By now, it’s likely you’ve seen some of the hype online around Baldur’s Gate 3, but one particular hot spot of discourse hasn’t been related to the game’s combat or conversation mechanics. Instead, gamers were delighted when Larian Studios revealed that you could romance Halsin the druid while he’s in his bear form.
It’s not a surprise that this went viral, with people declaring Baldur’s Gate 3 the Game of the Year, and praising Larian’s bold creative decision. The cutscene is, devoid of context, so far outside the realm of the typical video game romance as to be absurd. It’s a little like a game that gives you fun dolly dress up gear that persists through dramatic cutscenes.
Baldur’s Gate 3 has risen 70 spots on the Steam Best Sellers list since Larian Studios revealed you could fuck a bear in the game.— Christian Hoffer (@CHofferCBus) July 9, 2023
The scene is so spicy it even got Larian Studios banned on TikTok, which is the sort of thing that has ironically made it more viral. And at a glance, it’s a pretty simple joke — you can bang a bear in this video game? But the sheer size of the response to this scene says more about role-playing games than you might think.
Halsin is a druid, able to transform into a powerful bear in combat. The trick is that Halsin also finds it difficult to maintain his human form when he’s in moments of strong emotion. There’s a solid romantic novel premise there; a man who is so overcome with love that he becomes quite literally feral. It’s no surprise that people love romance plots in games; Mass Effect developer BioWare sells a Garrus Vakarian body pillow, after all.
But not all role-playing games offer romance, and the ones that do can sometimes be limiting for the more, uh, adventurous players among us. I know many players who have played through Dragon Age: Inquisition and bemoaned that they couldn’t romance Corypheus. Baldur’s Gate 3’s bear bonanza proves that people don’t just want neat and tidy romances — they want to indulge in some less mundane fantasy.