Baldur’s Gate – Tales of the Sword Coast Review aka “You are… outsider?”
Tales of the Sword Coast is the sole expansion to Baldur’s Gate, and adds many hours of gameplay outside of the main story line, as well as raising the level cap slightly. There are three new avenues to explore – following the journey of Balduran across the sea; exploring the depths of Durlag’s Tower and helping a powerful mage with a… small task.
Story and Immersion aka “You’re not figments are you? I won’t have any dealings with figments.”
The three new situations added to the game are all separate from each other except for originating in the same place – the new village of Ulgoth’s Beard. Each represents a different facet of an RPG, with Balduran’s tale serving as a sort of mystery exploration, Durlag’s Tower functioning as a dungeon crawl and the mage’s task being a small gauntlet-like side-quest.
The Balduran portion of the expansion is the most story-driven, with many side-quests and a good investigation into the eventual fate of the founder of Baldur’s Gate.
Durlag’s Tower, despite its dungeon crawl nature, still has a good story underlying it, and manages to really immerse the player into a hostile, dangerous, decaying tower.
The last portion, helping the mage, is very short, and might almost be taken as an excuse to fight a series of challenging encounters, but still manages to include enough plot to not feel completely jarring.
Despite that, none of these tie in completely to the main plot of Baldur’s Gate, so those looking for something tied into the overall story may not be overly fond. They do fit quite well into the world, however, so if playing through Baldur’s Gate for the first time, this is well worth acquiring, and you may not really notice that it is a separate add-on due to how well it is incorporated within the main game.
Gameplay aka “Kill them all and the game begins.”
Gameplay is, obviously, along the same lines as the original Baldur’s Gate. New levels – and spells and equipment – have been added, however, so there are some more tactical options. For those who enjoyed Baldur’s Gate, this represents a continuance of more of the same, with no major changes.
Tales of the Sword Coast is noticeably more difficult than the standard game, however, and some of the encounters are definitely a step up in challenge. Additionally, the developers were clearly more comfortable with the engine, and devised some more interesting layouts and combat encounters for the new sections, which are quite entertaining.
Nowhere is this more evident than in Durlag’s Tower, which has a whole host of puzzles, traps and deadly interactions with monsters that require as much thinking as they do blasting.
Conclusion aka “Me will crush you, crush you to goo!”
If you enjoy Baldur’s Gate, you should probably acquire Tales of the Sword Coast, as there’s not really any good reason not to, and it’s a very solid addition.