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Baldur’s Gate 3 Shows Why Games Shouldn’t Always Hold Your Hand

That approach is often the source of the game’s challenges and fun, though it also makes stressing over the “optimal builds” other RPGs emphasize rather futile. Instead, Baldur’s Gate 3 knows how to make you stress over every smaller aspect of the character-creation process. Do you go with a race that increases stats and skill checks, such as Dwarves and Half-Orcs, or would you rather use a race that adds a few extra spells to your toolkit, such as Drow or Tiefling? Then you have to do the same thing all over again with your stats, skill proficiencies, classes, and subclasses. 

The sheer number of possible combinations makes it unlikely you will find the perfect build right off the bat. You might (and probably will) discover that you get very little use out of spells you thought would be invaluable. You could even realize that your preferred tactics are better suited for other classes and races. Such mistakes are nearly inevitable but also half the fun. Sure you could start over, but Baldur’s Gate 3 is designed with class freedom in mind.

The reason the game allows you to “mess up” early on is that the game also lets you fix those mistakes by reaching new levels, acquiring special gear, respeccing, or even eventually learning abilities from other classes. By enabling you to make the wrong decision, developer Larian Studios also had to ensure that you were able to adjust your experience based on new needs and wants that may emerge. If Baldur’s Gate 3 held your hand more, the game likely wouldn’t be as open-ended or reflect the D&D experience less accurately. 

Even your character’s appearance options exemplify the benefits of that design approach. Those options are purely cosmetic, but they are surprisingly open-ended (barring some race restrictions). You are free to mix and match skin tones, eye colors, hairstyles, and even genitalia to your heart’s content. It’s easy to lose hours mixing and matching those choices. This freeform character creation system mirrors the openness of Baldur’s Gate 3’s class and stat systems, and while the character creator might seem overwhelming at first, once you’re finished, you say that you crafted a character who is wholly yours.

That feeling carries over to the rest of Baldur Gate 3‘s 100+ hour adventure. For instance, fairly early on, you’ll encounter a newborn Intellect Devourer, which essentially acts like a bloodhound for Mind Flayers. Do you kill the creature, lobotomize it so it becomes weaker (but more subservient), or let it grow as normal? There’s no right answer, though the choice you make will impact future scenarios. Crucially, though, you may not understand the full impact of your decision the moment you make it. Consequences for your choices often come more organically (if they come at all).

As you wander the ship, you will eventually encounter a full of zonked-out cultists. Interacting with the NPCs does nothing, but you can go poking around and find some nearby consoles…that have instructions you can’t read. So what do you do? Do you push buttons? If you do, one button makes the cultists exude psychic energy, and another makes them attack you. I have no idea what the third button does since I had to kill the cultists I turned rabid, and that was all on me. I could have avoided that fight if I had just done the smart thing and not messed around with lab equipment designed by and for psychic squid people, but Baldur’s Gate 3 gave me the option, and having the option makes all of the difference.

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