Baldur's Gate 3, the highly anticipated RPG that took 2023 by storm and won Game of the Year at the 2023 Game Awards, offers players a thrilling adventure with its ambitious storytelling and impressive reactivity. However, even the mightiest of games can stumble on occasion, and one particular scene in Baldur's Gate 3 misses the mark. Join me as we delve into Act 3 of this epic journey and explore the underwhelming reactions of the companions, all while navigating the unpredictable world of the Dark Urge.
The Dark Urge, a child of Bhaal with a complex backstory, takes center stage in this tale. After an intense buildup, including a riveting introduction of the rival Orin in the third act, the Dark Urge's personal character quest reaches its climax. A one-on-one confrontation ensues, where victory means the Dark Urge regains Bhaal's favor. However, for players pursuing a "good" Dark Urge playthrough, rejecting Bhaal's offer is the natural choice.
Rejecting the offer leads to the Dark Urge's demise at the hands of Bhaal, only to be resurrected by Withers in a moment of redemption. While this scene is impactful in itself, one crucial element falls short: the companions' reactions. Regardless of the Dark Urge's relationship with them, each companion present offers a disappointingly mild and generic congratulatory line. Imagine, after embarking on an entire adventure together, potentially even kindling a romantic flame, their response boils down to a mere sentence. Talk about anticlimactic!
The lackluster companion reactions become all the more disheartening when we consider that the Dark Urge's storyline is likely the only personal experience for most players. According to an infographic on the Baldur's Gate 3 website, the majority of players either assume the default "Tav" role with limited personal involvement or embark on the more intricate journey of the Dark Urge. It's disheartening that the companions' reactions to the Dark Urge's redemption fail to match the significance of the moment.
However, this problem isn't confined to the Dark Urge's storyline alone. While Baldur's Gate 3 showcases impressive reactivity in certain instances, such as Astarion's resurrection after being killed by the Blood of Lathander trap, other important events in the game receive weaker companion reactions. This issue particularly affects Dark Urge playthroughs and even personal quests for other companions.
Early in the Dark Urge's journey, pivotal moments highlight their struggle with murderous tendencies and memory loss. The murder of Alfira, or potentially Quil, leaves the companions shocked. Yet, after a brief dialogue, life goes on as if nothing happened. Even in other companion quests, their involvement in each other's stories remains minimal. For instance, Astarion's death fueling Cazador's ascendance is only briefly acknowledged, with one-off comments and lines.
It's understandable that companion reactivity has its limits, considering the game's scope and the risks of increased development and bugs. However, the consequence of this limitation is that the companions can sometimes appear as one-dimensional characters merely along for the ride, lacking a strong connection to one another. This leads to peculiar situations, like the heroic Wyll silently observing as a Dark Urge player character brutally mutilates an innocent NPC. Instead of enhancing pivotal narrative scenes, the companions' limited reactions can inadvertently downplay their importance.
While each companion possesses a compelling individual story, the lackluster reactions outside their personal quests hinder the overall narrative. The Dark Urge's redemption, the culmination of a grand tale, falls victim to this narrative setback. It's time for the companions of Baldur's Gate 3 to step up, break free from their sidelines, and truly engage with the world they inhabit.
Baldur's Gate 3, developed and published by Larian Studios, promises an immersive role-playing experience when it releases in August 2023. Players can embark on a grand journey solo or cooperatively, shaping the story with their choices. Get ready to immerse yourself in a world where reactivity reigns supreme, but where the companions might need a little extra nudge to truly shine.