Baldur’s Gate 3: A Modern CRPG Revival
Baldur’s Gate 3 is a game that revolves around the concept of choices. Whether it’s encountering a demonic creature deep within a cavernous underground temple or attempting to retrieve a valuable item from a well-guarded room, the player has the freedom to shape the outcome based on their character’s abilities and decisions. Depending on the player’s choices, they may be able to convince the demonic creature to turn against its own soldiers and banish itself back to the inferno. Alternatively, they can resort to more traditional methods of defeating enemies, such as using weapons or spells to their advantage.
The Baldur’s Gate series originated in 1998 with the release of the first game, developed by BioWare. BioWare later gained recognition for their other popular role-playing series, including Mass Effect and Dragon Age. The first two Baldur’s Gate games established BioWare as a leading developer in the computer role-playing game (CRPG) subgenre. However, as BioWare shifted towards a more action-oriented approach in their later games, the traditional CRPG style became less prominent in the market. Fans turned to developers like Larian Studios, known for their successful CRPGs like Divinity: Original Sin and its sequel, Original Sin II.
In a surprising turn of events, Larian Studios took over the Baldur’s Gate franchise after almost 23 years and released Baldur’s Gate 3. This modern CRPG has garnered an enormous player base, breaking records on computer game storefronts and receiving widespread acclaim from critics.
What sets Baldur’s Gate 3 apart from other games is its ability to cater to both long-time fans of the CRPG subgenre and newcomers. The game brings back the classic elements that have always been appealing in CRPGs, while also making them more accessible for players who may have been intimidated by the complexity and learning curve of traditional CRPGs.
CRPGs have always been known for offering players a vast array of choices, whether in combat, exploration, conversation, or character development. These games draw inspiration from tabletop RPGs like Dungeons & Dragons, providing a platform for players to exercise their creativity without the need for a dedicated group of friends. Baldur’s Gate 3 is no exception, taking place in the Dungeons & Dragons universe and following its rules and design principles. It combines the free-form exploration of open-world games, the immersive storytelling of mainstream RPGs, and the tactical flexibility of modern action games.
However, the sheer amount of information presented in CRPGs can be overwhelming for newcomers. Character creation screens are filled with intricate statistics, and command bars offer a plethora of abilities with opaque descriptions. Baldur’s Gate 3 also has a steep learning curve, but it introduces players to its mechanics through trial-and-error rather than lengthy manuals or pop-up tutorials.
One of the game’s strengths lies in its implementation of rigid systems with a sense of looseness. Players have the freedom to reroll virtual dice to improve their chances of persuading others or landing successful hits. They can also experiment with different tactics in combat by reloading save files. Importantly, Baldur’s Gate 3 allows players to make mistakes outside of combat without penalizing them with a “game over” screen. Instead, it seamlessly incorporates those mistakes into the player’s personal story.
The game’s plot adds urgency and motivation to the gameplay. The main characters are infected with mind-controlling tadpoles that will continue to burrow deeper into their brains if not removed in time. This drives players to overcome initial challenges and immerse themselves in multiple plotlines, character interactions, and an intriguing game world. As players progress, the game’s momentum builds, creating a sense of anticipation similar to a plot-heavy TV show or an engaging novel.
Baldur’s Gate 3 stands as a testament to the enduring appeal of the CRPG subgenre, successfully revitalizing it for modern audiences. By combining classic CRPG elements with approachable gameplay mechanics, Larian Studios has created a game that captures the essence of its predecessors while making it accessible to a wider audience. As the game continues to break records and receive critical acclaim, it serves as a reminder that traditional CRPGs still have a place in the gaming industry.