Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Dealing with backlog: Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition

I think I bought this game in a sale back in 2013. Already back then I had been recommended this game several times only because I like Dragon Age. I was a little wary of it, though, because it's old I was expecting it to be very hard. So when I did start playing it I did it on the easiest difficulty, which also accidentally meant my party was incapable of dying.
It took a little while to really get into it. The pixelated graphics made me feel somewhat distanced from my party and the NPCs, and it wasn't really until I reached chapter 2 and had finished up in the Nashkel Mines that I started to get involved. That's when I found my favourite party: Rasaad, Neera, Dorn, Jaheira and Khalid (Jaheira and Khalid were interchangable to me, though, and it often meant that I switched them for someone else when a quest came up). Especially Dorn. I started out as a good character, I got Heroic reputation. But when I reached 20 in reputation Dorn left me and that made me sad so I killed a guy, lost half my reputation and got Dorn back. But then I screwed up. At the end of chapter 4 when I fought my way through the bandit's mine in the Cloakwood I decided to follow it up by flooding it. Except I forgot to talk to one guy and all the slaves got drowned alongside the bandits. Which meant I lost even more reputation.  After that I went frantically looking for side quests that gave me reputation points so Rasaad and Neera wouldn't leave my party. But after chapter 5 there are no more side quests and I didn't quite manage to get it all the way up there. After chapter 6 you become a fugitive from justice and all the city guards are after you and will kill you on-sight, but killing them back results in loss of reputation. I ran all the way through the city to get to their stronghold where I could reportedly kill them without penalty, but one or two of the guards from outside followed me inside during the battle which resulted in reputation drop and Rasaad left me. Neera too, but she could be persuaded to come back. So there we go towards the final battle with a severly decimated party. I think I died twice in the final battle, but since my party couldn't die their health just regenerated from 1 to 10 every time. The final boss battle had one flaw though. If I could keep my spellcaster casting protection spells on my party and the rest of my party focused on bashing the head in on Sarevok the battle was done quickly. As soon as he died his accomplices disappeared and the battle was over. Ignore the adds, nuke the boss.
After I first talked to Rasaad I decided to romance him, but then I talked to Dorn and he was even more awesome so I decided to romance him instead. Unfortunately, there are no guides around for the romances and the advice offered by other players I had already followed without knowing. When chapter 6 reached its end and I still hadn't progressed anywhere with Dorn I realised that I wouldn't on this playthrough. I don't know why. I completed his quest, I said all the right things to him, and yet nothing.
The story felt epic, although by the end there were a lot of loose ends, which I belive will be tied up in the second game.
So the story. It's divided into 7 chapters + prologue. The prologue shows your character as the ward of Gorion in a place called Candlekeep. Then something big happens, something that your character is involved with without knowing, something to do with his/her birth. Chapter 1 starts with you all alone, but you're soon joined by your friend Imoen. Together you go to the Friendly Arm Inn to meet up with friends of Gorion, and you hear about the iron shortage and the increased rate of bandits on the road. On the way you meet up with Montaron and Xzar who want to go to Nashkel. Jaheira and Khalid, Gorion's friends, also want to go to Nashkel so off we go there. When you get to Nashkel chapter 2 starts. Chapter 2 ends when you stop whatever is going on in the Nashkel Mines and find evidence to what's behind the strangeness there. Chapter 3 is all about trying to infiltrate the bandit camp. You can do that in either Larswood or Peldvale. Doing it successfully will cutscene you to the bandit camp. You make your way through the bandit camp and then you loot the leader's office, which tells you there's a larger mine in the Cloakwood, which is now the only source of non-contaminated iron. Chapter 4 is all about exploring the Cloakwood and trying to find the mine. When you find it, go through it until you find the boss and kill him, loot him, and (optional) flood the mines. When the boss is dead chapter 5 will begin, and now you get to go to the big city of Baldur's Gate. In the city you follow through with the investigation you're tasked with and you'll find out that the leaders of the whole conspiracy are located at (you guessed it) Candlekeep. Chapter 6 starts when you get to Candlekeep and there are some nice reunions all around with your character and the NPCs he/she grew up with. When you kill the leaders you'll be immediately arrested and thrown into jail. Another denizen of the jail helps you escape through the caves under Candlekeep. The caves are deep and winding and a lot of things will be revealed to you there, most of it kind of heart-wrenching. When you get out chapter 7 will begin. Time to go back to Baldur's Gate and collect evidence. You're once again arrested. Once you escape from jail you'll have to save the Duke by taking him halfway across town, and continue all around town all the while the city guard is trying to kill you. After you have collected the evidence you have to obtain an invitation to the Ducal Palace, because the bad guy is going to be crowned the new Duke! You get there and fight the bad guy (preferably without harming any of the nobles gathered there). The bad guy is teleported away and you have to chase after him through a maze of tunnels. The tunnels end under the city, which is where the old city of Baldur's Gate is. The bad guy is located at the Temple of Bhaal and attempting to wake the old god to make himself a god. Fighting ensues and if you come out victorious the game is over.
That's the main quest. Throughout the main quest you'll pick up innumerable sidequests and companion quests. There are about 20 different companions in BG, some of them won't group with a character with heroic reputation (18 and over), and others won't group with a character with despised reputation (7 and lower). If a companion breaks with the party due to reputation you won't be able to find that companion in the game again.
And that's another thing. Remembering where you switched companions. Because when you pick up someone new and someone else has to leave the party they don't go back to where you found them. Instead they stay where you left them and so you have to remember where you left them if you want to pick them up again.
I really enjoyed this game and I can't wait to continue the story with Siege of the Dragonspear DLC and Baldur's Gate 2.

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What's the first thought in your head after reading this? Let me know!