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Playing Baldur's Gate again--most of it feels a bit empty

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The only thing I didn't like about the BG wilderness areas was their boxy shape. It felt a bit like a mine sweeping mission to explore each area. However, I'm not sure how to improve upon that approach. NWN2 exterior areas include a two grid square border area that you couldn't enter, but which gave it more of an expansive feel. It's still a box though. Maybe have soft edge and hard edge borders? I.e. you can walk up to the hard edge, but when you leave the party alone they immediately start moving back to the soft edge.


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The only thing I didn't like about the BG wilderness areas was their boxy shape. It felt a bit like a mine sweeping mission to explore each area. However, I'm not sure how to improve upon that approach. NWN2 exterior areas include a two grid square border area that you couldn't enter, but which gave it more of an expansive feel. It's still a box though. Maybe have soft edge and hard edge borders? I.e. you can walk up to the hard edge, but when you leave the party alone they immediately start moving back to the soft edge.

 

I think that technology has moved forward in such a way that the days of shoe box environments like BG1 can be done away with. I don't expect the areas in PE to follow BG in that way, but I do hope that you can go to the eastern side of map 1, and be able to move to western area of map 2, and so on.

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Right, yet the party order can get greatly muddled up because of pathfinding issues. The result is that low armor characters can end up arriving well ahead of your tanks. It just doesn't favor rapid advances.

 

Sure the pathfinding sucks, but I couldn't tell you the last time where I had to reload because someone like Imoen or Dynaheir got caught out by an encounter ... but I suppose I remember where 99% of all the encounters in the game are so .... ;)

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I like the pacing. It's different from modern-day-RPGs that give you the opportunity to see most of the world really fast (Skyrim, I'm looking at you). Its gameplay has also aged incredibly well - it's just different. It reminds me a bit of Dragon's Dogma, which also had a similar sense of adventure. I can't really nail it down at the moment, but exploring and searching for quest objectives didn't feel empty at all. It felt dangerous, adventurous, expansive - short, it was and is the perfect adventure for me and not only the fast-paced kill-everything-fantasy-sightseeing-tour.

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Another difference between BG1 and BG2 is one of atmosphere.

 

BG1 had a more medieval, down-to-earth feel. It felt more real than BG2. The spells, the monsters, the items...everything was more "normal".

For lack of a better word, BG1 felt more believable than BG2.

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* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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Not that I exactly expect Eternity to look like Baldur's Gate, it just struck me how most of the exploration areas in BG don't contain all that much, and the scenery is pretty bland and repetitive. There's at least one area that has zero quest involvement and no interesting scenery whatsoever--the only remotely "interesting" thing on the entire board is a dude who yells at you to get off his lawn.

 

Granted, due to the pre-rendered scenery, the game has aged INCREDIBLY well. It's the gameplay that feels a bit dated.

 

Anyway, it occurred to me that one way to improve this issue would be to move the random encounters to be a solely between-areas thing. Then you could make lots of little somewhat-generic (a swamp, a forest, a mountain pass, a campsite, a mini-dungeon) maps with interesting "random" encounters, and focus the main areas more exclusively on dense, interesting content and unique scenery.

 

There could even be gameplay elements involved with these random encounters, if, say, the mountain roads are plagued by bandits, and you travel through that area a lot and slaughter a ton of bandits, maybe you hear about the roads becoming safer.

 

Just some thoughts.

 

When I told this a few months ago people bashed me. Like most Bioware games, BG (especially 1) was looking better than what it included.

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Another difference between BG1 and BG2 is one of atmosphere.

 

BG1 had a more medieval, down-to-earth feel. It felt more real than BG2. The spells, the monsters, the items...everything was more "normal".

For lack of a better word, BG1 felt more believable than BG2.

 

I think one of the things that led to this more believeable atmosphere was the lower level characters - you were barely more competent than your average commoner to start and progressed rather slowly upwards not getting exceptionally more powerful until mid-game and even then it was entirely possible to stumble on an encounter that would eat you for lunch.

By games end you were showing some true power but the length of the journey that took you there made that power more believable.

 

In BG2 you started off at those powerful levels and went on to godlike ones - much less believeable - especially if you were not using a character you leveled yourself in BG1 and start off at level 8-9 right off the bat without the benefit of having grown to those levels - like being born a young adult with no basis for your knowledge or chartacter.

 

It's one of the reasons I really prefer lower level campaigns - say level 1-mid teens if they are D&D type levels - which is why I am so excited about PE as thats the level of play they are talking about.

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Nomadic Wayfarer of the Obsidian Order


 

Not all those that wander are lost...

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Another difference between BG1 and BG2 is one of atmosphere.

 

BG1 had a more medieval, down-to-earth feel. It felt more real than BG2. The spells, the monsters, the items...everything was more "normal".

For lack of a better word, BG1 felt more believable than BG2.

 

I think one of the things that led to this more believeable atmosphere was the lower level characters - you were barely more competent than your average commoner to start and progressed rather slowly upwards not getting exceptionally more powerful until mid-game and even then it was entirely possible to stumble on an encounter that would eat you for lunch.

By games end you were showing some true power but the length of the journey that took you there made that power more believable.

 

In BG2 you started off at those powerful levels and went on to godlike ones - much less believeable - especially if you were not using a character you leveled yourself in BG1 and start off at level 8-9 right off the bat without the benefit of having grown to those levels - like being born a young adult with no basis for your knowledge or chartacter.

 

It's one of the reasons I really prefer lower level campaigns - say level 1-mid teens if they are D&D type levels - which is why I am so excited about PE as thats the level of play they are talking about.

 

Indeed. However if I recall correctly there has been talk (I forget where exactly) by at least one developer on these forums of having the leveling rate be faster than BG. The leveling rate in BG was near perfect. It certainly shouldn't have been any faster. BG2, while a great game had the leveling rate a bit fast imo.

 

Something I really don't want to see is my character(s) being greater than level 1 less than an hour into the game, or level 3-5 after 2-3 hours of playing (as in NWN2).

 

Having played many PnP campaigns over the last couple decades, I agree: in general the lower level campaigns are more fun for a variety or reasons. That's not to say that a high level campaign can't also be fun, but balancing them is quite a bit tougher as too often characters end up being just too powerful.

 

One thing I really hope PE and it's sequel does is continue the story in a fashion such as BG1 > BG2 did. BG2 was a true sequel that saw companions and the main character return, to continue the next chapter of the story. My hopes are that PE2 also sees the main character as well as most (if not all) of the companions from PE1 return to continue the next chapter of the story.

 

Edit: /salute from one upstate New Yorker to another. ;)

Edited by Valsuelm

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Even though I love BG1's exploration and atmosphere, I can definitely understand why exploration wasn't such a big part of BG2.

 

As people stated above, your party starts off at a high level, and gets much more powerful. With a party so powerful, it kind of trivializes the tension and danger that you felt in BG1 because you can just kill anything, and after a while it seems like filler. They could use high level monsters in exploration areas, but then it doesn't seem so realistic (why is this forest full of vampires/illithid, etc.?).

 

I also agree that lower level adventures are the most fun and balanced, and slow leveling is much more preferred than leveling up after the first quest. It should be something meaningful, and actually feel like an accomplishment.

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On the other hand, Josh did say in an interview that content density would be a bit more spread out to avoid the 'empty' space, I think...

I think "the truth is somewhere in the middle" answers can be a bit hokey but, in fact, the truth is somewhere in the middle -- between BG1 and BG2, that is. BG1 had a lot of empty space and BG2 packed in the content like a can of sardines. We want exploration areas to feel like you're not tripping over quests and monsters every five feet, but there should be a rewarding amount of good content to find, even in "wilderness" areas.

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On the other hand, Josh did say in an interview that content density would be a bit more spread out to avoid the 'empty' space, I think...

I think "the truth is somewhere in the middle" answers can be a bit hokey but, in fact, the truth is somewhere in the middle -- between BG1 and BG2, that is. BG1 had a lot of empty space and BG2 packed in the content like a can of sardines. We want exploration areas to feel like you're not tripping over quests and monsters every five feet, but there should be a rewarding amount of good content to find, even in "wilderness" areas.

 

I am inferring here, but does this mean we will see a map system more like BG1? By that I mean, if I move to the western section of the map area of Bael Marsh will I move toward the Eastern section of the Pearl Coast, or will it be more akin to the BG2 style of get a quest that leads you to Bael Marsh and that unlocks that location on your map, or is it going to be something different? Perhaps a mix of BG1 and BG2... where some areas can be accessed by exploring and others via quests?

 

Just curious.

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. However if I recall correctly there has been talk (I forget where exactly) by at least one developer on these forums of having the leveling rate be faster than BG. The leveling rate in BG was near perfect. It certainly shouldn't have been any faster. BG2, while a great game had the leveling rate a bit fast imo.

 

 

Edit: /salute from one upstate New Yorker to another. ;)

 

I seem to recall almost the opposite - I think it was Josh that said at one point that levels may come a bit slower but that the amount of growth from one to the next would be significant.

 

As for upstate NY - right back at ya - :thumbsup:

 

(But come on SPRING! :lol: )


Nomadic Wayfarer of the Obsidian Order


 

Not all those that wander are lost...

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Have to agree with the map style, I'd prefer to find my areas/discover areas then just have them on the map and go N or E to be able to get to them.

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Another difference between BG1 and BG2 is one of atmosphere.

 

BG1 had a more medieval, down-to-earth feel. It felt more real than BG2. The spells, the monsters, the items...everything was more "normal".

For lack of a better word, BG1 felt more believable than BG2.

 

I think one of the things that led to this more believeable atmosphere was the lower level characters - you were barely more competent than your average commoner to start and progressed rather slowly upwards not getting exceptionally more powerful until mid-game and even then it was entirely possible to stumble on an encounter that would eat you for lunch.

By games end you were showing some true power but the length of the journey that took you there made that power more believable.

 

In BG2 you started off at those powerful levels and went on to godlike ones - much less believeable - especially if you were not using a character you leveled yourself in BG1 and start off at level 8-9 right off the bat without the benefit of having grown to those levels - like being born a young adult with no basis for your knowledge or chartacter.

 

It's one of the reasons I really prefer lower level campaigns - say level 1-mid teens if they are D&D type levels - which is why I am so excited about PE as thats the level of play they are talking about.

 

I'd say it also has to do with level design and items.

 

You really didn't have crazily powerfull or over-designed items. Most of my party used normal armor for the entire game.

The buildings, the architecture - it all looked "normal".


* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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I actually preferred the large, open areas that don't have much in them (like those in BG1) over the fewer and densely populated ones (like those in BG2). It gave me both a sense of freedom and of the scope of the area. While it could feel "bland" or even boring at times, I found that it improved the overall feeling of the game.

 

With the approach of BG2 (and many of the newer RPGs with the exception of sandbox games like the new Fallouts and TES games), I felt like I was being "pulled by a leash" to places of interest, and that the majority of the areas could be summed with just one quick view around. It offered no sense of immersion or freedom - it just threw content at you.

 

That's my feeling at least. :)

Edited by Jiminy Cricket
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I'd say it also has to do with level design and items.

 

You really didn't have crazily powerfull or over-designed items. Most of my party used normal armor for the entire game.

The buildings, the architecture - it all looked "normal".

 

That's definitely something I appreciated in BG1; the "epic" stuff was not only truly rare/expensive, but they weren't overly better than the regular stuff. Plate mail +1, so cool! Since PE is supposed to be the first in a proper franchise, my hope is that the equipment approach is more "ordinay" similarly to BG1. But we know there are going to be a whole bunch of "epic" player-designed stuff, so I have to wonder...

 

Also, some people are comparing BG1 against BG2 and saying the latter is railroaded--no, DA:O was truly railroaded. The biggest difference between BG2 and the likes of DA:O is that in the former, nearly all the map areas outside of Athkatla proper (mainland above ground) were optional side quests--just deeper, longer-running and divergent side quests with initial ungating quests, but still optional for exploration nonetheless. I don't remember optional exploration maps at all in DA:O besides companion quests because there were so few side quests in general. So something between BG1 (low-density dialogue encounters lacking any sense or depth) and BG2 (deeper side content but no low-density exploration) would certainly be the best of both worlds for me.

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The KS Collector's Edition does not include the Collector's Book.

Which game hook brought you to Project Eternity and interests you the most?

PE will not have co-op/multiplayer, console, or tablet support (sources): [0] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Write your own romance mods because there won't be any in PE.

"But what is an evil? Is it like water or like a hedgehog or night or lumpy?" -(Digger)

"Most o' you wanderers are but a quarter moon away from lunacy at the best o' times." -Alvanhendar (Baldur's Gate 1)

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I'd say it also has to do with level design and items.

 

You really didn't have crazily powerfull or over-designed items. Most of my party used normal armor for the entire game.

The buildings, the architecture - it all looked "normal".

 

That's definitely something I appreciated in BG1; the "epic" stuff was not only truly rare/expensive, but they weren't overly better than the regular stuff. Plate mail +1, so cool! Since PE is supposed to be the first in a proper franchise, my hope is that the equipment approach is more "ordinay" similarly to BG1. But we know there are going to be a whole bunch of "epic" player-designed stuff, so I have to wonder...

 

Also, some people are comparing BG1 against BG2 and saying the latter is railroaded--no, DA:O was truly railroaded. The biggest difference between BG2 and the likes of DA:O is that in the former, nearly all the map areas outside of Athkatla proper (mainland above ground) were optional side quests--just deeper, longer-running and divergent side quests with initial ungating quests, but still optional for exploration nonetheless. I don't remember optional exploration maps at all in DA:O besides companion quests because there were so few side quests in general. So something between BG1 (low-density dialogue encounters lacking any sense or depth) and BG2 (deeper side content but no low-density exploration) would certainly be the best of both worlds for me.

 

You are right that BG2 areas were optional, but the issue with them is that they were only unlockable if you accepted a quest. You couldn't just wander into an area just because you were exploring the surroundings of the city. I think that's the issue that people were having with BG2. It wasn't too big of a deal because the game was amazing in every other way. I would also be happy with something in the middle of BG 1 and 2, but to be honest, I'd like it a bit closer to BG 1.

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I would also be happy with something in the middle of BG 1 and 2, but to be honest, I'd like it a bit closer to BG 1.

 

Same. I won't be unhappy with something in the middle, which is why I liked Josh's reply in this thread. However I'll be happier the closer it is to BG1. The idea that BG1 was too sparse is exaggerated I think. Empty areas give the sense that you're in a world. And there really were only a couple of zones that had little in them in terms of encounters. I'm all for a couple of zones in PE that are relatively sparse in terms of encounters. It can make sense to some encounter way off nearly by itself in the wilderness. And it adds to the feeling that you're in a world to traipse through relative emptiness. Of course we don't want too much of that, however by no means do I think BG1 remotely approached too much of that.

Edited by Valsuelm
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I prefered the system of exploration from BG1 because well it was better for me i prefered to explore lots of maps before i touched something from the main quest, in BG2 the whole exploring thing feelt a little forced i mean you could only go there by taking quest X or doing stuff Y, you could not go ther by your own free will, plus there were things that i would like to go but could not (for example the tents in BG2 just under the main city, you could not go there why? what was there?), but saying all that i do think that the BG1 system did have a flaw, they actually gived to much to explore (after some time it becamed dull) so combining BG1 system and BG2 would be a greate idea example. At first you have some mobility around the world but some aspects of it are blocked (for good reasons like the main city in BG1 was blocked) and when you push the main story a bit further more and more places are unlocked, hell it dosnt even have to be the main story, make it a big side quest thing for example you became a (this is just an example dont take it to serious) owner of a castle with some lands around it and because that you can go to 3-4 new maps around the castle to explor it.

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If you want to play a game where there is constant danger, play Diablo. Baldur's Gate was a real world, there were wolves and stuff, and generally, the world was not overrun by bad guys, that's not realistic unless the story is about a demonic invasion. Even in old, old England, you could most ride around the middle bit without problems, you head to the borders and get attacked by Vikings, Scotts or the Irish. Most places have stability or they are not a country at all, just a small collection of warring warlords. Somalia has borders on a map, but in reality, no government structure. It's not really a country at all at the moment.

 

I'd rather play in a world with some stability and some very dangerous areas, that's what you get in BG.

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I think it's good to think of it this way:

 

It's safest for Obsidian to err closer to BG1 as hub/campaign quests should be directioned enough that players can figure out what's optional side content. The amount of resources that would go into rendering and repainting new "empty" spaces--this is "probably" far less limiting than developing the intricate plot, lore, and dialogic machinations and getting all the mechanics to work properly.


The KS Collector's Edition does not include the Collector's Book.

Which game hook brought you to Project Eternity and interests you the most?

PE will not have co-op/multiplayer, console, or tablet support (sources): [0] [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]

Write your own romance mods because there won't be any in PE.

"But what is an evil? Is it like water or like a hedgehog or night or lumpy?" -(Digger)

"Most o' you wanderers are but a quarter moon away from lunacy at the best o' times." -Alvanhendar (Baldur's Gate 1)

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First post:

I've replayed BG Series and Icewind "Series" recently - enjoyed them all, for different reasons, some have more strengths than others.
I guess I hope for depth and more streamlined application vs interface - I'd really like a simplistic interface and perhaps instead of "Difficulty" a slider that increases combat frquency too :facepalm:

I am so excited about this :w00t:

I definitely want Illithid types.

Edited by Jokei

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The Fallout 1&2 refereces of how that wilderness map works are golden, it was a hassle to get attacked by dogs/preying mantis's every 2 metres (Im with the metric system), but it really felt like you explored the area. Everyday people dont have the knowledge of where the biggest town is, they might know its to the north, but thats it, they know to follow the roads, while 200metres into the forest is a huge ruin which noone ever goes to, cause its not on the road...

You dont have time to go daytripping in that kind of life, theres always something to do or to be done.

 

What Im trying to point out is that people didnt know what lies around them, they just knew their little village and maybe the next one, but around them in the forest or up the road - no clue.

 

People of that age had no clue.. Couldnt read maps (when there were any map to be read/I'm talking about the commoners now, not noblemen). There were very little intrest in the outside world - you just didnt have the time/resources to bother with anything other than everyday life.

 

Would be awesome to have the important cities show on the map as oasis's on a otherwise black map. You know theyre there, just dont know the best route to them.

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Oh man, i really hope we wont see a map system like the one in Baldurs Gate, because it totally ****s up scale.

If the west end of section A1 seemlessly is continued in the east end of section B2 that means that where is no space between two area screens. This, on the other hand, means that the player can explore the whole world/region. And this means that the whole world/region is made up of some dozen square kilometers and even "far away" places are reachable in a real life walking time of a few hours.

Its a major complaint with many rpgs for me and similar to the things mentioned in my dont-make-a-whole-city-thread. Its a total immersion killer if the size of the gameworld just isnt logically correct, please dont do this :/


The best solution would be a somewhat improved Fallout worldmap system.

The game world consists of sectors, which are accessable via an abstracted worldmap. On a sector there either can be
 

1) Nothing at all, in this case stopping at that sector isnt modelled at all in form of a game screen and the player instead gets one of these nice static art screens depicting the environment he currently is in (mountain range, plains, forest) and gets text options for camping and other stuff.

2) An already known place like a settlement which consists of one or more game screens

3) An unknown place, which has a chance to be discovered of 1 to 100 percent when trespassing the sector based upon its size and visibility (large city or tall fortress 100%, town which is someway off the main road 80%, military camp inside a forest 60 %, remote village 40%, forest grove 30%, overgrown ruins 20%, dungeon with hidden entrance 1%)


This way the player can discover new places through quest givers which directly mark it on the map, rumors which only roughly tell where to find something and maybe raise the finding chance because the characters know what to look for in a sector, and freeform exploration.

 

Random encounters also could be implemented easily, and lastly some wilderness skill could raise the finding chances for places/for positive random encounters.

Edited by amarok

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I hope this won't considered to be thread necro, but there is some real good discussion here. Basically, I'm a bit casually playing BG too at the moment here and there. What I'm actually playing at the moment is NWN2, which I missed when it first came around. But a few nostalgie articles and that "D&D buzz" made me also install the game that back then almost cost me my final exams and have another look after a few years... Baldur's Gate. Original release, non EE.

 

I love this quote.
 

Not that I exactly expect Eternity to look like Baldur's Gate, it just struck me how most of the exploration areas in BG don't contain all that much, and the scenery is pretty bland and repetitive. There's at least one area that has zero quest involvement and no interesting scenery whatsoever--the only remotely "interesting" thing on the entire board is a dude who yells at you to get off his lawn.

Granted, due to the pre-rendered scenery, the game has aged INCREDIBLY well. It's the gameplay that feels a bit dated.
 

I think it was acknowledged that Baldur's Gate was developed by a team that -- for a large part -- had never developed a game of this scope before, or at least were rather inexperienced. If you contrast BG's exploration with any other major RPG, even of its time -- or if compare it to NWN2, the difference hits you like a Critical Hit.

For the record, I loved the exploring the vast, oft empty spaces in BG1 in 1999. To a large degree, I still do now. Apparently I was in a minority, as BG2 took a different route altogether, and from then on for Bioware there wasn't a way back either way. BG made me realize what's gone missing since. Basically, "modern" games in particular are designed like a theme park or Awesome Obstacle Course™, where two packs of loot, enemies or quests to tackle are just around every corner. You generally won't visit a single area that isn't jam packed with stuff, and you can be assured that whatever place you're going to visit, it will contain either a critical path quest advancement, or a major side quest of sorts.

Baldur's Gate 1 is one of the few RPGs where travelling feels like travelling. I had completely forgotten how there can be minutes where you won't meet anyone -- and then, all of a sudden, there's blood in the grass, you'll hear a few screams, and a pack of Gnolls comes charging in. Coupled with the low level D&D, where one hit may be fatal, at its best, that's just fantastic. Arguably this was only ever possible though due to that inexperienced staff back then. It's not likely much done on purpose. However, it challenges so many RPG and gaming paradigms. Reward the player at every opportunity. Give him tons of stuff to do. Never waste resources on areas that aren't going to contain anything either way. Etc. etc.

It has its flipsides, naturally. Large chunks of the areas are really empty, and the quests are mostly cooky cutter. However, I wish somebody would take a closer look at the wilderness of the Sword Coast as presented in BG and once again run with it, for a change. At its best, this isn't so much your Awesome Obstacle Course or Theme Park: Sword Coast, but a world to explore. The still pretty decent ambient FX help to establish this, naturally, as do the night/day cycles and weather effects.

Edited by Sven_

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