Baldur’s Gate 3: the Next Game of the Year

Baldur's Gate 3
Baldur’s Gate 3

The fantasy landscape is dark and moody with mythical beasts and warriors flying across the landscape. An elf-like creature is grimacing while a fat worm is wriggling into its eye. It looks realistic, perhaps hyper-realistic if you’ve ever spent any time in a hardened molten landscape dressed in silver armor being scrutinized by red-eyed demons. I’m playing a new video game on my computer. I feel my mom come up behind me, peer over my shoulder. I know the questions are about to start…(eye-roll emoji)

Mom: What sort of video game is that?
Gamer: It’s called Baldur’s Gate 3. It’s the latest e-game (electronic game) based on the Dungeons & Dragons board game that Dad used to play when he was a kid; a game in which you played as a character that you created, explored a mythical universe, collecting information and treasures, engaging in battles to solve problems. In this e-game version, people’s brains are being infected with a parasite that can turn you into a mind flayer that gives you mysterious abilities. You can either resist it and allow the darkness to turn in on itself and defeat evil, or you can embrace power, corruption and perhaps become evil yourself. The ultimate climax of the game pits you against “The Absolute” the god of a goblin cult. Larian Studios the creator of this game promotes it as a “tale of
fellowship and betrayal, sacrifice and survival and the lure of absolute power.”

Illithid tadpoles, parasites that embed themselves in the eye
Illithid tadpoles, parasites that embed themselves in the eye

Mom: Is the game good?
Gamer: In my opinion it’s the best game to come out in some time. Each character and storyline is dynamic and every main character tries to convince you to follow their story. The game is full of conflict with multiple “grey” characters; none are totally good nor totally bad. Each character has unique reasons for following their path and they are all charismatic enough to get you on their side no matter how good or evil they seem to be.

Mom: The artwork, the landscape and the characters are so detailed and fantastical. Does it make a difference to your game experience?
Gamer: It makes a huge difference. It pulls you into the story so much more when the visuals and landscapes are done well. This game has it all. It captures the grand scale of fantasy environments perfectly. It offers all the classic medieval cities, ancient underground crypts, beautiful elven forests and barren forests overrun by shadows. They seamlessly allow you to move from one vista to another with no-jarring environmental changes. The characters are really detailed, from the buckles and creases in their clothes, to their intricate armor and facial expressions.

In game scenario
In game scenario

Mom: What makes the scenery so special?
Gamer: There is a huge variety of different environments that you can explore, and each area is massive. The attention to detail in each environment is incredible. Remember the film Lord of the Rings and how impressive those cities and beautiful mountains looked? This game gives you that sort of experience but it’s 10-times better because you aren’t just watching it, you’re experiencing it yourself. You are living it and all its beauty is yours to explore.

Mom: What’s the best part of this game?
Gamer: Apart from the intricate story and artwork, the greatest attraction of this game is the sheer number of choices you have. The whole game is yours to control. The only thing that you have to follow is the overarching story of the mystery meeting with “The Absolute” at the end of the game and the desire to remove a parasite from your body. The journey of how you get there, the things you do on the way are all in your hands and they greatly impact how the story unfolds. It could truly be that no two journeys you embark on in this game are ever the same.

Exploring the wilderness
Exploring the wilderness

Mom: So, the game developers and artists have had to create all these permutations of scenarios that you can experience.
Gamer: Yes, for games like this, replay ability is a valuable aspect and with this game, the sheer number of different kinds of characters you can play is outrageous. There are 12 separate types of characters. This refers to their fighting styles. Then each type can have anywhere between 3-9 sub-types. As you play the game and level up you can combine any of these types to make an almost unique character.

Mom: Do you know anything about the artist who illustrated the game?
Gamer: Games like this are created by teams of artists. In a big studio like Larian, different artists create different elements. Some design and create sprites which are the game elements such as characters, weapons, treasures and effects. Others create the backgrounds and environment. Some work in 2D while many these days work in 3D which allows the game to have the interactive feel. Animators make the characters feel real, with natural physical movements and facial emotions. There are also artists who just work on the special effects to give the players feedback on their character’s movements, so for instance when you swing an axe, you get sparks flying and blood spattering. It’s not about individuals. It’s a team, everyone has their job, and they have to work together to make it happen.

The city of Baldur’s Gate
The city of Baldur’s Gate

Mom: Is Baldur’s Gate 3 a success?
Gamer: It’s already a huge success. It‘s probably going to be Game of the Year 2024 and win multiple categories. It’s the best Dungeons and Dragons adaptation ever. It’s really not a game I thought I would want to play until I gave it a try. All your decisions truly matter and have a huge impact on the story that you experience, combined with the incredible voice acting and the art. It’s the most immersive game I’ve ever played. G&S

In the world currently, it is estimated that 3.09 billion people play video games. Baldur’s Gate 3 was released on August 3rd 2023. As we go to print, the game has over 875,000 gamers playing at peak times.

baldursgate3.game – All images courtesy of Larian Studios

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