Can We All Agree Baldur’s Gate 3 Has the Best Heckin’ Pets of 2023?

It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that Baldur’s Gate 3 has some truly standout characters for you to interact with.

Almost as soon as you dive into the game, you get the chance to meet a wide variety of characters that run the gamut of fantasy races and creatures. Some are easily befriended and can offer you aid, while others see you as a threat or a nuisance and treat you as such. Each has their own personality, and several can be interacted with in ways that are mind-blowing compared to the more static NPCs found in other games.

But among these notable characters stand two of the bestest boys that ever did beg for pets. They exemplify what makes animal characters and companions so darned irresistible, and are easily a draw for anyone who hasn’t dived into Baldur’s Gate 3 thus far. These two indomitable forces of cuteness are Scratch the Dog and the Owlbear Cub, and dang if they aren’t two of my favorite animal companion characters of 2023.

Screenshot by Twinfinite via Larian Studios

Granted, they may not seem that impactful when you first encounter them. Scratch is your typical dog companion through and through. He’s always happy to accept some neck scritches, will bring a ball to you so he can play fetch, and can find or dig up items for you in the open world. The Owlbear Cub, meanwhile, does much the same thing, except he’s limited to begging for pets and being adorable.

It’s nothing anyone who has played a video game in the past few decades hasn’t seen before. More than a few titles have featured similar pets and furry friends for players to take in, and they’ve been just as adorable in their appearances as either of Baldur’s Gate 3’s animal friends.

And yet, they have something more than their contemporaries. It isn’t a given that they’ll join up with you, and it takes both luck and making the correct choices in order to ensure they’ll stay with you throughout the rest of the game. Being too cruel toward them at key moments, or failing to give them the time and space to accept you, can result in them avoiding you indefinitely.

More than that, they’re true characters with storylines that play out alongside the plot. Scratch only joins up with you because his actual owner died, and it takes him time to process this loss. The Owlbear Cub, meanwhile, has an entire questline that can be dedicated to him. You can trace his journey from being happy with his mother to losing her in a goblin raid, and can play a key role in him being freed from their clutches.

Screenshot by Twinfinite via Larian Studios

These storylines even collide when you manage to convince both to join your camp. When the Owlbear Cub has a nightmare about everything he’s gone through, Scratch is there to help him through it and support him until he’s confident that he’s finally safe. He does so because he remembers the fears of his own childhood, made all the more tangible by his own recent loss.

It’s a drop in an ocean of stories and plotlines you encounter, but goes so far to flesh them out beyond how video game pets usually are. I felt more connected to the game’s pup and cub because they were more than a somewhat expected feature. They existed in the world before I stumbled into it, and continued to deal with their own problems even after joining up with me. They were legitimate characters as opposed to mechanics or features to interact with.

What’s more is that it makes you care about both of them that much more. Their antics around your camp together become more than cute; they’re evidence that both are continuing through their own personal narratives. Scratch is still moving on from the loss of his original owner, and is doing his duty as the Owlbear Cub’s new de facto protector and friend.

There are still plenty of other games set to release this year, and it’s more than possible they’ll feature memorable animal companions. But it’s hard to believe any of them can measure up to the pair of lovable critters Baldur’s Gate 3 brings to the table. Both Scratch and the Owlbear Cub have earned a place in my heckin’ good boy hall of fame, and if you

About the author

Keenan McCall

Keenan has been a nerd from an early age, watching anime and playing games for as long as I can remember. Since obtaining a bachelor’s degree in journalism back in 2017, he has written thousands of articles covering gaming, animation, and entertainment topics galore.

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