I find I've had repeated trouble getting through some Infinity Engine games, and it detracts a lot from the enjoyment. So far I've played through Baldur's Gate + Tales of the Sword Coast, Planescape Torment, Icewind Dale: Enhanced Edition, and am currently in Heart of Winter (EE).

I'm asking under the category of strategies and tactics, which seems ok to ask about. Specifically I'm looking for strategies that can increase the enjoyment of the games.

The problem I have is that the games always seems to distill to the same immersion-breaking situation for me:

  • If I try to not assess potential enemies until after I've encountered a new situation (area), and deal with combat then and there (so as to not break immersion by saving and loading and scouting ahead with invisibility), then either...
    • A. ...the enemies use some ability that takes control from me and that I couldn't have countered unless I had already drunk lots of potions (that I might not have), or had already rearranged my spellbooks specifically for the encounter, and rested.
    • B. ...the game simply teleports/spawn a handful of enemies I couldn't possibly know anything about even if I had scouted ahead, and I die. This almost always happens after a conversation, meaning that at least the character that is having the conversation will be separated and surrounded (bad), even if my entire party isn't (worse).

My solution has always been to...

  • In A: scout ahead with hide in shadows or invisibility. This is detracting from the immersion but is effective, if I already know the creatures' abilities.
  • In B: save, try, load, try again, load... This makes me feel like I don't know how to play the game, and I lose all immersion. Sometimes I can't make progess despite knowing what's coming, and that results in simply not playing.

It feels like if I don't already know what kind of combat is coming and prepare specifically for it, then I die, or at least lose a character that can't simply be resurrected (which is a huge chore, even if I were allowed to travel to a temple). Also, unless I already know the abilities of every creature I encounter, I have to find out through trial-and-error since it's not part of the documentation.

In Icewind Dale + Heart of Winter's case this all happens while continuously referencing the manuals — like Mastering Melee and Magic — that come with the games, and playing the default pre-generated party of characters that should be able to handle "everything the game can throw at them", with standard rules. Even so, I can't seem to handle ~8 spectral human guards spawned around me by surprise (only with lots of preparation), not to mention the additional 16 guards that can spawn in the same area, and not to mention the handful of invisible stalkers (+ other creatures) that will also spawn in the same area one conversation later. Am I holding the game wrong, or is it all about knowing what's going to happen?

  • 1
    One obvious fix to the problem is to make sure you are ready for anything and that your characters are powerful enough. Try to focus on solving areas that seem easy and level up as much as possible before exploring further. The original Baldur's Gate games were for example pretty much open world and nothing will stop you from progressing the main quest or going to a very dangerous area early on.
    – Amarth
    Sep 30, 2023 at 18:35
  • @Amarth That seems like a workable strategy with the extra freedom in the BG series, as you say. I'll try it in BG2. Though, in the linear Heart of Winter it feels like I've done absolutely everything, but still got stuck. Maybe the default party composition isn't as ideal as I'm led to believe. Either that or I'm expected to know more about the weaknesses of each creature than I do. Well, I get the impression that people think this question is unanswerable and should be closed, so perhaps there aren't any obvious mistakes or quick fixes to what I describe...
    – Andreas
    Oct 3, 2023 at 20:34
  • You know there's such thing like tutorials and walkthroughs, also wiki? Also what's wrong with scouting? It's one of more realistic things in there.
    – Mithoron
    Oct 3, 2023 at 23:49
  • @Mithoron I don't want spoilers from walkthroughs. Did I not mention that scooting detracts from my immersion and enjoyment of the game? I don't think invisibility is realistic or a net positive in most, if any, universe.
    – Andreas
    Oct 5, 2023 at 4:51


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