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If you’re not talking to animals in Baldur’s Gate 3, what even is the point?

‘Hiss! I say: HISS!’

The Strange Ox, a large, orange beast with long horns, looks at the camera during a conversation in Baldur’s Gate 3 Image: Larian Studios via Polygon
Nicole Clark (she/her) is a culture editor at Polygon, and a critic covering internet culture, video games, books, and TV, with work in the NY Times, Vice, and Catapult.

Baldur’s Gate 3 gives players so many possibilities to roleplay and express creativity. But within that astounding freedom, I must insist on one spell every player should have: Speak to Animals. It’s one that I always immediately cast the minute I complete a long rest. Animals are some of the game’s best characters; and numerous fans have pointed out the critical number of quests animals can give you — as well as silly interactions you can have — when you can speak to Baldur’s Gate 3’s many creatures.

[Ed. note: Spoilers for animal characters in Baldur’s Gate 3.]

These interactions happen as early as Act 1. Some of them are small, though no less impactful (or gruesome.) Near the Emerald Grove, up a lift, you can encounter a particularly pesky squirrel who fights you when you enter her turf. Roll a dexterity check and... well... you can see what happens.

@skeeziksdt

Sleeziks the demon bard has a quarrel with an angry squirrel #BaldursGate3 #BaldursGate #bg3 #gaming #twitch

♬ original sound - skeeziksDT

Other animals can become ongoing characters. Within the Emerald Grove you can encounter a Strange Ox, hanging out with another rather normal looking ox. You can’t quite discern what it is, but something about this ox is just a little off. You should probably talk to the ox, to see what the deal is. You just might meet again at Last Light Inn.

And, of course, there’s two possible camp companions you can get in the Act 1, who are even more lovable if you can talk to them. There’s Scratch, the adorable dog who you encounter mourning its owner. And an owlbear cub, who you can rescue from goblins. The two become fast friends — and you can even get an achievement called “You Have Two Hands for a Reason” for petting them at the same time.

On the flip side, some animals, even if they seem like set dressing, make an entire area way funnier. I’m talking about the rats in the Gauntlet of Shar — which swarm about the entire place. They give off rancid vibes, and while you don’t need to talk to them, having a conversation is really funny. They’ll each insult you, call you unworthy, and attempt to attack you if you pass. You can also find the Rat King sitting on the Twisted Marrow Throne, who has some delusions of grandeur.

@iamthez00

Theres a surprising amount of rat content in Baldur’s Gate 3 #baldursgate3 #dnd #dndtiktok #jerma #rat #rats

♬ original sound - iamZ00

The entire game is, understandably, pretty covered in rats. And almost all of them have terrible personalities. Including one you find at the scene of a murder in Act 3. This rat has a taste for cheese — the human resident who lived there fed it different kinds to determine its favorite. But it turns out the rat is also fond of eating the little red morsels that “spilled” out of this resident, upon their unfortunate demise. Yikes.

Of course, no Baldur’s Gate 3 animal list would be complete without mentioning the game’s very good cats. A fan favorite (and personal favorite) is His Majesty, a sphinx — who recently was sadly patched to have fur — who opens by hissing at the player, before giving players a quest to de-rat the basement. Even if you complete the quest, you’re still just His Majesty’s loyal subject, however.

Talking to animals has always been a core part of playing Larian Studios games. Rather than make it a spell, Divinity: Original Sin 2 players could select the “Pet Pal” attribute for their characters, giving them the permanent capability of speaking with animals. It was just as enjoyable in that excellent game, and it’s a delight to see the legacy of wonderful animal characters continuing.

The next level of puzzles.

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