Larian’s Baldur’s Gate 3 DLC anxieties make me want they would broaden a god sim

By qaxio

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I am but a stripling level 4 sorcerer in Baldur’s Gate 3, still learning to distinguish my Magic Missiles from my Chromatic Orbs, my Cantrips from my Colour Sprays (or at least, restore my memories of these concepts from my long-ago Baldur’s Gate 2 playthrough). I’ve just discovered the finer applications of Mage Hands, which are a great antidote to goblin archers – simply spawn one behind the offender, use it to hurl them from the cliff they’re standing on, and chuck a nearby crate after them for good measure. Magical indeed! Or so I thought, before I read about the real spells that lurk at the top of the level-up ladder in the D&D player handbook.

These feats of wizardry make Mage Handing seem about as otherworldly as setting an alarm clock. Take Wish, a ninth level conjuration that allows you to “alter the very foundations of reality in accord with your desires”, up to and including generating pricey equipment from nothing and rewinding time. Or how about Prismatic Wall, which spawns an ephemeral barrier 90-feet long, made up of seven layers that inflict a different effect on any creature passing through, from poison to petrification? Spicy enough for you, goblin archers? Sadly, it doesn’t sound like either of these spells is hidden away anywhere in Baldur’s Gate 3, which caps progression at level 12. And it’s far from certain that they’ll be added in the shape of an expansion pack. There’s a good reason for this: higher level D&D spells and abilities are so potent it’s hard to include them without turning Baldur’s Gate 3 characters into gods.

“[Level 12-20] adventures require a different way of doing things, in terms of antagonists you’re going to have to deal with, which require a lot of development to do them properly,” Larian founder Sven Vincke told PCGamer this week, when asked about the prospect of Baldur’s Gate 3 expansions. “Which would make this much more than an expansion in terms of development effort. A lot of D&D adventures are sub-level 12 for precisely that reason. So it sounds like neat, easy expansion material until you start thinking about it and it’s not as easy as one would imagine.”

There are no outright guarantees Larian will release any Baldur’s Gate 3 expansions at all. Speaking to Jeremy Peel for RPS before the 1.0 release, Vincke was cagey about the studio’s future endeavours. “We have a number of things that we’re working on, that are in early pre-production or concept phase,” he said. “We’ll see where it goes.” He added that “the next year will be a pretty cool period because it will be a lot of experimentation,” involving “new techniques and procedures and technology”. The big challenge is “to keep the plans manageable”.

I am loving the richness, scale and variety of Baldur’s Gate 3, and certainly wouldn’t wish any extra work on its creators – “develop Baldur’s Gate 3” probably counts as some kind of ninth-level conjuration itself. At the same time, it’s hard not to yearn for a Larian game featuring the grandest D&D magicks – or even magicks of Larian’s own invention, drawing on Divinity 2’s crazed elemental chain effects – because few RPG developers have such a knack for letting you “break” scenarios via cunning abuse of their systems. Baldur’s Gate 3 already lets you operate in two parallel dimensions – the frozen temporality of battle and the world outside it, where ungrouped characters can manoeuvre freely without advancing combat. It might not be as openly ludicrous as Wish, but it’s on the same page of the forbidden tome.

Disclosure: Former RPS deputy editor Adam Smith (RPS in peace) now works at Larian and is the lead writer for Baldur’s Gate 3. Former contributor Emily Gera also works on it.


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