For newcomers to the game, let me just make one thing clear: BG:EE is not an easy game. Party composition is important (for example, creating a party of six mages is probably a good way to cause you to rage quit in five minutes) as are tactics. If it’s been a long time since you’ve played a game like BG:EE, I’d strongly recommend going through the tutorial (which is only available in single-player). Many of the basics of the gameplay are explained in it. Many are not, and you’ll have to learn them on the fly or use the internet when you have questions. BG:EE is not a game you can Dynasty Warriors your way through. The pause button is your friend. You may even spend more time with the game on pause than not as you figure out your next move. I spent a ridiculous percentage of time talking to my co-op partner (who was conveniently in the same room) about what the plan was, and the exact course of action my character(s) were going to take as soon as the game resumed (e.g. “My cleric’s going to heal your warrior now. Save your druid’s heal.”).
On a similar note, save often. You never know when all hell’s going to break loose suddenly and you’ll end up dead. If the main character (which I believe is just character slot 1 when you first create a brand new game) dies, it’s game over. All other characters can die and be resurrected at a temple for a fee. It took me way too long to learn this. However, you do have to carry all their stuff back to town and be down a party member until you get there. Due to this, you’ll probably elect to reload the game and try the fight again. If this pause-and-play, save often, and retry-by-reloading gameplay doesn’t sound fun to you, then BG:EE may not be the game for you. Similarly, you may want to be sure the people you plan to play with are on the same page as far as playstyle goes.
It might sound like I’m coming down in BG:EE. That’s absolutely not the case. I still play Bioware’s modern RPG Dragon Age in a very similar style to BG:EE. I love the tactical decision making and figuring out the best ways to execute a fight. I love figuring out a great party composition. The fact that BG:EE allows me to do this in co-op is absolutely great for me. There’s a certain sense of achievement one gets from executing a difficult fight well. For me, that’s a huge part of BG:EE. There’s also a strong story and side quests (which I won’t spoil, since that’s a huge part of the experience), not to mention the memorable characters. Keep in mind that recruiting any of the in-game characters forces the host to kick out an existing character, so make sure to check if it’s okay to replace a character with your co-op partners.
The Black Pits is the new adventure to BG:EE. The general gameplay is the same as the campaign in co-op, but it’s more about fighting and less about story. The insane drow Baeloth has kidnapped six heroes to fight in his underground arena to the death. It’s an arena set-up, where players will have to fight a certain group of enemies in the arena, and then they can come back to a room to buy and sell. Any dead characters will be revived upon re-entering this safe room. It should be noted that leveling is much quicker at the beginning than in the campaign (and you’re given a lot of gold to buy gear), so the Black Pits might be a good place to start when getting the hang of the gameplay.