Shadows of Undrentide, chapter one

I just finished chapter one of SOU and I’m quite impressed. What I’ve seen so far is a substantial improvement over the original campaign (OC) that shipped with NWN.

For example, in the OC we had, literally, thousands of things to open, and most of them weren’t worth opening. In SOU that is scaled way back and the loot is a bit more worthwhile. Other improvements include:

  • In the OC we had a rather copious amount of dialog to wade through. That has been trimmed down in SOU.

  • In the OC the storyline meandered as the player was presented with non-essential sidequests. In SOU every quest is related to the storyline in some way. This also seems to help balance the game. My character isn’t a level or two higher than intended for the encounters since he hasn’t beefed up on extra quests.

  • Multiple solutions to quests. SOU quests can often be solved in different ways. Many of them are quite clever.

I’m surprised at how much better the expansion is. I’ll also recommend installing the camera hak pak. I’m zooming the camera in at eye level during fights and when wandering dungeon hallways. It’s much more immersive. The default top down view is so detached in comparison.

I think the game still misses in a few spots. It could be a bit more streamlined. In the starting town there’s no reason why the vendors can’t stand outside their stores and save us from having to zone in and out when we want to sell. The magic teleport ring we start with requires that we make new teleport crystals to power it. While not difficult, it seems like needless busy work. There’s still a bit more dialog than I’d like. Reading text in a game doesn’t feel anything at all like reading a story in a book, and reading text in a game doesn’t feel anything at all like playing a game. It may be neccessary, but it gets in the way.

Overall, though, the first chapter was quite entertaining. Good stuff, and on to the desert for me now.

I’ll also recommend installing the camera hak pak. I’m zooming the camera in at eye level during fights and when wandering dungeon hallways. It’s much more immersive. The default top down view is so detached in comparison.

Wow, I didn’t realise someone had created a hak for that. That was something that bugged the hell out of me in the original. Gonna have to give that a try.

I agree with Mark’s assessment. Unfortunately I found Chapter 1 to be by far the best part of the game. The interlude that follows is pretty good also, but somewhat more linear (in a limiting way). Chapter 2 however just seemed weak to me. Not bad, not horrible but just not as strong as Ch. 1. More linear (again, in a limiting way) with very little dialogue. I found the environment not that exciting. (Also, the whole buried underground ancient city of great technical prowess was VERY reminiscent of a section of Arcanum.) There was a very good sequence in the Great Library involving books. But other than that, I felt Ch. 2 was something of a disapointment.

Overall I still give SoU a thumbs up, and I do think NWN overall is a fine game. But not a classic, at least at this point. Given the expandability, there’s still hope.

Does anyone have more info about the next expansion? I know very little other than it is set in the Underdark. Any idea on new content (classes, feats, so on) or on levels?

Dan

Agreed, chapter 1 certainly started off with a bang in my eyes. Interesting quests, flowing dialogue, a multitude of indirect and direct choices to make based on charatcer designation.

It’s not that the experience really trailed off in the desert and beyond, but the sheer amount of interactivity and ‘choice’ given certainly did. Focus shifted as you play the usual role of ‘adventurous handyman’ during your travels. (Solving concerns of others beyond your own immediate goals)
Which isn’t to say that ended up all bad as the dungeon design and puzzles weren’t quite so scaled back. Yet I began to feel the experience shifts into ‘spectator’ mode is the biggest problem. No longer roleplaying quite as such, but rather pushing through the very obvious direct course laid out before the all-too-abrupt ending. (Those prestige classes won’t get nearly enough of a workout in this module)

Definately a major improvement over the OC, but I’m hoping XP2 churns out a more full-bodied quest. This was a marvelous effort though especially Act I.

Can anyone post a link to the Camera Hak pack? I am in the middle of Act 1 and just having a blast right now.

Here’s the link:

It’s easy to install but not exactly intuitive to set up, at least it wasn’t for me. It took me a few tries to get it how I like it. At times having the camera down low and close creates problems with moving and selecting targets. An easy way to use it is to stay with the traditional view while moving and then pausing and zooming in during fights. It really does make the game more exciting, I think.

You can also just unlock the camera through the unlockcamera command… it’s not as in-depth as the camera hak, but still gets the job done. hit the ` key to bring up the console, then type in unlockcamera 1 and hit enter. Voila. You can now pan the camera right down.

Does that work throughout a gaming session, or do you have to unlock it every time you move into a new zone?

Also, as Tom says, the Bioware version doesn’t let you move the camera as far in or down. I didn’t like it as well.

It’ll last through a whole gaming session–it only reverts if you exit the game, I think.
I believe there’s an ini setting somewhere that allows you to unlock it permanently, but I’m not sure.

Thanks Guys…Appreciate the help. And Tom - I know people are passionately divided on NWN but I will say I enjoyed the original - more for user content then the single player campaign and I am really liking the expansion so far…

Yeah, I always said that the toolset was amazing – by far the best toolset I’ve ever seen. Outside of the problems I mentioned when I started this thread, the only other thing I didn’t like was the lack of a party like we had in the Baldur’s games. I know, NWN was supposed to be something different. I just like playing by myself and I miss having a group to control. I wish the toolset was flexible enough to build mods that let us have groups.

Yeah, I always said that the toolset was amazing – by far the best toolset I’ve ever seen. Outside of the problems I mentioned when I started this thread, the only other thing I didn’t like was the lack of a party like we had in the Baldur’s games. I know, NWN was supposed to be something different. I just like playing by myself and I miss having a group to control. I wish the toolset was flexible enough to build mods that let us have groups.[/quote]

In the Sunless Citadel Module you can have up to 3 henchmen and even control their inventories. I like groups but I also like single player plus a henchman. I find in BG2 and similar group games you spend half the time tweaking the inventory for your 6 characters. With one character you know what you want to do and only have to focus on getting upgrades for you and your henchman. It is more streamlined and keeps the game moving as opposed to trying to get your 6th character a +1 ring of protection.

– Xaroc

D20 is all about groups though. Everything written in the d20 system was written with a group in mind, of at least 4 people.

The lack of said group in NWN, and the zoning EVERYWHERE, really through me off the original.

That said, I am having a good time in the expansion, but I think that’s because the henchmen isn’t so useless, but actually an interesting companion to have along.

I didn’t so much mind having control over only one central charatcer in NWN, but I would have greatly enjoyed at least a few more AI controlled henchman alongside of me while playing. If only to make the combat look more thrilling.

Doing the whole Arcane Archer thing was a tough gamble in those early hours, having a hard tank charatcer alongside to soak up damage and occupy my foes made the henchman extremely worthwhile.

At the sametime I found the time-off from micromanageing 6 unique members inside extremely tight corridors all the while keeping pathfinding in check within the workings of a real-time combat structure a VERY pleasant break in NWN. Infinity Engine games had their ups, but I’ll never really miss the downs.

Right after NWN was released, someone wrote a hak that finessed the henchman ai and allowed you to change their inventory. It was incredibly useful, especially going through the main campaign.

How did you fellows like the henchman inventory addition? I found it exceptionally useful when I played as an Acrane Archer.

-Trent

Trent: I also found it an indispensable feature whilst playing the Artcane Archer route. Took advantage of it constantly, very helfpul with the packmule duties. Besides, I rather enjoyed accessorizing my personal little tank quite a bit.

What tank are you guys talking about? I had the thief and the mage in chapter one, and those two plus the kobold in chapter 2. Was there a warrior I missed?

I’m playing as a wizard, so I have the sidekick, the familar, and the summoned creature. I have a group. I just don’t have the kind of control I’d like.

Oh, I had Xanos the whole game through. Kept him somewhat balanced between a mage and a Barbarian class-wise, and though he tended to cast spells quite often, I outfitted him with standard ‘heavy-tank’ gear. Worked out quite well in the end(at least on Normal difficulty).

I’m loving it a lot, but hit some tough spots. Playing a ranger (aiming for arcane archer, but haven’t made it yet…Must be a popular class) with the thief as my sidekick – Xanos just annoys me – and some of the fights are really tough. I probably need to invest in some better armor or something, and just take the hit to my dexterity.

It’s really great, though.