Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition Twitter Commentary, Part 6
By Dwip January 16, 2013, 11:13 pm Comments (2) RSS Feed for this post

This is part 6 of my expanded Twitter commentary on Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition. You can find the master list of all parts here.

If you’re just tuning in, there are spoilers below the fold. Go play the game, then come back here.

Did I mention these guys were my (soul and) inspiration for my main character? Thus, it was destined that we would eventually come into conflict about who, precisely, the better dart thrower was.

That would be me.

All joking about xvarts aside, the xvart village is one of my favorite parts of the game, just because it offers a glimpse at your monstrous opponents being something other than random encounters. It also paints you, the hero, in a somewhat less than heroic light. As Nexlit points out, you’re about to slaughter a whole village of beings who weren’t doing much to you before you went and attacked them (well, they were already hostile, but he’s got a point).

The idea that’s being tried here is something I’ve kept in mind when I’ve run D&D games over the years, and the “party interacts with a village of otherwise dangerous humanoids” idea generally seems to work very well as a roleplaying opportunity.

Also, getting in a running fight with 36 xvarts is pretty cool.

There are a hell of a lot of bow-wielding enemies in Baldur’s Gate. Leaving aside random adventurers and hobgoblins, your main enemies for two entire chapters – kobolds and bandits – carry 20 arrows each, and there are tons of them. You’ll end up buying arrows later in the game a few times, but unlike all the other ammo types arrows are basically self-replenishing.

Crossbow bolts, darts, and sling bullets have no such luck. Stock up.

As the tweeting and blog posting might indicate.

I think I’ve already said my piece on how overly railroaded modern games are, but if this was Dragon Age you’d probably get a single bridge, and there would be a cutscene.

And it really was fun running into all sorts of things I had totally forgotten about. Some of these areas I hadn’t seen in 7 or 8 years.

Yeah, level scaling. I mean, after how ever many years of Oblivion, I don’t think I need to go too deep into this discussion, but one of the first things any gamemaster’s guide worth the paper is going to tell you is how you should scatter encounters of varying difficulty around. We sort of went through a fad around 2006 where everything got infinitely level scaled, but we seem to have learned our collective lesson on that one.

This being the 90s, however, all the xvarts are precisely the same – easy.

This should feel pretty similar to this to you, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. It’s a pretty cool idea for a dungeon.

Probably because I’ve actually been to somewhere exactly like the gnoll fortress (if tourists could be said to be gnolls), this has always been one of my favorite areas in the game.

And yeah, insofar as Dynahier is usually my mage, and I usually get her and Minsc almost first thing, I’m usually woefully underleveled for this area. It’s pretty exciting when you do it that way. With the amount of gear I rolled in with in this playthrough, it was almost trivial.

Note to people reading this in the future: Yes, we had a whole conversation on this subject. No, I really can’t make out the shades of blue, AT ALL, even a little bit.

There are a number of times when Baldur’s Gate is slightly too sparse with its dialogue options, and this guy is one of them – every time you go to Nashkel to shop, it’s nothing but wolf pelts this, wolf pelts that, and if he wasn’t giving me a lot of cash for each pelt I’d be pretty annoyed by it.

I’m not well-versed enough in how the Infinity Engine works to recall if this was a technical issue not present in BG2, but I remember a whole lot less of it in the second game.

Actually I breezed through this fight rather unexpectedly, but if you’re not really prepared for it, the doomsayer will wreck you pretty badly. If you’re well-versed in Forgotten Realms lore like me and know that Kozah is actually another name for Talos the Stormlord, you should pretty much know you’re in for some bad times no matter what.

Also, as a history major, I love the whole archaeology trope in fantasy games. It amuses me.

It turns out that the Drizzt and gnolls encounter is currently bugged, and he won’t help you fight them. Which means you fight many gnolls, pointlessly.

And, well, look. While I understand that the writers were trying to tie Baldur’s Gate in with the popular Realms figures of the day (see also: Elminster, Cadderly), and hell, I’m as much a Drizzt fan as the next guy (the early books moreso than the late books, and the Cadderly books. Avoid the Elminster stuff like the plague though), I’ve always hated the cameos in BG1, which feel pretty much like cameos for the sake of having cameos rather than anything worthwhile. We’re still in the 90s, prior to the whole “Drizzt solos like, a thousand orcs” thing, but come on, he should be able to take these gnolls without breaking a sweat.

Similarly, I’ve always been about as puzzled as my character as WTF was going on with the Elminster cameos. They LOOK like a big deal, but nothing ever comes of them.

And yeah, I never killed Drizzt for his gear, either. I know, I know.

This all worked, like most things, a lot better in BG2, is all I’m saying.

Really, the comedic potential for xvarts is endless. Xvaaaaaaaaaaaart.

Too, anything that reminds me of that one Far Side that’s captioned something like “Ma, get me the shotgun, the aliens are after the chickens again!” is of value.

“Let’s have an area filled with basilisks that you can fight with a talking ghoul!”

“Great idea!”

And it is. Basilisks are pretty rough enemies, and are pretty exciting even when you can summon undead to take care of them. Also, Korax is hilarious.

They’re also worth a fair amount of experience, which turns out to be relevent when you dual Imoen to mage at level 5. This is apparently one of those things that everybody does (and indeed, BG2 assumes you have), but I don’t usually do it very much, meeting my magic user needs elsewhere. I decided to in this playthrough, and it was pretty rough going for a while – Imoen couldn’t use her thieving abilities, Safana was pretty much a paperweight, and there were long stretches where I actually used Branwen as a scout using the find traps spell.

Ultimately, this paid off pretty well, and Imoen became one of my more powerful characters (having Imoen + Neera was nice), but it’s an idea that works a lot better in BG2, I think, because not having a scout can be utterly crippling.

That said, having a backup thief who wasn’t useless would have really helped here.

Computer Games - Baldur's Gate Series, Gamecraft Comments (2) Trackback URL for this post RSS Feed for this post
Comments on Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition Twitter Commentary, Part 6
avatar Comment by Samson #1
January 17, 2013 at 2:16 am

So you did install the patches then. My run through the gnoll fort had maybe 10 of them. In all. On the entire map. You appear to have that and then some in ONE fight. Yep, they had a spawning bug there. Strange, because the original game had no such issue.

Also the Xvart village. You got all 36 as expected. I got just the leader and nothing else.

And for the record, I hated that they dual classed Imoen. I always left her as a pure thief, and BG2 ruined everything for me.

avatar Comment by Dwip #2
January 17, 2013 at 2:29 am

I’m pretty meticulous about patching, and the last one fixed a bunch of stuff.

It’s not that I mind that they dualed Imoen, so much as they fucked over all the thieves to do it. Also that it meant that your other thief choices were either terribad or Yoshimo, and as much as I like Yoshimo, well. Your mage choices are also sort of like that except that Aerie’s actually cool.

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