The RPG has ever been a pillar of the gaming medium, ever since its very early days, even with rudimentary technology, and as the genre has changed, evolved, and expanded in massive ways over the years, its importance to the industry as a whole has only grown. As such, any time a major new RPG is on the horizon, it’s natural to expect there to be plenty of eyes on it, especially when it is coming from a developer that have a significant legacy in the genre.
For Baldur’s Gate 3, both of those things are true. The Baldur’s Gate franchise set standards for the CRPG genre back in the day that are being followed to this day, and Larian is currently one of the best in the industry, so Baldur’s Gate 3 coming from Larian is going to have almost unrealistically high expectations to live up to. And yet, impossibly enough, based on everything we’ve seen so far, it feels very much like the game is going to be able to do just that. Though none of us will obviously be able to pass final judgment on that until we’ve actually played the game ourselves, thanks to how encouraging its lengthy early access period has been, and thanks to the immense trust Larian has built up with its previous titles, it feels like Baldur’s Gate 3 is going to be a landmark release for role playing games, and one that genre fans won’t want to miss out on.
Obviously, for a genre as wide and multifaceted as RPGs, it goes without saying that not every game is going to necessarily be the kind of experience you might be looking for. If your preference is the loot-driven progression and action of something like Diablo, or the emergent reactivity and scope of something like The Elder Scrolls, or the production value or cinematic bent of something like The Witcher or Mass Effect, Baldur’s Gate 3 might not align with your tastes. As a hardcore CRPG through and through, BG3 is going to emphasize, first and foremost, narrative reactivity and player choice in the vein of tabletop DnD experiences. But if meaningful choice and consequence mechanics are what you’re looking for, it’s hard not be excited about the potential of Baldur’s Gate 3.
There’s been no shortage of games that have touted meaningful branching narratives over the decades, but CRPGs have always been the one genre where that’s not just a promise to deliver on, but an actual requirement if you’re to deliver a solid experience. Luckily, it’s also an area where we know for a fact that Larian is more than capable of delivering the goods. Divinity: Original Sin 2’s choice and consequence mechanics were one of the game’s biggest strengths, and Baldur’s Gate 3 is promising even greater things on that front. Larian as a studio is probably better than any other in the industry right now at crafting adventures that can capture that feeling of endless freedom and player agency that you’d ordinarily only find in a pen-and-paper campaign, and the studio is making some bold promises for Baldur’s Gate 3 in that area.
If, by the time you’ve rolled credits on the game, you want to look back on your experience and be able to chart out how every choice you made led to meaningful changes in the story, and how all of it came together in an experience that felt as much authored by you as it was by the game’s developers, based on what Larian has said so far, it looks like Baldur’s Gate 3 isn’t going to disappoint. The game’s script, for instance, is roughly 2 million words long, with roughly thrice the amount of dialogue as all three Lord of the Rings put together, while there are also over 2000 NPCs in the game and over 17,000 different variations of the ending. But of course, you’re not even going to come close to seeing all of it in a single playthrough. Based on your actions and the decisions you make, everything from the path of your story to the quests that you take on to the characters that you meet and so much more will be changed every step of the way, which means there will be plenty of possible content that you’ll have missed entirely in your adventure.
But of course, there’s more to a CRPG than just the choice and consequence mechanics. Just as important is the ability to truly be able to own the character you’re playing as and shape your build through layered progression systems to allow you to change the gameplay to suit your play style. Again, Baldur’s Gate 3 is promising an abundance of choices here, from classes and subclasses to races and subraces, from playing as origin characters to creating your own custom character, from how the world and the people you meet in it will react to who you are and what your backstory is to the actuall progression mechanics. The signs are more than a little promising when it comes to Baldur’s Gate 3’s ability to let players author their own experience in every way possible.
The fact that all of that is going to be wrapped up in a package as massive as this one is also incredibly exciting. A single Baldur’s Gate 3 playthrough is going to be anywhere between 70 to 200 hours long, based on what Larian has said, but that’s obviously not going to allow you to see all the content in the game. Based on the class and race you choose, the choices you make throughout the story, how your relationships with different characters develop, and a multitude of other factors, there’s going to be plenty of content that you’re not going to experience at all. Yes, obviously it’s going to be a huge time investment, but the prospect of having a proper DnD-style experience where you can have multiple different playthroughs, each significantly different from the last, is bound to be inherently exciting to any fan of the genre.
Admittedly, Baldur’s Gate 3 is going to have tough competition in vying for the attention of RPG lovers, what with its launch clashing with the release of the massively anticipated behemoth that is Starfield. And honestly, from what we know of both games so far, it really doesn’t look like you can go wrong with either. No matter what choice you make, you’re probably going to be in for one hell of a ride. Specifically, where Baldur’s Gate 3 is concerned, however, all signs are pointing to it turning out to be one of the genre’s biggest releases ever- and one that, in turn, shouldn’t be missed by anyone with a passing interest in role playing games. It also helps that Baldur’s Gate 3 lengthy and meaty early access period has given us a solid idea of what the game is going to be like. With that, and with the fact that Larian has proven itself to be more than capable of delivering all-time great CRPG experiences, it’s quite easy to be confident in how well BG3 is going to turn out.
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