The Dungeons & Dragons video game Baldur’s Gate 3 has become a cultural phenomenon, winning countless accolades including Game of the Year. One of the game’s biggest fans is science fiction editor John Joseph Adams, who has played Baldur’s Gate 3 for more than 1,000 hours.
“It’s absolutely an amazing game,” Adams says in Episode 557 of the Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast. “I think it’s the best game I’ve ever played.”
Baldur’s Gate 3 features a branching storyline with 174 hours of cutscenes. Adams thinks that the story and writing compare favorably to some of the best books and movies he’s ever experienced. “I would say that it compares in quality to any entertainment,” he says. “Once I became an editor, I did worry about playing these kinds of games, that I was going to feel that the stories aren’t up to snuff at the level I have to understand it to be an editor, but this game just really takes it to a whole new level.”
Adams does feel that the game is far from perfect. Some of the issues include unbalanced gameplay, inadequate dialog options, and puzzling plot developments. “There are a lot of problems with it,” he says. “There are a lot of frustrating things where it’s like, ‘Well, this could have easily been fixed and been awesome.’ But then everything else is just so amazing that it’s like, ‘I don’t care. Best game ever.’”
Overall, Adams feels that Baldur’s Gate 3 perfectly captures the magic of Dungeons & Dragons, and that the game’s biggest issue is that it’s so addictive. “Do be careful if you have deadlines, or if you want to maintain relationships and you care about spending time with other people,” he says. “I can’t think of anything I’ve ever spent this much time on and been this obsessed with, except for D&D itself.”
Listen to the complete interview with John Joseph Adams in Episode 557 (above). And check out some highlights from the discussion below.
John Joseph Adams on branding:
So the game comes out, and “Baldur’s Gate 3” is on the top title. That’s all the branding. I see Larian Studios branding. Where is the “Dungeons & Dragons” branding on this game? I don’t see “Dungeons & Dragons” anywhere. There’s a little spot on the bottom of the launch screen that says “Wizards of the Coast” next to Larian Studios, but it’s very small … I’ve heard people say that maybe they were trying to hedge their bets in case it didn’t pan out as well as everyone was hoping, but it just seems crazy. How can you not have your branding on there?
John Joseph Adams on sex scenes:
It’s a very horny game, I will say that. They have had to do patches to make some of the characters less horny … You gain approval from [characters], and once you reach certain stages of approval, maybe they start to like you. And it’s like, “Man, can’t I just talk to you like a friend? I’m trying to be nice to you because I like you. I don’t want to sleep with you.” This one guy Gale—he’s the wizard—he’s notorious for just being the horniest. He always wants to sleep with you. And it’s like, “Come on, man. I thought we were just having a nice discussion. You were teaching me about magic. I didn’t mean for it to go this far.”
John Joseph Adams on AI:
The AI is pretty bad. It’s very easy for [Jaheira] to get killed in the assault on Moonrise Towers, just because she does ridiculous stupid stuff. She’s a druid. She’ll cast ice storm on top of allies, and it turns the floor icy—not as bad as sleet storm, but it does turn the floor icy—and then she runs into it, and then she slips and falls. So it’s like, “What are you doing?” She gets killed a lot because she has low armor class and not that many hit points, and there’s some really bad dudes in that first fight. So it’s easy for her to get killed, and if she does get killed, no one ever says anything about her ever again.
John Joseph Adams on multitasking:
I’ve been so obsessed with this game, at a certain point I was like, “God, I’ve got to stop playing it. I’ve got to get some work done.” A while ago I started using a text-to-speech program to take text stories and make them into audio so I could listen to them, and I’ve gotten it to work pretty well. So I can sit there and listen to things and do something else. And so I was like, “OK, I’ve played Baldur’s Gate 3 enough that I don’t really need any of the dialog—much as it pains me not to hear all the great voice acting, but I’ve heard it all before and I still want to play it. So now I can sit at the computer all day playing Baldur’s Gate 3, but then also get a lot of work done.
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