Baldur's Gate: Tales of the Sword Coast

Bill Dungsroman 04/07/2003 

Just not your expansion, eh Edwin? Total Carnage!
If you happen to be nostalgic – or masochistic – enough to want to play Baldur's Gate 1 (BG1), then you will want to play this expansion, without question. Since the damned thing comes bundled with BG1 for around $20.00 anyway, you may as well. It does the usual crap a fantasy RPG expansion does: ups the XP cap and adds new spells, items, monsters, and quests. Actually, the most fun you are likely to have playing BG1 is offered in this expansion. Upon installing it, a new town, Ulgoth's Beard, will appear on your World Map north of Baldur's Gate. Also, Durlag's Tower will appear somewhere in the middle. I recommend installing the expansion outright and then waiting until just before the final battle with Sarevok to go on the quests. Nothing in BG1 is urgent, so feel free to ignore the main story of BG1 in favor of doing the expansion.

The town of Ulgoth's Beard is a boring little dump, the smallest in BG1. But there's quite a bit to do, as random losers will amble up to you and offer you quests, or just stand around looking conspicuous enough for you to ask them what the fuck they're up to. There are a few Fed Ex quests in the town proper, as well as a slightly more involved quest involving some stupid cult. It has a Big Boss Finale, so be warned. The next quest is larger, and involves you piffing off to some other plane or somesuch, so be ready to go. Another sends you to an island, which actually has the best storyline of the game. Lastly, there's big ol' Durlag's Tower. It's a motherfucker, universally regarded as the toughest quest/dungeon in the entire BG/IWD series (mostly due to your piddly-ass character levels; there's little room for cheesing your way through it), and it's mostly fun. Some fruit in Ulgoth's Beard can take you there, or you can ignore him for no penalty and go there on your own. Do it last. Word to the wise: if the Death Knights guarding the place hand you your ass, forget about the stupid Tower for awhile. The last battle in the tower is why it carries such infamy, as you fight not just one Big Bad Boss, but four. Pack your healing potions.

Ultimately though, if you have never played BG1, or if you have and you want to try TotSC, don't bother. The expansion doesn't fix the horribly unstable code of the Infinity Engine in its infancy, so crashes are all too frequent. The expansion is more power-gaming-oriented anyway, and Icewind Dale is a better choice by all considerations. Forget it.

Bill Dungsroman