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I've read lots of reviews comparing the Icewind Dale and Baldur's Gate series and I wanted to add a different take: Icewind Dale is the best Old School AD&D game to come out since the Gold Box series. You create your own party of six characters spec'd out the way you like it and go hit some dungeons to kill baddies and take their loot. This is is essence of Old School AD&D. It's a game about adventurers, not necessarily heroes, where things like character motiviations emerge organically from the gameplay rather than being imposed on the player from on high. I found myself far more engaged with my IWD party imagining how this motley crew of six came together to find glory and fortune in the North than I ever did with the BG NPCs. Creating your own motivations for your characters is far more immersive than being told to go find Imoen because the writers think you should care.

The dungeon design is also much tighter in IWD and combats are far more engaging, challenging, and dynamic. It feels like something out of a classic Gygaxian module. The treasure is plentiful, varied, and just damn cool as it should be in any good D&D title. And while you need at least one warrior, mage, healer, and thief, the game lends itself to multiple playthroughs with different party compositions. If you're an Old School AD&Der, you'll love messing around with the various kits and multi/dual class combos. While IWD2 regrettably uses the 3rd Edition rules, it's also a solid game and the inclusion of subraces is fun.

I can only speak for myself here, but if I want an epic storyline with lots of character development and branching, intricate plotlines I'll play a JRPG. Dungeons and Dragons is at its best when it sticks to its dungeon-delving roots. If you're looking for a game like Mass Effect set in the Forgotten Realms than you should definitely play Baldur's Gate. But if you want a modernized dungeon crawler that captures the feel of Pool of Radiance/Curse of the Azure Bonds/Savage Frontier games, IWD still has yet to be surpassed.
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DVX_BELLORVM: If you're looking for a game like Mass Effect set in the Forgotten Realms than you should definitely play Baldur's Gate.
What a bizarre comparison, not least because Baldur's Gate was released almost ten years before Mass Effect.

I disagree with pretty much everything you said.
I get the comparison that you’re making. Though I’d stop short of definitively saying that Icewind Dale is for old school AD&Ders.

The story of Baldur’s Gate heavily revolves around a central protagonist, while Icewind Dale’s story isn’t focused on any specific character(s). Basically, Icewind Dale lacks a “CHARNAME”. It’s “Imoen, Jaheira, Minsc, Viconia and Edwin” chasing down “Saravok”, without any personal reason other than “heroes are needed to stop a rising evil.”

Icewind Dale is the classic “recover the Amulet of Yendor” / “Slay the Big-Evil-Bad-Thing” scenario, while Baldur’s Gate is more akin to the “Hero’s Journey” scenario. Icewind Dale is a bit closer to how a traditional AD&D table-top game is usually run. Most Dungeon Masters don’t make their campaigns revolve around only one of the player characters. Like the main plot of Icewind Dale, they will craft a campaign where any character of any background can fit into the story, and the main plot is not dependent on any character(s) having any particular background(s). A good DM will typically try to incorporate parts of each character’s background into the story. But there’s the difference: you’re modifying the story to incorporate aspects of each character, rather than dictating to the players that their characters have a specific aspect to their background, whether they want it or not.

I’ll strongly disagree that the essence of Old School AD&D is to hit some dungeons to kill baddies and take their loot. I know some people who played that way, but the pen-and-paper campaigns I enjoyed most focused much more on each Player Character and their involvement in the larger world. When you say “Old School AD&D”, I wonder if you really mean “the Gold Box AD&D CRPGs”, such as Pool of Radiance and Eye of the Beholder. I will definitely agree that Icewind Dale is a step closer to the Gold Box games than Baldur’s Gate. But I would hesitate to call the Gold Box games “Old School AD&D”. Perhaps you mean “Old School AD&D CRPGs”?

At the end of the day, I immensely enjoy both games. I’m glad Black Isle tried something a little different with Icewind Dale… and Planescape: Torment, for that matter. There’s enough similarities between the games that they instantly feel familiar, and enough differences that they feel like a new experience. Between Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment – I think most any CRPG fan should be able to fine a game they enjoy.
Post edited August 19, 2017 by Ryan333
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Ryan333: Between Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment – I think most any CRPG fan should be able to fine a game they enjoy.
Personally, I would beg to differ. In particular, I have found that the real time with pause combat that the Infinity Engine games use just doesn't work for me. Without auto-pause, the game just runs away and I have no idea what's going on; with auto-pause, the game feels more jerky. In other words, the IE battle system takes the worst aspects of turn-based and real-time gameplay, while lacking both the rhythm of turn-based gameplay and the fluidity of real-time gameplay.

With that said, I prefer Icewind Dale to the other games, mainly because it focuses on the actual gameplay instead of constantly interrupting me with cutscenes or bombarding me with timed quests (the latter being a problem in BG2).

For party-based RPGs, I much prefer turn-based combat, like in Wizardry, Bard's Tale (classic, not the 2004 game), Dragon Quest, and early Final Fantasy. (Also, SaGa.)
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dtgreene: In particular, I have found that the real time with pause combat that the Infinity Engine games use just doesn't work for me.
An excellent point, and I definitely stand corrected. The Infinity Engine games all use the real-time-with-pause system, and that is definitely not everyone's cup of tea -- particularly those who prefer turn based combat.
Post edited August 19, 2017 by Ryan333
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DVX_BELLORVM: If you're looking for a game like Mass Effect set in the Forgotten Realms than you should definitely play Baldur's Gate.
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Hickory: What a bizarre comparison, not least because Baldur's Gate was released almost ten years before Mass Effect.

I disagree with pretty much everything you said.
I'm aware, I played the original Baldur's Gate when it first came out with its crazy amout of CDs in the late '90s. The point I was making is that they are both very much in the Bioware mold, meaning they're focused on a central plotline and have strong NPCs whose relationships to the player character can vary. There's no problem with this, but it feels more like Chrono Trigger or Final Fantasy than D&D to have a main character and lots of NPCs who pop in an out of the party.
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Ryan333: Between Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment – I think most any CRPG fan should be able to fine a game they enjoy.
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dtgreene: Personally, I would beg to differ. In particular, I have found that the real time with pause combat that the Infinity Engine games use just doesn't work for me. Without auto-pause, the game just runs away and I have no idea what's going on; with auto-pause, the game feels more jerky. In other words, the IE battle system takes the worst aspects of turn-based and real-time gameplay, while lacking both the rhythm of turn-based gameplay and the fluidity of real-time gameplay.

With that said, I prefer Icewind Dale to the other games, mainly because it focuses on the actual gameplay instead of constantly interrupting me with cutscenes or bombarding me with timed quests (the latter being a problem in BG2).

For party-based RPGs, I much prefer turn-based combat, like in Wizardry, Bard's Tale (classic, not the 2004 game), Dragon Quest, and early Final Fantasy. (Also, SaGa.)
I also agree with your point about preferring turn-based combat. It took me awhile to get the hang of Infinity engine games so that combat didn't always just feel like a Charlie Foxtrot.
Post edited August 19, 2017 by DVX_BELLORVM
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Ryan333: I get the comparison that you’re making. Though I’d stop short of definitively saying that Icewind Dale is for old school AD&Ders.

The story of Baldur’s Gate heavily revolves around a central protagonist, while Icewind Dale’s story isn’t focused on any specific character(s). Basically, Icewind Dale lacks a “CHARNAME”. It’s “Imoen, Jaheira, Minsc, Viconia and Edwin” chasing down “Saravok”, without any personal reason other than “heroes are needed to stop a rising evil.”

Icewind Dale is the classic “recover the Amulet of Yendor” / “Slay the Big-Evil-Bad-Thing” scenario, while Baldur’s Gate is more akin to the “Hero’s Journey” scenario. Icewind Dale is a bit closer to how a traditional AD&D table-top game is usually run. Most Dungeon Masters don’t make their campaigns revolve around only one of the player characters. Like the main plot of Icewind Dale, they will craft a campaign where any character of any background can fit into the story, and the main plot is not dependent on any character(s) having any particular background(s). A good DM will typically try to incorporate parts of each character’s background into the story. But there’s the difference: you’re modifying the story to incorporate aspects of each character, rather than dictating to the players that their characters have a specific aspect to their background, whether they want it or not.

I’ll strongly disagree that the essence of Old School AD&D is to hit some dungeons to kill baddies and take their loot. I know some people who played that way, but the pen-and-paper campaigns I enjoyed most focused much more on each Player Character and their involvement in the larger world. When you say “Old School AD&D”, I wonder if you really mean “the Gold Box AD&D CRPGs”, such as Pool of Radiance and Eye of the Beholder. I will definitely agree that Icewind Dale is a step closer to the Gold Box games than Baldur’s Gate. But I would hesitate to call the Gold Box games “Old School AD&D”. Perhaps you mean “Old School AD&D CRPGs”?

At the end of the day, I immensely enjoy both games. I’m glad Black Isle tried something a little different with Icewind Dale… and Planescape: Torment, for that matter. There’s enough similarities between the games that they instantly feel familiar, and enough differences that they feel like a new experience. Between Baldur’s Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape: Torment – I think most any CRPG fan should be able to fine a game they enjoy.
Yeah, the Gold Box games are mostly what I had in mind. However, I was also thinking of the feel of classic tabletop modules like White Plume Mountain, Barrier Peaks, Village of Hommlet, Tomb of Horrors, Queen of the Spiders, Lost Caverns of Tsjocanth (a personal favorite), etc.

Different people enjoy different things and my two-cents is just that. That's not to say there's anything wrong with BG or that they're terrible games and I'd imagine many--perhaps most--people would prefer them over IWD. I just happen to think IWD comes the closest to capturing the Old School feel of the Gold Box games and 1e and early 2e modules.
Post edited August 19, 2017 by DVX_BELLORVM
Well, this thread isn't really about this, but given I have no better place to reply:
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dtgreene: In other words, the IE battle system takes the worst aspects of turn-based and real-time gameplay, while lacking both the rhythm of turn-based gameplay and the fluidity of real-time gameplay.
I play almost exclusively turn-based games and I just don't get what you're saying here. .RTwP doesn't even come close to the worst aspects of turn-based and real-time gameplay (what are the worst aspects, anyway?). That honor goes to Square's ATB (FF4-9 and unfortunately many others): Wait around for the slow combat to proceed, and then use the clunky menu interface to issue commands to all of your characters at the same time while the enemy gets free attacks. Fun! I'm glad I missed that console generation (but new games still get made with this atrocity).

I'm not saying it's perfect. It could've been improved by better queued action support (I think one or both NWNs had this, but KOTOR did it better) and easier AI script editing (or at least better supplied scripts). Really, though, the AI takes care of the repetitive aspects of battle (just keep attacking the guy I pointed to) while pausing for the stuff that actually needs micromanagement, like when spells are ready to be cast. It's not like D&D combat is particularly complex (unlike Pillars of Eternity, which is a micromanagement nightmare). Best of both worlds, not worst. Well, maybe second-best, since KOTOR made turn-based combat look and feel real-time to the point that some reviewers had to explicitly "warn" gamers that the game's combat is turn-based.

For party-based games, I much prefer turn-based combat in a field, like Divinity: Original Sin, Wasteland 2, Fallout 1/2, Rhapsody (the original), Lunar series, Arc the Lad series,and unfortunately very few others. I'd even go for pseudo-field combat, such as the Grandia series and Skies of Arcadia. First-person "Blob" multi-character combat just doesn't feel like multiple characters, but instead like it's just one character with multiple personality disorder. Especially with Wizardry-like "choose all your actions at once before the turn" style combat.
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DVX_BELLORVM: The dungeon design is also much tighter in IWD and combats are far more engaging, challenging, and dynamic.
I completely disagree. IWD is the Diablo 2 version of Infinity engine games. I did not come across even a single challenging encounter yet and I am about the finish the game. This is my first playthrough (I do not have much free time so it is taking time). When I asked a few months ago if my planned party was ok, many people told me that I'll be having hard time because I do not have a pure cleric and there are lots of undead. Well, there are lots of undead but my ranger dual-wielding maces dance through them and my Grandmaster Archer kills anything else in a matter of seconds.

The game is so easy that sometimes I try to finish an entire floor with only one character. I roleplay in my mind,

"Come on Legolas (Grandmaster Archer), That was my target"
"You think you could defeat that fire salamander without my help Garret? (Swashbuckler)"
"I can clean the entire floor Elf. Watch and learn. Meanwhile, make yourself useful and prepare the food. Be quick cos that wont take long".
Cassandra (Cleric-Mage) sighs. "Boys gonna be boys..."
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DVX_BELLORVM: The dungeon design is also much tighter in IWD and combats are far more engaging, challenging, and dynamic.
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Engerek01: I completely disagree.
I also disagree. IWD dungeon scenario:

Enter dungeon
One enemy 'discovers' you or you take a potshot at one enemy
Entire dungeon descends upon your party, en masse
Frantic hack 'n slash ensues; no tactics, no finesse, no "dynamic".
End of fight.

It's BORING!
Post edited August 19, 2017 by Hickory
It does involve tactics, but I agree with Hickory on the rest. It is very hack and slash.

Great soundtrack and mood in the game though. And the story is alright.
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Hickory: It's BORING!
I wouldn't go that far. I bought IWD because I loved BG, and was sorely disappointed to find what I considered to be just a hack & slash. At the time, pretty much anyone who had played both that I knew of was of the same opinion. That doesn't mean the game was entirely bad (at least the level cap was higher, so I could fling higher level spells, which was fun), but it wasn't what I wanted. In retrospect, though, the main difference between the games was just that BG's companions had a life outside of being battle pawns for the main character. For me, the defining moment of my BG experience was when J&K decided to drop out of the party and kill M&X. Prior to BG, most games' party members just became a soulless pawn upon joining the party. IWD offered no companion NPCs at all.
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Ryan333: The story of Baldur’s Gate heavily revolves around a central protagonist, while Icewind Dale’s story isn’t focused on any specific character(s). Basically, Icewind Dale lacks a “CHARNAME”. It’s “Imoen, Jaheira, Minsc, Viconia and Edwin” chasing down “Saravok”, without any personal reason other than “heroes are needed to stop a rising evil.”
BG games are no more "just about the player character" than IWD is "just about the player-generated party". Both BG games were just a mission to kill the big bad of the game (not sure about ToB, but I never really played ToB even though I finally own it). The PC had only a few bits integrated into the story, and benefited from a few extra skills. You didn't even have to be the PC to be motivated to kill the big bad, since the big bad was stereotypically world-affecting. Sure, in the end, the player character "defines the series", but, unlike e.g. Planescape; Torment, the PC could be anyone.
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DVX_BELLORVM: The dungeon design is also much tighter in IWD and combats are far more engaging, challenging, and dynamic.
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Engerek01: I completely disagree. IWD is the Diablo 2 version of Infinity engine games. I did not come across even a single challenging encounter yet and I am about the finish the game. This is my first playthrough (I do not have much free time so it is taking time). When I asked a few months ago if my planned party was ok, many people told me that I'll be having hard time because I do not have a pure cleric and there are lots of undead. Well, there are lots of undead but my ranger dual-wielding maces dance through them and my Grandmaster Archer kills anything else in a matter of seconds.

The game is so easy that sometimes I try to finish an entire floor with only one character. I roleplay in my mind,

"Come on Legolas (Grandmaster Archer), That was my target"
"You think you could defeat that fire salamander without my help Garret? (Swashbuckler)"
"I can clean the entire floor Elf. Watch and learn. Meanwhile, make yourself useful and prepare the food. Be quick cos that wont take long".
Cassandra (Cleric-Mage) sighs. "Boys gonna be boys..."
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Engerek01: I completely disagree.
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Hickory: I also disagree. IWD dungeon scenario:

Enter dungeon
One enemy 'discovers' you or you take a potshot at one enemy
Entire dungeon descends upon your party, en masse
Frantic hack 'n slash ensues; no tactics, no finesse, no "dynamic".
End of fight.

It's BORING!
All fair points. My objective wasn't to argue that your preference for BG (or even dislike of IWD) was somehow illegitimate. All I'm saying is that IWD feels much more like Old School AD&D to me than BG and people who want to experience something closer to the Gold Box titles might prefer it. I enjoy being able to recreate my old tabletop characters and develop my own story for them rather than having a bunch of NPCs popping in and out of the party -- most of whom I didn't care for -- and having a pre-set background for my main character. I loved playing as Cloud or Crono or Commander Shepherd, but that's not what I'm looking for in a D&D game. I want to play with my Paladin of Helm, Deep Gnome Monk, Human Ranger, and my buddy's Dwarf Cleric without needing to shoehorn in one of them as the main character who was raised in Candlekeep and is the son of Bane.
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DVX_BELLORVM: ..I enjoy being able to recreate my old tabletop characters and develop my own story for them rather than having a bunch of NPCs popping in and out of the party -- most of whom I didn't care for -- and having a pre-set background for my main character. I loved playing as Cloud or Crono or Commander Shepherd, but that's not what I'm looking for in a D&D game. I want to play with my Paladin of Helm, Deep Gnome Monk, Human Ranger, and my buddy's Dwarf Cleric without needing to shoehorn in one of them as the main character who was raised in Candlekeep and is the son of Bane.
I hope you know that you can do that in BG games. Just start a multiplayer game and create all 6 players yourself.

Btw, Icewind Dale is a good game. Especially for me, with severe lack of time. I can come back to IWD 2 months later and quickly continue from my last game. This was impossible for me in BG. I often got lost in the those quests.

Speaking of quests, BG has a lot more side quests than IWD. Towns are all alive, with lots of NPCs, eager to share their tales and reward you if help them ease their sorrow. There is no such thing in IWD. I believe first town has half of the side-quests in the entire game. Someone correct me if I am wrong please.
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DVX_BELLORVM: All fair points. My objective wasn't to argue that your preference for BG (or even dislike of IWD) was somehow illegitimate. All I'm saying is that IWD feels much more like Old School AD&D to me than BG and people who want to experience something closer to the Gold Box titles might prefer it. I enjoy being able to recreate my old tabletop characters and develop my own story for them rather than having a bunch of NPCs popping in and out of the party -- most of whom I didn't care for -- and having a pre-set background for my main character. I loved playing as Cloud or Crono or Commander Shepherd, but that's not what I'm looking for in a D&D game. I want to play with my Paladin of Helm, Deep Gnome Monk, Human Ranger, and my buddy's Dwarf Cleric without needing to shoehorn in one of them as the main character who was raised in Candlekeep and is the son of Bane.
You assume too much. I never said I dislike IWD, nor did I insinuate that I felt my preference was illegitimate.

As far as your other argument goes re. developer NPCs, that's a non-argument. If you want your own characters, make them. You don't have to go with Imoen, Jaheira, Minsc et al. You are free to play the (BG) game exactly as you wish to.

Edit for clarity:
When I said "it's BORING", I meant the dungeon-delving/combat.
Post edited August 19, 2017 by Hickory