While the future of video game streaming as proposed by Google Stadia is all very exciting, no hype train for any video game platform will ever hit full steam ahead without some quality titles to back that platform up. As gamers have made clear time and time again, they are all about the games. Don’t talk to them, unless you’re talking games. It’s a good thing then that Google has revealed that one of the most respected developers of CRPGs, who have made one of the most critically acclaimed games in years, have been brought onboard with a mega property, to make the long-awaited sequel in one of the most beloved series of all time.
The developer is Larian Studios, their previous game was Divinity Original Sin II, the property is Dungeons & Dragons and the sequel is Baldur’s Gate III. Yes, the biggest D&D video game license finally GETS picked back up after a 20-year absence. Understandably, PC gaming fans are already thinking that this is perhaps the biggest thing to happen in CRPG land in forever and I’m right there with them. However, gaming has come a long way from Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn and its expansion Throne of Bhaal. Here are five things that we want from this long-awaited title that would help bring the series bang up to date.
Roll For Initiative!
Those three words are the most iconic thing in all of D&D combat. It’s not elven rangers or human fighters. It’s not orcs or beholders. It’s not even the attack or damage roles. It’s the three little words that have accompanied every combat in D&D history. You role for initiative and if that initiative is good, you get to swing first. Or if it’s bad, the goblins get the initial opportunity to stick their spears in your face. So why then have the most popular D&D and D&D inspired games always been real-time where initiative is essentially a meaningless stat? Baldur’s Gate, Planescape and Pillars of Eternity all claim to be D&D faithful, but their real-time design removes the one thing that makes D&D combat, D&D combat.
Fortunately, Larian Studios are one of the greatest developers of turn-based, tactical combat in the world and you would think having them on board means taking Baldur’s Gate in this direction. It would give you much tighter control over your character’s actions meaning you get to coordinate party attacks with much greater fidelity. Imagine a bard playing a tune so that the rogue can sneak attack the distracted bandit. Or having your mage create a wall of fire and then using your fighter to throw goblins into it. Divinity Original Sin II was the pinnacle of tactical RPG combat and its success showed that the people demand more options in their combat scenarios.
Create You Own Origin
While the pre-packaged origins of games like Dragon Age Origins, or Original Sin II are nice and all – there are some really interesting conflicts and scenarios you find yourself in – my favourite part of starting up any new campaign in Dungeons & Dragons is coming up with my own backstory. It’s an incredibly gratifying experience figuring out where you’re from and why you left home, what brought you to your current location and why you decided to start adventuring, and most importantly, who my allies and enemies were from my previous life.
Who were they? How did we meet? What did they do to me? What did I do to them? Imagine in a character creator, not just creating your own avatar but the avatar of your nemesis or lover. Obviously, a video game can never give you as much freedom in this regard as you get from the unlimited potential of your own imagination, but the ability to create your own character’s history, point of origin and goal moving forward is incredibly enticing and if anyone can figure it out, it’s the geniuses at Larian.
Gather Your Party!
To gather one’s party means to get yourself companions, and while providing pre-packaged companions is a must in any RPG, nothing beats delving into a dungeon with your friends. Fortunately, ‘Gather Your Party’ is the tagline of the game, so we will almost certainly get this feature from Baldur’s Gate III. Also, Larian’s previous games took CRPG multiplayer to the next level as is shown in the video below. The incredible amount of systems you had to play with in OSII only got even more insane and open-ended when there were three minds coming up with ways to create mischief instead of one. One thing that playing D&D taught me, was that bringing different perspectives onboard opens up your options exponentially. Not only does each player bring their character’s skills and stats into the mix, but they bring their uniquely twisted real-world logic and imagination into it also.
Dungeon Master Mode
Another thing that Larian’s previous games were known for, but is ‘as yet unconfirmed’ for Baldur’s Gate III, is a Dungeon Master mode. A mode in which you pick from pre-set maps, to pin down pre-set locations, to populate with pre-set monsters and traps. You can see where I’m going here, can’t you? Whereas in the last game all of the locations were pretty much set in stone, to truly create that Dungeon Master experience, you’ve got to give your DMs a bunch of tiles, objects, enemies and let them come up with their own challenges, in their own custom-crafted dungeon. You could even come up with a character creator for monsters and nefarious humanoids. OSII even had an immense vignette creator that allowed your characters to be confronted with moral choices and dialogue trees. If they get this right, this could do for RPGs what Little Big Planet did for platformers.
Lastly, and pray for me here people, I think the D&D ruleset we should use is 4E. Oh god, I can already hear the sound of ornamental swords being taken off of walls. Okay, hear me out. Yes, both other Baldur’s Gate titles used 2nd Edition and it’s always been assumed that Baldur’s Gate 3 would move onto 3rd. But 4th was practically made to be put into a video game. Yes, there were a lot of problems with 4E as far the tabletop RPG community was concerned. Let me debunk them for Larian’s Baldur’s Gate III one-by-one:
4th Edition’s ruleset was so complicated it, tile sets and miniatures weren’t just encouraged but a requirement. It’s a video game. It comes with a graphical UI already pre-built in. And a game engine that does all of 4E’s notoriously complicated maths for you automatically. 4th Edition was D&D’s biggest change and it happened too soon. Baldur’s Gate II was almost 20 years ago. Gaming has moved on a lot since then, and don’t act like y’all haven’t been clamouring for a turn-based D&D system since you first clapped eyes on Original Sin I, so don’t talk to me about change. The lore. 4E Changed the Lore!! It’s a direct sequel to game with an established world and history. Your lore will be fine. It made D&D more like a video game!! Gee, even I can’t excuse putting a RPG system that’s like a video game into a video game. I give up. Let’s use First Edition rules instead. I hope your charisma’s high enough to hire a ton of mercenaries ‘cuase you’re gonna need ‘em.