Stepping Foot Into Baldur’s Gate

Baldur's Gate, Friendly Arm Inn

Last year I found I was severely lacking on my backlog attack. Out of all the games I own, and of all the ones I purchased over the past year, I only completed 5 games. That’s it. Bioshock 2, Life Is Strange: Before the Storm, Assassin’s Creed: Liberation, Skyrim, and Ultima 1 are now crossed off my list. Technically also Wing Commander: Privateer, but I’m still working my way through the expansion, so it’s not done yet. Now, that’s not to say that I didn’t still play. Of course I did, I just primarily spent my time in MMOs. Namely Elder Scrolls Online, Secret World Legends, and Lord of the Rings Online. I get around. So with completing 8 games in 2017, and 5 in 2018, I’m aiming to increase my average of 6.5 for 2019. Starting with: Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition.

Baldur’s Gate, though, is not a small game. They didn’t make them small back then. The 90’s were still a time when the concept of games that took a long time to complete meant a better value. That’s changed. Nowadays we’re more apt to find value in the overall experience instead of just the time expended, as live services become more and more commonplace (and with it an infinite amount of money we can spend, instead of the static value of the past). The Enhanced Edition adds new resolution support, some more classes, and some minor tweaks, but absolutely keeps the spirit of the original, which you can’t really ask more of for a re-release. As of this writing I’ve already spent 7 nights playing, and have only just reached the city of Nashkel.

Baldur's Gate, caravan

The art styling in this game never gets old, it’s literally playing on a painting. What they were able to achieve using painted environments is mind-blowing.

Nashkel is the location of the first major plot point. Aside from the overarcing plot of “what is going on and why do I have a bounty on my head”, the characters are hinted that there’s a problem with the iron mines and weapons being produced from the iron coming out, and just to keep you on the right path the game will periodically break your weapons (as well as having your companions start complaining that you’re not staying focused).

Speaking of companions, I found myself surprised that I was only to create one character at the start of the game. Usually, from the SSI Gold Box games, to numerous others games, you created your entire party from the start. However, this approach of creating a single character and then mixing and matching your companions as you go is refreshing, albeit a little overwhelming.

The Nashkel Mines… a little dark due to the fog of war, but it’s there.

Having quickly deduced that you could either play the game “good” or play the game “evil”, I decided on “good” (since playing “evil” is a little too edgelordy for me these days). “Neutral” characters, in an odd design choice, are essentially just “good” characters that put up with a lot more. They get angry when you do too many evil things, but yet are totally fine with doing good deeds. Doesn’t really sound neutral, but whatever. Right out of the gate the game gives you either two evil characters to join, or two “good” characters, cementing early your intended playstyle. By the time I’ve reached Nashkel, though, I’ve already met and rejected many different companions, and it makes me wonder if I will even stick it out with the companions that I’ve currently chosen.

First things first, since I was going to play as “good”, I opted for “Neutral Good”, the alignment I think closely resembles my own philosophy. This choice immediately removed about 14 classes I could play as. But seeing it still left 29 to choose from, I wasn’t hurting. That’s right, last I counted, Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition let’s you play as 43 different classes. 43! In the end, I opted for a Longbow-wielding Archer, a kit class of Ranger that specializes in distance. So far, so good. So, since I had distance damage covered personally, gaming experiences has taught that I would then need healing, tanking, a mage, more damage, and thieving to round out the party.

Ocho, Baldur's Gate, Secret World

My character, Ocho the Archer. Yes, that is my Secret World character’s image. The stock photos were lackluster, so I went with what I know. 😛

My party currently consists of Khalid, a fighter; Jaheira, a druid; Imoen, a thief; Neera, a wild mage (interesting class, like a regular mage but chaotic); and Rasaad, a Sun Soul monk. I ran across one of the more famous characters in the game already, Minsc (and Boo), but with Minsc being a ranger and my own character a ranger, I’ve so far opted for the monk instead. Minsc and Boo are quite the characters, though.

Who knows if any of these are bad ideas, or even if I will stick with my current group makeup, but so far having all the character choices as well as the way the world is being built have totally immersed me. I love that all my companions have personalities and motives, that they’re given agency depending on your choices. They can straight up leave the group or start attacking each other, depending on how they converse with each other. I realize that Baldur’s Gate is a classic, and I’m super late to the party on playing it, but it’s been fun discovering exactly why it has earned that distinction, and I’m only level 2… almost 3.

\\ Ocho

P.S. – You can catch me streaming Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition and many other games when I can on my Twitch channel. Debating starting up an Instagram for my many, many screenshots, too. Who knows.

Too Many Options

Currently I’m going through my gaming transition, as I usually do around this time of year. As soon as Spring hits, I crave the outdoors. My gaming time and interest tends to take a nosedive, and then come Fall, like clockwork, my want to play games increases again. I find myself usually returning to games around the time that all MMOs are starting to celebrate their Halloween shenanigans.

I may be a bit early, but a foot injury has sidelined me a good amount this season, and so my Ultimate playing for the season is essentially over. My injury will hopefully heal over the winter and I’ll be good to come back into next season’s Ultimate ready to go. Still won’t stop playing Disc Golf, though. I’ll try to keep that up until the ground is covered in deep piles of snow, like last season. I am hoping to be a little more active this winter to stave off the holiday weight gain and I’m hoping to get into a friend’s softball league next Spring. We’ll see how that goes, “best laid plans” and whatnot. <ahem> Sorry about that tangent…

But gaming wise, my mind is filled with cravings to play all kinds of different games and it’s causing me a bit of indecision. Here’s a quick list of the ones that are currently jockeying for position:

Guild Wars 2

Vines and plants. Eating salad feels like revenge against these things now.

 

Guild Wars 2

I recently finished the main story and have started in on Season 2. I really love how they’ve set up Season 2 so that it can be played at an easier pace, and how they’ve integrated it into the world. We have instancing in these games for a reason, and that reason is story. Keep it up, ANet! I’ve finished all the story up to Dragon’s Reach: Part 2, and am really liking the story. They’ve really kicked the story up a notch on this one, although making your character the main figurehead and putting all kinds of words into our mouths, it’s offset by the fantastic characterization of your companions and surrounding characters.

Now I just have to… figure out what else there is to do at level 80. Having done zero research about GW2’s “endgame”, the top level items/weapons and what it would take to get them, it’s a bit of a mystery… they don’t make it that obvious in-game. But these boss battles are something else. If I can get through one and not die 100 times, I’m happy. So maybe a little grinding is in order to get some better or more synced equipment… I’m not a fan of using guides, but I may have to.

Star Trek Online

The next season and the latest expansion Delta Rising are quickly on their way, and the last content I did was against the Voth inside the Solanae Dyson Sphere. Good content, I really enjoyed it, I like how the STO devs are creating content that can’t just be gobbled up and moved on from. They use Reputation grinds, but Rep grinds feel alright for end-game content. My only issue with STO, ironically, is their propensity for long grinds, but I have to come back for Star Trek. I feel compelled. Also, the mountains of zen I have from my Lifetime account don’t hurt (4 years worth of a lifetime sub mixed with a propensity to only buy storage upgrades and costumes).

Since I’ve last played, though, the amount of changes is extensive, and is a hill to come back in. Specifically, the changes in how kit powers work. Knowing STO’s history, it may not be that intuitive. Also, how it looks like they’re handling Tier 6 ships is… interesting. Making them not necessary but obviously more powerful? So… making them necessary?

Rusty Hearts

Love the art style.

Rusty Hearts

As of this post, Rusty Hearts is shutting down in about a week. This makes me sad as it’s the first MMO that I’ve ever played that is shutting down. It won’t be missed by many, but it will be missed by me. I want to give it one final play session before the servers shut down, and I should be able to as my account should still be active.

Old School D&D Games

And I mean OLD SCHOOL. No, really, I’m talking like 24 year old, can buy itself a drink, Champions of Krynn old school. Either that or Neverwinter Nights, or Baldur’s Gate. I remember playing the old school Krynn series a LONG time ago, and I played a bit of NWN and BG, but never completed them or made any headway. I’m in a when-we-can-get-together Pathfinder group, you see, and I completely suck at it, but the D&D bug still bites pretty hard, and I do love me some old school.

Alpha Centauri

I know, Civilization: Beyond Earth is coming out near the end of October. It looks awesome, but it gives that nostalgia hit to play me some Alpha Centauri, Sid Meier’s last attempt at a Civilization game on a world besides Earth. Dealing with other ideologies while at the same time trying not to be horrifically hurt by aliens? Good stuff.

You see, Beyond Earth is coming out a good time. The premise, if it’s anything like Alpha Centauri, is one of living with the planet, not against it. Using methods of living that don’t harm the ecosystem. In AC, if you don’t learn to live with the ecosystem, it will fight back. Hard. Parallels with current day issues? You betcha. Art imitates life, after all.

Neverwinter

Gelatinous Cubes, what jellyfish would be if they were found on land.

Neverwinter Online

I like Neverwinter. It’s a lot of fun, even if it doesn’t hit all the D&D notes that the old school D&D games I mentioned above do. And they just released their latest expansion, Tyranny of Dragons, so… Dragons! Dragons everywhere! As I said, I like Neverwinter, it just never makes the top of my MMOs to play list.

The Sims: Medieval

With the release of Sims 4, the Sims bug is also itching. But for me, I always wanted a little more out of the Sims. It seems like a great base to tell a whole bunch of stories, but stories that don’t just revolve around relationships and remodeling ones bathroom. But there is a great Sims title that does go a lot further… The Sims: Medieval. You play multiple people in the standard fantasy medieval community. Say you decide to play the king/queen and go through their story, then when you next play the blacksmith story, you get the benefits of the world changing from the royal’s story. The caveat is there isn’t much in the way of house-building, but to me the quests more than make up for it.

Guild Wars

Did anyone else feel that wind?

Guild Wars 1

Playing through the story of Guild Wars 2 has made me want to go back in time and play through Guild Wars 1! Prophecies! Factions! Nightfall! Eye of the North! Plus, this would give me the ability to get all the fun Hall of Monuments stuff that I don’t have from not really playing GW1. And with Rusty Hearts closing, it just makes you think that an old game, like GW1, could shut down at any time. All it takes is for ANet to turn around and say “Well, it’s not making us any more money. Shut it off.” and that’s it, it’s done.

Walking Dead: Season 2

As far as my current TV watching, I’ve been into The Walking Dead. I like it, but what made me start watching it was playing through The Walking Dead: Season 1. Amazing. That game is amazing, but I’ve only done a few chapters of Season 2, and I should really finish it up, because I’m sure I’m going to love it.

Those Other Games I Have Half-Finished

Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall, Half-Life, and Gabriel Knight, specifically. I stopped playing all of them for pretty good reasons, but they’re still nagging me being unfinished. I think my want to “explore” in these games is too much and is getting in the way. I don’t like just rushing to the next plot point, but at this rate I’ll never finish anything! Argh!

So I don’t know. What do you think? Maybe I’ll just keep driving my truck. This ore isn’t going to deliver itself, you know…

// Ocho

Euro Truck Simulator 2

On the road again. I can’t wait to get on the road again…