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What's so great about Baldur's Gate 2?
I recently completed this game, having purchased the complete edition through GOG several months ago based on many recommendations and general good will. After several hours in, I began keeping a list of the things that just really did not sit well with me during gameplay. I wouldn't normally make a thread like this, but considering the game's apparent reputation, I just need to know: beyond the proclamations like genre-redefining and that sort of thing, what specifically makes this game so revered?
First, a little bit about my game: Main Character (Kensai), Minsc (archer mostly, melee sometimes), Aerie, Jaheira (tank), Keldorn, and Yoshimo-->Imoen. I did not install any mods.
To follow is my stream-of-consciousness list of complaints I had during gameplay:
- Due to general confusion and lack of transparency, every single play session was riddled with problems causing me to constantly check the internet (sometimes a walkthrough, sometimes an FAQ, sometimes a forum thread)
- Generally inscrutable rules. Fans indicate you are expected to know DnD rules. Well, I don't, so forget that.
- During Keldorn's recruitment quest, he leaves and depending on the player's actions he may leave permanently--he leaves anyway during the quest, and sometimes doesn't appear where he is supposed to, causing great concern for players wanting to recruit him.
- I made a Kensai intending to do the Kensai/Mage thing. Oh, sorry, you needed to have pumped points into intelligence during character creation to be allowed to dual-class that! Better luck next time, ignorant fool!
- Conflicts among party members that make certain combinations either impossible or difficult to achieve. Midway through the whole game I may have lost either Aerie or Jaheira without having checked a FAQ to make sure I didn't make one of them angry. How stupid.
- Enemies that cast various types of invulnerability spells are too difficult to deal with early and mid game.
- Inventory management, UGH. So awful. And the delay between being able to click items.
- Hundreds of key items that may be necessary to continue or progress a quest. It's often unclear what you need and where, and if you don't have it, too bad.
- I didn't know about auto-save at first, which screwed up my game early on. I was never a "create hundreds of save files" kind of player.
- "Sorry, that enemy can only be damaged by +x weapons." This may be the stupidest, most pointless, most frustrating rule I encountered.
- Wow is this game is bug-ridden.
- Sometimes your characters will just stop moving to their destination. My theory is that when a character tries to move to a spot but runs into several obstacles at once (other PCs or NPCs), their move command will just be deleted. It's really annoying when you're trying to move everyone from one side of a map to
- I strongly dislike pit fiends.
- Characters dropping all their gear on KO. What a terrible idea. Supposing your inventory is packed with loot (which it most certainly will be), and a character dies via boss toward the end of a dungeon and you are without means of revival, you've got problems.
- Key items that remain in your inventory after they have fulfilled their purpose. They're annoying because if you forgot what they're for or you picked them up for a quest you haven't started, you either have to keep them or (in my case) search the internet to see if they have any further use. Naturally you'll want to do this right away since inventory space is painfully scarce.
- "This item cannot be equipped due to other magical equipment you are currently wearing." Another super frustrating rule that makes no sense whatsoever.
- At this point in the game (roughly mid-late) I feel like I'm constantly behind because every new boss or tough encounter there's some seriously ridiculous magic being used that makes an enemy untouchable.
- Fear is BS.
- Speaking of fear, I almost quit at the fight in the Underdark with the Balor. There had been so many frustrating fights up to that point--fights where some obscure, special tactic or spell had to be used in order to win... then this guy. You need special weapons to damage him and special buffs to survive his magic. Here's why I almost quit the game: Balor causes Fear to party members. You might say, "Well, that's really no big deal, you simply get yourself a Resist Fear or Remove Fear spell." Well, neither of those spells can be obtained from merchants at that point in the game. If you didn't have them beforehand, you're screwed. I had to cheat in order to add the Resist Fear scroll to my inventory. There's no way I would have beaten the Balor without it, because he would cause Fear with 100% certainty, and then pick off whoever is running away. And even after that and all sorts of special buffs, I barely won the fight. The whole situation was infuriating.
- At this point in time I'm pretty sure I've spent maybe a quarter of my play time researching stuff on the internet rather than actually playing the game.
- Speaking of research, it was not easy to find answers to many of my questions that came up during gameplay. The walkthroughs I found are not great and often left out little details (that the authors probably didn't consider a big deal, likely because they knew the game so well). Some things I couldn't find an explanation for at all (more on this later).
- When stuff drops on the edge of a map, it's really difficult to place your cursor over it.
- Healing magic is super weak, almost to the point of being useless once you hit the game's midpoint.
- The magic system is general is terrible. The limitations are frustrating, and spell management is extremely tedious--especially when you have to adjust your current spell roster to combat specific tactics for specific fights.
- It appears that damage is not always recorded... you'll see "____ attacks ____" in the message log but then no followup damage appears. As in, not even a "Weapon Ineffective" message or "Critical Miss" message or anything. Just nothing. This is a big problem. I need to know if my weapons are doing something.
- Randomly getting ambushed by enemies in city streets and such. This is a big waste of time.
- Speaking of, I obviously don't understand what constitutes magic in this game. If you cast a spell, the Cowled Enforcers or whatever they're called come and harass you--even if the thugs who ambushed you are using magic. That said, the enforcers came to attack me several times when I didn't cast a single spell.
- Why do bracers (and such) have an armor class if they don't actually ADD to the armor class? Again, there must be unreasonable rules at work here.
- There's some serious imbalance going on in this game. Before fights were super difficult, each was a struggle, and I had to look up how to win them. Then, upon returning from the Underdark, I starting absolutely obliterating everything, including Bodhi, Irenicus part 1 and 2, and his little demons too.
- Oh, but wait. Even though I defeated Irenicus part 2, I can't beat the game. Why? Well, no one seems to know. After defeating Irenicus, he reverted form, and just stood there. Nothing happened. I could attack him, move around, do whatever, but the game would not progress to the final cutscene. The battle was over, I won handily, but I did not win. The single utterance I found on the internet about this obvious bug is as follows, found on a forum thread:
Palm to face. I hate this game.
Regarding the invincible Irenicus, I think that a certain sequence is supposed to fire there (probably script related), where Irenicus' power goes amok. You've may have smacked him too much around, so that he got stuck in a script "loop", and the right block never fires correctly (thus triggering the end sequence with Jon). Think Trolls that won't go down (sometimes you got to stand back on those too). Have you had this happen to you multiple times? You can't ctrl+y him because you're not supposed to kill him "proper", and the only other way to kill him is to level drain him (or get his stats lowered) below zero.
Well, I certainly wasn't going to do that over again. I reloaded my save before the final battle and Ctrl+Y'ed him to death. No regrets here.
As I wrote in the completed games thread, I don't think I can handle playing Throne of Bhaal. I'm hoping someone can convince me otherwise. At the very least, I'd love to know what makes this game so special. But before I end, I want to mention two things about the game that I absolutely loved to at least try to counter the overall negativity:
1. I set several auto-pause rules, and absolutely loved the faux-turn based gameplay. In fact, I got the battle system to play like Growlanser. So the general procedure of battles was always enjoyable, even if the enemies themselves and the many rules were not.
2. Six-character party. I applaud any RPG that gives the player full simultaneous command of at least 4 characters. So few games do this, and it's a shame.
That's all for now. I should add that I supported the Pillars of Eternity kickstarter, and eagerly await it's release. I just hope it dispenses with all of the problems listed above, including any recognizable relation to DnD rules.