What Baldur’s Gate 3 Has Learned From the Divinity Series

A brand new mainline game in the massively successful Baldur’s Gate series, Baldur’s Gate 3, is currently in early access and will likely remain there for another year. With Larian Studios picking up development of the series, many fans were surprised but excited to hear that the studio behind the Divinity series had successfully acquired the IP rights to the Baldur’s Gate.

The massive success of Divinity: Original Sin and Divinity: Original Sin 2 seemed to be the biggest catalysts for Larian Studios ending up as the developers for Baldur’s Gate 3. Both Divinity: Original Sin games have become modernized CRPG classics as they bring a contemporary design and mechanics to an old-school genre. As players continue to test out Baldur’s Gate 3 in early access, it’s evident that the direction of the game is largely influenced by Larian Studio’s work on the Divinity series.

Though Larian Studios has been creating Divinity games as early as 2002, the series didn’t receive mainstream attention until the release of Divinity: Original Sin in 2014 and Divinity: Original Sin 2 in 2017. In 2014, Larian Studios ran a Kickstarter campaign to fund the development and release of Divinity: Original Sin, and Divinity: Original Sin was a risky venture as Larian Studios would’ve gone bankrupt if the game was not a commercial success. Thankfully, Divinity: Original Sin easily surpassed all predictions as it became the fastest-selling game in Larian Studios’ history.

The biggest reason for the success of Divinity: Original Sin was its ability to modernize the CRPG genre by translating old-school mechanics into something fresh. While games like Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights were classics in the genre, many features haven’t aged well such as awkward UIs or clunky combat. Featuring a complex turn-based combat system and unparalleled environmental interaction, Divinity: Original Sin felt like a natural evolution of the CRPG genre in terms of gameplay. Naturally, this evolution was the perfect way to modernize the Baldur’s Gate franchise as well. While the Baldur’s Gate series is known for its complex storylines and rich lore, the mechanics needed to be overhauled, and emulating the Divinity series was a fantastic approach.

Although Baldur’s Gate 3 is currently in early access, the first act of the game is available to play and fans of the Divinity series will immediately notice the similarities in combat. Much like the combat systems in the Divinity series, Baldur’s Gate 3 features an assortment of mechanics like environmental interactions, verticality, manipulating items, and more. Although the heavy inspiration from the Divinity series doesn’t feel like old Baldur’s Gate games, they still fit in nicely with the aesthetics of the tabletop RPG genre. The combat system is easy to learn but difficult to master, and players will find there’s an infinite number of ways to approach combat. Whether it’s through stacking crates to gain a height advantage or exploiting elemental surfaces, Baldur’s Gate 3 feels exactly how a modern CRPG should.

While Baldur’s Gate 3 might feel more like a Divinity game than a sequel to Baldur’s Gate 2, it still brings enough elements from the Dungeons and Dragons 5e ruleset to appeal to veteran fans. Baldur’s Gate 3 retains much of its DnD inspiration through mechanics such as roll modifiers, advantages and disadvantages, and team-based initiative. Even dialogue options can be determined from a roll of a dice although Larian Studios has also ensured that losing a roll doesn’t always punish the player. Furthermore, players will be able to use the online multiplayer to bring together parties of four in order to better emulate a true tabletop experience.

Baldur’s Gate 3 combines the legacy of the original franchise together with the modernized combat engine of the Divinity series. It rarely leans heavily into one side, and this makes it accessible for both newcomers and veterans of the series. Even though Baldur’s Gate 3 is still in early access, the influence it has taken from Divinity has already proven to be quite successful in modernizing the franchise. Whether players are new to CRPGs or already love the Baldur’s Gate series, there’s plenty of depth for everyone to enjoy. Ensuring that games are accessible while providing challenges for veteran players appears to be a key component in the success of Larian Studios and Baldur’s Gate 3 is no different.

One of the biggest non-gameplay-related changes that Baldur’s Gate 3 has brought to the franchise is the focus on community feedback. Larian Studios is known for valuing feedback from its players through early access, online communities, Kickstarter updates, and more. This started in 2014 with the release of Divinity: Original Sin and it has become an important aspect of how Larian Studios continues to modify and improve their game mechanics. Although players have historically been wary of the Early Access model, Larian Studios has been able to utilize it perfectly for Baldur’s Gate 3.

The idea of bringing back a decades-old franchise and modernizing its mechanics is undoubtedly daunting and community feedback becomes very valuable in these situations. For Baldur’s Gate 3, not every DnD mechanic is going to translate well to an actual video game. Dice rolls can be frustratingly dependent on luck, there are plenty of bugs and optimization issues, and the game itself has a massive scope. By taking feedback from players as it did for the Divinity series, Larian Studios is able to incrementally improve the game until its final release date. Baldur’s Gate 3 is a great example of early access done properly as it allows Larian Studios to explore different ideas with a live community while ensuring the game will be of high quality at release.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is perhaps the most ambitious title from Larian Studios to date. There are countless combinations of skills, elemental reactions, environmental interactions, and dialogue choices that must be fine-tuned before release. To do the Baldur’s Gate series justice, Larian Studios has opted to utilize everything it has learned from developing Divinity: Original Sin and Divinity: Original Sin 2. Much of the success found in the Divinity series has been emulated in Baldur’s Gate 3 from its modernized combat engine to the strong relationship built with players. Although some fans might be disappointed to see the series take after Divinity instead of the original Baldur’s Gate games, Larian Studios has ensured that the fundamental experience has remained unchanged, and Baldur’s Gate 3 looks to be a worthy successor.

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I turned my incoherent ramblings on music, anime, and video games into an entire blog.

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