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Baldur's Gate 3 Opinions

Opinions 08 August 2023, 18:57

Baldur's Gate 3 Mends Sequel's Greatest Flaw Right Off the Bat

If someone asked me my opinion on Baldur's Gate 2, I'd say it was an almost perfect RPG. I was thrilled to discover BG3 fixes that game's greatest design oversight right from the get go.

Baldur’s Gate 2 was, is, and will be a great game. A wonderful adventure in a vast world filled to the top with content. Moreover, due to the multitude of classes, team combinations, and storyline choices, this title was suitable for multiple playthroughs. If we enjoyed it so much, we could do a run similar to the previous one, only more detailed or opt for a completely different gameplay variant, with different characters etc. There was only one issue on our way. Impossible to skip, Irenicus's prison, which fascinated at first, but with every new game – dragged out like a car from one end of London to the other. Larian Studios decided to avoid a similar mistake in Baldur’s Gate 3, although they narrowly missed falling into the same trap.

The Child of Bhaal Has Awoken

Game prologues are a tricky business. Every designer, producer, UX designer, and even screenwriter will tell you this. How to combine plot and gameplay locked in a small space? What's the way to teach players fundamental mechanics and at the same time draw them into the swirl of events? It's not easy – even great, excellent games doesn't always handle this. Or they simply teach player through pain, like Dark Souls. Well, it can be done either way. Nonetheless, in good old times a starting location was something necessary.

Baldur’s Gate 2 actually had two tutorials. One is the residence in the Baldur's Gate, where NPCs rudely instructed where and how to click. This location was optional and the genuine "Baldurans" probably only visited it area after trying all the mods available online.

The second, of course, was Irenicus' dungeon – a ghastly fantasy prison where we began the adventure. And of course we gain a dash of knowledge about what our kidnapper had done to us and our friends. There, the mischief of the whole story – Jon Irenicus – was introduced to us in an extremely polite and completely painless manner. It was enough to engage us with the storyline, to bring up questions and dilemmas that then drove us through quite a bit of the game (until they evolved and new ones emerged).

At the same time, we were able to experience in a compact, " preview" location some new mechanics, spells, a different approach to game handling or storytelling. More dramatic more bittersweet. Simply – it's a demo version that teaches the basics.

Then the game released us into a vast world bursting with quests, mysteries, and amazing stories. And every time we could visit all these places in the order just we wanted. In the worst case, we were punished for messing around with the AD&D rules. And it made you want to go through the BG2 at least several times, even just to see the endings of the adventures made by all NPCs and all potential epilogues of our hero.

There was only one problem. While the first time Irenicus's dungeon made a tremendous impression, every time after that it dragged on, was boring and long. It didn't share the charm of the rest from the game, it was just a necessary wrap-up of the plot that we had to get over. Watching the same events happening in the same sequence. And we watched. Each time we greeted companions, we released a genie, we took a task from the dryads, we met Yoshimo, we saw Jaheira suffer, we struggled with a vampire and the Shadow Thieves, and we wondered who this clone woman from the back room was. And all this in a typical dungeon, only this one was full of suffering perpetrated by Irenicus. But after the second or third attempt, this place, claustrophobic and linear – was boring. As for me, I've played through the Baldur's Gate 2 eight times.

It is time for more... experiments

Are we then doomed in BG2 to repeating lengthy activities like in Groundhog Day? Not at all! And since the game encouraged experimenting with character builds, teams and quests in general, there were ways to avoid the struggle with this repetitive location. After all, players are smart, and the Infinity Engine is circumventable. I know about at least two methods.

The first step is to install the appropriate mod. With it (if it's still working with the Enhanced Edition), you will start the game after the mess in the dungeons with all the threads checked and activated. You will also receive all the artifacts and items that you could have found before, and of course with companions on your side. Simply, the modification will move you to the moment when the game really begins.

And if you don't wanna defile the BG2 files with an external applications, I also have a solution for you. This means, it's a method for those who quickly want to start an adventure with several different characters at once. You need your game save from single player mode, best right after leaving Irenicus's dungeons, which you transfer to the folder with multiplayer saves. You give all the main character's items to someone else. After saving the game, you can swap your character for a completely new one in the right menu tab. He will indeed lose a few experience points, but that's a small price to pay. Then you can move the file back to the single player saves folder. And voila, you can create any character you want, without having to trudge through the same corridors again.

And since Baldur’s Gate 2 allows for various mixes of classes, skills, artifacts, or strategies dependent on who we have in the team – it just makes you want to experiment. You just want to play with this weird D&D mechanics, and – experience this adventure once again. The number of treats hidden here for the patient players is overwhelming. More than once I wanted to do an exact, final walkthrough, during which I would clear everything but in a slightly different way than the previous (exact and final) walkthrough – but I was discouraged by the need to cut through a familiar location.

Intruders have invaded the area again, master

Fact that Baldur’s Gate 3, despite all the changes, differences and time jump, is still very much in the spirit of the "sequel" – is evident from the very beginning. We are being abducted and imprisoned by enemy forces, who want something from us. And what if this time instead of a wizard we have mind flayers?<br> Well, this makes escaping captivity even sweeter – and harder.

Generally, in the early access of the third Baldur's Gate, my only pain – apart from the horror provoked by the awareness of how many hours this game will devour from my life after the premiere – was the beginning. I mean the fact that you have to struggle through a fairly linear tutorial prologue again. The airship of the enemies occupied time similar to Irenicus's dungeon. You had to wade through this introduction about a critical feature – but one that players understand after the first playthrough. Because it works the same as in Baldur's Gate 2. We learn about the plot twist, the mechanics, and the game tells us what to do, explains what works and how it works.

The first time is very important even for the old gamers, but with each next attempt we want to immediately taste the freedom (as much as a production with a structure similar to Divinity Original Sin 2 allows). And again, it was too long for me. I had to "hang around" in this temporary location for an hour, if not an hour and a half or two (it's possible that when I played this, the time spent there reached this upper limit; if a certain production doesn't overwhelm me, I like to "lick the walls" and check everything). And this raised the same dilemma for the second approach – to suffer or wait for some ways around it?

Fortunately, Larian Studio, probably after feedback from players, concluded that this segment could be done differently. Eventually, in Baldur’s Gate 3, we spend only about 10-20 minutes in the starting location (time checked with a watch in hand). You can live with it. It's quick, simple and necessary. This fragment quickly and efficiently familiarizes us with the subject, combined with an "epic" introductory movie providing enough motivation to gather your party before venturing forth. And to find out what's going on, why it's us ending up with a telepathic tadpole in the brain, and what it means. And quite quickly start doing it at your own discretion in a normal game environment.

Well, Baldur's Gate 3 is a very strange title, developed under special conditions. For a budget that many independent studios simply cannot afford. Created by a team that is currently on a win-streak, and similar to, for example, Supergiant Games with Hades (or the same Larian with Divinity: Original Sin 2), heared feedback from players in recent years. I am very curious whether any major studio will take the proper lessons from the success of the crazy Belgians. Such that you can work with fanbase, at least listen to some of their comments (those without aggression and venom in their words). And just make games for players, not for some mysterious target pulled out of focus group charts. Time will tell. The time that has just started to consume all of us, Baldur’s Gate 3. Help me.

Hubert Sosnowski | Gamepressure.com

Hubert Sosnowski

Hubert Sosnowski

A raccoon in disguise. Had his head blown by Baldur's Gate, Todd McFarlane, Paul Verhoeven, Steven Erikson and J. Michael Straczynski. He wrote for the Polish Playboy, published a couple of short stories in magazines and books.


Baldur's Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3

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