Okay so in the interest of full disclosure I have never played Dungeons and Dragons before. I have also never played a Baldur’s Gate game. With that being said, playing Baldur’s Gate 2: Enhanced Edition makes absolutely no god damned sense. It’s pretty much an exercise in confusion and frustration.
Beginning a game by creating a character offers a ton of options with classes and aliments. Far too many options, I really have no idea why this game expects me to know a complex rule structure. I created a thief that seemed to be completely worthless so I went back and made different character. They also kept dying so I just went with a prefabricated one.
The game starts with you imprisoned in a dungeon and being tortured. Why is this happening? Who are these other adventurers? Those are good questions of which I cannot provide the answer. If I had played the first game perhaps I would give a shit, but for someone who is going in blind, this is not a good beginning.
The combat is also a complete mess. I don’t know if this version is more difficult than the original but I was unaware that RPG’s featured character’s standing there and constantly missing attacks on an enemy. There are plenty of encounters that boiled down to clicking on an opponent and just watching everyone miss each other for what felt like minutes. Trying to look through the stats of your character doesn’t mean anything to if you’re not familiar with the rule set. Why does the armor number go down? What the fuck does THACO mean?
Also, how the hell does magic work? I eventually figured out resting gives you your spells back, but it took far too long. This is just another instance of the game assuming that the player is coming into the game with prior knowledge. Another small complaint, the start screen gives you three options and at first I jumped into the expansion because it was the center option. I then died from the first enemy a few times and had to look up what game I was playing. The writing is pretty good, though.
As for the “Enhanced Edition” part, this is the same as anyone familiar with the first game’s rerelease. It cleans up the interface, ups the resolution, makes it run on modern computers, and adds paid DLC characters. It also includes the expansion Throne of Bhaal and a combat focused arena mode. The multiplayer is also cross-play and has a better interface for getting into a game.
I know that Baldur’s Gate 2 is an incredibly well-loved game. I get that. I love the original X-Com, but I understand that if some walked into that these days (even an updated version that was cleaned up) it would be very hard to enjoy. This is more of a warning to people that have no experience with Baldur’s Gate 2. If you have not played this before, perhaps you should check out the first one. Maybe importing a character and knowing the rules and world a bit would have alleviated many of my frustrations, but as it stands, I don’t see the appeal.
Baldur’s Gate 2: Enhanced Edition was developed by Overhaul Games and released November 15th for $24.99. It is being published by Atari. The original Baldur’s Gate 2 was developed by Bioware and is available through GOG for $9.99.
[+ Looks really nice] [+ Good writing] [- Assumes too much prior knowledge of the game, rules, and world] [- Combat is boring and confusing]