Games in 2023 have been nothing if not massive, both in the way there are so many high-profile releases and the sheer size of the releases themselves. Baldur’s Gate 3 is of course no exception to this, with there being enough content in the game to keep you locked in for 90 hours before even reaching the second act. For someone who spends every second of playing games searching for secrets and Easter eggs, this comes as both good and bad news.
My Dreams Are Top-Down & Turn-Based
For starters, Baldur’s Gate 3 hit me like an Eldritch Blast right off the bat. I hadn’t played any of Larian’s previous games, including Divinity: Original Sin. I’ve played plenty of Dungeons & Dragons, but I didn’t know what to expect from the game until about a month prior to its release, where suddenly my imagination went wild with the different chaotic adventures I could go on. To say that I was pleasantly surprised after launch would be an understatement.
When I started playing the game, I came to find my bluffs called out almost constantly, which led me to overthinking nearly every conversation I found myself in. I often think to myself, “Why would I want to help you?” about an NPC, only to find that I wasn’t actually brave enough to click on that dialogue option when presented with it. I don’t want to be seen as rude in the game, so on my main playthrough I try to stay respectful.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is the kind of game that begs to be replayed, and can drink the hours out of your day like a healing potion after a combat encounter. In fact, several of my friends have at least five different campaigns going, and haven’t made their way through Act 1 in any of them because there’s such a massive amount of content that you can interact with in countless ways. Not only can your experience change just based on how you play the game, but the rest of your party can completely alter your experience.
Unfortunately, I just don’t have enough time in the day to play through the game as many ways as I wish I could. It took me until about the 40 hour mark in my playthrough just to break through Act 1, which means that if I wanted to play the game as many ways as I’ve thought about, I’d likely have to forego eating for a couple of weeks.
I Could Swear I Saw Something Shiny…
Contributing to that 40-hour first act was certainly my inability to leave any stone in the game unturned. I can’t stand looking at a map that’s covered in the old fog o’ war, so as soon as I see a turn that I can take that’s not in the direction of the main quest, I’ll take it. If I hold Left Alt and see items on the ground, I feel compelled to grab them even if I don’t think I’m going to use them. What if I need them later?
Not only do I walk around and pick up all the materials on the forest and Underdark floors that I can use for alchemy, but I pilfer every chest, box, barrel or bag that I come in contact with. Half the time, I know they’re gonna be empty, but it’s those few times that I find something that encourage me to keep searching. It’s actually a relief when items are outlined in red because then I’m forced to restrain myself.
The worst part about all the stuff I pick up is that I don’t even really use much of it, outside of camp supplies. I always feel like there’s gonna be a better time to use things than the present, like I’m saving them for a boss, but then I fight a boss and don’t use them. On top of that, for as many alchemy materials as I gather, I almost never actually make anything with them and when I find armor that my character can’t use, I almost always forget to give it to my party members that have proficiency in them.
Great Power Should Come With Great Time-Management
After about a week of playing BG3, I came to find that I’d been playing the game all wrong. Not that there’s really a “wrong” way to play it, but I hadn’t been thinking outside the box. I was going through the world and collecting everything I could, but I hadn’t been using my items to their fullest potential.
After seeing tales of exploding goblin camps and houses stuffed with corpses, I realized that Larian wants me to do more with the tools they’ve given me. I started incorporating some of my surroundings into more of my encounters, like putting a smokepowder barrel in the center of a group of goblins before throwing a void bulb into the middle of them. While it expanded my gameplay, all this trial comes with a whole lot of errors.
I find myself saving a lot, just like when I play the Hitman games. There’s a huge part of me that wants to let the dice roll however fate decides, but sometimes things just don’t go the right way. In moments of what would be a full-party wipe, I find myself reloading just to aim something a little bit differently, which of course takes precious time. If I choose to do something that’s clearly going to have consequences, I like to save first just in case it’s worse than I’d expected.
Considering all the reasons why I take so long to play it, it’s hard to think that I’m ever going to really finish Baldur’s Gate 3. From the start, all I’ve wanted was to get that worm out of my head, but I play the game like that’s my character’s last concern. I’ll purposely avoid walking close enough to start conversations just so I can loot any and everything I can get my roguish hands on, only to begin the encounter and not incorporate any of that world that I’ve just taken so long to explore.
Through all of this, I still have a blast every time I open up the LariLauncher. It’s the kind of game that I don’t need to get to the end of to appreciate every second of the journey, the same as Tears of the Kingdom. There are moments where I almost feel like I’m wasting my time playing the game for so long if I don’t ever get to see it through, but I think the fact that it’ll still be there for me to jump back into whenever I want is more comforting in the long run.
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