Friday, August 11, 2023

Rediscovering the Magic

I've completely fallen for a new game - Baldur's Gate 3.

I loved Larian Studios work on their game Divinity Original Sin 2, which was considered one of the best CRPGs ever made. Well, I can say with confidence that Baldur's Gate 3 goes even beyond that.

What makes Larian's games stand out is their unique approach to development. They publicly release the first act of their games in early access and take in feedback from players over the course of years. This feedback-driven process is a recipe for creating games that resonate deeply with their players.

While Baldur's Gate 3 is, of course, constrained by the inherent limitations of video gaming, the developers have done their utmost to encapsulate the unbridled chaos, creativity and horniness that can occur during a tabletop game.

There is a now famous demo Larian gave around the launch of the game. Where the parties vampire rogue has a intimate relations with a bear. But it's OK! The bear is actually a Druid using his wildshape form. For context in the lead up to a demo of the romance features they followed what the crowd wanted for each dailogue option and that's where they landed!

If that description doesn't pique your interest, then perhaps nothing will. But if it does, you're in for an incredible gaming experience.

Here are my tips for Min Maxing your own amusement. Well it's what worked for me anyway.

🌟 Shadowheart's Evolution: At first, I had Shadowheart, a Trickster Cleric, who, while handy for her healing abilities, didn't mesh at all with how I played, she seemed weak and was annoying. So, the game let me do somethign about it! I respecced her into a Shadow Monk and wow, what a transformation! Not only did this change make her an evasion tank dishing out a whopping 30 damage per round, but the Shadow Monk role also complements her backstory perfectly. She underwent this transofrmation after spending the night with my main character Karlach. They just talked ok! Stop being so quick to judge! I am not worried about this change at all as to me anyway, it makes sense in the narrative and the timing of her transformation makes total sense. Now if the monk class ever feels less impactful later on, or I feel like I a missing the heals, there's always the possibility of transitioning her into a Paladin, which would work just as well, character wise, narativly and mechanically. It's this level of adaptability and character evolution that makes the game truly shine for me.

🌟 Natural Camp Comfort: After battling through intense scenarios and facing countless foes, there's nothing like unwinding at the party camp. I decided to embrace a more natural approach, setting everyone's camp outfits to be completely without armor or clothing. It's become a quirky and lighthearted ritual. As we settle down each evening, we shed our battle gear and embrace a carefree moment of relaxation, enjoying each other's company as a tight-knit and unashamedly authentic family. Hey don't judge! It's a fun, humorous touch to our in-game dynamics. 

🌟 Karlach's Redemptive Rage: Initially, I was skeptical about playing as a tiefling, but Karlach's personality completely won me over. Her vibrant and positive voice emotes coupled with her barbarian strength create such a dynamic character. It's almost poetic — she's a tiefling escaped from avernus, literally a devil breaking free from hell's shackles, rampaging through the world with a fierce drive. But here's the twist: she's on a mission for good. After our successful rescue of the tieflings at the Druid's Grove, Karlach's fervor for justice and righteousness only amplified. She's fired up, ready to champion more noble causes, and every time she vows to uphold what's right, I can't help but beam with pride. The contrast of her heritage with her desire to do good creates a wonderfully rich character arc that's both entertaining and heartwarming.

🧙‍♂️ Gale, the Classic Wizard: I've embraced a traditional approach with Gale, modeling him after the wizards we've cherished since the days of the gold box games. I'm all about that min-max life for him; I've opted for the iconic spells that have graced many a spellbook: Level 1’s Magic Missile and Burning Hands, followed by Misty Step and Enlarge for Level 2, and who can resist the sheer power of Level 3’s Fireball and Haste? It's like rekindling an old love affair with the foundational D&D spell lists. The gratification when those level 3 spells come online at level 5? Pure, nostalgic gold. Now, I am curious about the 'Fly' spell — I'm curious to see how they've adapted this. The idea of soaring through a meticulously rendered 3D environment? I have no idea how they'd pull it off technically.

🎲 Reuniting with Old DnD Mates: One of the best aspects has been reaching out to my longtime DnD buddies for a joint session this weekend. There's an unmatched joy in adventuring alongside old comrades, and I'm buzzing with anticipation! Curious to see the characters they'll craft and the strategies they'll employ. Navigating the challenges of Baldur’s Gate 3 is bound to bring back so many memories and create countless new ones. The weekend can't come soon enough!

In essence, Baldur's Gate 3 isn't just another game; it's a heartfelt ode to every tabletop session, every character we've ever created, and every narrative we've woven over dice rolls and character sheets. It's a bridge between cherished memories and the endless possibilities of the digital frontier. To the team at Larian Studios: thank you for rekindling that old magic and letting us dive into a world where every choice matters, every character evolves, and every session brings a new story to tell. Here's to many more adventures, side-quests, and late-night gaming sessions.

See you in the Baldurs Gate! 🎲🔮🗡️