So, you’ve been hooked on Baldur’s Gate 3 too, eh? Larian Studio’s latest RPG adventure has become an almost overnight success, breaking Steam concurrent player records to become one of the most played games of all time. A game of the year contender (and probable winner) in the making, Baldur’s Gate 3 seems to have broken through and become 2023’s surprise mainstream hit, similar to how Elden Ring reached that status in 2022.
Also like last year, the hype for Baldur’s Gate 3 pretty much passed me by for the majority of its pre-release and early access period, but in the weeks before its full launch, you could get the sense that Larian were working on something special. Once the reviews and opinion articles started dropping, and the nigh-universal love and acclaim began to roll in, curiosity got the better of me. Clearly, I also had to see what the fuss was about.
After spending what felt like an eternity downloading Baldur’s Gate 3 onto my Steam Deck, then spending an additional few eons finely crafting my character to look like a mediocre white man, I was finally let loose into the world of the Forgotten Realms. The tutorial was great fun, as I got to grips with the game’s combat and mechanics, but once the Nautiloid had finally crash landed into the Forgotten Realms proper, my issues started to arise.
There are just so many options.
This is to be expected, of course, as Baldur’s Gate 3 is based on D&D and the experience of playing that iconic tabletop RPG in real life, so play choice is the most important part. Players should be able to approach situations in whatever manner they see fit, use the moves and abilities they possess in clever and inventive ways, or find ingenious shortcuts to cheese certain encounters. This is part and parcel of the role playing experience and Baldur’s Gate captures that feeling excellently.
The problem I’m running into here is that I’m now continually second guessing myself about whether or not I solved the encounter in the best way, or if there’s something I could have done differently to create a more favourable outcome. Already in my campaign, I’ve accidentally pissed off a sibling duo who were grieving their fallen master, got told to go away by a massive owlbear, and potentially ruined a friendship with a dog because I told him his master died. Fist fighting a dog wasn’t in my Baldur’s Gate 3 plans, but that soon became my reality.
Playing Baldurs’ Gate 3 has given me a similar feeling to what Persona 5 Royal did when I first started playing it, which saw me resorting to save scumming and using guides because I couldn’t read a book on a train. Persona 5 is so linear in terms of its choices compared to Baldur’s Gate 3, so naturally I’ve started save scumming here, which just leads to me getting fed up at playing the same parts repeatedly to try and engineer a different outcome. I don’t want to resort to guides to succeed, as the joy of a game like this is your own discovery and the role-playing which comes with it, but god damn does it feel like I’m bumbling my way through the Realms.
At this point, I feel almost too overwhelmed to pick up Baldur’s Gate 3 again to carry on playing, just because I’m concerned it’ll be more mistakes and bad decisions with no end in sight. Maybe that’s just part of the experience, and I need to learn to let go of some control in order to fully appreciate what Baldur’s Gate 3 has to offer, but also, you better believe I’m going back at least one more time to properly befriend Scratch. Love that good boi, sorry I had to bop you on the head.
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