Our former John (RPS in peace) declared The Bard's Tale IV to be "a shoddy old mess burying some nice ideas" after it launched in September 2018. Faint praise indeed for InXile Entertainment's revival of the fantasy RPG series. Just under one year later, InXile have relaunched the game as a "Director's Cut" with a big load of bug fixes, tweaks, new places to plunder, new baddies to bash, performance improvements, and more. Might this clear some off the muck off the game's good parts and let them shine more? If you bought it the first time around you can see for free, as original owners automatically get the Director's Cut too.
The Director's Cut brings a new dungeon, new bosses, new weapons, new armour, a big ol' rebalancing of items and the economy, tweaks to the difficulty curve, interface changes, updated localisations for other languages, bug fixes, performance improvements, and a whole lot of other things detailed in the launch announcement.
Eagled-eyed players noticed the new version is looking a little different, and some have griped about a "downgrade." Enter InXile communications director Micah "whippleshuffle" Whipple to explain why that is.
One immediate issue is that the dynamic lighting isn't working on characters, when it should be - and is in their own internal builds. "We believe it should be a fairly simple fix, but it is a legitimate bug," he says.
Beyond that, inXile have intentionally altered the look. Following numerous complaints about the original version's poor performance, Whipple says they made "a visual trade-off" by switching some shadows from dynamic to baked. That might not look as fancy, but Micah says InXile think the change "leads to an overall improved experience." They've also, he says, "made some stylistic changes in the Director’s Cut to certain areas of the game to change the coloration, lighting, atmospheric effects, etc. to address some complaints from the original release and create a more consistent stylised look."
So yes, it looks different: partially owing to a bug; partially to improve performance; and partially to straight-up look different.
Anyway! The Bard's Tale IV: Director's Cut is out now on Steam and GOG for £25/€35/$35. They're starting fresh with new store pages and game entries, which I guess clears out the previous middling reviews. People who buy it by 5pm on September 3rd will get the original Bard's Tale trilogy thrown in. Folks who backed the Kickstarter to get the game will get the Deluxe Edition of the Director's Cut (which includes that trilogy), coming automatically on Steam or with an upgrade key on GOG.