Baldur’s Gate 3 comes out on PC today and people seem to be talking about it everywhere. Developer Larian has done great work with the Divinity: Original Sin games and built a strong following, so a lot of the excitement is unsurprising. What does surprise me is where the other surge of excitement is coming from, because it’s something I haven’t seen before. It’s a surge coming from outside of video gaming, from the colossal community surrounding Dungeons & Dragons.
D&D has grown in popularity in recent years, thanks to mainstream representation in Stranger Things and actual-play blockbusters like Critical Role. But it’s not as if Baldur’s Gate 3 is the first Dungeons & Dragons video game to ever exist – far from it. There have been many – there have been so many. And even when RPGs aren’t directly based on Dungeons & Dragons, they’re often heavily inspired by it, much like Divinity: Original Sin. But what’s new here, and what’s exciting people so much, is how close BG3 seems to be to the experience of playing tabletop D&D.
That closeness is something I didn’t appreciate before I started playing D&D, around the same time Baldur’s Gate 3 arrived in early access, funnily enough. All my previous experience of D&D came from video games, where to me it was just another set of rules. I didn’t see anything particularly special in it.