Baldur’s Gate 3 (opens in new tab)The recent blog post and official release date trailer confirmed a few things I was eager to hear, including that the highly anticipated RPG is finally ready to receive its full 1.0 release on August 31 this year (opens in new tab).
Even more exciting, however, was confirmation from Larian Studios that all PC gamers who purchase (or already own) the early access version of the game will receive “a free upgrade to the Digital Deluxe Edition” on launch day. (opens in new tab).
This is what you get from the Deluxe Edition:
- Divinity Bard Song Pack – Amaze audiences by performing this special set of new songs from the Divinity series
- Paintings from Rivellon – Discover a new collection of paintings in the Forgotten Realms
- Adventurer’s Pouch – Receive a collection of camp supplies and potions to help you on your journey
- Digital OST – Enjoy the music of Baldur’s Gate 3 by composer Borislav Slavov
- Digital Art Book – Explore the art and design of Baldur’s Gate 3 in this digital art book written by Larian
- Digital Character Sheets – View a set of four pages of D&D character sheets for each Baldur’s Gate 3 origin character
- Custom Dice Skin – A unique dice skin that shows you picked up the game on PC
That’s a really big boon in my opinion, rewarding loyal players who helped maintain momentum for the game while it was still in development (and contributed to it through player feedback), and a good reason to keep going. and pick up Baldur’s Gate 3 in early access now, with a third of the game already playable.
However, if I’m being honest, the free upgrade was not the reason why I promptly opened my wallet and bagged Baldur’s Gate 3 in early access. My reason came 100 percent from Baldur’s Gate 3’s release date (if you haven’t watched it yet, you can check it out below).
I opened my wallet because Larian Studios dropped the thing that, in my opinion, showed that the studio really gets what it takes to make a really great fantasy RPG – a brilliantly realized big bad.
Just a few lines into actor JK Simmons’ episode as General Ketheric Thorn and I were entranced, with echoes of the late great David Warner’s memorable portrayal of Baldur’s Gate 2’s villain, elven wizard Jon Irenicus, ringing in my ears.
“This woman had some kind of power. She lost her parents to the plague, her husband to the war, but she persevered. She was well respected, her farm was prosperous and her children were well fed. And now she’s dead.
“Do you realize the power you could have? When the world of flesh is below you, even mysterious and magical creatures will fall!
“I wonder if you are destined to be forgotten. Will your life fade in the shadow of greater beings?”
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However, it wasn’t just Ketheric’s distinctive, earnest, very human voice as he tells part of his sad story, but how he was written. Clearly there is a rich story here that seems to be rooted in very human emotions and motivations. We don’t hear the full story of Ketheric, but it’s clear from the reveal trailer and accompanying In The Booth video (opens in new tab)that his life has been one of suffering, with both his wife and daughter taken from him before their time, their deaths serving as a catalyst for current events.
All major opponents, in my opinion, have that quality. That, if only for a brief moment, relatability in terms of why they do what they do, and how they became the enemy that stands in your way now. Irenicus had that in Baldur’s Gate II, Aribeth de Tylmarande had that in Neverwinter Nights, Solas had that in Dragon Age: Inquisition – and I bet you can think of many more.
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It’s that human element to the storytelling that so many RPGs, fantasy or otherwise, forget, with war and politics on a macro level, along with reel-and-repeat tired fantasy groups and story beats, which often stifle any truly interesting, relatable elements. Yes, I want high stakes in my epic fantasy RPG, but that’s not what’s going to get me through 60 hours plus story. I have to feel. I need to find that connection between my party members and me so that they matter. I must understand why my enemy must be defeated, no matter how they got in my way.
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However, gravity and quality in terms of voice acting, as delivered by actors of the level of David Warner and JK Simmons, is what makes that feeling and soul. That’s what brings the story to life. And after seeing and hearing Ketheric in action, my decision was to wait for the full version 1.0 of Baldur’s Gate 3 to pass – as a huge fan of the Baldur’s Gate series and RPGs in general, I had to get started with what seems it will be really memorable story.