Friday, 14 August 2020

Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition (PC) - Part 2

Baldur's Gate 2 Shadows of Amn Enhanced Edition menu screen
Today on Super Adventures I'm just playing a bit more of Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn (Enhanced Edition). Well actually I'll be playing a lot more, but I wouldn't worry too much about spoilers as I'll just be skipping through all the interesting parts to whine about things that bother me.

I'm sorry I can't be as in-depth or insightful as the CRPG Addict, but it seems like he's going to take another decade or more to reach the 2000s, so why not read my words while you wait? I mean I'm assuming you've probably read part one already. If not you can get to it by clicking here: PART ONE.

Previously, in Baldur's Gate II:

The hero team from Baldur's Gate 1 and its expansions got captured by a wizard called Irenicus and two of them were murdered off screen! My Paladin, his childhood friend Imoen, and his buddies Minsc, Jaheria and Yoshimo managed to escape Irenicus' dungeon, but then things went bad. Irenicus was arrested by the Cowled Wizards for blowing several people up and they took Imoen as well! So 'get my childhood friend back' is now right at the top of my to-do list, along with 'figure out where I am' and 'do a bit of shopping'.

Oh plus I met some dryads held prisoner by Irenicus who need me to get their acorns to Windspear Hills to free them, so that's on the list too.

And now, the continuation:

Man, it's no wonder the Cowled Wizards got obliterated by Irenicus, their gear is terrible. There's nothing here worth taking, even to sell.

Turns out that I'm in the city of Athkatla in the region of Amn, south of Baldur's Gate. We're never going back north, so they should've called the game Athkatla: Shadows of Amn really. I've also learned that there's been a bit of a guild war going on between the Shadow Thieves and another group, and it seems like the thieves were the ones who raided Irenicus' base and inadvertently freed us.

So now I need to rescue Imoen from the Cowled Wizards, kick Irenicus' ass, and get these dryad acorns to Windspear Hills. First though I need to find a place to offload all this loot I've been dragging around with me.

I'll check out that tent down there.

This doesn't look like a shop.

Baldur's Gate was all trees, trees, houses, dungeons and trees, but I can't go anywhere in this sequel without taking the risk of falling into an alternate dimension or an elemental plane or something.

Upon entering the tent I was immediately given a riddle by a genie and I have no bloody clue how to solve it. Well algebra and a sheet of paper would probably help, but this puzzle is more for the kind of players who can be bothered to figure out what THAC0 means so I'm just going to take a guess. Actually, no, I'm going to assume it's a trick question and say they're both the same age.

I was wrong, they are not both the same age. Still, I got the second riddle right! Then I went inside, hit a few monsters and solved the quest.

I walked out with a new mage for the team called Aerie, so I'm back up to strength after losing Imoen. This has really worked out for me, as I can teach her all the spell scrolls I've been hoarding and clear up some space in my inventory.

(Incidentally THAC0 isn't all that much of a riddle. You take the attacker's THAC0, subtract the target's AC (armour class), and then roll a 20 sided dice. If the number rolled is equal or higher, then the target gets hit for full damage, if not then it's a complete fail. So ideally you want both numbers to be low. And ideally there'd be percentage on the enemy's heads when I aimed at them telling me my chance to hit, but the game doesn't do that).

(Also if you roll a 20 then you deal a critical hit, which always connects regardless of how low their AC is and doubles the damage).

(Not that I'm actually rolling any dice here, I just click the enemies and let the computer handle the rest).

Right, I've escaped the tent. Now then, where's the bloody shop?

Oh, seems like almost everything here's a shop: I'm in a marketplace. There's also a plane, an airship and a submarine here, which is cool. Good thing they were on the side that didn't get demolished by wizard fights. Not that anyone here would've given a damn, seeing as they're all just hanging around instead of running around in panic and digging survivors out of the debris.

I did have a chat to some of the NPCs, just to see if they'd even noticed really, and it seems like I can safely ignore most of them. Especially if they don't have an actual name.

There you go, a shop screen. That's what it looks like. Lots of great gear here but they're tens of thousands more than I can afford, so I'll leave them for now.

I was able to sell some loot at least, but those acorns are still taking up a valuable slot in my inventory. I need to get that sorted out, either by getting them to Windspear Hills, or by getting a bag of holding. Siege of Dragonspear gives you all kinds of bags for carrying arrows, potions, scrolls etc. to keep them from cluttering up your inventory, and I could really do with some of them right now.

Okay I'm going to get out of here, get to the world map, and start to make my way across the country to deliver these acorns.

Crap, there's nowhere to visit! I'm stuck here in Midgar/Taris/uh... the Citadel? Athkatla.

In Baldur's Gate 1 you can always gather your party and venture forth off the edge of the map you're on to add an icon for the next area along, you wander the landscape like it's Skyrim, but I haven't gotten anything marked on this map to visit yet aside from Athkatla. Well, except for the Watcher's Keep at the bottom, but that's only there when you have the Throne of Bhaal expansion installed and would utterly kick my level 9 ass if I tried to go inside now. I've heard there's some great loot to be grabbed on the first floor though...

I suppose I'll head to the slums and try to find work at the Copper Coronet pub like Jaheira's suggested. Might as well, seeing as it's the only place I can visit right now.

Along the way I was intercepted by a man that looks like Benedict Cumberbatch and sounds like a pigeon, as he starts every other sentence with a loud "Coo!"

He offered me a deal: if I give the Shadow Thieves 20,000 gold they'll help me rescue Imoen from the Cowled Wizards. That's almost enough to buy Dak'kon's Zerth Blade +2! It'd get me halfway to the price of the Plate of Balduran! So... might be a lot, might not be, I don't know.

The guy told me to go look for work at the Copper Coronet if I need money, so I'm really starting to get the impression that the game wants me to the Copper Coronet. Though I've gotten a lot of icons on my map for other places to visit now. I've gone from no freedom to more freedom than I know what to do with.


The good news is that I've got Windspear Hills marked on the map now, so I can finally go deliver those acorns.

But a Thief/Mage called Nalia ran up to me in the Copper Coronet to give me a mission to clear out her castle and she made it sound urgent, so I figured I should recruit her and get that done first. Well, after I've paid a visit to Watcher's Keep to get a gem bag and a potion case. (If there's one thing I've learned from playing through Baldur's Gate, it's that I can't live without my containers.)

With a new Thief in the party I don't need Yoshimo anymore, so I decided to drop him and get a Cleric instead (even if he does seem like a bit of a dick). Dropping characters was a real pain in Baldur's Gate 1, if you wanted to get them back again anyway, but in BG2 you can just tell them to wait in the Copper Coronet. It's a lot more like the system used in the later BioWare games, except they don't get XP outside of the party!

So here I am at Nalia's castle, De'Arnise Keep, fighting trolls. They aren't so bad if I can take them on individually, but I have to make sure to use fire or acid on them when they're down to keep them from just getting back up again. The boss turned out to be a real bastard though; I hate it when enemies have regenerating health, especially when it regenerates faster than I'm damaging them.

I got quite far the first time I played the game, I quit somewhere in the Underdark I think, and I remembered claiming this castle as my stronghold after I'd cleared it out. In fact I was looking forward to acquiring it this time as well. Unfortunately it turns out that only Fighters get the castle, and I'm a Paladin, so no castle for me. I'll have to find my stronghold elsewhere.

I finally got my first level up though! For reaching level 10 my THAC0 has been reduced by 1, I've gotten 3 extra hit points, and my lore's increased by 1. You can see why being overleveled a bit doesn't necessarily make that much difference. Though I was hoping my saving throws would go up again... or down, whichever's better. Can I scroll the text down a bit to see more stat increases? No? Okay then.

Every few level ups you get the option to put a single point to improve your proficiency at a certain type of weapon (of which there are many) and that's it for fighting types. But if you've got a Thief you can raise their thieving skills and certain magic users get to pick some new spells. You never get to improve your attributes through level ups though, and there's no skill trees or anything like that either. It makes levelling up feel a little underwhelming actually.

On the plus side, it means there's no trap options there to ruin your build as punishment for not learning the game! Well, until you break the original level cap and get to pick high-level Throne of Bhaal abilities every level up.

Well the good news is that I'm at the Windspear Hills so I can finally cross 'give the dryad's acorns to someone' off my list of things to do. The bad news is that the game pulled the 'the party of orcs you just killed were actually innocent people in disguise' trick on me and now I'm terrified of attacking anything.

I really hate it when games do that, because if I'm roleplaying anyone even slightly leaning towards decency this should be one of the most important events in the game that my character has to deal with, instead of a throwaway introduction to a quest. My character should be freaking out about this!

Anyway, I crept past the Orcs(?) with my rubbish dual-class Thief/Mage (she's rubbish at thieving anyway), delivered the acorns, and saved the dryads! But just coming here has dropped me into an kidnapping plot so now I need to rescue a kid... except I can't do that yet, because my asshole Cleric urgently needs to go back home to Athkatla all of a sudden.

So I went back to Athkatla for his thing, but every step I take on this map, someone runs up to me with a message! Valen warned me the that the Shadow Thieves are untrustworthy, the Amnian Soldiers were looking for someone suspicious, Aerie got a letter saying she's got a quest, Shadow Thieves guy wants me to drop by for a chat, Delon wants someone to go help his village, Madeen wants me to speak to the Cowled Wizards, Jan tried to sell me some merchandise...

It was funny at first, then it got annoying, then it wrapped back around to funny as I watched the NPCs having a scripted fight while I was stuck in an unrelated conversation. It's a good job I didn't stray a little to the left as I was walking down or I would've triggered the execution of another potential party member who's being burned due to being an evil witch. Which she undeniably is, it says so on her character sheet, but burning people is bad so I should sort that out too.

Uh, what was I even doing? Oh right, asshole Cleric quest, then Windspear Hills kidnapping, then whatever it is Minsc keeps pestering me about. The annoying thing is I don't know which quests actually do have a time limit, so I have to run around everywhere and avoid resting if possible.


Bloody hell this rescue quest is a pain sometimes. I realised this dungeon wasn't going to play entirely fair with me when it locked me in a room surrounded by archers sniping me through windows, but this isn't what I wanted to be woken up by when I try to get some sleep. Especially as I've got people still suffering from fatigue. I'm going to have to make a run for it and try to get in a position to take them out in small groups through a doorway or something.

You know what's really stressing me out though? My Mage/Thief constantly saying "I don't see how we're helping the needy trudging around in here," and my asshole Cleric interrupting the action to tell me we should stop wasting time and rescue this kid already. What the fuck does he think we're trying to do here? This is the 'rescue the needy kid' dungeon you absolute fucking idiots!

I did manage to rescue the kid in the end, but I had to leave the kidnapper alive. Partly because they're way too tough for my low level party of idiots, partly because you need him later for another (optional) quest... which of course a player wouldn't know if they hadn't played it before or read a walkthrough.


As I was getting on with those missions I'd gotten during my last visit to Athkatla I ended up exploring the sewers and stumbled across a Mind Flayer lair!

It's times like this I'm glad I read a guide during character creation that says you should really have at least 11 intelligence. Their melee attack temporarily takes 5 away with each hit and hitting 0 means death, so with 11 points you can at least survive the first two hits. Funnily enough, having 1 intelligence doesn't actually impede my hero one bit. Being confused by the Mind Flayer's long-range attack kinda does though.

I really get the impression that I was supposed to leave these guys until later, but when a game gives me an optional challenge I get stubborn sometimes, so I reconfigured my spell list to give a couple of characters immunity to mind control, summoned a few skeletons, and locked them in a room together. It took a lot of kiting to avoid their melee attacks, but I got them all in the end! And then the next room full of them. And the next room full of them.

Man, I don't like Mind Flayers. Still, I can't say the game's not giving me varied tactical challenges to deal with.


I'm going to have to continue the main quest and save Imoen sooner or later, but first I'm getting all the extra experience and gear I can. Characters only get experience when they're in the party (new recruits get a one-time XP boost), but I've decided to kick my obnoxious Cleric out of the party and use the free slot to bring in the other companions one at a time to get the extra experience (and loot) from their side quests. Mostly only the good or neutral ones, but I've decided to give evil Hexxat a try as well because I'm curious how she plays (and because she gives you a bag of holding).

She's one of the Enhanced Edition companions so this is all new content I'm playing through here. You can recruit Hexxat the moment you can visit the Copper Coronet so I'm sure that gave a lot of people the impression that her first quest would be possible for a team with basic gear. Nope, you need +2 weapons to hurt Mr Dragomir here apparently. Not that the game tells you why your attacks are failing. It's really bad at communicating what invulnerabilities, buffs and resistances you have to work around, so you either need to employ overwhelming power, trial and error, or a reference. Or maybe lower the difficulty, though I've never tried that.

New content means new writing, and I don't even have to tell you that it doesn't match the rest of the game because you can see for yourself.

For some reason when the hero hangs around with Hexxat (or Rasaad etc.) they suddenly become a Buffy the Vampire Slayer character, and it's not great.

I mean I've got nothing against Joss Whedon's writing, I loved playing as the ultra smart-assed version of Hawke in Dragon Age II, in I just want my choices to have some consistency!

The game is a little bit like Dragon Age II actually, with how you're based in a huge city and go off to visit a few outside areas to get quests done, but the difference is that this actually feels like a finished product. It's also considerably less dumb and gives you way more interesting toys to play with during fights.


Oh no, I split everyone up so I could clear the fog of war and get a nice screenshot of this weird sphere I found in the corner of the slums, but then poor Aerie got attacked by muggers! She's a powerful mage at this point so I figured she could handle them alone, and she probably could've if I had any sense. The game's real time, but it's all about thinking your way through problems instead of reflexes, and my tactics were weak. It's okay, I loaded one of my quicksaves, went over there with a full team... and then had Aerie kill them solo with Web, Cloudkill and Fireballs.

I love being able to zoom out like this by the way. That's another new feature to add to the list of reasons why the Enhanced Edition is worth getting. Plus 'being able to scroll the camera diagonally', that's also good.

Anyway, there's a giant sphere in the slums! I appreciate how the game's very traditional when it comes to its fantasy towns, so the weirdness stands out more.


Right, I'm finally solving the crisis that Minsc has been bothering me about. A town's been having monster problems, so I'm going down into a dark dungeon to fight the shadows at their source. This mostly means hacking through groups of bad things, but every now and again it'll throw a puzzle at me like this.

That's usually my cue to lose patience and check a walkthrough so I can get back to the part I enjoy, but I actually know the answer to this one! I'm genuinely surprised because it involves remembering a name I heard a while back, and spelling it correctly, and I'm bad at that. I mean the reason I wrote 'asshole Cleric' all those times is because I forgot Anomen's name and how spell it. He is an asshole though.

Hey there's a bloody huge dragon down here! That's one of the differences between this and Baldur's Gate 1: it's got enemies more fierce and interesting than hungry wolves in it. This is mid-level D&D now so liches, beholders, dragons etc. are all coming out to play.

This particular dragon is optional, most of them are I think, but I figured I'd give it a go while I'm here. Now my hero is confused, Minsc is nearly dead, and I'm running low on spiders. I've been sending out summoned creatures to grab his attention while I plink away at him with my puny weapons and it's working about as well as I expected it to.

Summons are surprisingly handy in this though, and I should probably use them more often. Plus my Druid can keep summoning bears until she's got a full strike force and then turn into a bear herself to lead them, and I don't really understand why I haven't tried that yet. 


Okay, I've finished with Anomen, Keldorn, Hexxat and Valygar, and I've rescued Mazzy so I can do her quest later. That just leaves Jan, Neera and Rasaad. But screw Neera, Wild Mages are too dangerous and expensive, so I'm finishing off Rasaad's quest.

Well, I'm trying to anyway. I'm starting to think I should put my character's full AI scripts back on and let them handle this crowd because I can't see a bloody thing right now. I can switch off the names, which helps, but I could really do with a way to see what my targets are and who's targeting me.


I have to wait a while before Jan and Mazzy's quests will trigger so I've decided to hang around with Neera and do her Wild Mages questline after all, even though I hate Wild Mages! I have to check my money every time I want to save when she's around because she's got the power to accidentally make most of it disappear without me realising. In fact I think every mage does in this place, with its swirly areas of magic miscasting.

But I really wanted to get Jan and Mazzy done before handing the cash over to the Shadow Thieves and moving on with the plot, so I took the chance and helped her camp out. There's a few people here offering small quests and one of them wanted me to go collect all his cats from the forest. So I had to run around with my boots of speed looking for a cat, then race back to the edge of the level to get back to the world map and back here before they escaped from my pack. Eight times. I don't know what the worst part of the game was before the Enhanced Edition, but I think now it's probably this.

Worst part is that I miscounted somehow, so I spent ages looking for a ninth cat that wasn't there. The quest reward: a cat collar with a bell that deafens people. I didn't even know there was a 'deaf' status effect!

The game really loves its status effects and it benefits me to really stack them onto my characters before a tough fight. Or any fight that's going to inflict something bad on me really. Trouble is buffing up characters is boring. Click the spell button, scroll through to the right spell, then click on the character who needs Negative Plane Protection to fight the vampires without being drained, or Chaotic Commands to fight the Mind Flayers etc. Repeat. Of course you also have to strip enemies of their defences...

I think this is why I lost interest in the game the last time I played it, but to be honest this time it hasn't been so bad. I think that's partly because the new AI system has them all casting sensible buffs by themselves if you want them to, and partly because I'm playing as an Inquisitor with the power to dispel all enemy protections with one move! It also dispels all my team's buffs too, but hey that's why you've got to be smart with it.


Seems like I've jumped ahead a bit here, going from Chapter 2 to Chapter 5, but the way the game's structured you can drag out Chapter 2 for ages by getting most of the sidequests done, and then fly through the next few chapters.

I don't plan to spoil the whole game here, I just wanted to show this place off because it looks cool. It's got a bit of a HR Giger feel to it; it's like I've wandered into Dark Seed by mistake.

Also look, I finally got Imoen back! She's way underleveled compared to the rest of my team because I took so long, but it's fine. In fact I'm right in the heart of the Mind Flayers' lair right now, and this time my crew is really wiping the floor with the poor bastards. All those tiny +1s I've gotten on level up have been adding up to make the dice rolls go in my favour. Saving throws are my super power.

I kind of assumed I'd be fighting to save the world or something after I saved Imoen, but nope, not really. The stakes are still just as personal, and I'm very much acting in my own self-interest.

Here's another pretty location full of optional quests I couldn't access in Chapter 2. There's some nice variety in architecture in the game, though it's really becoming obvious now how much it loves its circular areas connected by bridges/tunnels.

The trouble with areas like this is that you have to go through them over and over again as you go off to complete a job, then come back to report your success, and all you can do is watch your little dudes walk. A lot of the game's epic playtime is spent waiting for your heroes to cross a perfectly safe stretch of map you've thoroughly explored hours ago, and it doesn't improve the experience any. I'm really starting to miss Pillars of Eternity's speed up button.

In fact I often alt-tab out and do some reading while I wait.

Sorcerer's Place has been a big help.
I'm usually reading a walkthrough, because they're better at giving directions than my journal is and it takes even longer to get to the next quest when you don't know where the bloody quest giver's disappeared to now.

You know, I think this must be the furthest I've ever gotten in the game. I'm not entirely sure why I stopped playing the first time, but I feel like 'it's really bloody long' might be one of the reasons. That plus having to cast buffs all the time. I've got no plans to quit this time though, I'm sticking with this until the end! Or until I reach a fight I can't win.

Fortunately these days I have wikis to tell me what weapons I should acquire and hold onto without spoiling the whole thing for me. For instance this blade has been helpful:

The Holy Avenger: Carsomyr +5 description
One thing that's interesting about the game is that you're accumulating famous treasures as you go, and they're not necessarily going to be rendered obsolete by something you find later. Sure there's a general improvement in gear as you make progress, but my Carsomyr +5 blade isn't getting replaced any time soon, my Ring of Gaxx should last me to the end of Throne of Bhaal, and my fire resistant armour is pretty damn good too.

Sadly a lot of the amazing loot I've been picking up in the Underdark is considerably more temporary due to its tendency to disintegrate in sunlight. It's an actual tragedy.


I've reached Chapter 6, so this is all entirely new to me now!

Though there's nothing unusual about running into a character who showed up in Baldur's Gate 1 and getting the "Hello old friend!" "I have no idea who you are." "Didn't I kill you?" set of dialogue choices. The game only imports your character from Baldur's Gate, not your choices, so you have to tell it what you did.

I actually never ran into Drizzt in the last game, though I do know he's a famous character from the novels. I also heard his name spoken once, so I know it's pronounced more like 'Driz-zit' than 'Drizzzzzzt'.


There's a nice pretty combination of spell effects for you. Two of my mages are also firing fireballs, but you can't really see that. Fortunately my 100% poison resistance means I'm unaffected by Cloudkill and my fire resistance is epic, so I'm doing fine just standing there in the middle of it.

I've reached the end of the game by the way! Well okay it's not exactly here, I'm still a few minutes away, but I'm basically there. All I have to do is figure out how to put three objects onto a statue and the door to the main boss is open. Trouble is I can't find the right statue, and I'm not sure I've got the right objects, and I'm kind of stuck. I've searched every building twice and I don't know what it wants from me! The game really needs clear directions or a quest marker, or even just a dot on the map.

Incidentally look, it's all circles and walkways again!

Right, the walkthrough says that one of the buildings has some furniture I can interact with, and I need to do something there to get the final item. I completely missed it because interactive objects aren't highlighted. But once the door's open and the boss is defeated that's it, I'm finally done with it! I will have finally beaten Baldur's Gate II!

And that's it! My epic saga stretching across multiple games and expansion packs has finally reached its end. It took me two decades, but I'm finally done with it.

Oh right, I still have to play through all of Throne of Bhaal don't I? Well, okay then...


Baldur's Gate II is a bloody long game, and even bloody longer if you play the expansion pack that's included these days. It's incompatible with 24 hour time, or my attention span anyway, as you need to invent extra hours if you want to get it all done within, say, a fortnight. That said, I actually managed to finish it! In fact I played the entire Bhaalspawn saga, from Baldur's Gate 1, through Tales of the Sword Coast, Siege of Dragonspear and Shadows of Amn, all the way to the end credits of Throne of Bhaal, and I'm genuinely surprised I made it through. I thought I was just throwing my money away like an idiot when I bought them all!

Part of the reason that the game's so long is all the reading you have to do... while you're waiting for the characters to walk across a bloody map for the 15th time. I mean you can do what you want while you wait, but I found it gave me a chance to hit the wikis and walkthroughs and do some research. Either way, you'll be doing a significant amount of reading if you want to know what all the spells do and where to go, and there's also a story in there as well! It's not the absolute most well written story in video games, (and I'm not just comparing it to modern games like Disco Elysium, as Planescape: Torment came out the year before it) but it feels right for what it is. It's definitely better than Baldur's Gate 1's writing, and the characters you drag around with you have a lot more to say... though you'll know right away when you've entered the Enhanced Edition content as the dialogue suddenly gets 82% quippier. They even have romances now, if you play the game for enough real-time hours to get all the lines of dialogue to trigger (I somehow didn't). Unfortunately BioWare were still working their 'sword & sorcery and conversation' formula out and this isn't their greatest cast. They tend to have their gimmick and repeat the same thing until you're sick of them: Aerie's sad because she's lost her wings, Jaheira's conflicted over her duty, Minsc has a hamster, and it feels like this is all you'll ever hear about from them. Funnily enough it's not a 'save the world' story though, and you're often doing things to help yourself or the people close to you.

Along with the reading you also have to do a lot of remembering, as the amount of tools and abilities available to you in combat is somewhere between ridiculous and insane. There's almost 200 different spells, plus you've got class abilities, item abilities, potions, ammo types, scrolls etc. I ended up with pages of notes on weapon damage calculations, spells I should try, gems I wanted to hang on to, weapons my people could equip (and also sketches of spaceships, but that's not entirely relevant). In retrospect I really should've written down what to do to counter specific enemy spells and protections as well, not that it's always obvious what protections an enemy has. One of the game's biggest frustrations is that despite the combat log it doesn't really tell you why your attacks aren't working.

This lack of crucial information, combined with the game's wildly unbalanced nature, limited level scaling and ridiculous scope, means the difficulty curve is more of a difficulty slide with occasional vicious difficulty spikes. For me, someone who didn't look up what 'THAC0' and 'Speed Factor' meant until hundreds of hours in, I was generally scraping through battles in Normal mode until I hit a seemingly impassible roadblock and all hope was lost... until I changed my tactics and utterly clowned on them. And to be honest I haven't even played around with the potentially overpowered tactics you can pull off using things like the Misdirect spell, backstabbing or traps yet. This toy box full of mayhem is one of the game's biggest selling points I think, as there's room for a lot of creativity and ingenuity in your carnage, and systems mastery is greatly rewarded. In BG2 wizards are king, so I suppose it's fitting that you have to spend hours of your own time studying the arcane rules in order to find the loopholes and learn how to bend reality to your whims.

Every time I read a little more about how the game works I learn something new... which is why I started playing it to begin with to be honest. I'd see someone talking about the game in a forum and I'd get pulled down a rabbit hole of stats and strategies that somehow made me more eager to give it another go myself. Fortunately, despite being a sequel, it throws you in a fair distance from the deep end so you don't have to face the full complexity of it right away. As long as you get your numbers set right during character creation there's not much you can do to wreck your character build afterwards and you can have fun with just playing the game.

Baldur's Gate (PC)
You'll get a gentler introduction to the vast array of tools at your disposal if you play through the original Baldur's Gate first, but that'll kick your ass just the same with its low level combat, so I'm not sure I'd necessarily recommend it. You can get through this fine with a brand new character. I definitely don't regret going back to the first game myself though, as even though BG2 is very much its own story (in a similar way to Mass Effect 2), playing through the whole saga and seeing my hero grow from an idiot who struggled to kill wolves to an idiot who struggled to kill dragons was great. And to be honest I didn't hate trying to kite spiders while pelting them with arrows in the first game.

I know a lot of people dislike real-time-with-pause gameplay (even Baldur's Gate III is going turn based), and it can be chaotic for sure, but it's also a lot faster, and a lot more compatible with magic that takes 3 turns to cast. Plus it means you never get tired of watching a spell effect for the 50th+ time, because it's not holding you up. And you will likely be watching spells firing off all the damn time in this even if you try not to rest too often, as it's reasonably generous with how many you can carry around in your mages' brains. I figured I'd have to be conserving them, but nope.

Baldur's Gate II is clearly built on lessons learned from the first game, but is it the best Western RPG of the 2000s? Well, it's up against Deus Ex, Morrowind, Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, Fallout 3 and Dragon Age: Origins, so I'd hesitate to say yes... but it was definitely the best Western RPG of its time, and its time was the late 90s, never mind what its release date actually was. It wasn't the last Infinity Engine game (that'd be Icewind Dale II), but it feels like the epic conclusion to the era of 2D RPGs.

I'm really glad that Beamdog modernised it a bit though, as even though the Enhanced Edition upgrades are subtle, I really missed them when I went back to try the original version. Just being able to pick up items without clicking on every bloody corpse makes a huge difference, as item management's a pain in the ass as it is. It's a different kind of overhaul to the LucasArts remasters I've played as they've eliminated frustrations and added content instead of redoing the sound and graphics, but there's plenty of options to let you disable enhancements you're not keen on. In fact the only real downside for me is that I've been spoiled now, and I'll have to buy the Enhanced Editions of Planescape: Torment and Icewind Dale if I ever want to try them again. I've bought the original versions of both of them twice already, it's ridiculous!

I wish I could say that Baldur's Gate II held my attention until the end, but to be honest I did take a few breaks... so I could restart with different character types and try different choices. Then after finishing Throne of Bhaal I started BGII up again so I could play an evil Sorcerer who hangs around with the bad people and says the mean lines... well, sometimes (being evil is a struggle for me). I doubt I'll finish the whole thing again however. It's built for replays but it's just too bloody long!

Still great though. Good enough to win a prize at least:

But then it's Baldur's Gate II, so I'm not telling you anything you don't already know.

Thanks for reading my words! Reading is so much better than not reading.

But before you go I've got two questions for you: Do you know what my next game's going to be? And what do you think about Baldur's Gate II? Actually here's a third question, have you checked out the Super Adventures Discord yet? It's like a comments section except faster.


  1. I loved BGII when I played it back in 2002ish. I seem to remember breaking the level cap and finishing around level 30, at which point enemies were exploding when I hit them.

    Wild guess: the next game is Rage Racer.

    1. The next game is not Rage Racer, or any other kind of racer (though it did make me rage sometimes).

    2. Oh! It's Metal Gear Solid 3. I thought you'd already done that one, but apparently not.

    3. Yeah, it's Snake Eater. Your reputation for game recognition has been restored.

  2. That was an awesome read! I used to read the hell out of some RA Salvatore when I was younger and it’s always cool to see Drizzt in a game.

    Also I think we’d all like to see one of those spaceship sketches.


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