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Baldur’s Gate 3 could be the next coming of the ‘BioWare RPG’

Big adventures, lots of dialogue, and spicy romance

The main character of Baldur’s Gate 3 and three of their companions they’ve met along the course of adventuring gather at the edge of a cliff, enjoying a moment of camaraderie. Image: Larian Studios
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

BioWare’s library is full of RPG classics, with memorable characters, compelling choices, and twisting plots. But it’s been a while since players have been treated to a propulsive adventure in the vein of Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Jade Empire, or Neverwinter Nights; Mass Effect 4 and Dragon Age: Dreadwolf are both still under wraps, and we don’t know all that much about either game. But I’m holding out hope that the upcoming Baldur’s Gate 3, which is set to be released on Aug. 3 by Larian Studios, might scratch that itch for a BioWare-esque RPG spectacularly.

Between the Dragon Age, Mass Effect, and Knights of the Old Republic franchises, it’s easy to see a common set of bones beneath the surface. You’re plunged into some kind of widespread, existential, often otherworldly crisis, and in order to stop that threat and save the world, you must gather a party of stalwart allies. Over the course of a long campaign, you forge bonds with your companions, navigate branching narrative paths, and test the strength of both during a major final mission. If you play your cards right, you can even romance most of your teammates, in a series of stories that range from sweet smooches to torrid affairs.

Even in its nearly three-year early access phase, Baldur’s Gate 3 has offered epic quests, sprawling hubs full of complex NPCs, and a myriad of ways to shape the world. But the thing that might please BioWare fans the most when the game is released in full is the camp, where you can relax with your companions. There’s Shadowheart, a prickly cleric who serves a Goddess of Darkness. Lae’zel is a ferocious mindflayer hunter who clashes hard with Shadowheart, and enjoys provoking her at every opportunity. Astarion is a sexy vampire who treasures loyalty — sure, he’s kind of evil, but maybe you can fix him.

Shadowheart, a cleric in the world of Baldur’s Gate 3. She is a young elven woman, holding some kind of ancient glowing artifact, with a sad and contemplative look on her face. She wears finely wrought plate, and has dark hair framing her face. Image: Larian Studios

These are just a few of the companions you can meet and woo in Baldur’s Gate 3, and with such a focus on finding party members, improving relationships with them, and romancing at least one of them, this is likely the closest thing we’ll get to an old-school BioWare experience — at least until the next Mass Effect or Dragon Age game finally comes out. It’s all the more fitting that BioWare itself developed the first Baldur’s Gate.

There have been exemplary RPGs over the last few years that handle other elements of the genre very well. Wartales has a robust and enjoyable campaign set in a gritty fantasy world, and The Outer Worlds had a fun crew of extremely messy people — but I couldn’t kiss any of them, despite wanting to very badly. Baldur’s Gate 3 not only allows the player to build bonds with their party members and spend quality time with them at camp, but Larian is also unafraid to dabble in some cheesy romantic tropes. Take Halsin, a powerful druid who can transform into a bear. The player can not just romance him, but fuck him while he’s a bear.

Many BioWare RPG fans are less invested in the destination and more interested in the journey along the way. Meeting Garrus and falling in love with him over the course of the Mass Effect trilogy is far more memorable than the overarching plot of space politics and evil Reapers. Baldur’s Gate 3 looks like the rare game unafraid to offer that kind of indulgent, over-the-top romance, and it’s a big reason why I’m anticipating the game’s upcoming final release so fervently. Please let me cavort among the fantasy heroes and choose one to kiss; I promise I will be a responsible and patient lover.

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