While the future of video game streaming as proposed by Google Stadia is all very exciting, no hype train for any video game platform will ever hit full steam ahead without some quality titles to back that platform up. As gamers have made clear time and time again, they are all about the games. Don’t talk to them, unless you’re talking games. It’s a good thing then that Google has revealed that one of the most respected developers of CRPGs, who have made one of the most critically acclaimed games in years, have been brought on board with a mega property, to make the long-awaited sequel in one of the most beloved series of all time.
The developer is Larian Studios, their previous game was Divinity: Original Sin II, the property is Dungeons & Dragons, and the sequel is Baldur’s Gate III. Yes, the biggest D&D video game license finally gets picked back up after a 20-year absence. Understandably, PC gaming fans are already thinking that this is perhaps the biggest thing to happen in CRPG land in forever and I’m right there with them. However, gaming has come a long way from Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn and its expansion Throne of Bhaal. Here are five things that we want from this long-awaited title that would help bring the series bang up to date.
Roll For Initiative!
Those three words are the most iconic thing in all of D&D combat. It’s not elven rangers or human fighters. It’s not orcs or beholders. It’s not even the D20. It’s the three little words that have accompanied every combat in D&D history. You roll for initiative and if that initiative is good, you get to swing first, or if it’s bad, the goblins get the jump on you. So why then have the most popular D&D and D&D inspired games always been real-time where initiative is essentially a meaningless stat? Baldur’s Gate, Planescape and Pillars of Eternity all claim to be D&D faithful, but their real-time design removes the one thing that makes D&D combat, D&D combat.
Fortunately, Larian Studios are one of the greatest developers of turn-based, tactical combat in the world, and you would think having them onboard means taking Baldur’s Gate in this direction. It would give you much tighter control over your character’s actions meaning you get to coordinate party attacks with much greater fidelity. Imagine a bard playing a tune so that the rogue can sneak attack the distracted bandit. Or having your mage create a wall of fire and then using your fighter to throw goblins into it. Divinity Original Sin II was the pinnacle of tactical RPG combat and its success showed that the people demand more options in their combat scenarios.
Create You Own Origin
While the pre-packaged origins of games like Dragon Age Origins, or Original Sin II are nice and all – there are some really interesting conflicts and scenarios you find yourself in – my favourite part of starting up any new campaign in Dungeons & Dragons is coming up with my own backstory. It’s an incredibly gratifying experience figuring out where you’re from and why you left home, what brought you to your current location and why you decided to start adventuring, and most importantly, who my allies and enemies were from my previous life.
Who were they? How did we meet? What did they do to me? What did I do to them? Imagine in a character creator, not just creating your own avatar but the avatar of your nemesis or lover. Obviously, a video game can never give you as much freedom in this regard as you get from the unlimited potential of your own imagination, but the ability to create your own character’s history, point of origin and goal moving forward is incredibly enticing and if anyone can figure it out, it’s the geniuses at Larian.
Gather Your Party!
To gather one’s party means to get yourself companions, and while providing pre-packaged companions is a must in any RPG, nothing beats delving into a dungeon with your friends. Fortunately, ‘Gather Your Party’ is the tagline of the game, so we will almost certainly get some kind of multiplayer feature in Baldur’s Gate III. Also, Larian’s previous games took CRPG multiplayer madness to the next level as is shown in the video below. The incredible amount of systems you had to play with in OS:II only got even more insane and open-ended when there were three minds coming up with ways to create mischief instead of one. One thing that playing D&D taught me, was that bringing different perspectives onboard opens up your options exponentially. Not only does each player bring their character’s skills and stats into the mix, but they bring their uniquely twisted real-world logic and imagination into it also.
Dungeon Master Mode
Another thing that Larian’s previous games were known for, but is ‘as yet unconfirmed’ for Baldur’s Gate III, is a Dungeon Master mode. A mode in which you pick from pre-set maps, to pin down pre-set locations, to populate with pre-set monsters and traps. You can see where I’m going here, can’t you? Whereas in the last game all of the locations were pretty much set in stone, to truly create that Dungeon Master experience, you’ve got to give your DMs a bunch of tiles, objects, enemies and let them come up with their own challenges, in their own custom-crafted dungeon. You could even come up with a character creator for monsters and nefarious humanoids. OS:II even had an immense vignette creator that allowed your characters to be confronted with moral choices and dialogue trees. If they get this right, this could do for RPGs what Little Big Planet did for platformers.
Lastly, and pray for me here people, I think the D&D ruleset we should use is 4E. Oh god, I can already hear the sound of ornamental swords being unhooked from walls. Okay, hear me out. Yes, 4E is notoriously the edition that set a lot of RPG fans packing for Pathfinder, but that’s because 4E was inspired by video game design. Guess what Baldur’s Gate III is? Yes, 4E’s combat was designed to flog a bunch of tilesets and miniatures Wizards of the Coast just happened to start manufactring on mass to coincide with its relase. Well, video games usually come with graphical UIs anyway, so there won’t be any need for that. You won’t even need to works out 4E’s notoriously complicated maths yourself either, the game’s engine will do that for you. Where as a tabletop RPG, being influenced by video games was a weakness, here it must surely be a strength.
That’s what we think the developers at Larian Studios should be bringing to the table, only in this case it isn’t a table at all, it’s a video game. What are some features that you think should be in the game? Let us know at @GXMing on Twitter.