You're in a desert, walking along in the sand, when all of a sudden you look down and see a tortoise. It's crawling toward you. You reach down and you flip the tortoise over on its back. The tortoise lays on its back, its belly baking in the hot sun, beating its legs trying to turn itself over, but it can't. Not without your help. But you're not helping. Why is that? Why are you not helping?
VGX 2013: South Park and Witcher 3 Trailers
Game News - posted by Infinitron
on Sun 8 December 2013, 17:58:53
Yesterday was VGX 2013, formerly known as VGA, the annual video game award show organized by Spike TV. Hosted by the Dorito Pope himself and a dude named Joel McHale who spent the entire evening trolling, this year's show promised to "abandon the traditional Hollywood style award show to feature more world premiere game trailers than ever before, plus extended deep dives into the next generation of games, new looks at gaming culture, one-on-one interviews with the industry's most visionary creatives and expert panels digging into what's coming to consoles in 2014 and beyond". Well, there was some of that, but as far as RPGs go, all we got were two trailers.
First, a new trailer for South Park: The Stick of Truth, the game about farting.
Second, one of the Codex's favorite conversation topics, a new The Witcher 3: Wild Hunttrailer, featuring the King of the titular Hunt doing his best Sauron impression.
And that's it. No interviews with anybody from Obsidian or CD Projekt, although South Park's Matt Stone and Trey Parker did show up for two minutes...to announce the Game of the Year award. If you're really bored, you can watch the entire show here.
In a press release posted on their forums, Basilisk Games (AKA "that other indie RPG developer that isn't Spiderweb Software") have announced a release date for Eschalon: Book III, which was successfully greenlit for Steam release back in October.
Basilisk Games Announces the release date for "Eschalon: Book III"
Indianapolis, IN - December 3, 2013 - Basilisk Games, Inc. is proud to announce that Eschalon: Book III is expected to launch on Windows, Macintosh and Linux platforms on Valentine's Day, February 14, 2014.
On February 14 the game will be immediately available, worldwide and DRM-free, through our website at http://basiliskgames.com. Eschalon: Book III was recently approved through Steam's Greenlight service and will be available on most major distribution portals on or shortly after its worldwide Valentine's Day release.
“The last game of the Eschalon trilogy is in the final stages of development now and is expected to wrap up in time for next Valentine's Day” said Thomas Riegsecker, CEO of Basilisk Games. “It is really an exciting time for us to see this project finished, and for everyone waiting to see how the trilogy comes to a close.”
Basilisk Games is expected to begin semi-public Beta Testing of Eschalon: Book III in early January 2014 for fans who want to help balance the game before its release. More information on the beta test program will be posted on the website at http://basiliskgames.com in the coming weeks.
About Eschalon: Book III
Eschalon: Book III is the final game in the award-winning Eschalon RPG series, following Book I's release in 2007 and Book II's release in 2010. The Eschalon RPG series features sprawling, open-ended game worlds and almost unlimited character development options. Book III brings the series to a climatic end as you seek to uncover the mystery of four powerful gemstones and your clouded past. No experience with either of the first two games is needed to enjoy this final chapter in the Eschalon saga. More information on the game can be found online at: http://basiliskgames.com/eschalon-book-iii
Insert joke about RPG players and Valentine's Day here.
We do not want to deviate from the formula of the game. The reason why so many of you have fallen in love with “Deathfire” is because of its many cool and unique features. If we were to reduce the scope or depth of the game, we would essentially destroy everything that fans cared for in the first place. Therefore, the decision was made to find a solution that allows us to keep the game’s features intact.
The plan is this: Instead of creating a large-scale game all at once, we decided to take an episodic approach to the game. As opposed to forcing ourselves to a development schedule that spans a year or more, and which needs to be funded up front entirely, we have decided to develop the game in installments, each an individual chapter in the story—as you would have in a book—which, when taken together make up the entire story of the original game.
There are a number of great examples out there, for games that have done very well using an episodic approach. Especially “The Walking Dead” by Telltale Games jumps to mind instantly as an example of episodic-delivery-done-right.
Each of “Deathfire’s” six chapters we will build, will expand the game as a whole when they are released, not only continuing the story, but also introducing new features as they enter the picture. The advantage of this approach is, I think, self-evident.
There is, of course, the question of where they're going to take the money for the first episode. In an unusual move, Guido has decided to start a direct crowdfunding campaign on the game's official website:
The result is that we will need a much smaller financial upfront commitment, and as the individual chapters are being rolled out, they can begin to generate incremental revenue that will then help us along as we continue with the project.
There is still the problem of getting the ball rolling, of course. Fortunately we have already done a lot of the ground work in the past months, creating a workflow and toolchain that will allows us to work efficiently right out of the gates, but we will still need money to pay everyone who’s working so hard on this project, along with some necessary software and hardware purchases.
Therefore we have decided to accept pledges from fans directly.As of right now, you can select reward tiers and back our project on our official website, just the way you would do on Kickstarter. In fact, we have tried to keep much of the reward structure in place that we offered in Kickstarter, though due to the nature of the beast, some amends had to be made. At the same time, there are some really cool changes, because things such as the Beastiary will now be continually updated and will grow over time as each new chapter is released.
There is a certain amount of base capital that is required for us to safely enter development of this chapter-based approach, and over the course of the next two weeks we want to see if we can reach this $50,000 base goal. Reaching it will make it possible for us to pay out small salaries and keep everyone’s families fed properly, while developing the first chapter. Upon reaching that milestone, we hope that the chapter release itself will generate enough buzz and interest to bring in additional funds through new backers or sales, which, in turn, will allow us to continue the development.
Don't know if that's feasible -- Guido Henkel is no Chris Roberts -- but I guess we'll see.
Today's Torment: Tides of NumeneraKickstarter update announces the expected result of the combat system vote - a resounding victory for turn-based combat. As the vote was very close, Kevin Saunders took the time to write a comprehensive apologia for the decision, in an attempt to mollify the RTwP hordes. Here's an excerpt from that:
As we explained in Update 24, we were leaning toward turn-based combat because we believe it’s better suited for the kind of tactical complexity we're looking for through our Crisis system. We believe it’s a stronger fit for bringing narrative elements, including dialogue with NPCs, into hand-crafted combat situations. We have considered the vote, but more important than the vote are the comments (not just in our forums, but on many of the community forums and articles on this topic). Your comments have helped us greatly in understanding why people have the preferences and concerns that they do.
We have decided to go with turn-based combat. Ultimately, there are no losers here. This is all part of the process of making an RPG we are all passionate about and we think you’ll like Torment’s combat even if you voted for RTwP. While we have not been looking forward to disappointing half of our backers, we were happy to find that many of the reasons people gave for disliking TB and preferring RTwP can be addressed through the details of our combat system and encounter design. I’d like to go over some of the more common comments we saw either for RTwP or against TB and explain how we will address them.
Comment #1: Turn-Based combat can be tedious
If one were to take Planescape: Torment and, changing nothing else, switch to TB combat, the result would be miserable for many. You'd be stopped midstride in every Hive back alley to perform the same boring actions on meaningless thugs and zombies.
This isn’t what we’re going to do.
Turn-based combat certainly can be tedious, but that comes down to encounter design. As we stated during the Kickstarter, Torment will have no trash mobs—those hordes of filler battles that require little thought from the player. That type of gameplay is at odds with our emphasis on the story and character development, so each Crisis in Torment will be hand-crafted. It will have narrative relevance and consequences. We'll iterate on them until each one is a quality encounter and provides the experience we seek for that moment in the game.
If any combat situation in Torment were tedious, it wouldn’t be because it's turn-based. It would be because we failed in our goal. And our Crises aren’t just combat. They contain exploration, dialogue, and time-relevant actions and events that can exist outside of combat, like pursuits, environmental puzzles, and application of special skills. You’re going to have to work throughout the game toward your goals, and the Crisis concept is a primary way that we put your intentions to the test.
We understand the importance to you of combat not being tedious. Emphasis on encounter design is important for any CRPG, but for Torment, the bar will be even higher – we believe that through well designed encounters, and extensive gameplay iteration on them, we’ll be able to address the majority of the concerns expressed by those who favored RTwP.
And there's even a choice quote from Chris Avellone himself:
"The Planescape: Torment experience was never defined by its combat. In Torment: Tides of Numenera, the combat is intended to complement both the narrative systems and the basic gameplay mechanics. It is a challenging decision for the team to make, and I respect and support their decision to choose turn-based."
-- Chris Avellone, Lead Designer of Planescape: Torment; Creative Director at Obsidian Entertainment
We’ve been hard at work on the backer beta, working through some last niggling blocker bugs to get it ready for you, and kept you updated on @wasteland2beta and the Wasteland 2 tumblr. To catch you up: it’s almost ready: We’re fully on track to put it in your hands next week!
As we’ve said before, the initial beta rollout is the first four major areas, the associated COPS maps (smaller maps), the world map and its random encounters, and character creation. As the beta progresses, we’ll roll out more areas, though we do plan to hold LA back for spoiler reasons. We’ll have more details on the beta such as remaining known issues next week, when we launch it.
With all late backer donations, we manually import pledge data roughly every 2-3 weeks, but we will ensure the database is up to date when the beta launches. The digital-only pre-order options will remain available though we may pull them too in the not too distant future, somewhere in time and space. Existing backers will still be able to upgrade, so as a backer you’ll still be able to move into a higher tier and get access to the beta later, it just won’t be available as an add-on.
We’re also progressing in other procedural matters as we get closer to beta. We’ve been testing both Steam distribution and the use of our CenterCode bug reporting site with a limited group of external testers, and both are looking good. CenterCode in particular will be instrumental to a successful backer beta run, it allows for bug reports to go directly into our system, so we can quickly and efficiently handle duplicates and assign bugs to the responsible developer. For our backers, it offers an easy-to-use, simple website that gives you direct access to providing us with not just bug reports, but also general feedback and suggestions. Depending on how things go we may launch the CenterCode site before the beta is out, to give you time to register, provide your PC info and get familiar with the site.
Keep an eye on our twitter or tumblr for more news, and expect more updates soon.
Oh, and besides that, there's also this portrait of an "old friend" from the original Wasteland:
Jaesun's favorite RPG, Final Fantasy VIII, is now available on Steam. Naturally, it also includes built-in cheats, just like the recent FF7 release, as well as the Codex's favorite feature -- Steam achievements!
It is a time of war. Galbadia, a Global Superpower, has declared war on Dollet, a country whose training academy is home to two personalities: the hot-headed Seifer and the 'lone wolf', Squall Leonhart. Both are equally at conflict with each other as their country is with Galbadia; to others, Squall appears lacking in team spirit, while Seifer lacks the discipline of his rival. However, a chance encounter with the free-spirited Rinoa Heartilly turns Squall's universe upside down; having thrived on discipline, Squall find the carefree Rinoa fascinating. He also begins to dream that he is Laguna Loire, a Galbadian army soldier…
Meanwhile, a sorceress manipulates the most powerful men in Galbadia.
Will Squall and his party succeed in defeating this maniacal sorceress and saving their world?
What part does the mysterious Laguna play? Only you can decide what happens next, as the greatest Role Playing Adventure of all time returns...
When Magic Booster is used, the player’s inventory of the following spells is increased by 100: Cure, Cura, Curaga, Fire, Fira, Blizzard, Blizzara, Thunder, Thundara, Sleep, Blind, Silence, Berserk, Bio, Esuna, Aero, Confuse, Break, Zombie. This feature can be used from the launcher.
This version of FFVIII includes the full game “Chocobo World” that was released as a separate application for previous versions. It is possible to play “Chocobo World” directly from the launcher after booting up FFVIII and by fulfilling certain specific conditions in the main game you will also be able to synchronise data between the two games.
Grab the game here if you feel like paying $11.99/12,99€ for it.
In the latest Dead StateKickstarter update, Brian Mitsoda offers a short preview of the game's upcoming playable demo, which will be called Dead State: The First Seven Days. I must say, it's starting to look pretty good.
Improved combat, improved dialogues, simultaneous zombie movement, new music and DOGS! Oh boy. Dead State: The First Seven Days is set to be released next month on Steam Early Access.
It's been a slow news week so while we're all waiting for Obsidian to launch the Project Eternity backer portal, here's a little something for you to bitch about discuss. Mansion Lord is an amusing concept currently on Kickstarter that aims to merge turn- and grid-based RPG (with character classes, stats, etc.), murder mystery, and a business management sim. It also includes class switching mechanics (!) which is the real reason why I'm posting about it at all :wizardry:.
Unfortunately it comes with "retro" pixel graphics that every other indie game seems to use these days. But oh well. I'll let the project speak for itself:
Mansion Lord combines a murder mystery business sim with tile-based world building and turn-based RPG combat. Build your mansion tile-by-tile, invite unscrupulous aristocrats to dinner, and, with the aid of your hired detectives, capture them for bounties after they slay the other guests. You can level up your detectives, equip them with hundreds of different weapons and accessories, and teach them a variety of skills. All in the name of profit!
BUILDING SYSTEM: Create your mansion one piece at a time using a grid-based tile system. Place each individual object to gain vital room bonuses to attract more guests - and for your personal sense of interior decoration, of course!
TACTICAL TURN-BASED COMBAT: Claim bounty money by defeating the killers using a grid-based combat system. Use a variety of a special skills, joint combo attacks and maneuvering (side attacks and back attacks do matter!) to take them down.
SUSPECT DATABASE SYSTEM: Each killer has a unique set of likes and dislikes - tailor your rooms to suit their preferences to lure them to your mansion! Try to draw in the most elusive suspects to complete your "collection."
RPG CHARACTER UPGRADING: Improve your stable of hired detectives by earning XP, updating their equipment, teaching them new skills, increasing their happiness with gifts, and even building them their own bedroom!
ENDLESS ROGUELIKE ENCOUNTERS: If you want to take a break from management for some old-fashioned dungeon diving, try sending your detectives into the depths of the abandoned basement levels to clear out the ghouls below. The deeper you go, the bigger the dangers (and the rewards, of course)!
SOCIAL BOND SYSTEM: Detectives with strong relationships have special abilities in combat. Strengthen their social bonds by sending them out on "dates" every now and then. Who knows what might happen when their relationship maxes out?
100% CHIPTUNE SOUNDTRACK: If it doesn't chirp, bleep, or bloop, you won't hear it in our music.
The latest KS update describes the game's character classes in more detail. Here's a snippet:
Every person in your employ belongs to a particular class. A character's class determines their distribution of stats and access to specific passive abilities. In the screenshot below, you can see that Dr. Olive is currently a level 15 Surgeon, which affords him access to the Bedside Manner and Precision Cuts abilities.
Once a character reaches level 20 in their current class, they may opt to switch to a new class while keeping any abilities they learned. A character can only remember up to 4 abilities at any given time.
Also, some classes are gender-locked. For example, a male character could never switch to the female-only Siren class shown below.
Finally, one last thing to keep in mind is that well-trained people tend to demand high salaries - so be prepared for that when they come knocking for a raise!
In the latest episode of his show, Matt Barton continues his interview with Guido Henkel. This time, the conversation revolves around the topic of Attic Entertainment's Realms of Arkania series, that Guido helped produce in the 1990s. However, there's plenty of time spent discussing topics such as Attic's early history, the lost art of game manual writing and Guido's writing career (the lack of success of which he is remarkably frank about).
The actual Realms of Arkania discussion starts at about 16:48, and focuses on the first two games in the series, describing their inspirations and origins in the German The Dark Eye pen-and-paper roleplaying game. The most interesting part is when Guido describes how the publisher, Sir-Tech Software, convinced Attic to dumb down streamline the sequel for American audiences, a move with which he seems to generally approve of.
The Kickstarter campaign for old-school turn-based RPG Lords of Xulima ended at $35,657 about a day ago, hitting three of its stretch goals - including the new world region, Enchanted Isles.
Talk about going out with a bang! Who would’ve thought all your activity and energy could spread so wildly? That your support and cheers in the comments (and everywhere else) could accomplish so much? But it did, and now we’re looking at an amazing conclusion for this exhausting, but exciting month of November.
It has been so much work, but it’s all worth it when we get to see how so many others believe in Lords of Xulima. As you might know, we only asked for contributions towards the end of the game’s development cycle, so we could get LoX into your hands as soon as possible. We promise to you that we will!
Also, there has been talk of Paypal donations post-campaign. You humble us, really, but there’s no way we can accept a donation without at least offering something in return!
The Pre-order page is up: There are 6 different editions and new 4 add-on packages to choose from, so plenty of fun shopping to do if you’re thrilled about the game or missed out on some cool perks!
We’re really working hard on our website at the moment, so I hope you’ll consider visiting from time to time. The pre-order banner is also stickied on our Kickstarter front page. Now I think the Numantian Horse is getting quite restless, and needs some sleep very soon. He’s the team Mascot, so we have to take good care of him.
We’ll be right back after the weekend, with the 35k mini-goal update! Stay tuned…
Yay! I wonder what the 35,000 "mini-goal" will be.
In a repeat performance of what happened to Wasteland 2, Larian Studios' Divinity: Original Sin, after having been delayed to 2014, has now seen its alpha release delayed as well. While there's no updated release date for the alpha (smart move, Larian), there is some good news - both the alpha and the beta will now be open to all Kickstarter backers. The update explains, in a video featuring Random Internet Celebrity #134 and Dodger, better known in these parts as That Chick From DarkUnderlord's Stupid Emoticon™:
It’s the end of November, and we said the Divinity:Original Sin alpha was going to be out in November, so where is it?
Ah, I wish I could write that it’s out now, but sadly it’s not. We still need to sort out a couple of things, so a bit more patience will be needed. How much patience? Not that much, but still a bit. We’re working really hard to get everything done and we do expect the alpha to be out before our X-mas break, but ... well maybe you want to watch the big surprise first.
The big surprise!
It’s a surprise so we won’t spoil it with text, but watch the video as it contains some good news. We hope it makes you happy! Errmmm... if you are weak of heart, don't let the title fool you
We decided on doing this a few weeks ago because we realized it would be much more beneficial to the game, but since we only decided on it, it’s going take us a bit more time to put everything in place. We are committed to getting this all sorted out before the X-mas break though and we solemnly swear to do everything we can to get it to you asap.
Backers who explicitly pledged extra for alpha/beta access can expect refunds/extra credit to be in place before X-mas too via their Larian Vault account. We hope you understand that we want to maximize the amount of people playing the game because that’s how we’ll be able to strike the best balance between all the different items, spells, skills and creatures.
We will also be reaching out to backers who need to get their items, npcs, dialogs, object combinations or looks in the game in the coming weeks as we’re finally ready to implement those so expect some mail if any of these were included in your pledge.
Nice. A prelude to putting the game on Steam Early Access, perhaps? I just hope the game itself isn't delayed too. At least not for too long.
As you've probably noticed, it's nearly December and the Wasteland 2 beta hasn't been released yet. The latest news, according to Brian Fargo's Twitter feed, is that it's going to be released in about 2.5 weeks. The guys at Rock Paper Shotgun decided to contact him for more details. Here's what the man had to say:
RPS: What, specifically, caused you to take longer than you initially expected? Were there any major sticking points, or was it just a general polish type of thing?
Fargo: There is no one particular thing that pushed us out this last 6 weeks, we just wanted to have the minimum number of systems in place so that our backers could have a reasonable play experience. To achieve that we needed to have 95% of the final game’s systems working but of course the good news is that we now have most of the underpinnings complete. We certainly did have some technical issues in that we are pushing what Unity can accomplish and their 64 bit version isn’t ready yet.
I expect a good 6-10 hours of [beta] gameplay for a non speed run approach.
A game of this size has a lot of moving parts which has the inevitable breaking of code when checking a fix in for an issue. I still have a long list of things I’d like to see done but it’s time to get it out and work with the fans on shaping it from here. It’s certainly a tightrope we walk between releasing it to ravenous backers who want to see it and us wanting to make sure it’s in a form we’re proud of.
RPS: How much of the game are you planning to include in the early beta? Which areas, systems, and elements of progression?
Fargo: We are going to give away a part of the Arizona area for players to explore. I’d rather not spoil which areas they are but I expect a good 6-10 hours of gameplay for a non speed run approach. There is a lot to do, and it is a virtual impossibility to see some major events in a single play through, as some are mutually exclusive. In addition, you are likely to miss some nice moments as we don’t guide you strictly on what you do. Of course this sets its up for some nice re-playability.
RPS: Have you had to cut anything from the beta in the interest of time? If so, will it make its way back in before the testing phase ends?
Fargo: There are some skills that we have not implemented – like Silent Move and Salvaging for example – and we intend to increase the size of the beta as time goes by. We will continually update Wasteland 2 with new areas, skills and options and players will get to experience seeing the current levels get an added boost of reactivity and choice based on the feedback and observations of play. We will have a relatively short roll out to our beta backers so we can get it into the people’s hands who paid early for it.
Our plan was always to make Arizona be the beta test bed but for us to keep Los Angeles for the final release so the gamers can still be surprised and to minimize spoilers. There might be a few other features and surprises that the players are going to quite like too.
No stealth and salvaging, huh? I do hope those features are functional and accounted for in inXile's own internal build. By the way, have you seen these two new screenshots yet?
I think that raider has been spending too much time with his dogs.
Bad news: Project Eternity backer portal launch is delayed until after Thanksgiving. Good news: there's been a new art update in the meantime. Here it is:
Last week on the forums Sensuki, Tagomika, and coffeetable brought up questions about areas we were outsourcing. I figured it would be better to show you the areas instead of talking about them. Take a look.
A shrine to the goddess of the hunt. (Click to enlarge.)
A drake skeleton amid thick overgrowth. (Click to enlarge.)
Both of these images come from the same wilderness area. While this area appears thick with foliage now, it was previously the site to horrific fires caused by drakes. Large swaths of ground were burned and only now has the land started to recover.
Kaz and Polina have been hard at work getting concepts prepared for our current milestone and the next.
Polina has been focusing on creating the look and feel for our next big city - Twin Elms. Twin Elms is a unique mixture of ruined architecture from an ancient civilization with a layer of Viking-inspired Glanfathan buildings built into it.
Glanfathan buildings built into ancient ruins.
So I take it the second city is more like a village, right? ; )
If running around with a sword killing demons from hell is your kind of thing, you might be interested in Hellraid.
It's immersive first-person hack-and-slash action with enough vaguely relevant RPG features for us to take a closer look. Also it looks kind of cool, so we sent Andhaira out for some doughnuts - and to talk to the Hellraid team while he was out. Here's a snip:
After gaining a new level we’ll give the player a choice from various skills, so they can create a hero with abilities that fits their style of play. The intent is that there will be significant difference depending on your choices, thus encouraging replayability.
We place a great importance on both the history of the world we’re creating and the storyline in the campaign. So far we kept it all a secret because we don’t want to reveal anything before it’s fully completed. During the game you’ll visit a devastated monastery and have some quests to complete which you’ll have a reason for in the game’s world. Religion has been repelled by magic which strengthened the evil forces and allowed them to cross to the realm of men. We’ll reveal more details on our blog at hellraid.com soon.
The fine folks at Daedalic have sent us a press release that says that Chapter 2 of Blackguards -- the turn-based tactical RPG we did a very favorable preview of recently -- is now available on Steam Early Access. Previously it was only Chapter I that people who preordered the game could play.
All those who already bought an Early Access-version of Blackguards will receive an automatic update, including the second chapter via Steam.
Early Access allows players to play the first chapters of Blackguards months before the official release and to have a chance to influence the development process, through their feedback based on pre-release builds.
Blackguards will be published chapter by chapter while in Early Access. As of now, the first two parts of the game are available. All five chapters will be made available in the upcoming weeks.
The official release of Blackguards is scheduled for late January 2014. The game will be available for PC & Mac, priced €39.99, further local prices to be announced.
In the latest Matt Chat episode, Matt "J_C" Barton interviews Guido Henkel on the latter's early days. Among other things, Guido talks about the start of Attic Entertainment, his love for text adventures, Die Drachen von Laas, The Bard's Tale and Spirit of Adventure, Brian Fargo and how Guido got to be the producer on Planescape: Torment, Amiga and Atari, as well as the difference between US and German game(r)s. (Spoiler: German games tend to focus on gameplay.)
Also, Guido mentions how he loaded up Realms of Arkania: Shadows over Riva recently and immediately saw some really poor design there.
Naturally, this interview is part of Guido's attempt to bring Deathfire closer to its funding goal.
The ever-diligent Eric "sea" Schwartz has written a review of Beamdog's Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition for GameBanshee. Is it an improvement over its predecessor? The answer, as expected, is "yes, but...". For example, here's his description of the game's new quests:
As for their quests and stories themselves, after playing through all of them, I have to say that it's still something of a mixed bag, but overall the new content is a step up from the drab and uninteresting stuff found in the first game's Enhanced Edition. For starters, instead of one or two new rather humdrum and short areas added to the map, now each character has about double that number, and all of them feature more elaborate questlines. While still linear, the gameplay they offer is a lot stronger, often featuring more side-quests and multiple quest solutions (like hiring on allies to help with a tough fight, talking your way out of one, and so on). This is good stuff, and while not all quests are that interesting, the mere fact that even few are is still welcome.
When it comes to combat, much of the encounter design has been radically improved over the first game's re-release, and the challenge level has been upped significantly. It feels weird to say, but some of the most enjoyable, tactically demanding fights I had while playing through Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition were actually from the brand-new areas and quests. This is in stark contrast to the added combat in Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, which was pitifully easy and just plain boring, with few real tactics required, so Beamdog have most definitely improved here.
I did say above that the new content is still a mixed bag, and there are definitely gripes to make. For example, Hexxat's character, while a worthy addition to the game, occupies probably the most dull of all the character storylines, and after her little twist there isn't much to keep up interest. Some of the side-quests are also rather weak - ones associated with Neera's story in particular, including hunting down stray cats in a forest, and searching crates for a little girl's lost brooch, are pretty much blatant filler, and aren't any more fun than they sound on paper.
I also feel that Beamdog's team lacks some of the class and charm in the writing department compared to millennium-era BioWare. I found that sometimes the tone and consistency was all over the place - lots of fourth-wall-breaking comments, strange anachronisms, humor awkwardly juxtaposed with more serious events, and so on. And, frankly, I despise Neera, whose character is not much more than a blatant Manic Pixie Dream Girl fan-service stereotype, and half of whose lines seem were written with the intent of starting new "go for the eyes!"-esque memes. It's not that the writing is bad, in fact, far from it, but it often doesn't fit with the original content as well as it should.
And in conclusion:
Unlike the original Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition, I am much more willing to recommend Beamdog's new Baldur's Gate II re-release to players. While there are some bugs and the new content still does not quite match what BioWare was producing in its prime, it's a much more solid package overall. After playing for a couple of weeks, I'm having trouble going back to the original, if nothing else for the technical features like the quick loot UI, the super-quick saving/loading, and the ability to play in windowed mode without requiring any third-party programs. But at the same time, is the new content excellent and must-play for most people? Probably not.
There's one more thing to consider - at $25 USD, Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition is now more than twice the price of the complete edition of the original release commonly available at web sites like GOG and GamersGate. At $20, that price seems pretty fair, but $25, while realistically not that much more money, still feels a bit hard to justify, especially if you have already played Baldur's Gate II before. There are plenty of excellent new RPGs out today that can easily be had for that price or even less, as well.
So, with all that said, my conclusions about Baldur's Gate II: Enhanced Edition are probably not that surprising: the original game's still as good as ever, the new content is nice to have but isn't really necessary, the fixes and improvements are offset by the new bugs and crashes, and the price hard to justify paying for those who already own the game and are comfortable installing a few mods. Beamdog have won back some of my lost faith by bringing out a much more polished and higher-quality product this time around, but I still have my doubts whether the studio has it in itself to produce a game of its own at this rate, as seems to be the logical trajectory the studio's headed in. I suppose we'll find out in the coming months whether the team is content to keep re-releasing old Infinity Engine games, or ends up doing something new.
Guido Henkel has some Deathfire: Ruins of Nethermore in-game video footage to show us in the latest Kickstarter update.
He also introduces a 3500 backers stretch-goal: the Classless Character.
How does this work in practice? When you pick a class in the game, it automatically ties your character to certain abilities and limitations. Since each class has certain modifiers that determine the character’s traits and abilities, this can be cumbersome at times, and get in the way of the character you REALLY want to play.
The Classless Character gets around these limitations. It is a middle-of-the-road kind of character with no real strengths, but also no real weaknesses. His class modifiers will all be zero, and only the race modifiers are applied to the character. He is a carte blanche, giving the player the opportunity to really shape him any which way he wants to.
However, when creating such a character, one has to keep in mind that despite its overall flexibility, the classless character has limitations. While he may be a magic user, he will not have access to all spells, however. Dedicated Wizardry spells will be available to Wizards only, while certain fighting techniques will be available only to Warriors, and so forth. Therefore, the classless character plays more of a supporting role in the game to complement other companions in the party, but to that end, he might be one mighty fellow you would not want to miss.
Today's Torment: Tides of NumeneraKickstarter update is uncharacteristically short and simple, so I'll keep this introduction simple too. For the moment of truth is now upon us:
Over the last couple weeks, we’ve been reading all of your commentary and ideas regarding combat. Many good points and suggestions, and mostly civil discourse. Thanks to all who have engaged in the discussion so far!
And now... It is time! Only backers can place a vote. (If you haven’t already and you’d like your voice heard, please register with us to gain access to the backer-only UserVoice forum.) Feel free to also continue to submit comments and ideas to the combat discussion forum. Please remember that this vote is advisory only. Above all, please remember that our goal is to provide the best possible experience for the game, and if the final decision is not your preferred choice, we ask you trust our ability to deliver a solid game.
For more context about what this is about, please see Update 24, where we describe what Turn-Based and Real-Time with Pause might each mean for Torment. We’ll close the voting in December.
Go to it, Codex. It's time to stand up and be counted.