Congratulations to Beamdog. I’m pretty sure that Baldur’s Gate: Siege of Dragonspear now holds the record for “Longest Time Between Base Game and Expansion,” at seventeen years.
Described somewhat tongue-in-cheek as Baldur’s Gate 1.5, Siege of Dragonspear sees Beamdog move from a curatorial role (Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition) into a more authorial role in the fabled RPG series, creating a thirty-hour expansion that pretty much doubles the length of the original game.
But can you really go back to 1998? I spent the last two weeks finding out.
More tales from the Sword Coast
I mean, I really went for it. Having not played the classic Baldur’s Gate in a while I started a party from scratch and played through the entire game—and all of the original Tales of the Sword Coast expansion—before starting Siege of Dragonspear.
For the sake of this review I’m going to assume you have some level of knowledge of Baldur’s Gate. If not, well, you should probably go play that first. Though generally not held in the same esteem as its sequel Baldur’s Gate II, the two are sort of a package deal of legendary isometric CRPGs.
And they can be hard as hell to get into, admittedly. RPG rulesets have come a long way from second-edition AD&D, with its awkward THAC0 (“To Hit Armor Class 0”) combat and a health system that encouraged abuse of the rest mechanics after every combat encounter. Much of Baldur’s Gate spiritual successor Pillars of Eternity—itself one of the best PC games of 2015—was seemingly designed as a direct response to problems with the old Infinity Engine games.
I did it though. I fled Candlekeep. I assembled my Good-aligned party (Minsc, Neera, Branwen, Imoen, Kivan, and myself). I sent Dynaheir on a solo journey into a pack of wolves as per usual. I uncovered the source of the iron crisis and (seventeen-year-old spoilers) slew Sarevok. Roll credits.
Except—wait, the credits aren’t rolling. Welcome to Siege of Dragonspear. If you finish Baldur’s Gate, the Sarevok fight now transitions straight into the expansion with a new chapter heading and cinematic. (Otherwise you can import your old Enhanced Edition saves or start the expansion with a pre-created party.)
Your Baldur’s Gate party doesn’t last long though. Remember—this expansion is meant to bridge the gap between the original game and the sequel, seeing as the first ends with your triumph over Sarevok and the second opens with you in a dungeon. “What in Bhaal’s name happened in between?” is a question that’s plagued the series for nigh-on twenty years.
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