Though this journey began now years ago when we visited Wizards of the Coast for the first time in 2017, these past few weeks have been momentous and emotional, since this was the first time we were able to share Baldur’s Gate 3 with all of you, the people for whom the game is being made.
We will soon embark on an epic adventure as Baldur’s Gate 3 enters Early Access, and we couldn’t possibly venture forth without first gathering you, our party. One thousand of you gathered with us as we streamed the game live for the first time at PAX East in an auditorium filled to the brim, and an extra thousand of you were sadly turned away because there was no more space. Hundreds of thousands of you gathered online which - we’re told in confidence - broke some records. Thousands of you each waited three hours to gather with us at our PAX East booth, to see what would have happened if the dice rolls weren’t against us. It has been humbling and exciting to gather together as we start this new journey, venturing forth, going the way of the dice.
What you will eventually play has been in the planning at Larian and closely with Wizards of the Coast for over 4 years now, with their key creative people colliding with our key creative people in ways that we will eventually talk about in greater length. Our task is to create the ultimate Dungeons & Dragons game; a loving and modern sequel to Baldur’s Gate 2. Oozing with 5e D&D greatness, set in the world that you know and love. You will explore Baldur’s Gate 100 years after Baldur’s Gate 2. The Bhaalspawn saga has ended, and a new threat is converging on the city of Baldur's Gate. But the gods do not forget, and the shadows and scars of the past will not stay silent. You will meet and get to know many new characters, and encounter some of the legendary characters you know and love.
Most importantly, you’ll learn how their stories have evolved. And as you play, you will heavily influence their fate. Over the course of the past 3 weeks, the final missing ingredient has been added into our new development pipeline: you.
Let’s look at how we’ve evolved since the release of Divinity: Original Sin 2 in 2017. Firstly, we finished Divinity: Original Sin 2 with 120 people. DOS2 was shipped on the second version of the Divinity engine (we still haven’t found a cool name for it yet), and our Producer David Walgrave said recently in an interview with TechRaptor
that in BG3 "there’s about 20-30% of the Original Sin engine left and we rewrote so many systems and so many things." We’ve been colloquially calling this 4.0 engine the “Baldur’s Gate Engine”, and it’s designed from the ground up for Baldur’s Gate.
But how does this happen? Between 2017 and the announcement of BG3 we’ve grown to 250 people + we have over 100 outsourcers working on this. Still independent. Funded entirely by yourselves who dived so eagerly into Divinity: Original Sin 2. We were quiet since the announcement just before E3 of the previous year. But internally, kinetic energy has propelled us forward with new systems, pipelines, and people who when not playing D&D were all helping us to put together what you saw at PAX East, 2020. There’s quite the adventure ahead.
We’ve built an engine that allows all 250 people at Larian collaborate to become the ultimate DM. Allowing for near-limitless reactivity, responsiveness, and a memory that never forgets who you are, or what you’ve done. No matter who you roll, dice-rolls, modifyers, and physical simulation have all been designed to simulate a D&D experience that feels as though it’s straight from the imagination, where no matter the dice roll the story will continue. It’s also a game that is intended to span the entire range of human emotion. It is in equal parts a dark and a light game. “We always want to make failure as interesting as it possibly can,” said Senior Writer Adam Smith. “We don’t put everything that’s cool and interesting behind success.”
“Light and dark are really good sources of advantage,” noted Swen in a recent GameSpot interview. The philosophies that define the rules in D&D 5e also define the narrative, where you’ll often make difficult decisions through initiative or through the roll of the dice. The Baldur’s Gate games were dark - sometimes darker than many people remember. Baldur’s Gate 3 is no exception, though in 2020 we’re able to take the gamut of emotion and experience and stretch it further due to systems, simulation, and of course also our cinematics team. Unfortunately we did not make it to the end of our PAX East 2020 live demo due to a feature (see: bug), but those in the hall witnessed a scene where Astarion’s hunger got the better of him, and through a series of dice rolls (and often audience choice), Astarion sank his teeth into Shadowheart to varying degrees of mortality. Astarion was happy (systemically), but Shadowheart often ended up dead (also without irony, systemically).
Baldur’s Gate 3 is on course to be a ‘Mature’ game, which is publishing language for “if you go any further the ratings board is going to be extremely annoying”. We want to push the limits of every theme within the game, which should allow you to play exactly how you’d like to play. Astarion may be a Vampire Spawn, but that doesn’t mean he has to be evil - if hungry. Though you saw one path at PAX East, there were many possibilities for good, and evil -- note also, everything in between. It has always been Larian’s plan to create games that allow you to play however you wish. This larger team, and this new engine, allow us to push this further than ever before. Much further than Divinity: Original Sin 2.
As you delve into an epic adventure that subverts the binary morality found in many RPGs, and explore Baldur’s Gate with new and existing characters, 100 years after the story of the first two games, dice roll by dice roll, we hope that together we can reignite that great sense of discovery you felt as you dived for the first time into Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2, bringing the experience of an open-ended D&D game to photo-realistic realisation, albeit with 5e rules in place of 2nd edition rules. Things have come a long way in 20 years, but what’s important to us is that you’re along for the ride.
You have many questions, and we have answers. We’ll be hosting a Reddit AMA
where you can ask Swen (Creative Director), David (Producer), Adam (Senior Writer), Nick (Lead Systems Designer)
, and Jiji (Writing Director) your questions. 11:00 PT on March 12
, over on Reddit!
See you all in Early Access.