It's been a long time since I last recounted my adventures along the Sword Coast, but I am back once more to regale you with tales of gallantry and intrigue. A lot has happened since my last update: secret truths have been unveiled, plots foiled, and the game itself has received a truly massive update which fixes many bugs, refines the gameplay, and completely refurbishes the user interface (just look at that beautiful screencap up there). What follows is a summation of my experience throughout all of this.
First thing's first: it's nice to have the Bhaalspawn secret out in the open at last. While I appreciate what BioWare was doing in writing its first "big twist," the truth is that the story lacked some weight prior to the revelation, seemingly revolving as it did around a regional trade crisis which as Storm of Zehir can attest does not necessarily lend itself to dungeon-crawling adventure very well. Furthermore, as I mentioned in my previous post, the story dropped so many hints at my character's true nature that it grew increasingly unbelievable that no one was able to figure it out (aside from Sarevok) or that those who did know felt it wise to leave my character fumbling in the dark. So revealing the truth has both increased the stakes and removed a major incident of plot-induced foolishness from the story.
However, I did not see the the game's other big twist - which I did not see coming - was delivered expertly. I have to hand it to Sarevok, that was an expertly planned double-cross, even if his end goals are more than a little... insane. With my character framed for the murder of the Iron Throne's leadership and the Flaming Fist in Sarevok's pocket, things were definitely looking bad for my companions and I. Fortunately, Sarevok made a few critical errors we were able to exploit to his disadvantage.
In the meantime, I took the opportunity of my exile to level up my team and finish out the remaining character side quests. Having already finished Neera's storyline earlier (and exchanging some words about taking our relationship further), my character set out next to help the monk Rasaad yn Bashir and the blackguard Dorn Il-Khan. Of the two, Dorn's quest turned out the most interesting, if only because it led to some interesting commentary on my own situation as a Bhaalspawn. Dorn's an odd character to have in my party: unlike Edwin or Eldoth he hasn't asked my (LG) character to do anything specifically evil but unlike Viconia he's not at all shy about his alignment or his true nature. Having him around is potentially problematic - and if I were a paladin would probably be completely out of character - but I find him interesting enough that I've kept him around regardless.
It was during this point in my travails that the long-awaited 1.2 patch was released by Beamdog. Fixing numerous bugs which were present in the initial launch, the patch resolved virtually all of the technical issues of which I was aware (such as a tendency for the game's UI to become non-functional if I accidentally switched to the desktop) and in general made the game slightly more responsive, which is a plus.
Additionally, the patch significantly reworked the game's user interface, bringing it closer to what the UI for the soon-to-be-released Baldur's Gate II Enhanced Edition will feature. The new UI, crafted primarily by the artist Madolin Bee, features less clutter and more transparency in its design and on the whole looks quite a bit more modern. The fonts have been changed as well to scale better at higher resolutions. On the whole I appreciate most of the changes and find the UI one of the patch's most obvious improvements.
After I was finished with Dorn and Rasaad's side quests (as well as Durlag's Tower), I headed towards Baldur's Gate once more, having lost one companion (Faldorn) and gained another (Ajantis). It was not long before I was seized by the Flaming Fist and thrown into the dungeons, wherein I lost yet another companion (Xan, who was executed by the Flaming Fist's new leader Angelo Dosan). Reluctantly accepting the aid of a murderous psychopath, I was able to escape the city's prisons into the sewer system. Eventually, with the help of his friend (and aspiring lover) Tamoko I was able to accrue the evidence necessary to foil Sarevok's plot to unseat the leadership of Baldur's Gate and start a war with Amn, leading to the confrontation pictured above. Surrounded by enemies, Sarevok made the savvy decision to retreat and I have yet to take pursuit.
And that's where I've left things for now. Before heading into the Undercity to take down Sarevok once and for all I plan to finish up a few more sidequests, bring my designated team up to the appropriate level, and acquire an arsenal worthy of the game's final quest. Hopefully by the time the game's sequel launches next Friday, I'll be ready to jump right in but if I'm not, I'm sure I won't be far behind.