At the end of this week, several leading developers on Baldur’s Gate III held a Reddit AMA to answer burning questions about the highly anticipated game. The developers answering questions were Swen Vincke, Founder of Larian Studios and Creative Director; David Walgrave, Producer; Nick Pechenin, Lead Systems Designer; Adam Smith, Senior Writer; and Jan Van Dosselaer, Writing Director. Here are the biggest takeaways from their responses.
1. What Sets Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Baldur’s Gate III Apart
When asked about the defining difference between the two games for those unfamiliar with Baldur’s Gate, Vincke chose the level of immersion as Baldur’s Gate III‘s defining feature. “From the narrative to the depth of the systems and mechanics, we’ve never made a game before that brings you closer to its characters, and offers more tools to the players to define the story the way you can in Baldur’s Gate 3,” he says. He shares that the new version of the engine has let the team make “huge leaps” in every area of development. However, it’s not just the new engine; this game has an entirely different rule-set, takes place in an entirely different setting, and is even a lot darker.
2. Early Access Release Date
All fans are eager to know when the game will be available for Early Access. Larian Studios is known for creating incredible games and striving for perfection; as a result, the answer is simply that it, “will be ready when it’s ready” for now.
3. It Is a Very Dark Game In Which Being Terrible is Far Easier Than Being Heroic
If there’s one thing I saw the developers mention the most, it’s darkness. They really want you to know that this is going to be a Very Dark game. Here are a few quotes:
“Rest assured that the story of BG3 is a dark epic rife with dark encounters and tough choices that will challenge your preconceptions about what it is to be a hero.”
“One of the strong themes of the Baldur’s Gate series is the discovery of a darkness inside your character — and the choice of how to deal with what you are and what you may become.”
“It’ll be in no small part up to you how dark the game becomes. We don’t actively encourage you to do terrible things, but it’s certainly an option. Giving you the freedom to roleplay means we’re already preparing to mop up a lot of blood…”
It was very Kingdom Hearts-esque.
In all seriousness, this is genuinely exciting as someone who loves to be a goody-two-shoes in these kinds of games. I find it easy to be nice in video games, for it’s not like we’re actually the ones carrying out those choices in real life. It seems like this game will give me the challenge I desire for. “I’d say heroic players will have a hard time staying on the righteous path, whereas fiendish players will simply have a ball,” says Van Dosselaer.
What the team also stresses is that, despite the darkness, there is much light to be found. “Just as in BG 1 and 2, the dark sides of the story are balanced with romance, humour, heroism, catharsis — these are very large games and they contain a multitude of situations and tones,” expands Van Dosselaer. “We’re going to put you in some very dark places, with some very unpleasant characters, but we’ll show you a lot of beauty and wonder as well.”
4. The Connection Between Baldur’s Gate III and Past Entries
It’s been 20 years since the last Baldur’s Gate game, which was developed by an entirely different studio. With so much time in between and a shift in developing studio from BioWare to Larian Studios, fans are wondering how strong the connection between this upcoming entry and the first two will be. “We really don’t want to spoil anything but we wouldn’t call it Baldur’s Gate 3 if there wouldn’t be a link,” says Vincke. “Let me just say that we touch upon the story of BG 1 & 2 in meaningful ways, there are returning characters and what happened in BG 1/2/tob [Throne of Bhaal] leads to what happens into BG3. You won’t necessarily see that at the start of the adventure but you will quickly understand once you get further into the game.”
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5. Why The Writing Is In First-Person
While some players of the community feel that the writing being in first-person is “jarring and breaks immersion,” according to a fan, it is the style the team finds best for this kind of game. “There are several reasons we’re doing it this way. Of course, there are story reasons but it also allows you to get closer to your character; their thoughts, their feelings and moments of introspection allowing you to truly understand their motivations,” says Vincke. He shares that the team experimented with several styles at the beginning of development, but that this feels right and has the team excited by what they can do with it. This is because, Vincke elaborates, it allows, “players to tell their own story and role-play their character on a deeper level. I think it’s a wonderful tool for role-playing and storytelling and when you’re playing it’s like you’re narrating your own adventure.”
6. There Won’t Be Character Customization Sliders, But There Will Be Plenty of Depth
While the team comments that they can later talk about letting the game be moddable, some folks prefer to and will play without mods. And, as we all know, the most important mods are for making your character look prettier. But, rest assured: character customization is better than ever, even if there won’t be sliders.
“Character creation can be as in-depth as you want it to be,” says Walgrave. “After you select a race and a class, you could be all set and ready to go, but if you want to, you can dive in deeper, and change all the abilities, spells, skills, cantrips… and customize visuals. You will be able to select a face type, hairdo, facial hair, skin colour. I cannot give numbers or details, because it’s still a work in progress, but there won’t be sliders. We have more diversity in creation than in any other game we’ve done before. You’ll be able to mix and match a wide variety of defaults, to create something unique.”
7. The Importance of Custom Characters
While you’ll be able to play as specific “origin” characters of Baldur’s Gate III, you’ll also be able to play as a custom character who is entirely your own. Regarding plans to make custom characters feel as unique as origin ones, Smith says, “Custom characters are hugely important to us, and when you choose your class, race, and background, you’ll already have made choices that have an impact throughout the game – both in terms of what you can do, how you’re perceived, and what you know. But just as in tabletop, it’s what you do after character creation and how you choose to roleplay that character that will make your adventure and character unique. In many ways, they’re more unique, because you made them.”
It’s thrilling to hear, but some fans raised the question because they felt like playing as non-origin characters in Divinity: Original Sin 2 led to missing out on dialogue options and story content. Smith went on to address this specific concern, too.
“This isn’t DOS2. In BG3, custom characters have a much stronger connection to the world and the main arc of the story – whether they’re from Baldur’s Gate, further afield, or somewhere else entirely,” he says. “As you move through your adventure, you’ll discover quest-lines and stories that relate directly to the character you’re roleplaying … We’re confident that you won’t feel short-changed in terms of narrative breadth and depth if you choose to play as a custom character — we love our origins, but this campaign is built for all of you.”
8. The Story Will Be in Acts
It’s seemingly been confirmed that the story of Baldur’s Gate III will be split into several acts. “Every good story has a beginning, middle, and an end,” says Walgrave. “You’re in a huge terrain, but between acts, you will travel from one huge region to another.”
9. The Scope of Exploration
While the team has mentioned that the scope of the game is huge, it hasn’t been something concrete for fans to go off of — or something particularly unique, since many developers and studios can say their games are big. Although Vincke is hesitant to spoil much because discovery and exploration are part of the joy of playing a game like Baldur’s Gate III, he shared a few exciting details.
“The small portion of the adventure we’ve shown takes place many miles East of Baldur’s Gate, and the initial journey will take players along the banks of the river Chionthar, and surrounding wilderness and settlements, toward BG and the coast,” he shares. “You won’t be walking the whole way to BG in real-time, so there will be several large, open regions. Later, you’ll visit the city of Baldur’s Gate itself, of course.”
10. Player Freedom Is Incredibly Complex
The various alignments in the first two Baldur’s Gate games made for interesting party dynamics. This game won’t have a strong alignment system. From a player perspective, Van Dosselaer says this means you’ll have the freedom to play in any which way you want. You’ll have many choices all across the morality spectrum. Additionally, just like in the real world, you’ll have unique options (or lack thereof) depending on your race or class. “The world will react to your actions, and the choices you make, since these will in some way define you,” says Van Dosselaer.
11. Companions Can and Will Leave Your Party If You Push Them To
Adding to that, if you disrespect or piss off a companion, they won’t hesitate to leave your party. Actually, they might even try to kill you. It’s only realistic, for every companion has their own moral compass. “Some are fine with evil and underhanded deeds, others are not — and they’ll be vocal about their approval or opposition to the decisions that you make,” says Van Dosselaer. “It’s absolutely possible to take actions that cross the line for someone.
“For example, Astarion is a vampire spawn and when you play him, you can try and hide this from the party. But if they find out — because, well, you might try to bite them as they sleep — they will obviously be shocked and unless you manage to handle the situation with the necessary tact and diplomacy, you may just find you’re left behind companionless.”
Ah, this takes me back to the beautiful days of Dragon Age 2, in which my then-future lover Fenris probably thought I was a piece of shit every time I said my fellow mages deserved a right or two.
12. There Will Be a Dungeon Master Mode, But It’s Not a Current Priority
Walgrave says that when the team built a Game Master mode for Divinity: Original Sin 2, they were thinking of Dungeons and Dragons. As a result, it would “make a lot of sense” for this game to have a similar mode, “but we’re focusing on developing the game first at the moment.”