"Bard's Tale 4 was good at launch" is a hill I will happily die on, but not everyone had a smooth-sailing experience with it out of the gate, and even I have to admit that there were some rough spots. The Bard's Tale 4: Director's Cut, released today, aims to address those shortcomings with new features, a "massive balance pass," and new content including more powerful bosses, Dwarven weapons, and the Royal Necropolis of Haernhold.
"We had a rough launch as you know and the sales were not as strong as we had hoped. We knew we had a good game but the issues at launch didn't allow everyone to get the same experience, the review scores were all over the map," inXile CEO Brian Fargo said. "In addition our fans pointed out areas that needed improvement and we got right to work to create a game they would really enjoy. We spent the last 8 months implementing a good 40 pages of improvement and adding additional content to give our fans a Bard's Tale they deserve."
Haernhold, an end-game dungeon with new puzzles and bosses to take on, sounds like the big hook, but it's the behind-the-scenes stuff that really makes the difference. Along with "thousands" of bug fixes and gameplay improvements, the updated edition introduces new character creation and difficult options (including an option to save anywhere), adds some much-needed inventory filters, and drops in new character portraits, improved level art, and a new intro cinematic. Overall performance has been improved, full controller support is implemented, and mandatory puzzles can now be skipped, although you'll still need to figure out the optional ones if you want the full tour.
I've played with the Director's Cut a bit and I really like what I see. The original release ran very well for me so the performance boost is tough to pick up, but the inventory is more manageable, which is nice, and the new character creation and difficulty tuning options should make the game a lot more accessible.
The one knock against it is that the Director's Cut is a completely separate version of The Bard's Tale 4, so you won't be able to pick up where you left off: I was hoping to dive straight into the Haernhold endgame content, but I'm going to have to start over from scratch and do some Skara Brae-saving first. Honestly, I don't mind much. (And yes, I tried manually copying my saves to the new location. No go.)
Bard's Tale 4: Director's Cut is $35/£25/€35 on Steam. Everyone who owns the original Bard's Tale 4: Barrows Deep will get the updated edition for free.