By Samantha Hutz
Once upon a time in the long ago year of 2020, Larian Studios, developers of the critically beloved role playing game Divinity: Original Sin II, launched the early access version of Baldur’s Gate III. Flash forward almost an entire three years of ongoing development later and today PC and Playstation gamers have finally been able to enjoy the full release of Baldur’s Gate III.
I’ve managed to log over 150 hours of gameplay, completing the main story twice over and I’m well into my third playthrough; this time on the highest difficulty and in pursuit of acquiring every achievement. Needless to say, I’m a fan.
Many gamers who have been among the most excited for this title, including myself, have been longtime fans of Dungeons & Dragons, as well as other table top role playing games. Baldur’s Gate III takes place in the official D&D setting of Faerun, serving as a sequel not only to its CRPG predecessors, but also the official D&D fifth edition adventure module, Descent into Avernus.
Although the game belongs within such an expansive and rich canon, players who are new to the franchise manage to get by with at least a general familiarity and appreciation of medieval fantasy tropes and motifs.
The game currently holds a perfect 10/10 rating from IGN and a 97% from PC Gamer Magazine, primarily thanks to its ingenious translation of fifth edition D&D gameplay and mechanics to the medium of a modern AAA video game.
In addition to these more traditional measures of a game’s success, Baldur’s Gate III has managed to secure a foothold among a community of fan artists, fanfiction writers, and other online creators who have specifically latched onto the game’s style of narrative storytelling. Many have observed that Larian Studios took direct inspiration from a completely separate genre of video game: the dating simulator.
In Baldur’s Gate, the companions who accompany you on your adventure and share your camp are all potential romance partners, and the game takes a notably progressive approach to this. Players are able to create a custom character, selecting pronouns, voice, body type and even genitalia. No matter how a player chooses to design their character, it is possible to build affinity with every companion and pursue a relationship – possibly multiple at once.
As a queer person, having the ability to engage with a story in which I feel personally represented, and enjoy fantastically written characters each with unique romantic subplots, is a kind of wish fulfillment that I just don’t get from other AAA releases. Even if I can’t be in a polycule with a brooding and ephemerally beautiful goth girl and a lovable, muscle-bound butch in real life, Shadowheart and Karlach will always be there for me in Baldur’s Gate III.