Tutu / BGT
Baldur's Gate, with or without the expansion, can be played with or without a notable third party enhancement, BG1TuTu. TuTu is a form of conversion that allows you to play Baldur's Gate from start to finish while utilizing the much more advanced Baldur's Gate II engine. While it is certainly possible to play without this addon, the PIH staff consider it an incredible boon to the game and highly recommend installing it. The superior interface alone makes installation worth it, on top of TuTu also fixing many loopholes and bugs left in the original game.
BGT is another mod of the same nature. But rather than just converting BG1 to BG2 engine, it combines them into single game. Nowadays, BGT seems to be used more often (in part, because it's Big World Project also uses BGT).
For the sake of the "arguments" below, TuTu and BGT are equivalent.
There are arguments as to whether TuTu makes BG1 easier or harder, and they can easily go both ways. Tutu allows you to select races, classes, skills and kits you could not select in vanilla BG1 - such as Half Orcs, Berserkers, Sorcerers, Assassins, et cetera. Given that the original game was not designed with these things in mind, there are certain areas where having these at your disposal might seem like an unfair advantage.
However, overall the game is still very true to its core. The experience cap still applies equally to all characters, and all characters still start at a meager level 1. The enemy AI is also improved, making it impossible to kill enemies in ways that formerly were obvious cheats or oversights. An example of this is Drizzt, who now (without having to edit your pathfinding nodes) will run around the lake and murder your party if you try to assault him from the other side, rather than standing still like an idiot awaiting death from 2 damage bullets. Another example is denaturing mages, who will now tend to chase you if you exit a room to get them to waste a spell. Yet another example is charming creatures - In TuTu you can no longer initiate dialog with a charmed creature. Also, you cannot specialize in weapon classes, but instead are forced to take specific weapons. Therefore, assigning grand mastery points into Large Swords no longer lets you have mastery over Greatswords, Longswords, Bastard Swords, and Scimitars. This limits the options of what weapons you can use effectively.
Certain BG2 elements are not present as to not make the game stupidly easy. For instance, successfully scribing a scroll will only give you 10 times the circle in experience, rather than 1000 times. So, reading a level 3 scroll will give your party a total of 30 XP, whereas in BG2 proper it would give you 3000 XP. Disarming traps and picking locks is also reduced by the same factor, making them give you only minuscule amounts of XP for doing such.
In other ways, the game is made easier. Opening your inventory no longer unpauses the game, allowing for ammunition to be refilled or changed, consumables not in quick slots to be used, and defensive items to be shared between characters mid-fight. You, and other NPCs sharing the updated paper-dolls, have their movement speed doubled while monster speeds remain the same, allowing them to be kitted by ranged characters without danger. You gain access to the weapon style proficiencies, conferring all bonuses associated with them. Many kits have immunities or bonuses that turn certain encounters into cake-walks. (For example, the immunity to charm and confusion spells Cavaliers benefit from removes the most challenging part of hunting Sirines along the coastline.). Thieves have access to traps, something that was not implemented in vanilla BG1. The BG2 engine also includes maximized hitpoints at lower difficulty levels, which can be exploited to effectively double the average hitpoints of PCs.
Lastly, playing with TuTu is the only way to *begin* as any of the new classes or kits at level 1, although you are still able to take a kit if you are a single or dual classed character at the end of Baldur's Gate 1 should you import him into Baldur's Gate 2.
The biggest detriment to BGtutu is that you lose out on one of the better options for dual-classing characters. If you import a character from BG1 vanilla, you can assign him a kit for whichever active class he or she is. If you start in BGtutu, this is not an option. This severely limits dual-classing into Clerics or Mages especially. Gaining 7 levels in fighter for the extra 1/2 attack, then dual-classing to cleric, mage, or thief in BG1 Vanilla allows you to still gain back your fighter abilities for the battle with Sarevok while picking up kits such as Cleric of Talos, a mage specialization or Assassin, all kits designed to be quite good if left solo normally.
All things considered, it is strongly encouraged you use TuTu or BGT to play. Really, the only reasons to play original BG1 are:
- Nostalgia value.
- You never played the original and absolutely want to experience it.
If any of that applies to you - go ahead and play vanilla BG1. Otherwise, go with TuTu/BGT.
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