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Default Baldur's Gate: EE impressions

December 3rd, 2012, 11:11
I assume that everyone who reads this has already played the original BG, so I'm not going to describe basic gameplay and what not.

I did not yet play all the new content, as I intend to play through BG1 three times in rapid succession where I try out some of it each time. There's a reason for that: The three new characters all come with a unique questline, but squishing them all into the same party would cause certain problems:
- Their alignments are completely off.
- They would create a somewhat poor party composition, or at the very least force you to use all six character slots to form a basic party.
- There seems to be bugs related to combining the new NPCs. I've read several threads over on the official forums where one or more of the new questlines simply stop, and I suspect it has to do with dialogue scenes appearing in the same place/time for the new NPCs.

Anyway, I brought along Rasaad (the monk) and will bring the wild mage the next time. I also tried out Dorn (blackguard) a bit just for the sake of it. So far, I really like both Dorn and Rasaad, and feel they fit very well in the setting. They also come with decent questlines, which is well worth doing. Not a big fan of the wild mage yet (I've already started my 2nd character), but that could change. She seems like a bad combination of Mission (KotOR) and Aerie (BG2).

My party this time around was fairly weak:
- Main char (Cleric/Mage multiclass)
- Imoen
- Rasaad
- Khalid
- Jaheira

I always go with 5 people as it's easier to cap XP that way. That hasn't really changed - the new quest areas do not reward enough additional XP to make a big impact on the amount of XP you get, and the XP cap has not been altered.

As you can probably see, the party above is.. well, rubbish to be honest. Still, I recommend changing the setting from "normal" to "core", which is always the setting I use in D&D games. It offers the true D&D rules.

At any rate, going with such a weak party is not recommended. Rasaad is one crap fighter. Monks generally get more powerful at level 12+, so in BG1 they're borderline useless. I hope (and assume) Rasaad will re-appear in the BG2: EE, because his character and story is more than interesting enough. He'll be more at home there. As it is, he can't even touch the toughest enemies in BG1, because they're all immune to normal weapons, and his fists don't get +1 until level 9. He *can* use a sword, but he'll be sitting at 1 attack per round which means he's hitting like a wet noodle.

Normally, this would not be an issue, but BG: EE is *not* BG1 + Tutu. They've not only added voices to a lot more NPCs and fixed the interface/resolution, they've also fixed a bunch of other issues that BG1 had. Examples: Summoning is now limited to 5 creatures, Drizzt is no longer easy to confuse so he'll pretty much tear your party apart in seconds and so on and so forth. Bottom line: BG: EE is actually harder than BG1.

From a technical point of view, it runs pretty smooth on all my PCs (tried on 3 out of 4), but I have heard of people experiencing various issues. I have experienced a few issues though that I really feel they should fix:
- Unresponsive mouse: From time to time, the mouse will act strangely. Sometimes it refuses to allow dragging to select the party. At other times it will require several clicks to actually perform the action you want the selected party member to perform.
- Journal: All in all it works out fairly well, but there's a whole bunch of quests that doesn't complete right, so you end up with a bloated journal that is hard to keep track of.
- Broken quests: I've only experienced one, the geas/curse quest in Baldur's Gate, but I know there are more. Most, if not all, seem related to the new characters. I suspect the geas quest is related to Rasaad and his quest.
- Put in an option to enable old movies: Some of the new cinematics are decent enough, and they do scale much better on higher resolutions, but a bit too many are simply missing. Also, if they're going with this style in BG2: EE they're going to have a serious problem, as the cinematics there are far more advanced.

And that's about it. Beyond that, it's overall a better experience than the original by quite a margin. Unlike BG Tutu, which grants it the rules of BG2, it now feels like it has the same polish and quality as BG2. It's a surprisingly big boost to be honest.

There are two things I have yet to try:
- The Black Pits: Is the only way to access this the main menu? If so, I'll have to give it a whirl later on.
- Import to BG2: I hope this feature works before BG2: EE is released, but I haven't tried it yet.

Anyway, what are your impressions? I assume many here are playing it by now, so it should be interesting to see if our opinions different and by how much.
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