- Baldur’s Gate 3 is the most recent iteration in the Baldur’s Gate series, developed and published by Larian Studios.
- The diversity and vast freedom in the game have allowed many players to experience the complexities of Dungeons & Dragons perfectly in a top-down RPG format.
- The abundance of content, nonexistent microtransactions, and constant polishing, along with great post-launch support from the developers, has truly made Baldur’s Gate 3 the epitome of AAA games currently.
- Although there are several titles that many may consider to be on par or even better, Baldur’s Gate 3 sets itself apart as a unique example of everything done right.
Larian Studios had been brewing Baldur’s Gate 3 for quite some time, and due to the game being in early access since 2020, it is safe to say that the excitement or the anticipation was not quite there as it was for other AAA titles of 2023. The developers knew how to grab everyone’s attention, and no, it’s not only the intimate bear scene they showcased before release but everything in general that they did.
Baldur’s Gate 3 revealed the many things that gamers would experience in the game, making it clear that what they had seen in the early access was only a portion of their capabilities. The end game content opens up countless possibilities, and I am saying that literally because this game has around 17 thousand possible variations of ending.
The Current State Of AAA Games
First of all, why would you expect a game like Baldur’s Gate 3 to become so well-received that it competes with some of the best titles of this year? The only reason it does that is because it is the epitome of AAA games right now. It has set itself as a quality standard that every fan believes studios should aspire for, and for many gamers, Baldur’s Gate 3 is one of the greatest RPGs of all time.
The term “AAA game” is now thrown out a lot more frequently as many studios have ventured down this path and constantly try to bring the “next big game.” Because of that race, we are witnessing more and more AAA games that are far worse than even smaller-scale games. Though there is no hard and fast rule that says AAA games are always better than AA or even smaller titles, in theory, they should be better.
AAA games have a higher budget, and better production, sometimes come from notable IPs and are distributed by some of the biggest publishers out there. They have everything that should give them the advantage of becoming the “next big game.” But when many studios race each other to produce such titles, we get products like Redfall and Gollum, which have become the lowest benchmark of AAA games.
Larian Studios Financed Baldur’s Gate 3
So what exactly makes a game the epitome of such an exquisite category? A series of great decisions and plenty of valor. You see, Larian Studios started this project without any outside funding, which is a big reason why the game stayed in the development phase for 6 years.
People from different parts of the gaming industry believed that Wizards of the Coast funded Baldur’s Gate 3, as it has been the owner of Dungeons & Dragons IP since 1997. However, it was later clarified by the director of publishing at Larian Studios that Wizards of the Coast did not fund this project, and Larian Studios has been taking care of all the finances as it has “paid for the privilege of creating a game with this IP.”
Small detail: I believe it’s publicly known that WOTC didn’t fund BG3. We paid for the privilege of creating a game with this IP.
— Very AFK (@Cromwelp) August 12, 2023
Now this might be a hot take (not really), but I think Larian Studios took a huge risk by funding a project that many did not believe would take off this well. And even though Larian Studios had great expectations from the title, the developers expected around 100k peak players at launch. Under those conditions, the studio would normally resort to microtransactions to reduce any risk of loss, but that’s not what Larian Studios wanted.
Purchase Once, Enjoy Forever
From the beginning, they made it crystal clear that they “believe in providing a complete and immersive gaming experience without the need for additional purchases. Enjoy the game to its fullest without any additional costs or microtransactions.” This sort of reaction was appreciated and praised by fans and other developers alike.
At a time when microtransactions had become so common in every other game, this was indeed a pleasant surprise. The developers genuinely wanted to create a good experience for gamers and made many decisions that would have resulted in less profits, but they didn’t hesitate. The result was a genre-defining cRPG that continues to outperform its every achievement.
Now many might say that this action in itself is a publicity stunt that contributes to their success, and I know it is, only the latter half, that is. We can bash every small thing to undermine the positivity behind it, but let’s face it, Baldur’s Gate 3 was created solely for the purpose of catering to gamers who want to enjoy the complexities of the D&D tabletop experience in a simple and well-designed game format.
Larian Studios’ Appreciation Towards Early Access Players
Perhaps one of the best decisions that Larian Studios took was to release the game in early access for a few years. It helped the developers polish the title to a great extent and implement much-needed features and content. If you were an early access player like me, you would know that not only did certain characters receive a redesign, but we were blessed with two additional races and twenty-two new subclasses available at level 3.
The Dark Urge was the new origin character at launch, along with many new things that would require a whole article. The possibilities with such customization are not endless, but they are certainly multifarious. While we are on that topic, the expansive options in character creation encourage players to experience Baldur’s Gate 3 with a new face, different abilities, and even an origin, which prompts gamers to have multiple playthroughs.
Despite being in early access for so long, Baldur’s Gate 3 has quite a few bugs, yes, but Larian has already tackled many of them. And if you paid attention to the bugs and their nature, you would notice that the majority are from Acts 2 and 3, which were unavailable in early access. If they weren’t in early access, then players couldn’t have reported them as they did with the first act, which was much more polished than the latter half of the game.
Since early access players were a big reason why this game experimented with some things and made the changes accordingly, they were well-rewarded. Larian Studios announced earlier this year that anyone who owns Baldur’s Gate 3 on PC or purchases it in early access before the launch will get a free upgrade to the Digital Deluxe Edition.
If you already own Baldur's Gate 3 on PC, or purchase it in Early Access before launch, you get a free upgrade to the Digital Deluxe Edition on launch day 🙏
— Larian Studios (@larianstudios) February 23, 2023
Baldur’s Gate 3: The Epic RPG For Eons To Come
The continued support that the game is receiving is a good indication of long-term content for fans. The game already has more than enough content to keep you busy for thousands of hours. But let’s compare the content length of two renowned games, Elden Ring and Baldur’s Gate 3. Elden Ring has close to 140 hours of content for perfectionists, while Baldur’s Gate 3 can take a little less than that for just the main campaign.
The cRPG boasts over 200 hours worth of content for perfectionists, but players have confessed that they have been roaming around the Forgotten Realms for a similar time and still find new things to do. The Lands Between have captivated a plethora of gamers and speedrunners who take advantage of the variety of items in-game and use that to beat the bosses differently each time.
Seriously, there are speedrunners who have even abandoned all items and kicked their way to become the Elden Lord. Baldur’s Gate 3 boasts a much wider variety in terms of items and characters and should make it possible for players to invest thousands of hours to explore each thing differently. Ultimately, Baldur’s Gate 3 has many elements, both outside and inside, that make it the next big game.
I remember the feeling of picking up earlier Grand Theft Auto games and how much they made me fall in love with the freedom to do anything I want (mostly crimes in-game), or the time I picked Bloodborne as my first souls-like game, and it made me fall in love with the genre and visit some older titles. Elden Ring, which we have already mentioned above, is en route to receiving its first DLC, with hopefully more in the works.
Similar to all those names mentioned above, Baldur’s Gate 3 has become my “next big game,” and it feels like a crime that developers are panicking because of how well-made it is. It should be the standard, and if you think otherwise, would you feel happy knowing Baldur’s Gate 3 and Elden Ring are in the same category of AAA games as Gollum and Redfall?
Better yet, if the current AAA standard is acceptable, why not consider putting such masterpieces into another better category? We can have AAA or AAAA games that exclude the criteria of high budget and mostly focus on the quality itself. And since we don’t know the financial details of Baldur’s Gate 3, it would fit perfectly in that category.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is a fully functional game with no microtransactions and an abundance of content that truly makes it the embodiment of what a AAA title should be. In a time of constant AAA game releases, it has become hard to distinguish between the good and the bad due to the twisted standards we have set for games. Being blessed with a genre-defining game has become a rare occurrence.
Baldur’s Gate 3 shatters those standards and builds its own by giving players the content they never knew they wanted so badly. More freedom and less punishing consequences for your actions as compared to real life are exactly what games of this genre should aspire for. It is a rare example of a game with perfect content and even better developers who understand what games truly are.
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