The Grognard: Hello everyone, and welcome to our special Baldur’s Gate III preview edition!
Achilles: Who are you talking to?
The Grognard: I sometimes talk to an imaginary talk show audience. It helps with my anxiety over all my various witty remarks going underappreciated.
Achilles: Good idea. I do the same thing with podcasts.
The Grognard: Just to catch our studio audience up, over the last several days a bunch of new information has come out about Baldur’s Gate III: a gameplay demo, the opening cinematic, and the basic premise of the story. The video above is from Fextralife’s channel, which is a good place to go for just-the-facts-ma’am information about RPGs.
Achilles: What are these facts?
The Grognard: The premise of the plot, for one. Opening cinematic: our heroes are in a nautilus-looking, tentacled mind flayer ship, very Spelljammer. Illithid Bae puts a freaky tadpole with teeth into our brain, presumably starting the cerromorphosis process. HMS Spelljammer starts attacking a city, doesn’t look like Baldur’s Gate, probably some off-brand Sword Coast dump that doesn’t even rate a tie-in novel, and dragons come out of a portal to attack it. One rider, Githyanki, Lady of Pain knows they don’t get along with flayers, looked like, three dragons, maybe some kind of exfiltration op, one of the captives was a Gith, she’ll probably be a party member. Anyway, the dragons corner the nautiloid in the Elemental Plane of Sure Looks Cold Around Here before it escapes, cut to title screen.
Achilles: A lot of those words you just said were articles, like “the,” and conjugations of common, everyday verbs, like “are” and “went.” So those ones I understood, just now, but the others you’re going to have to explain.
The Grognard: Instead of me explaining, maybe I’ll just show you the video without my commentary first.
The Grognard: I’ll put it in terms you can understand. The flying squid thing? That’s Irenicus’ dungeon. Illithid Bae is Irenicus. He probably has some kind of tragic past we’ll gradually learn about. You’re one of the trapped people in the pod things; the others are Imeon, Minsc, and all of them. The grumpy one with the pointy ears is probably Jaheira. The dragons attacking it are the shadow thieves. You’re charname. Instead of having a magical whatsit in your blood that will turn you into the god of murder, you have a magical whatsit in your brain that will turn you into a psychic tentacle monster. And, as the devs have strongly hinted at in interviews, at some point the main quest will stop and wait until you do some side quests, such as, for example, gathering a certain amount of money in hopes of rescuing your sister from the bad guys.
Achilles: So it’s Baldur’s Gate II.
The Grognard: I’ve lost track of whether I’m an even number of layers of sarcasm deep, or an odd one. I’ll come back up for air: the plots appear to be quite similar.
Achilles: And you’ve conscripted me to figure out for you whether this is a good or a bad thing.
The Grognard: Look, my therapist and I agree that our conversations may be a net positive for my mental state. I’m very worried about this game.
Achilles: Allow me to be your therapy animal. You’re worried that, in an SAT-style analogy, Baldur’s Gate III: Potential Subtitle TBD will be to Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn as Star Wars, Episode VII: The Force Awakens is to Star Wars, Episode IV: A New Hope. And you are worried, by extension, that this increasing pace of creative recycling portends some kind of entropic doom for all of society, like a raven, black as midnight, perching ominously upon the bust of Pallas just above your chamber door, perching and sitting and nothing more. Am I close?
The Grognard: Yes, and I appreciate you typing that SAT analogy out so clearly. Doesn’t it seem derivative to you?
Achilles: It’s derivative in the way that putting paintings in frames is derivative. The frame’s a good one: here’s the villain, here are the party members, here’s the campaign hook, now which side quest do you want to do first? Probably after two and a half sidequests or so there’ll be a cutscene or something, and Octopus Guy will do something evil. So yeah, the frame is the same, but the painting is different. Instead of Irenicus, the sonorous stage actor type with the boohoo dead wife story, we’ll get Octopus Guy, freaky body horror, psychological horror, hopefully a bit of comic relief and maybe some kind of agonizing choice. Or, better yet, a choice that’s supposedly agonizing but really everyone knows which ending is the good one, and the post-release arguments are nice and civilized. The moderators really step up this time, you know? And if they don’t, the internet is a big place, there’s always another tumblr or something to read, there’s more than just reddit, and you know what? A few weeks later some other interesting sequel will be released. The Disco Elysium people will announce something, maybe, or someone else. So much good indie stuff, and quality writing and design always eventually get noticed, even if it’s frustrating how long it takes. Would you like some chai? I make it like cappuccino, with one of those milk frothers, and put cinnamon on top.
The Grognard: I would like that, yes, thank you.
Achilles: Would you like to talk about Vancian magic now?
The Grognard: No, I’m too worked up about this preview stuff. We haven’t even talked about the gameplay yet. I’m going to spend at least another entry on that.
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