I am not sure...
Well for this game anyway, i think i missed Minc or i waited to long and now he is out of the picture. Supposedly Minc was or is an important character.
Anyway, BG is a hard game, especially for new gamers and the once that did not grow up with the more strategic games.
If i play Skyrim i play it for its beauty, the fast landscape and some of the roleplaying aspects. But i never really felt in a roleplaying game in the sense that i have a party and roll stats.
But on the other hand, the majority of players today (my assumption) want to bigger pictures and less complicated material. A game like any other of the like like BG will require a player to invest a lot of time to build a good party and to fight certain fight over and over to advance.
Hard is good but it needs to be fair.
FNV was mentioned. I thought it was a good game storywise. But besides crashing often it was also quite easy to complete. But its more of an action game with roleplaying aspects in my opinion anyway and for that it was great.
I do hope that i will see again some old school crpg's like the coming of Wasteland 2 or perhaps a rebirth with BG3.
In the 90s i loved the SSI crpg's they were so great. Haven't touched Legend of Grimrock so far but this looks like oldschool as well. Not sure if its as great as Dungeon Master.
There is a sense in me that modern Crpgs are getting easier and more are for entertainment with action. Maybe i am wrong.
btw. i did not use any bard in this game. I will try that in my next attempt. Sounds promising.
Minsc is great as a character but he is no more essential from a gameplay point of view than some of the other NPC "tanks". But yes, a game of BG without Minsc in your party is not quite the same : he's such a great creation. I love the humour in these games.
My initial experience of BG and the other Infinity Engine games is that I had so badly wanted to play something like this for so long (I didn't own my first PC until 1998 and had only had a Dragon 32 (!), a Sega Megadrive and a PlayStation beforehand, so I missed out on games such as the Ultima series) that reading the manuals and learning not only something about the setting but also about the game mechanics (D&D rules) was a PLEASURE for me, and not at all a chore. It depresses me that many gamers are not prepared to approach games in this way these days but prefer "quick fix gaming" and that consequently games in general, being designed with the masses in mind, have become more simplified, "streamlined" and have less depth and capacity to totally absorb the gamer.
I don't think that ANY of the battles in ANY of the Infinity Engine games are "unfair" : you just need to understand what you need to do to win and keep trying if at first you don't succeed. Personally I LOVE party-based D&D combat and never feel like giving up if I'm getting beaten. There are so many memorable battles in both Baldur's Gate games and they have been designed to be tough but winnable, which is exactly what I like. The combat in these games is vastly superior to that in games such as Morrowind, Oblivion and FNV. Having said that, I can't help admiring FNV (especially) for its general brilliance : you can tell that some of the people involved in making the Infinity Engine games had a hand in making it. But I agree with you, it's not really what I would class as an RPG.
What a person finds to be "entertaining", by the way, is VERY subjective. For my part I do not find games which do not present me with a challenge "entertaining", I find them boring and pointless.
I did start out on Dungeon Master on an Amiga. That was around 89 i think. Some of the real good games i missed at that time even on the C64 like Wasteland.
In case of BG, i did own it but never finished it. Time.... well..
Anyway, i replay some of the games now and if i compare a game like BG with a game like Skyrim it is apparent that there are world in between.
Of course the obvious like environment and such but also the fact that you are a loner in the game.
To be fair, Skyrim gives anyone a nice story and lots of conversation and you do have a lot of choices. Besides, its a sandbox game in were you have no need to go from point a to b and rather travel first point o.
I did like that experience a lot.
But leveling is quite easy. Dragons were also easily dispatched and did not pose a big challenge. It was worse in FO:NW. Hardcore was to watch your health.
Other games that i played before were not realtime like BG. I think these were the game i grew up with.
Talking about challenge. My worst experience was Diablo 2. World 2 if i am correctly. Durial, thats his name. This boss can drive you nuts. No easy fight and it took me several attempts to beat him. Compared to him BG is actually fairly easy. For real. At least you have a band of 6 compared to be alone.
My party consists of
Ajantis, Dynaheir, Imoen, Khalid, Jaheira and me (of course).
Not the best mix but ok. Ajantis can annoy sometimes but he is a fairly good fighter. Even though Minsc got angry and fought me, i still was able to get Dynaheir.
ps. one of the tough games i played was Bards Tale. Never finished since there was only one way to save progress and sometimes you did not get there since you were already slain somewhere. maybe i play that in the future again.