Baldur's Gate 3: don't always tell the same story! – Current games

For the release of the Early Access version of Baldur's Gate 3, in which I was able to invest a few hours of play, I would like to put my frustration with an old RPG institution off my heart and send an open request to Larian Studios and all other RPG developers:

Please do not always declare me the chosen one against my will!

In many role-playing games it turns out at one point in the story that the main character is in truth not just a normal superhero destroying armies with outstanding talents, but the subject of an ancient prophecy. Our protagonist – Twist – is the descendant of a famous warrior, the reincarnation of an ancient god, the chosen savior or any other massively important figure in the background story of the game world.

Exceptionally out of habit

Even if there is hardly a twist that disillusion me, I do not have a fundamental problem with this type of story. What bothers me, however, is the frequency with which this cliché is used in RPGs. I also firmly believe that most games would be a lot more interesting without this story tweak. Every time the backstory I have chosen for my heroine is overwritten by a prophecy or a time-honored title like "Dragonborn" or "Watcher", I wonder why the developers give me the option in advance to create your own character.

I don't always want to be the most important person in the whole universe, especially not when the only reason for this importance has nothing to do with my decisions, but is prescribed by the writing team. I would much rather play a character whose fate is in my own hands or whose background actually influences their goals and decisions, rather than just giving me a few additional dialogue options.

The background in the foreground

The role play Tyranny stands out positively here. It reports to a dark ruler of the Sauron brand and has already carried out several successful campaigns in his name. In the prologue of the game we make decisions that determine how your own character behaved during the conquest, which in turn has a strong impact on how different parties feel about it. The title that the character then bears results directly from their own decisions.

The Witcher 3

The Witcher 3

Source: CD Projekt Red

In the Witcher series or in the second Dragon Age you cannot determine the background of Geralt or Hawke yourself. Nevertheless, both RPGs allow a certain amount of freedom in character drawing and also tell more personal stories with their main characters, which I so sorely miss in comparable titles. It's a lot of fun as fantasy ghostbuster Geralt to haggle over prices, break curses, hunt monsters and then end the working day with a beer with his comrades. If the third part of the series is actually about a kind of chosen hero figure, this is refreshingly not the eponymous philanderer himself, but his adopted daughter Cirilla.

In Dragon Age 2, the focus is on the rise of the Hawke family at the time of the magical riot in the city of Kirkwall. The game has its problems, but a run-of-the-mill story is not one of them.
I especially like that Hawke and the individual companions seem to have their own independent life in the city. For once, they do not present themselves as passive servants who rely on player input to make decisions, but rather have a healthy amount of personal responsibility. Which brings us to the second point that disappoints me about many RPGs.

Not only is the role of redeemer imposed on me in many stories, but by default I always have to be the one giving orders to all the other characters. There is never really an argument about who is in charge of my fellowship. Whether I play a sly witch, a peace-loving halfling, or a monosyllabic orc, even the most righteous and well-trained warriors instinctively submit to my guidance. Even in video games, in which the companions have conflicts with each other and don't trust each other, each of my characters leaves the last word.

Wouldn't it be much more exciting if I had to earn this leadership position or at least defend it? It would also be exciting to play a character who deliberately holds back in some situations in order not to have to face the consequences of a difficult decision. Manipulating other team members or convincing them from their own point of view would then be an essential part of the gameplay and would allow a much more varied gameplay.

The rule of the party people

Also in Baldur's Gate 3, the companions seem to be a motley bunch with different goals and I like that it is made clear in several places that the union is only a temporary community of convenience for the time being. The fact that all characters can start and lead dialogues with NPCs is a big plus and ensures variety in the decision-making options.

Even after a few hours of play, it is indicated that the troop may have more in common than mere coincidence, I am cautiously optimistic about the story and character of the role-playing game. This is not least due to the great synchronization of the characters. The mischievous vampire Astarion, whose speaker intones every line of dialogue as if he were Dr. Frank N. Furter from the Rocky Horror Picture Show, I really liked it here.

In contrast to the upcoming release version, it is not yet possible to play one of the prefabricated companion figures yourself during Early Access. This was already possible in Larian Studios' predecessor Divinity Original Sin 2 and ensured that your own character was more closely linked to some characters and events in the main story and pursued an additional quest line. This feature is great in itself, but I would like Larian to give you enough options for your own heroes to experience unique stories.

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