Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition Articles RSS Feed | GameSkinny.com Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition RSS Feed on GameSkinny.com https://www.gameskinny.com/ en Launch Media Network Baldur's Gate 3 Reddit AMA Offers More Details on Larian's D&D 5E Game https://www.gameskinny.com/yqv26/baldurs-gate-3-reddit-ama-offers-more-details-on-larians-dd-5e-game https://www.gameskinny.com/yqv26/baldurs-gate-3-reddit-ama-offers-more-details-on-larians-dd-5e-game Thu, 12 Mar 2020 16:02:36 -0400 Ty Arthur

After decades of waiting, a brand new Baldur's Gate game is finally on the horizon, 20 years following the last main entry. Today fans got some interesting new tidbits about the continuation of the Bhaalspawn saga.

Last week, we saw about an hour's worth of gameplay during a Larian Studios livestream that basically looked like Divinity Original: Sin in a D&D form. While that presentation, and our pre-PAX East preview, showed some very promising footage, it also left some major questions and revealed a number of bugs that need to be worked out.

To clear up some of the lingering questions surrounding the game, BG3's creative director, producer, lead systems designer, senior writer, and writing director took to Reddit for a candid AMA. 

Baldur's Gate 3 Main Character and Companions

The previous live presentation left it unclear as whether we'll be able to re-spec companions, and unfortunately, that hasn't been answered with the latest Ask Me Anything session.

If you liked the origin system from Divinity: Original Sin 2, it will return with Baldur's Gate 3, and any Origin character you don't pick can be recruited as a companion to explore their backstory.

The main character can recruit mercenaries outside of the normal companion cast, which it seems like will have a connection to the new campfire system that was briefly shown in the livestream.

In terms of character creation, there will be no sliders, but players can freely change the face type, hair, facial hair, and skin color for the main character. That character is expected to go from Level 1 to Level 10 across the full launch, although that may change.

Unique dialog options are set to be included based on race and class, with some interesting options that may bring to mind hiding your undead nature as Fane in Divinity: Original Sin 2.

Here's a pertinent quote straight from Writing Director, Jan Van Dosselaer:

As you would expect, a drow will get different options compared to a Paladin of Tyr, for instance. For sure, the world will react to your actions, and the choices you make, since these will in some way define you.

For example, Astarion is a vampire spawn and when you play him, you can try and hide this from the party. But if they find out  because, well, you might try to bite them as they sleep  they will obviously be shocked, and unless you manage to handle the situation with the necessary tact and diplomacy, you may just find you’re left behind companionless. 

We have more diversity in creation than in any other game we’ve done before. You'll be able to mix and match a wide variety of defaults, to create something unique.

While interacting with those various companions, the main character will travel along the banks of the Chionthar to the city of Baldur's Gate. Other areas are likely to be included, but they haven't been revealed yet.

The iconic Forgotten Realms mainstay Marco Volo will also appear at some point, and yes, he will have his beard, which apparently bugged out in a previous preview look.

D&D Mechanics

Baldur's Gate 3 is primarily as a turn-based experience. That's not just to stick closely to the D&D rules, but also to be utilized for a potential multiplayer mode down the line.

5th edition character feats will be included in the full launch, but they will not be immediately available at the Early Access launch. It's unclear, at this point, how long players will have to wait for those additions.

All classes from 5e Player’s Handbook will be included at full launch, including the various paths and subclasses. In Early Access, only these classes will initially be available, however:

  • Cleric
  • Fighter
  • Ranger
  • Rogue
  • Warlock
  • Wizard

Multiclassing is set to be included after Early Access ends, and it will closely follow the 5e DnD base rules. Most D&D fans probably already know what to expect from any given class, but there will be some changes to the Ranger class, according to the Lead Systems Designer, Nick Pechenin:

As for the ranger, we will be implementing alternative variants of favourite enemy and natural explorer features that are not limited to specific monster and location types.

When we were working on these changes, we went to WotC for their approval and it turned out that we were completely on the same page. 

Van Dosselaer added:

Alignment may carry less weight in 5th edition, but all companions definitely have their own moral compass.

Some are fine with evil and underhanded deeds, others are not and they’ll be vocal about their approval or opposition to the decisions that you make. It’s absolutely possible to take actions that cross the line for someone and he or she will leave the party, or even decide to attack you.

In most cases, a character can take one action, reach their movement speed, and potentially employ a free bonus action in a turn. Reaction rules are due to appear in the game as well, although not in the Early Access release. Players can eventually tailor which reactions they want to enable, like disabling an attack of opportunity to enable a reaction to cast the Shield spell.

Grappling, which is usually a point of contention in any iteration of D&D or Pathfinder, will not be included at all.

Standard magic items are due for varying levels of overhaul from minor to major to make more sense in the context of the Baldur's Gate 3 story and for game balance purposes. We don't have any specific examples of how those items will change yet, however.

Finally, Larian made a point of again referencing the vertical aspect of Baldur's Gate 3 gameplay. It appears using the environment and taking the high ground will be critical to overcoming some of the more difficult combat encounters. On the flip side, enemy opponents will also utilize vertical movement and larger areas to avoid getting wiped out quickly with area effect spells like fireball.

Voice Acting

You won't need to worry about losing voice acting if you don't pick a pre-generated character. Custom starting characters will have voice acting and players will choose a voice as part of character creation.

Spells will also come with corresponding voice acting like in previous D&D games. Latin spell words are currently being recorded but weren't ready for the livestream presentation. 

GM Mode

Unfortunately, there will be no GM (or more accurately, DM) mode from the get-go, but it seems like it may be added down the line. Here's what Executive Producer, David Walgrave, had to say to get you salivating at the prospect of putting together your own 5th edition adventures:

When we built GM mode for Original Sin, we were of course thinking of D&D and how long it had been since anyone had made such a mode. So yeah it'd make a lot of sense, but we're focusing on developing the game first at the moment...

More to Come

We didn't get answers about voice dubbing in other languages, or the big question about console releases before the AMA ended. You can bet there will be more info leaked out in the coming weeks, though.

For now, we know that Baldur's Gate 3 is coming to Early Access later in 2020 on PC and Google Stadia. Stay tuned to GameSkinny for additional Baldur's Gate 3 details coming soon!

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Enough With the Enhanced Editions Already Beamdog! Just Stop! https://www.gameskinny.com/ti2gb/enough-with-the-enhanced-editions-already-beamdog-just-stop https://www.gameskinny.com/ti2gb/enough-with-the-enhanced-editions-already-beamdog-just-stop Wed, 05 Apr 2017 12:00:01 -0400 Ty Arthur

I maintain to this day that Planescape: Torment is still, bar none, the best RPG to have ever been released.

It's certainly the best written, with the most interesting characters and story this side of the multiverse. More modern quasi-RPGs like Skyrim don't even hold a candle to Black Isle's crowning achievement.

A succubus who runs a brothel where only intellectual lusts are sated, a suit of armor animated through unwavering belief in the force of law, a psychotic wizard who tried to burn down a city and was punished by becoming a human lamp for a dingy bar: Torment always had something unique up its sleeve that made you keep playing hour after hour.

RPGs now, RPGs then, nostalgia gogglesKudos to the particularly on-point memeologist who put this together...

Considering my borderline-worshipful level of adoration for Torment and overall love for the Planescape setting in general, you'd think I'd be stoked about a whole new version of the game arriving... right? Well, maybe not, because we've got to consider who is doing the releasing and just what exactly was changed.

Enhancing or Repackaging?

Torment isn't Beamdog's first enhancement rodeo, having released updated versions of nearly all the Infinity Engine games now, to varying results. The Baldur's Gate saga for instance got some tweaks that actually improved on an aging engine like allowing more arrows to be stacked together than in the original, updating certain AD&D rules to be more clear and less frustrating, and adding new companions.

Not all the changes were welcome, however. Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition swapped out the opening cutscene of Sarevok throwing a fellow Bhaalspawn off a roof, with something that actually looked worse than a 20 year old cinematic (and THAT takes effort).

Many new bugs were added into the engine as well, with a lot more crashes, and the changes overall weren't much better than the huge number of fan mods released throughout the years.

Offering even fewer changes and upgrades this time around than ever before, Torment is is the most blatantly half-baked Enhanced Edition yet with such a minimum of effort applied that it's sort of appalling Beamdog is actually charging money for the end result.

The main difference on display is a suite of visual "enhancements," which if you've played the other Enhanced Editions, you'll know won't actually be upgrades. The entirely unnecessary zoom feature -- rather than allowing for screen resolution changes in the options -- results in a visual experience that's somehow even lower quality than the original 18 year old game.

You'll be endlessly zooming in and out to find the right setting for any given map, when the original areas managed to look just fine without this distracting feature. The black pixels added around sprites further manage to make characters look even more jagged than they did originally.

The new quick looting feature is neat however -- especially when dealing with lots of corpses on the ground all in a small area -- and some of the UI is a little less cluttered, but on the whole there's nothing here that hasn't been done already by fan modders, with the possible exception of now having Torment available on your Android device.

A Startling Lack Of Content

What's truly baffling is what isn't included in this new edition: like the fan-made Unfinished Business mod that restored missing quest lines and re-implemented cut dialog. If you're going to give us a new edition of the game with reams of text re-edited by Chris Avellone, why not add in things we haven't seen or read before?

Nothing legitimately new was included on the character, item, dialog, map, or story fronts. The lack of added content while charging more for the game than normal is difficult to justify, with images like the one below making the rounds across the various gaming forums:

 It's hard to argue with this...

On the other hand, it may actually be better that they didn't add anything new. We weren't exactly thrilled here at Gameskinny with Beamdog's original content in the SIege Of Dragonspear offering, and it seems like the rest of the gaming world wasn't having any of it either.

While nostalgia was on tap by the bucketful and there was fun to be had for Baldur's Gate fanatics, the writing just wasn't up to par. Simply put, Siege Of Dragonspear offered the mechanics of Baldur's Gate without the soul, and it seems unlikely this team could have given us characters or stories up to snuff that would match the oddity and style of Torment.

A Declining IP

The lazy Enhanced Editions, much like the sub-par PC ports of classic Final Fantasy games, is only one symptom of a franchise that feels like it's on its last legs.

A disturbing lack of effort has been a recurring problem of late with Dungeons and Dragons branded games. Frankly, it feels like Wizard of the Coast has just given up and has no interest in creating compelling stories or captivating games anymore, instead giving us shallow drek like Sword Coast Legends and an endless stream of re-releases.

Of particular concern is that these new Enhanced Editions are now replacing the originals rather than being an available option. Seriously, navigate over to Steam or GOG and search for Baldur's Gate. Guess what? You can't buy the superior original versions anymore -- only the Enhanced Editions are up for sale.

Unless you bought the original editions previously on digital platforms or have the discs from way back when, it's now becoming next to impossible to experience the games as they were released.

Neverwinter nights complete, posterSomehow it's been 11 years since the last legitimately worthwhile D&D game!

Time For Something New

Having now artlessly vivisected the corpses of several truly classic games, and having even released an Infinity Engine expansion set between Baldur's Gate and Baldur's Gate II, the question has to be asked: why not create an entirely new game?

Siege Of Dragonspear may not have been well received, but lessons can be learned there to improve on future releases, so why keep making minor tweaks to existing games as a business model rather than actually creating content?

There's gamers out there who want old school titles, and they are willing to pay for them. Plenty of developers are keeping the lights on solely by releasing new material in classic cRPG style and without just making small changes to existing games. Underrail immediately springs to mind, having resurrected the original Fallout style to critical acclaim and with a small indie team on a limited budget.

      If a game that looks like this can make money in 2017, there's really no excuse for always riding on an another developer's coat tails...

Age Of Decadence is as retro as they come and is consistently covered in praise. Divinity: Original Sin met wild success utilizing an exclusively old-school formula. I Am Setsuna was essentially an updated SNES RPG and it was among the most anticipated games of 2016.

Obsidian and inXile figured out crowd funding could result in classic games being profitable, with Pillars Of Eternity and Tyranny directly mimicking the Infinity Engine style and Wasteland 2 updating a 25 year old classic into a modern setting. The Torment name and style itself was resurrected with the recently-released Tides Of Numenera.

With Beamdog running out of Infinity Engine games to mildly mod and re-release, where else is there to go besides trying something original?

Sound off below -- do you feel the Enhanced Edition of Torment is worth $19.99, and have you been satisfied with Beamdog's re-packaging of classic Infinity Engine games?

For me, it's a hard pass on re-buying a game I already own with worse aesthetics and a handful of free mods pre-installed.

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Video Game History - 40 Years Of The RPG Genre https://www.gameskinny.com/b2ezo/video-game-history-40-years-of-the-rpg-genre https://www.gameskinny.com/b2ezo/video-game-history-40-years-of-the-rpg-genre Tue, 20 Sep 2016 05:43:14 -0400 Ty Arthur

Although having a computer on your desk or attached to your hip at all times is just a given now, in the grand scheme of things, the digital revolution is still a relatively new phenomena in human history.

That being said, there's been a solid four decades of computer gaming now, with a whole generation of kids being raised having no clue what life was like before all the PC and console options.

That's right -- the RPG genre kicked off 40 years back in 1976 with the text-based Colossal Cave Adventure (also known as just plain old Adventure). 

While the original game was the definition of a primitive text experience, with a user inputting short commands and seeing what happened, this classic title has been adapted and expanded many times in the intervening years (with some adding in limited imagery along the lines of early Wizardry games).

 This is how it all started!

The First Steps Of A New Genre

Everything from Bard's Tale to the King's Quest series to much more recent iterations such as Necropolis or Dragon Age owe their existence (to some extent) to William Crowther taking up programming.

It could be argued that we'd never have western RPGs like The Witcher or ARPGs like Diablo if a dad who played D&D and enjoyed exploring caves hadn't decided to tinker around with programming so his kids would have something to play with.

D&D is a critical name in the history of computer games, as digital RPGs mirrored the rise of tabletop gaming. Chainmail – the war game that would one day become Dungeons and Dragons – arrived all the way back in '71 and strongly influenced the programmer who would go on to create Adventure. While Gygax's name might be more widely known, Crowther's deserves to be said with as much reverence by modern day gamers.

 Thanks for this, Bill!

Evolution doesn't always mean there's no room for the original species to remain, and while gaming has gone way beyond typing "north" or "south" to move, text adventures continue to thrive with a staggering number of MUDs, MUSHs, and MUCKs still available online.

Accessing the text-based MUD Shadowlands through Telnet was one of the earliest experiences I personally ever had with PC gaming. While it sadly appears to be dead and gone now, I'll never forget those memories of dual wielding sticky pacifiers picked up from the dwarven daycare and then slaughtering crystal spiders by the dozens to quickly level a new character.

Jumping Ahead... Sort Of

While there were a smattering of games in a similar style that predated it, Rogue is easily the most well known of the bunch and really the next stage in RPG evolution. Although it had a map to move around, it could be argued Rogue was still very much a “text-based” game, as everything was “drawn” with regular old keyboard characters.

Where it shined was in its entirely unforgiving nature - instituting one of the first instances of permadeath -- and an influential mechanic way ahead of its time: procedural generation of the game world.

 Baby steps to the modern 3D RPG

The next big jump took place with Richard Garriot and the start of the Ultima series, taking the ideas from the so-called Roguelike games and catapulting us from basic ASCII characters to... a bunch of dots saved in tile patterns!

Seems simple and silly now, but this was kind of a big deal at the time, and led to the first dungeon crawlers like the Might and Magic series, Wizardry, Dungeon Master, and so on.

 Well, it is technically an improvement...

Diverging Console And PC Branches

There were definitely earlier RPGs, but among the most notable events in console history was the original Final Fantasy coming to the NES.

While the releases always lagged in North America, taking an extended period of time to make it over from Japan, there's no question this series had a huge impact on the popularity of RPGs around the world on the console front.

While opinion will of course differ from fan to fan (and I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that the Sega Genesis had some very solid entries), this era of pre-3D RPG history is generally recognized as hitting its crescendo on the SNES with Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 6.

Just simply chronicling the history of Final Fantasy is an article all its own, so for a more in-depth look there, check out our complete run down of the final fantasy series here.

 Yep, at one time this was groundbreaking for both gameplay and graphics

For computer enthusiasts in the '80s to early '90s, the Gold Box D&D games served the role filled by Final Fantasy on console, with Pool Of Radiance and its follow-ups absolutely dominating and inspiring a generation of game developers.

Frankly there's enough different games covering a huge range of styles pulling from the D&D ruleset throughout the years that multiple articles could be devoted to that series' history (in fact, we even once tried to undertake the mammoth task of ranking them all).

The one major turning point in all that history that simply must be mentioned was when two medical doctors decided to switch careers and make the definitive D&D computer game experience, Baldur's Gate. Around the same time and making just as big a splash in a post-apocalyptic setting was of course the groundbreaking Fallout, which is still getting gamers all riled up for sequels nearly 20 years later.

 Now we're starting to get somewhere.

In the mean time while all this was going on, the MMORPG spin-off genre was taking faltering steps from Meridian 59 to Ultima Online. It wouldn't be until much later in 2004 that MMORPGs really hit their stride with the still-dominant phenomena that is World Of Warcraft.

While massively multiplayers continue to be pumped out with surprising regularity, the player bases on older games has begun to bottom out, with some closing entirely. Sadly the genre is in a bit of a rut now and in need of shaking up.

From Pixels To Polygons

In the time just as consoles were switching from cartridges to CDs (actually pioneered by Sega, and not by the relative latecomer Playstation) there are a host of forgotten gems sadly hidden by the sands of time.

Titles like Vay for the Sega CD and Albert Odyssey: Legend Of Eldean for the Sega Saturn were some of the true swan songs for pixel-based games, now long out of print and never re-released.

 A whole generation of gamers missed out on this one as kids

Advancing technology eventually allowed for huge leaps in graphical capability and a changing focus on the genre, with first person games like The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind featuring massive game worlds.

Of course the increase in graphics wasn't always matched with stories or characters on the same level, as the beautiful-but-vapid Neverwinter Nights can attest.

 Innovative gameplay and graphics... abysmal single player campaign

Springing from that point, the genre diverged into radically different directions, from sci-fi games like Knights Of The Old Republic to the kingdom-running Fable series and a slew of real-time or turn-based strategy games with heavy RPG elements.

From there it was just a hop, skip, and a jump through to modern classics such as Skyrim or The Witcher 3: The Wild Hunt.

What's Old Is New Again

Perhaps in a backlash to those games with gorgeous graphics but a lack of personality and memorable characters, or maybe just out of a sense of nostalgia from an aging fan base, there's been a retro renaissance in RPGs this decade.

Games that return to a bygone era - while still using certain modern elements - have dominated, especially due to the crowd funding revolution. Pillars Of Eternity, Wasteland 2, and Legend Of Grimrock are just a handful of critically acclaimed entries that evoke an earlier time in RPG history. 

 The nods to Baldur's Gate are clear... as are the more modern elements

Looking Ahead To The Future

Remember how D&D was such a huge name in early RPG history? That iconic name has now been eclipsed by Pathfinder, which dominates on the pen and paper front.

Unfortunately due to restrictions with the open game license and a doomed MMORPG that never got off the ground, Pathfinder has yet to make a dent on the digital gaming front, let alone dominate as its predecessor did. It remains to be seen if Paizo can have the same impact on computer gaming as TSR / Wizards Of The Coast managed to have.

On PC and console, the genre has gone myriad directions over the last 40 years, from the classic JRPG to turn based strategy games to fast-paced action RPGs. While retro is dominant now, it won't be forever, with the next big innovation likely to be VR, potentially allowing for even more immersive roleplaying experiences than ever before.

Where do you think the genre is set to go next, and what's your prediction for what will be the next big thing in role playing?

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Beamdog President pleads with players to leave positive reviews for Baldur's Gate expansion amid "social justice" controversy https://www.gameskinny.com/4x7i7/beamdog-president-pleads-with-players-to-leave-positive-reviews-for-baldurs-gate-expansion-amid-social-justice-controversy https://www.gameskinny.com/4x7i7/beamdog-president-pleads-with-players-to-leave-positive-reviews-for-baldurs-gate-expansion-amid-social-justice-controversy Mon, 04 Apr 2016 07:34:05 -0400 Scott Simpson

Trent Oster, President of game studio Beamdog, has taken to the company forums to ask players of Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear a "favour", to leave positive reviews to try and cancel out the negative feedback left on Steam, GOG and Metacritic. He hopes fans of the expansion for the enhanced edition of the original Baldur's Gate will help to "balance out the loud minority which is currently painting a dark picture for new players", who he claims are giving the expansion bad scores as the result of "having a transgendered cleric and a joke line by Minsc [which] has greatly offended the sensibilities of some people."

Is that the real reason for the game's poor user reviews though? They say there's two sides to every story, and taking a closer look at this negative feedback paints a different picture.

While there certainly are cases of users of the aforementioned digital distribution platforms posting reviews purely out of malice, especially on Metacritic it seems, the majority of critical feedback appears to be concerned with a number of bugs in the game, broken multiplayer, issues with the UI and visuals, poor writing, and the game's linearity, among other things.

When it comes to the issues specificially mentioned by Oster, players seem to have a lot more valid criticisms than he proposes. Many explicitly explain that their issue is not with having a transgender character, but with the ham-fisted approach with which they are introduced to the game, and the stereotypical way in which they and other characters are depicted.

Others point out that the purpose of playing a game in a medieval fantasy setting is to escape the realities of the modern world, not be beaten over the head by gender politics and 4th wall breaking jokes.

Accusations of unnecessarily shoe-horning in political ideologies aren't really helped when the game's writer, Amber Scott, can herself can be quoted as saying:

"I consciously add as much diversity as I can to my writing and I don't care if people think that's "forced" or fake. I find choosing to write from a straight default just as artificial. I'm happy to be an SJW and I hope to write many Social Justice Games in the future."

In addition, some recurring characters from Baldur's Gate have had their personalities altered to appear less "sexist", or, as Scott puts it in an interview with Kotaku, have been given "a way better personality upgrade", going on to add, "...if people don’t like that, then too bad". It's not hard to see why this would draw considerable ire from fans of the original game.

The whole situation raises questions about Beamdog. Even if there is an active campaign to try and tarnish Siege of Dragonspear's review scores, is it really appropriate for a developer or publisher to plead with fans to actively go out and leave positive reviews for their games? Do they have the right to so freely alter established characters from a much loved game to fit with their own social ideologies? And are the company just trying to capitalize on the controversy by asking gamers to overlook the game's legitimate criticisms and give positive feedback under the guise of trying to balance things out?

What are your thoughts on the situation? Do you have sympathy with Beamdog? Or do you think the criticisms aimed against Siege of Dragonspear and the company's reaction to it are fair? Let us know your views in the comments below.

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Baldur's Gate: Siege Of Dragonspear offers nostalgia and disappointment in even measure https://www.gameskinny.com/h1d2b/baldurs-gate-siege-of-dragonspear-offers-nostalgia-and-disappointment-in-even-measure https://www.gameskinny.com/h1d2b/baldurs-gate-siege-of-dragonspear-offers-nostalgia-and-disappointment-in-even-measure Thu, 31 Mar 2016 11:20:53 -0400 Ty Arthur

With the smash crowd funding success of retro resurgence titles like Pillars Of Eternity and Wasteland 2, it shouldn't come as much surprise that a developer would return directly to the sacred wellspring that is the Baldur's Gate series. Following enhanced editions of the main two games in the series, Beamdog / Overhaul Games now gives us a legitimately new Baldur's Gate entry.

Somewhere between an expansion and a full game, Siege Of Dragonspear bridges the gap between parts 1 and 2, letting us finally know what occurred between Sarevok's defeat and the Bhaal-spawn's capture by Irenicus.

Graphical Changes

Before getting into the story or gameplay updates, one element of the “enhanced edition” that needs to be addressed immediately for any potential player is the graphical overhaul, which unfortunately is less than ideal. You have essentially three options. You can zoom down to near where the original game camera was, in which case you get this horrifingly fugly monstrosity:

How did they manage to make the sprites look WORSE than they did 17 years ago?

Or you can zoom way, way, way, way out to avoid the blurry, pixelated mess, resulting in something that seems like a joke:

How the hell am I even supposed to play like this?

Or you can endlessly search for the perfect in-between zoom, which won't really lead to fully satisfying results on either the graphics or the gameplay side, but at least won't look completely horrendous.

It'll do.

I'm not sure what prompted the change in the graphics and the ability to zoom rather than selecting a screen resolution, but it wasn't necessary. Although very dated, Baldur's Gate and its sequel have an iconic style that didn't really need a revamp, especially for people going out of their way to buy an expansion for a game of this age.

Old And New Collide

Moving beyond that, let's dive into less unsatisfying aspects. Lots of familiar faces return and interact with one another in new ways, and in some cases even the original voice actors have been brought back on board. Get to ready to feel all kinds of nostalgic when you hear Minsc or Imoen's new lines.

As an in-between title, Siege Of Dragonspear offers some missing insight into what led to all the jarring changes in characters that occurred in Baldur's Gate 2, like watching Iomen's training as a mage. Beamdog actually managed to weave the RPG mechanics into the story here, with Imoen sitting out parts of the adventure (since she doesn't have full access to thief or mage abilities until her two classes line up in level due to the old AD&D dual classing rules).

Near the start of the story, your Bhaal-spawn hero also comes across someone who very much appears to be Irenicus and is very interested in your divine blood, laying the foundation for what is to come in the next game.

You don't fool us, "hooded man!"

It's a fun trip down memory lane (with the added bonus of being totally new content!) to see party members from previous iterations of the game interact with one another as you go around recruiting followers to join a new quest.

Not all of them will join you however, and many of them have thoughts of their own on how to tackles issues, which they aren't timid about sharing. The thief Safana for instance isn't fond of traversing the jail in the Flaming Fist headquarters, while Minsc retains his devotion to only travelling with Dynaheir.

Changes To The Formula

Plenty of changes to the Baldur's Gate UI you know and love have been added in with both the earlier enhanced edition and now with Siege Of Dragonspear.

Some of the updates are welcome: “current” and “new” columns make the archaic 2nd edition AD&D rules more clear for how equipment and spells will affect your armor class, for instance, and it is now much more obvious which magical protection effects stack and which don't.

That really should have been there from the beginning, Black Isle!

Another nice update is that a yellow highlight lets you know which characters can use an item or weapon you've selected. You now also have the ability to scribe notes you find, so you don't have to leave them in your inventory, while the quest screen has neatly been cleaned up and is more intuitive.

Other changes aren't going to go over as well for the purists who still replay the original regularly, however. The health bars above everyone really ruins the Baldur's Gate feel (although they can thankfully be toggled off).

Some obvious changes are also missing but feel like they should have been added in the updates to a new edition – like a radius to show you where an area effect spell like entangle or fireball will strike.

Health bars?

New Class And Companions

It's interesting to see a new class get added, since the game still uses a long out-of-print ruleset. In addition to all the classes and kits from the previous BG games, you can now roll up a shaman, which is essentially the sorcerer equivalent of a druid.

Where the class really diverges is in its main ability to summon spirit animal companions to fight for you every round, indefinitely – so long as you don't move or attack. It makes for a better back row class than front line fighter, but it does offer some very interesting tactical opportunities.

Trying out the Shaman class

Unlike with Baldur's Gate 2, which only played at non-human party members by pretending Aerie was an avariel who just happened to not have wings, here we actually get goblin and gnoll companions in addition to the old familiar party members.

Siege Of Dragonspear's Dialog

While I'm enjoying the new class and party member options, I'm much less enamored with the dialog in general, with a few exceptions. The writing overall isn't quite up to par with iconic Infinity Engine games (very much in keeping with Wizards Of The Coast video game style in the last decade or so, unfortunately).

There are mostly three response types in any situation:

  • I'm the roving altruist paladin who will do whatever is asked of me by any random stranger I come across
  • Something snarky or juvenile for comic relief to simulate the chaotic neutral mindset
  • An uncaring answer that expresses an unbridled desire for power, revenge, or immediate gratification

Of course, all three will typically lead to the same outcome, or if you take the third option, you'll just have to start the conversation over again to pick up the quest. You can't really join a plot to overthrow the dukes and take over the city for instance – you can only pretend to join and then alert the authorities.

One instance of actual choice does pop up when you finally leave Baldur's Gate, however, forcing you to decide whether to tell the crowd you are a Bhaalspawn like Sarevok or to reassure them with comforting lies. It's unclear yet if this will have any impact on the game's story, but I'm glad the choice was there at least.

A hero's departure or being run out by a booing mob? Choice is yours.

To be fair, some of the dialog made me smile and fondly remember playing the first game in my youth, and there were some interesting backstory elements added in, like meeting Corwin's daughter and grandfather. Several of the silly or tongue-in-cheek conversations had me realizing as an adult that I crave something more mature in my RPGs, though.

To be blunt, Skie is pretty actively annoying. Several of the voice actors also go for over-the-top British or French accents, which really took me out of the setting (Faerun isn't Europe guys).

The worst offender had to be Zoviak, who does a full-on Kenau Reeves “Woah” repeatedly, then talks like a totally tubular stoned surfer from the '90s. I get that they were trying for the classic Minsc comic relief, but for me it fell flat.

Just... no.

Continuing The Story

The expansion opens by having your hero and some old companions wrapping up the remains of Sarevok's followers by taking out his final wizard lieutenant in an old tomb.

After that introductory dungeon delve all returns to normal for a time... until assassin's strike at you again, forcing you to move on in an echo of the storyline of the first Baldur's Gate.

There will be time to explore various areas of the revamped city before joining the siege to stop the Shining Lady's crusade. One way in which Beamdog improved on the formula is that Baldur's Gate itself now feels much more alive, with many more NPCs on the screen going about their business. The areas in general tend to be much smaller this time around, however.

The city is bursting with refugees

Before triumphantly leaving the city to stop yet another Realms-shaking child of a god, there's Fedex quests galore, which seems like an odd choice for this entry in the series. Everyone you meet asks “the hero of Baldur's Gate” to go on menial fetch quests: get my pouch from upstairs, go ask the Fist to send me more men, take this delivery to the moneylender, etc.

That by-the-numbers approach extends to the quest resolutions as well. Expect lots of this scenario: “You did something super altruistic and went above and beyond? Here's this extra reward I had stashed that I didn't tell you about before. Man you are a real hero!” Thankfully, that does change a bit as you get further into the story.

The Bottom Line

Anyone who loved the original Baldur's Gate through Throne Of Bhaal should of course pick up Siege Of Dragonspear despite the flaws.

While there are disappointments (and I suppose there would have to be when dealing with more than a decade of waiting for a new game), this long-awaited expansion definitely has highlights as well, and it is growing on me the longer I play.

Unfortunately, it just doesn't manage to live up to the quality of the games that came before, and I can't see it ever really taking its place among the hallowed original Infinity Engine games.

Gather your party and venture forth!

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Baldur's Gate gets a new expansion with Siege of Dragonspear https://www.gameskinny.com/ktplj/baldurs-gate-gets-a-new-expansion-with-siege-of-dragonspear https://www.gameskinny.com/ktplj/baldurs-gate-gets-a-new-expansion-with-siege-of-dragonspear Wed, 23 Mar 2016 15:59:59 -0400 Teevell_6844

The Baldur’s Gate series is getting a new expansion on March 31st, 18 years after the first game in the series was released. That might seem like too long a time to even bother, but the cRPG genre has experienced a recent resurgence thanks to games like Pillars of Eternity. And with the Baldur’s Gate series updated for modern PCs with the enhanced editions, this could be the best time for Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear. You can check out the recently released opening cut scene in the above video.

This expansion fills the time gap between the first and second games. At the end of Baldur’s Gate, your character and their friends have defeated Sarevok and saved the Sword Coast from his attempt to claim the empty throne of Bhaal, the God of Murder.

...Who just so happens to be your father.

In Siege of Dragonspear, Baldur’s Gate and the Sword Coast are again under attack, and rumors hint that it might be another child of Bhaal leading the army. Siege adds new zones, items, and characters. Since it’s made by the same developers responsible for the enhanced edition of Baldur’s Gate, players will be able to import their characters from that game, play through Siege, and then continue the adventure in Baldur’s Gate II.

Are you excited for another trip to the Sword Coast? Let us know in the comments.

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Ranking the D&D video games from best to worst https://www.gameskinny.com/b62ku/ranking-the-dd-video-games-from-best-to-worst https://www.gameskinny.com/b62ku/ranking-the-dd-video-games-from-best-to-worst Mon, 28 Dec 2015 05:41:50 -0500 Ty Arthur

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If the blessings of Lathander are upon us, the D&D franchise will go in a much, much different direction than it has for the last 10 years.

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There's a ton of material to mine for amazing games that don't have to return yet again to the Sword Coast of the Forgotten Realms -- if only the right developer (and a decent amount of money) were assigned the task.

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For now though, we'll have to be content with developers giving us better experiences in different worlds.

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Obisidan knocked it out of the park with the Infinity Engine style Pillars Of Eternity, and Divinity: Original Sin is an excellent choice for D&D fans. Until Wizards of the Coast finds a way to return the franchise to its former glory, fans will have to go elsewhere for a fantasy fix.

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Do you agree with our list and rankings? Share your thoughts on the comments below!

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Worst: Iron & Blood - Warriors Of Ravenloft

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Is there seriously a game WORSE than Daggerdale? Yes there is, and it's a fighting game. Yeah, I don't know why they did that either.

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A D&D fighting game might not be an awful idea on its own, but why did they pick the gothic horror setting for it? They also apparently didn't bother to playtest it, because as it turns out that your biggest enemy isn't the opponent you are fighting, it's the camera. Prepare to be turned around for no apparent reason a dozen or so times a fight and get hit in the back no matter what you do.

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This game is hilariously bad, and anyone who spends the hundreds to pick it up used on Amazon or eBay is wasting a whole lot of money.

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Heroes Of The Lance

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This long lost Atari / Commodore 64 title follows a major story arc from Dragons of Autumn Twilight, with the heroes descending into Xak Tsaroth to recover the Disks of Mishakal.

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The notion of playing as beloved characters like Flint, Tanis, or Raistlin in this critical point in Dragonlance history seems like it would be a slam dunk. Unfortunately its bad... REALLY bad, even for the time.

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While the Gold Box games can be fun through the lens of nostalgia, Heroes of the Lance is just flat out awful. For some reason the developers chose to switch from an RPG to a side scrolling action game. That style doesn't work at all here with its very slow moving pace, and the game is constantly interrupted since you have to pause and open a menu to casts spells.

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Heroes of the Lance is still floating around some abandonware sites, so if you have a morbid curiosity you can waste a few hours of your life. Honestly I'd recommend just watching a Let's Play and then reading the hilarious forum entries from people who made the mistake of buying this when it first released, though.

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Daggerdale

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Ye gods, this is the bottom of the barrel for the action RPG front. This isn't just a bad D&D game, it's a bad game, period. There is nothing unique or interesting to be found here. It's dull, boring, unpolished, and features nothing you haven't seen a hundred times before. Seriously – even if you find it on sale for 90% off, don't bother.

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Sword Coast Legends

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This one's sort of a sore point for a lot of role playing fans, and the wound is still raw since it's been freshly inflicted. The game we got was not the game we were promised, as things changed a whole lot during development.

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This was supposed to be the game to challenge the DM toolset and editors from Neverwinter Nights and Neverwinter Nights 2. Instead we got something where you can pick some tilesets that randomly generate a dungeon for you – but hey, you get to place monsters during battles.

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It's a very standard hack 'n slash action RPG with only a tenuous connection to the 5th edition D&D ruleset. For a more in-depth analysis of what went wrong with Sword Coast Legends, check out our look at the game here.

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Demon Stone

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Although this game had some seriously big name voice actors (Patrick Stewart?!?), it's another lackluster hack 'n slash where they forgot what D&D is all about. There's endless hordes of repetitive combat where you'll do the same combos over and over (and over, and over).

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R.A. Salvatore wrote the story, so you can guess who is going to show up and how cliché and uninspired the characters will be. Sadly, this isn't the worst action RPG to be found in the D&D franchise, and is only the start of a dark era that has yet to end.

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Dragonstrike

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A completely different experience from any of the other games on this list, the NES title Dragonstrike did something you really wouldn't expect from a D&D video game. It's not an RPG of any kind and doesn't reflect the table top rules in any way, but rather is one of the earliest examples of a dragon flight simulator.

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While an interesting idea, the fact of the matter is that you could have replaced the dragon with an airplane and you'd just have a less satisfying version of many, many other games from the era. This is another instance where somebody could do something awesome with this concept, but hasn't fully fleshed it out and made it work yet.

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Real Time Strategy Games

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Aside from the barely-played Stronghold from the '90s, Dragonshard was really the only serious attempt by a D&D game to try out real time strategy. Needless to say, it didn't do very well.

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One of only two games set in Eberron, Dragonshard actually has an interesting premise, mixing typical RPG segments while exploring the underworld and then switching to a Warcraft style RTS when you go above ground. Unfortunately, a lot of the mechanics are clunky and don't work particularly well, and while they are clearly trying to mimic the graphics, the gameplay and story don't hold a candle to Warcraft III.

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The previously mentioned Stronghold didn't manage to make a serious mark on the RTS genre either, and developers have avoided this genre altogether with newer games. There's definitely promise in the idea though, since large scale combat is a staple of fantasy. But nobody has managed to make it work particularly well yet with Dungeons and Dragons on PC or consoles.

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Pool Of Radiance: Ruins Of Myth Drannor

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Although its not an outright awful game, the newer version of Pool Of Radiance is one that feels a little unfulfilled. They updated the graphics, but the gameplay didn't get enough of a boost to really take this one into the top echelons of D&D games.

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It's very slow moving (literally, not figuratively) and quite repetitive, focused entirely on combat and dungeon crawling. Every few years nostalgia gets the best of me and I re-install this, remembering it fondly despite the nagging sensation that there was something I didn't like about it, and I'm always disappointed each time.

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If you want a 3D experience based on the 3rd edition rules, pick up Neverwinter Nights 2 instead.

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Siege Of Dragonspear

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Its hard to overstate the roller coaster of emotion series fans experience with Siege Of Dragonspear. We went from elation -- an actual Baldur's Gate sequel decades after the fact?!?! -- to massive disappointment when the final product hit our hard drives.

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I'm not a fan of Beamdog's so-called "enhanced" editions of the classic Infinity Engine games to begin with, and the development crew's one crack at an original title didn't go over well for me either.

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It's a damn shame too, because there was plenty of potential here with getting to see some backstory on Irenicus and Sarevok, but they just fumbled the whole thing.

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Take your pick as to why Siege Of Dragonspear doesn't work -- the subpar writing, the sad map sizes, or the changes to the zoom options and an odd outlining mechanic somehow making the graphics actually look worse than they did in the '90s. It's a mess, and only worth it for Baldur's Gate fanatics.

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Hopefully Larian will do a much better job with the franchise when Baldur's Gate III returns in 2020.

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Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance / D&D Heroes

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For all the focus on combat in many titles, the fact of the matter is that Dungeons and Dragons is a role playing game based off tabletop interactions between human beings, and not a hack 'n slash affair. When D&D tries to go action RPG, the results typically fail to impress.

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The best of these is easily the Dark Alliance games that hit consoles. If you cull out expectations based on the words “Baldur's Gate” appearing, then these are actually fairly fun Diablo or Sacred style games that offer some action amusement. Unfortunately you can't un-ring a bell though, and fans were expecting one thing while getting another, so for many hardcore fans of the Infinity Engine, there's simply no talking them into even giving these poorly named games a chance.

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Dungeons and Dragons Heroes was a very similar idea, but only saw release on the original Xbox. Where Dark Alliance cut down on the story elements, I honestly don't recall Heroes even having a story at all, and it essentially went from Diablo to Guantlet. Is it fun in short bursts? Sure. Did it need to be a D&D game? Not at all.

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Shadows Over Mystara

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Did you know there's a side scrolling beat 'em up D&D game? This news recently spread much farther after it became available on Xbox Live Arcade, but there were a lot of years where only a handful of people knew about this, as it was included in an emulator pack on certain file sharing sites in an era long gone.

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Art-wise, this game is amazing and really has a very iconic style, but how does it play? Not bad, actually. There's some mechanics that aren't great (the wizard's spells in particular), but overall it plays well and is a great addition to the library of anyone who liked games along the lines of Magic Sword, Golden Axe, or Final Fight.

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Neverwinter Nights

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For those not in the know, BioWare's Neverwinter Nights is not actually the first game to bear that name. An online multiplayer game of the same title came out way back in the early '90s for AOL that was basically stick figures battling each other. While that game has been dead for decades, it can still be found on some abandonware sites. If you can get it running (good luck), unfortunately you won't be able to save your game, since the servers that ran it no longer exist.

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On to the BioWare game from 2002, this is actually a difficult game to rank, because its dozens of games in one. I'm putting it here at this place based on the base game, which frankly wasn't very good.

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The main campaign was an entirely forgettable affair, but where this game shines is in its expansions and the fan-made campaigns made with Neverwinter Nights' extensive editor tools. The two official expansions and a horde of campaigns made by players all went way beyond the throwaway base game and kept Neverwinter Nights relevant, when it should have been thrown into the dust bin of gaming history.

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First-Person Dungeon Crawlers

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There was a time when first-person dungeon crawlers were all the rage, from classics like Might And Magic III: Isles Of Terra to the simply titled Dungeon Master.

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It shouldn't come as much surprise that D&D got in on this action, and the Eye Of The Beholder series surprisingly still holds up fairly well to this day -- although not without flaws and serious signs of aging.

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Going outside the typical Forgotten Realms game, this same idea was presented in the gothic horror titles Ravenloft: Strahd's Possession and Ravenloft: Stone Prophet.

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If you dig the first-person style of the Wizardry series, then these are worth playing, and they are an interesting look back at where the genre started for fans of newer titles like Legend Of Grimrock.

Coming out not long before the stellar Baldur's Gate, there was also the first person, real-time entry Descent To Undermountain, which was along the lines of The Elder Scrolls: Daggerfall, but much more poorly received.

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Icewind Dale

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Probably the only Infinity Engine game that isn't instantly loved and cherished by all, Icewind Dale did something odd by taking the combat and interface of Baldur's Gate and then culling out nearly everything else. It's not entirely devoid of story, but it very strongly put the focus on building a party of faceless adventurers and having them battle through endless dungeons, rather than on interacting with people and exploring.

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Personally I enjoy the game – but only in limited quantities. The beginning is fun, but it doesn't take long for the formula to get very stale, as there's not much driving you on to keep battling more trolls and undead in various locations. The sequel really improved on everything and had more engaging characters, although it too fell prey to repetitive, endless combat.

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Gold Box Games

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For many gamers of a previous era, this is what they think about when the words Dungeons and Dragons come up. Focusing primarily on the Forgotten Realms and Dragonlance campaign settings, these gold box games -- from Pool Of Radiance in '88 through Dark Queen of Krynn in '92 and Unlimited Adventures in '93  -- were the heart of D&D on the computer platform.

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There's no question that these are classics and there's still fun to be had here, but unfortunately they really haven't aged well. If you didn't grow up with these gameplay mechanics, its easy to get frustrated and lose interest quickly. They are all also intensely similar, as its essentially the exact same mechanics on most of the games, just with different characters and enemies.

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Many of these titles are now bundled together through sites like GOG, so if you want to see what came before, you can do so for a reasonable price and without having to try to get some abandonware files to work on your operating system.

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Off-beat Campaign Setting Games

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While the standard gold box titles are heralded as classics in gaming history, what doesn't usually get as much love (but absolutely should) are the off-beat titles from the lesser known campaign settings that came out in the same era. While the gameplay of the gold box sets were all very similar, these games shook up the formula a bit and gave you something more unique.

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Dark Sun: Shattered Lands took us out of the typical high fantasy setting and instead offered up a dead desert planet where you aren't trying to save the world (it's already destroyed), but instead are just trying to eke out an existence as a gladiator slave. Spelljammer: Pirates Of Realmspace also took D&D to space, where it typically does not go.

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Although they aren't actually gold box titles, the Al-Qadim and Birthright settings also got video game adaptations around the same era, to varying levels of success. The Arabian Nights themed Al-Qadim: The Genie's Curse played more like a Zelda title, while Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance was a turned-based strategy game built around the concept of taking control of different territories on a map. Neither were very highly praised, but both at least tried something different.

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Lords Of Waterdeep

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This one's a bit off the beaten path and goes a very different direction from the typical RPG or action title in our list. Based on the tabletop game of the same name, Lords Of Waterdeep is a little like Settlers Of Catan set in the Forgotten Realms, which a healthy dose of political intrigue thrown in for good measure.

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If you like the notion of balancing trade and commerce in a big fantasy city while sending adventurers out on quests, Lords Of Waterdeep is well worth trying out.

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The only real downside is that its a little cramped unfortunately since the Steam edition was ported from a mobile version, and there's no straight up RPG combat like in other D&D games.

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Temple Of Elemental Evil

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The first video game to fully implement the 3.5 rules, in some ways Temple Of Elemental Evil is the black sheep of the D&D franchise. Yes, it was a buggy mess. At one point in my first playthrough, all doors stopped being physical objects and could be walked through without opening (no need for a rogue to pick locks or check for traps after that).

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If you looked beyond those issues though, Temple Of Elemental Evil was a genuinely fun experience, and it really took the pen and paper rules and made them come to life on the screen. The intro and ending also changed based on what alignment you chose for your party, which was a new and interesting change. You could be roving band of chaotic evil lunatics out to pillage and rape, or a collection of altruists seeking to protect the innocent, and the game made no judgment calls.

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This was also one of the few games in the franchise to add in unexpected consequences to typical adventurer behavior. For instance, if you sold the items taken off one villain you defeated, some of his companions would hear about it and ambush you later while traveling, while if you kept that equipment the scene wouldn't occur.

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Icewind Dale 2

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This game put itself in an awkward position, and I'm incredibly glad that it did. When Neverwinter Nights came out in full 3D, Black Isle made the odd choice to release another Infinity Engine game instead based on 2D sprites with 3D effects. For fans of the franchise, the results were stellar, even if people complained that it looked dated.

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The first several segments of this game are some of the best in D&D history, and this is easily one of the finest interpretations of the 3rd edition rules to ever hit a PC game. Simply interacting with and learning about the inhabitants of Targos while building up the city's defenses was a ton of fun, and the large-scale combat segments were done incredibly well.

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A problem did arise though about halfway throughIcewind Dale 2 gets incredibly repetitive once you leave the Ten Towns behind. While the first half of the game improved on the original Icewind Dale in every conceivable way, by the time you hit the ice palace and battle the Auril priestesses, the formula becomes very stale and all the character interaction is replaced by non-stop combat.

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Neverwinter Nights 2

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For awhile, Black Isle Studios was the go-to developer for making stellar D&D games. After its dissolution, several members went on to form Obsidian Entertainment, which became known for producing sequels to much-loved series. They gave us Fallout: New Vegas, Knights of the Old Republic 2, and the excellent Neverwinter Nights 2.

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A vast improvement on its predecessor in nearly every way, NWN 2 didn't just look prettier, it improved on the gameplay, the interface, and most importantly, on the story. The characters and main storyline were leagues ahead of the previous game. That continued with the expansions, which offered some truly unique storytelling in parts of the Forgotten Realms that aren't explored nearly as often. In a plus for me personally, the main quest intersected quite a bit with the planes, so some of the oddity of Planescape mode got to shine through.

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My only real complaint was that the sound effects and music were largely recycled from the inferior first game, and I'm also not a big fan of voice acting in RPGs, so I wasn't crazy about the focus on full voicing of dialog.

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Baldur's Gate 2

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I know some will wonder how this is rated below its predecessor, as Baldur's Gate 2 added in a host of improvements that took the series to a new level. Updated effects and portraits, more companions, much larger areas, more options to play as an evil character, the addition of romances, and so on were all advances that are absent from the first game.

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I'll agree: in most regards, BG 2 improved on the formula. However, there were just a couple of ways in which it didn't, which keeps it from being an outright better game. For starters, there was that annoying opening dungeon that no one wanted to have to replay every time before getting into the real goods of the game (thankfully, mods exist to cull it entirely).

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While all the side quests you engage in while exploring Athkatla and the surrounding lands were amazing, its the main story quest and its villain here that fall short. Jon Irenicus may be a tragic figure steeped in Forgotten Realms lore, but nearly everything else about him just isn't particularly interesting, and frankly he doesn't fit the tone of D&D very well.

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That all being said, BG 2 is still an amazing game that's leagues ahead of the sub-par D&D titles we've been given in the past decade -- so if you haven't played it, seriously do so at your earliest opportunity.

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Baldur's Gate

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This is the game that changed everything for Dungeons and Dragons titles. Made by a team of practicing doctors who decided to give video game development a shot, the Infinity Engine began here and produced what was unquestionably the best representation of the AD&D ruleset yet.

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Besides the stellar gameplay (now famously referred to as “real time with pause”), Baldur's Gate was no slouch in the character or storytelling department. Who could ever forget Minsc and his companion Boo (the only miniature giant space hamster in the realms)? The morose Xan (“we're all doomed!”) is still a favorite of mine to this day, and listening to the things Xar and Mantaron had to say if the other died was hysterical.

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I've got a special place in my heart for this classic that will never get dethroned, and to this day I fondly recall having to smuggle all five discs into my room without the box, as ”that Satanic Dungeons and Dragons” was most definitely not allowed in our home.

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There was a great balance here of combat and story, but what really captured people's attention at the time was the exploration. Simply finding new locations on the map and then covering every inch of those locations to discover new stories and new companions was incredibly satisfying.

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The Best: Planescape Torment

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I'm going to get this out of the way right now: Planescape Torment isn't just the best D&D game to ever see release, it's the best RPG to ever see release, even to this day. Your Dragon Ages, your Witchers, your Final Fantasy, they don't even come close.

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Since this game, nobody has told a fantasy story of this depth, with insanely interesting characters and fantastic locations. Vhailor is a suit of armor animated by the force of his devotion to law, while Fall-From-Grace is a succubus who wields divine magic and runs a brothel where only intellectual lusts are stimulated. Your main character is a blank slate, remembering nothing of his past or why he can't die, and you get to choose his class and alignment based on your actions.

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Planescape is a campaign setting that is criminally underrepresented in video games, and unfortunately it seems like it will never be returned to again. Everything about this game just clicks together – the art style, the music, the bizarre quests and NPCs. This is one of the few RPGs where you want to put ALL your points into intelligence and wisdom and spend dozens of hours talking to your party members and even inventory items. If you played this through as a fighter, you missed more than half the game.

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Torment is a game that continuously reveals new secrets the more you play it. I'd probably beaten it 5 separate times before I realized I could use the stories-bones-tell ability on the zombie workers in the Mausoleum. To my great delight, one of the shambling corpses I'd chosen not to kill on that playthrough turned out to be a former companion from a previous life, and he had some choice words for me.

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Although there probably won't ever be another Planescape game, we are soon getting a quasi-sequel with Torment: Tides Of Numenera.

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In what has unquestionably been an even bigger undertaking than ranking the Final Fantasy games, its time to look back now at an astonishing 40 years(!) of history where Dungeons & Dragons was translated into the electronic medium.

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To keep this manageable and less than 100 pages long, I'm going to skip the iOS/handheld games, as well as anything that's a MMORPG. Although there were some Intellivision games in the 70's, I'm essentially starting this list with Pool Of Radiance, which is the first title people are likely to have actually played and still have access to today.

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When looking back through the many D&D games to hit PCs or consoles, there's an interesting tradition of publishing vastly different games with the same name, which is perhaps sustained by how the same material has to be re-tread repeatedly as new editions of the tabletop game are released over time.

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For instance, if you were only born in the last 20 years or so, you probably did a double take when I mentioned Pool Of Radiance as the first real D&D game. That's because I'm referring to the '88 PC title, not the 3D game of the same name that tried out the 3rd edition rules back in 2001. Likewise, the name Neverwinter Nights means very different things to millenials than it does to people who had AOL back in '91.

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From the basic D&D rules through five or more major overhauls, each edition of the game has made its mark with computer or console titles, and they all had varying levels of success. The only major exception to that rule was oddly with the 4th edition ruleset, which for reasons no one really understands was entirely skipped on the video game front. Frankly, the move didn't make any sense, as that ruleset was much more suited for an electronic presentation than either AD&D or 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons, which have the bulk of the video game titles.

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Lately it seems like the golden age of D&D games is over, ending not too long after the demise of the Infinity Engine. I'm holding out hope though that somewhere down the line, Wizards of the Coast will give the license to a developer with a deep love of the game who is eager to rise to the occasion and give us something as good as Baldur's Gate once again.

"}]]]>
Bottoms Up: 10 Drinking Games from Video Games https://www.gameskinny.com/kqc6o/bottoms-up-10-drinking-games-from-video-games https://www.gameskinny.com/kqc6o/bottoms-up-10-drinking-games-from-video-games Mon, 01 Jun 2015 17:55:57 -0400 The Soapbox Lord

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There you have it, a new excuse to invite your friends over and play some games (as if you needed another one). Have suggestions for drinks or games to play these with? Sound off in the comments!

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Stay thirsty my friends! 

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Confusion - Adventure Games

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Older adventure games are infamous for their obtuse puzzles and hard-to-find key items resulting in extreme pixel hunting. Now that we are adults, let’s replay the most frustrating parts of our childhood like an adult can!

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The Rules:
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Choose an older adventure of your choice (GOG.com has a plethora of great titles) and play. Whenever you encounter some cryptic hints, obtuse instructions, or illogical puzzle, bottoms up! For every five minutes you cannot progress, have another drink!

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The Drink of Choice:
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The peppermint of a Starry Night shot will open your sinuses and maybe help induce an epiphany. I doubt it though. But hey, at least you will be having fun being stuck right? 

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Dead Nazis - Wolfenstein: The New Order

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Who doesn’t enjoy Nazi killing? The Nazis have been around since the birth of gaming, but The New Order actually gave us personal reasons to perpetrate violent acts against the Nazi regime. You could play any WW 2 shooter, but why not play the great The New Order?

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The Rules:
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A Nazi dies; you drink! Whether the Nazi dies in a cutscene, by your hands or someone else’s, it matters not. All that matters is whenever Nazi blood is shed, bottoms up!

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The Drink of Choice:
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Why a Dead Nazi of course! Is there a more fitting drink for this? I think not. 

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Tower Time - Ubisoft games

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At this point, Ubisoft games have become so predictable; they can be predicted far in advance of release. A key mechanic of each Ubi game revolves around capturing a watchtower of some sort. This mechanic started in Assassin’s Creed, and has been present in nearly Ubisoft game since. So let’s take advantage of it!

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The Rules:
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Boot up the Ubisoft game of your choice. Whenever you capture a watchtower, radio tower, or whatever the hell it’s called now, drink! It doesn’t get much easier than this!

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The Drink of Choice:
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 Instead of a bottled drink, mixed drinks would be better for this game. Bloody Marys and Painkillers would be an ideal choice, since this event happens often, but not enough to justify a bottled brew. 

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Bug Hunt - Bethesda games

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Besides creating huge sandbox worlds for players to explore, Bethesda is known for their bugs. Holy crap the bugs are strong with these games. I understand it’s impossible to eliminate every bug in a huge game world, but it seems reasonable to expect less bugs in their games than Starship Troopers.

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The Rules:
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Before you start, you and each of your friends choose a drink. The first person to spot a bug has the other participants take the drink they chose. After each drink, new drinks are chosen and the controller is handed off to another player. Before you know it, you’ll be more interested in finding bugs than treasure.

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Witchin’ Time - Bayonetta

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I love Bayonetta. I absolutely love the ridiculous over-the-top nature of the combat and enemy design as well as the nonsensical story. One of the main mechanics is the use of Bayonetta’s hair. She uses her hair to empower her attacks, so powerful attacks leave her with less clothing. Did I mention her clothing is her hair? It’s a bizarre title to be sure.

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The Rules:
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Another simple one here, whenever Bayonetta’s clothing becomes slightly revealing, you drink. Needless to say, you’ll be surprised how many drinks you’ll have downed within the hour.

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The Drink of Choice:
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Again, you’ll want a bottled beverage for this one. If you desire, you can hand off the controller between combat pieces and stages so you can spectate and drink, because spectators must play the game too! 

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Hatred - Call of Duty

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We have all been playing a multiplayer game of sorts and then it happens: the toxic player show up. If they aren’t criticizing you for every move you make, they are hurling racist, sexist, and bigoted insults at you and others for no discernible reason except to make everyone as miserable as they are. So why not try to make it slightly enjoyable?

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The Rules:
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I named CoD as the go-to game because of its popularity and notorious community. However, you can play any multiplayer game of your choice. Play as you normally would, or play nice if you are a toxic person. When the toxic players show up and start doing their thing, you drink every time they say something nasty. They called your mother something I can’t repeat here? Drink. Hurled a racist insult at someone on a team? Drink. Criticizing your play style despite your score being higher than theirs? Drink. Soon you’ll be happy to hear them open their mouths and spew their spiel.

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The Drink of Choice:
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Since you’ll be drinking fast and often, you’ll want your favorite bottled beverage for this one. Personally, I would take a Dos Equis Lager, a Smirnoff of some sort, or a chilled cider. The choice is yours to make! If you want to play nasty, you and your friends can alternate deciding the drinks before rounds. This way you can finally get your friends to drink that disgusting oatmeal stout you love. You monster.

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Battle Royale or Duel - Rock Band

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Ah Rock Band. It remains one of the greatest party games ever made. So why not use it as a way to show your friends how awesome you are at it?

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The Rules:
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This can be played with as many people as you wish and have the instruments for, or you can rotate. First, the roles of guitarist, drummer, etc. are placed in a hat, and everyone draws a role. Starting with a song of “Easy” difficulty decided by the host, play the song. The person with the highest points decides what the losers drink. The winner of the round also delegates roles for the next song, decides the next song, and the difficulty. Keep playing until you can’t!

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You can also play this with only two people, if you just want to get that one friend inebriated. Rock and roll all nite!

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I Wanna Die - I Wanna be the Guy

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I Wanna Be the Guy is legendary for its unrelenting difficulty that will have even the most veteran players curled into the fetal position and sobbing after a short play session. This is a game that has no rules and constantly breaks the rules of all games you have played. You can die on the bloody map screen for goodness sake!

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The Rules:
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This is as simple as it gets: you die; you drink. Yep, that’s it. Once you explode in a cloud of pixelated blood and gore, bottoms up! If you can last more than ten minutes at this one, I salute you!

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The Drink of Choice:
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Since you will be dying and drinking a lot, you want something deceptively smooth and enjoyable to help calm your nerves after each death. The chocolate milk taste of a Nut’s ‘n’ Berries or the smoothness of a Buttery Nipple. Either way, you’ll at least enjoy the dying, until the next day anyway. 

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The "F" Bomb - Bulletstorm

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Any chance to write about Bulletstorm is a win in my book. In fact, I just wrote about how awesome it is, and why you should play it! As I mentioned in my piece, the game contains a lot of swear words. A LOT. Enough to make sailors blush and Samuel L. Jackson feel uncomfortable. So how does this translate to a drinking game? Actually, it is quite easy.

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The Rules:
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The rules are really simple. Whenever you hear the “f” word or a variation of uttered by our potty mouth characters, you drink. This includes all characters though, not just our main character. So whenever that enemy curses you and you reply with an equally appalling swear, two drinks to you my friend!

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The Drink of Choice:
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Since swearing is not always a good thing, an ideal drink would be something bitter and not very enjoyable by itself. Tequila neat would probably be the best option, unless you like that nasty stuff, in which case a substitute would need to be found. Before you know it, you’ll have been broken of your own swearing habits!

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Errand Boy- Every RPG made

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Everyone’s favorite part of a RPG is when in order to make progress on a quest, we must scratch someone else’s back and do them a favor for some contrived reason. You may be a Grey Warden, a Spectre, a Witcher, or some other powerful character; it does not matter though. At the end of the day, even the most powerful of RPG characters must bow before the power of the errand quest.

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The Rules:
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Any RPG will do. Simply play until you encounter a quest where you must perform an errand for some NPC in order to progress. You must drink upon encountering and accepting the quest and upon completion, this way of playing helps dull the sharp edge of frustration.

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The Drink of Choice:
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There are several shots which could make for an excellent companion to this one. The B-52, Breakfast, and Chocolate Cake shots would be my go-to picks. If you want to play with the grownups though, you could instead use a Three Wise Men or Four Horsemen shots to ensure quick inebriated questing! 

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We all love games, but sometimes our video games can also double as other forms of entertainment. I began to wonder, could I come up with some drinking games which are played with video games? Why yes I can! I’m not a big drinker, but I have a drink every now and then. After brainstorming this list though, I think I need to have a party! As always, please game and drink responsibly!

"}]]]>
Tabletop Dungeons & Dragons Should Be Brought Back to the PC with 5th Edition https://www.gameskinny.com/i8xp5/tabletop-dungeons-dragons-should-be-brought-back-to-the-pc-with-5th-edition https://www.gameskinny.com/i8xp5/tabletop-dungeons-dragons-should-be-brought-back-to-the-pc-with-5th-edition Mon, 02 Mar 2015 08:29:28 -0500 Jessa Rittenhouse

In recent years, we've seen a lot of attempts to bring Dungeons & Dragons and other tabletop RPGs to modern PC gamers in the MMORPG format to varying levels of success (Dungeons & Dragons Online and the Neverwinter MMO being only two such examples), but each of these lacked the feel of a good old-fashioned tabletop campaign.

There's no replacing the sense of accomplishment at the end of a good player-driven story campaign with the pre-scripted quests common in MMOs. MMOs have their good points, but they often miss the point behind role-playing games. It's time to bring tabletop gaming back to the PC in a way that hasn't been seen since the Neverwinter Nights series.

Be anyone you want to be.

Where Our Journey Begins

In June of 2002, BioWare released Neverwinter Nights, a role-playing video game with single and multiplayer modes of play and utilized the Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition core ruleset. This was not, in itself, new; BioWare had already breathed new life into the PC role-playing game genre with the release of Baldur's Gate in 1998.

What made Neverwinter Nights and its sequel, Neverwinter Nights 2 so special? It was the level of customization each of these titles allowed players with the toolsets bundled with the games. With the toolsets, players could create their own campaigns to play with friends - but it didn't have to stop there.

With the Aurora toolset, if you could dream it, you could (probably) do it.

Persistent Servers

Players could create and host servers with entire persistent worlds where they could meet other like-minded D&D players from around the world, and run stories in an on-going setting on a much larger scale than your typical tabletop group of four or five people.

Servers could be hosted with an entire staff of Dungeon Masters, with quests being run at any given point in the day or night. New content, including special classes and feats, could be made by players and implemented in their servers. People who had never even thought of trying Dungeons & Dragons before played Neverwinter Nights, and not only were they hooked on the PC game, but many branched out into playing the tabletop 3.5 edition. It was the perfect creative outlet for anyone with a story to share with the world.

Everyone's got a story to tell.

All Good Things...

Video game development is not a business that stands still. Each company is always looking to make a bigger, better game than their last - it's how these companies remain successful. So in time, BioWare stopped updating and patching the original game and its expansions; Gamespy, the multiplayer server browser where every Neverwinter Nights server could be found, was shut down in 2014.

While this may have been the end for some games, it was not to be for the then-12-year-old title. Years of server-building and modding of the game had made some unlikely software engineers out of the game's players, and the community came together to preserve the worlds they loved.

Though the player base has dwindled significantly, there are still thriving servers that persist today, with Gamespy's authentication system replaced by community-made authentication scripts. It may be over a decade old, but Neverwinter Nights has not yet breathed its last.


With Gamespy gone, the Neverwinter Nights community came together to make sure these servers and more didn't just vanish from the internet.

Why We Need a New Game

Technology marches on, and video-games are ever at the forefront of that march. A newer game can once more breathe new life into the role-playing game genre.

The Aurora toolset that came with the first Neverwinter Nights made content creators of the players, but newer games, while flashier than this classic, don't really give players this ability. That's a shame. The ingenuity shown by the Neverwinter Nights community is a shining example of what giving creative control to players can accomplish.

Why haven't developers stuck with this model? Simply put, there's more profit for companies in subscription-based MMOs and games that offer microtransaction systems. With games like Neverwinter Nights operating on a much smaller scale than the standard MMO (even the largest persistent Neverwinter Nights servers have a server capacity of no more than 96 players) and being completely free to play, there doesn't seem to be any profit in it beyond the initial sale of the game.

Open World of Solutions

There's a way around this, however. If a new game like this were released and made free-to-play, the toolset itself could be a separate, subscription-based program with consistent updates of new tools, textures and more - allowing those passionate about persistent-world creation to drive the profits of game publishers while still supporting a growing community of tabletop-to-PC roleplayers.

Tabletop RPGs are growing popular again, especially thanks to D&D 5th edition - and game developers should take advantage of this.

Not only would BioWare (or any developer willing to take up such a project) already have a devoted fan-base if they created this new game, they would attract all-new players as well. With the recent release of Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition rules, the tabletop franchise is experiencing a resurgence in popularity - and this could very well translate into new players for a game that operates with 5th edition's rule system.

Some might argue that this game is already in production; Sword Coast Legends is slated to release in the third quarter of this year. While SCL game does harken back to the glory days of Neverwinter Nights, and is certainly a step in the right direction, its limitations (primarily that it is only for small campaigns of 1-4 players) mean that it simply cannot replace the unique experience that Neverwinter Nights offers its fans. While more developed features may be added into Sword Coast Legends, in its current state, it's just not the game that many tabletop fans are going to want it to be.

If that game is ever made, it won't be quite like Neverwinter Nights or its sequel; the completely-free-to-play model just wouldn't work for developers and publishers today. Done well, though, it could make a subscription to a toolset worthwhile, and revitalize the online RPG community again without a massive MMO.

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Is Baldur's Gate III in the Pipeline? Go For the Eyes! https://www.gameskinny.com/96yl9/is-baldurs-gate-iii-in-the-pipeline-go-for-the-eyes https://www.gameskinny.com/96yl9/is-baldurs-gate-iii-in-the-pipeline-go-for-the-eyes Mon, 24 Jun 2013 14:54:08 -0400 GameSkinny Staff

Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition was a way for Overhaul Games to the waters to see if an old-school dice-forged role playing game still had a place in modern video games. If it was successful, it would pave the path to Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition and, eventually, the long awaited Baldur's Gate III. Even though the first part of this plan has been much loved by fans, legal matters are stalling production. Unfortunately, things don't look so good, but the developers say there is still hope.

Is Baldur's Gate III still possible?

Short answer: Yes. But not for a while.

In an interview with insidemacgames last year, Trent Oster revealed Baldur's Gate 3 would only be possible if the Enhanced Editions do well financially and if the team demonstrates the ability to successfully make their own original content. The big issue: the new editions cannot do well financially if they aren't for sale. Right now, BG: EE is no longer for sale on many distribution platforms (although still available on Steam). Legal issues with publishing "partners" have halted any sort of progress on the matter. 

Originally, the franchise was published by Atari, and now Atari's US bankruptcy has been throwing publishing rights out of whack. Beamdog had negotiated to get a contract for the first two Baldur's Gate games from Atari and Wizards of the Coast for approximately fourteen months before they were allowed to start working on the Enhanced Editions. Now, there are even more troubles.

In a new interview with Rock Paper ShotgunTrent Oster had this to say: 

“Best case, we can sort this out soon. Worst case, this could be in legal hell for a while. I like making games, but this contractual dispute bullshit keeps me up at night.[...] Baldur’s Gate II: Enhanced Edition is on indefinite hold, as is the current patch. Baldur’s Gate III, we are still interested in the concept, but currently I’d say were very demoralized.”

Demoralized is right. The game is great, but everything surrounding publishing and distribution has been a mess. The future looks grim for Baldur's Gate III, but at least hope is still there. With luck, the boot of justice will be firmly planted on the butt of evil and we'll get our game. Go for the eyes, Boo! Go for the eyes!

A rocky start

Unfortunately, Baldur's Gate: EE has been plagued with problems from the start. The original release date was slated for November 2012. On the day of release, it was delayed. Not good. The reasoning, according to Trent Oster, the Creative Director of the game from Overhaul Games, was that the team wanted it to be perfect and as un-buggy as possible. The game was pushed back to a January release. 

The game originally required a purchase from Beamdog, a digital distribution system similar to Steam. Later, the game finally released on Steam as well. Unfortunately, if you bought the game on Beamdog, you'd have to buy it again on Steam. Also, Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition was intended to launch on iPad and Android devices, but struggled with the app store. 6 months later, the OSX version has yet to be released because of app store approval issues.

The sooner this legal ordeal is over, the better. Not just for a possible third game, which I would be all over like a gnome on turnips, but also for other Enhanced Editions. Plans have been stated for remakes of the Icewind Dale games and for the RPG megalith Planescape: Torment. If the reaction to the Torment: Tides of Numenera Kickstarter is any indication, an enhanced edition would be exceptionally well received. 

 

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