For most it's runtime BGs were not gritty. Thay had some dark content, but overall the feel was of an adventure, with some dark and really silly moments inbetween.
Playing through D:OS2. and what I miss are stakes. No one really cares, nor is concerned about anything. While BG2 was bright and fun, dark stuff happened and had consequences. Things happen to people outside your party, but all Origin characters seem like a bunch of sociopaths.
D:OS2 doesn't shy from gore and gross, but it doesn't have narrative impact. Your companions are constatly snarky and indifferent, and so are most other NPCs.
I guess that's somewhat fair. I think DOS 2 focuses so much on locale-building that the world-building suffers quite a bit.
Take Act 2 - About 10-20 minutes walk northeast of Driftwood, it appears that the landscape has collapsed into a hellish nightmare world where healing hurts and a settlement is collapsing into arcane screaming torment. Driftwood doesn't talk about that, it's too busy talking about Driftwood.
The lack of world-building also hurts the origin stories because too many pieces are missing. The Red Prince was caught consorting with a demon, then was exiled by his own people to Fort Joy. He says that once he returns to his people, he'll become emperor again. Except we're missing "Step 2", which is the explanation for why he won't be arrested and imprisoned, and how he'll suddenly be promoted to the throne without his political enemies being able to stop him.
Queen Justinia of the Dwarves plans to
Can't she talk to the leader of the Humans in that area? Who is leading the humans? No one knows because Larian didn't think that was important... except that getting at least a vague idea of the power dynamics at play are important for understanding the decisions people are making.
Thanks, I guess that is one of the things why I never finished DOS2.
So far I thought its just the random items and inflating numbers that made me quit, but this is importent too.
You just don´t care what happens in the world and the people in this world do not care too.
The origin characters do not care much for things that are not related to their personal quest.
You walk around and kill stuff that stands around and waits to be killed by you.
Sometimes somebody tells you which direction to go or what to kill, which feels strange because often you already been there or killed that.
Plus you have nice large maps, but the extreme level scaling makes things feel very linear.
Good news is that they seemed to have learned stuff. The video were you fight the goblins at the gate got me more interested than much of the stuff in DOS2.
You know why you are fighting, what your goal is and why they attack.
I really like the Trails series. I have played Trails in the Sky1+2+3 and Trails of cold Steel 1+2 so far.
They do a great job in world building. When you talk to NPC they say something new after every event, give their opinion on what happened lately or what will happen next and they give the impression that things are happening in the world that have nothing to do with you. OK, Its a linear JRPG so the things that happen are always the same, the devs don´t need to write text for the many different ways the story might go.
As for western open world games, Gothic1+2 are fantastic in creating a world that feels alive and believable.
The Witcher 3 is a fantastic game too. One of the best games ever in creating an immersive world.