Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear Reviews, Editorials

For now, only a couple of reviews have been released for Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear, a Beamdog's expansion to Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition that is meant to bridge the gap between the two titles in the series, so I thought I would also add a couple of very recent editorials to this newspost to offer some additional reading materials to our readers.

VentureBeat is impressed by the overall offering and the improved writing. Some new bugs do bring the experience down, however. 87/100.

My favorite new character is Schael Corwin, an officer in the Flaming Fist mercenary company. She's an archer, a variation of the ranger class, and she's a single mother. Her husband is out of the picture, and while her father helps out, she's torn between her job as a merc, helping you, and caring for her daughter.

I've never encountered such a storyline in a fantasy RPG before, and I feel for it. I felt for Corwin, and while I wanted to explore her story (since she is, after all, a new character), another part of me wanted to tell her to take a large cache of gold from my stockpile and be the mother she wants to be to her daughter. And should you go down the romantic path with her (as my female sorcerer did), you'll witness her inner conflict between mother and warrior even more.


Baldur's Gate: Siege of Dragonspear fills in some of what happens to the Child of Bhaal between saving Baldur's Gate and saving your soul from Irenicus, and it's a hoot to revisit this world, using the old D&D rules from the 1990s.

But Siege of Dragonspear hints at more a studio that's done with just enhancing older games and ready to carve out a place among the top storytellers in the RPG sector. Beamdog's first effort at original storytelling is a good start, and I'm excited to see more in the future, even if it's in the world of Baldur's Gate.

Besides, I'm always ready for more Minsc and Boo. No one can resist the miniature giant space hamster of goodness.

PCWorld is holding out on a score until they hear back from Beamdog about a particularly nasty bug, but the tone of the actual piece is certainly very positive. The density of the new maps, the new larger battles, and the general faithfulness to the original game all receive praise.

New journey, old friends. I don't know what possessed Beamdog to make Siege of Dragonspear an expansion to the original game, nor do I know what devil's pact coerced them into making it thirty-odd hours long. It's insanity.

But hopefully this isn't Beamdog's last bit of Baldur's Gate content, because they've done an incredible job. As someone who first received Baldur's Gate for Christmas way back in 1998 on six six! CD-ROMs, Siege of Dragonspear feels like a long-lost (and polished-up) chapter of the original, like it belonged from the start. That's quite a feat, given the seventeen year spread in between.

Will it please every purist? Of course not. As with any beloved series, passions run high and nostalgia's a hell of a drug. There are bound to be those who wish Beamdog had stuck to a purely conservationist role. But Siege of Dragonspear won me over, and I'd like to see what the team does next. Go for the eyes, Boo.

Kotaku has a report from GDC that focuses on the game's development and the future of Beamdog. A snippet on the work that has been done to ensure the expansion is faithful to the original games:

(Everything that we added that was new, the question that was always, always on our mind was, '˜Does this feel like Baldur's Gate?') said Daigle. (Does this enhance the Baldur's Gate experience or are we pushing it in a different and perhaps wrong direction? Half of our team is made up of ex-modders or guys who have been playing Baldur's Gate for 15 years. They know deep, deep in their bones what does and does not feel like Baldur's Gate. We leaned on them very heavily in terms of running designs past them. Does this feel like Baldur's Gate to you? Does this feel like you're playing a Baldur's Gate adventure?)

Beamdog did, however, have a little guidance from the past. They managed to unearth an old document of requests players made of BioWare after Throne of Bhaal, Baldur's Gate II's expansion, came out.

(At the very top of that list was, '˜I want to be able to take part in massive battles and command soldiers and do this huge thing,') explained Daigle. (They couldn't do it at the time, but we've made so many improvements and upgrades to the Infinity Engine that now we can have battles that have upwards of like a hundred combatants at once.)

Thus, the titular Siege of Dragonspear, a scene from which Daigle walked me through. Sure enough, the battle was packed and chaotic, but, true to classic BioWare RPG form, informed by decisions Daigle had made earlier in the game. He'd made the choice to explore caverns beneath Dragonspear Castle, at which point he planted an explosive potion beneath the front gates. It certainly ended up coming in handy.

And finally, ZAM's Kris Ligman muses nostalgic on the original title and the passion of Beamdog's team:

So let's talk about Siege of Dragonspear.

This is a new expansion for a 18-year-old game. Not many titles can boast that kind of legacy, and the people behind it -- chiefly former Bioware employees and a younger set who grew up with the game -- seem personally invested in their project in a way I've rarely seen out of a game studio. Visiting with the Beamdog crew a couple weeks ago at the Game Developers Conference, it's clear that Dragonspear is a particular badge of pride for them. They spoke of reverse-engineering the original to remake and update the graphics. They spoke of bringing back the original voice cast and being starstruck by David Warner, who played Irenicus in Baldur's Gate II. They spoke of uncovering a sort of 'time capsule' in Bioware's old documents, a wishlist of things for the future of the series. Dragonspear, they said, is about making good on some of the items on that wishlist.

Nostalgia is a trap. I know this. It's the kind of trap with tripwires and pressure plates, with poison darts hiding in the walls waiting for some incautious left mouse button click to seriously ruin your day. It's not an instant death, but a thing that eats away at you slowly, leaving you hollow; vulnerable. Nostalgia is a thing I should have fucking spot-checked before I filed my whole party down a tight corridor. It is the reason I've recused myself from any sort of in-depth coverage for Siege of Dragonspear: there is subjectivity, and there is bias, and I readily admit I've fallen into the latter when it comes to this game.

I probably won't beat Dragonspear -- at this point, not finishing a Baldur's Gate is a matter of principle; I don't want this open wound in my side to heal -- but I'm happy to get lost in it again. There is nothing cynical about what Beamdog have done with this expansion. You hear a lot about how game developers do what they do out of buzzwords like passion but in this case, I really believe it. No one makes a sequel to a 17-year-old game based on an obsolete engine because they like to coast.