- Baldur’s Gate 3‘s multiplayer campaign can become frustrating due to the inability to swap characters, making restarting the game a more appealing option.
- The unique storylines and personalities of NPC companions in Baldur’s Gate 3 add depth to the game, so being stuck with custom NPCs feels lonely and less engaging.
- The character locking system in Baldur’s Gate 3 may incentivize commitment, but it fails to consider the differences between tabletop and online gaming experiences, making a restart worth considering.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is all about getting sucked into an immersive roleplaying experience, but there’s one hitch that can make abandoning progress in favor of a restart feel like the best move. As a game set in the Dungeons & Dragons world of the Forgotten Realms, the concept of the adventuring party is core to the Baldur’s Gate 3 experience. One key feature is the ability to swap dynamic characters in and out of the party and progress the story around them. Unfortunately, it’s entirely possible to lock off this aspect of Baldur’s Gate 3 completely.
Following up on the standard set by the prior Baldur’s Gate and the Divinity: Original Sin titles by the game’s developer Larian Studios, Baldur’s Gate 3 features the option to play through the campaign in multiplayer. Adding friends to an adventuring party helps recreate the cooperative and chaotic experience of a roleplaying game table, and turn-based combat that mimics the Dungeons & Dragons 5e system helps prevent multiplayer fights from becoming a mess. Even so, starting a multiplayer Baldur’s Gate 3 campaign can introduce a major wrinkle that might prove too frustrating to make a save file worth continuing.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Multiplayer Characters Are Locked In The Party
When friends join a Baldur’s Gate 3 campaign, the characters they play or create will remain permanently in the party. Although this doesn’t cause any problems if a party plays through the whole campaign together, it can be a massive headache for any kind of drop-in drop-out approach. If one player quit the campaign, whoever continued it would be stuck without the ability to swap in a unique NPC in their place. This might not seem like a huge issue when considering how most multiplayer games work, but the way Baldur’s Gate 3 approaches storytelling makes it obvious just how much this can harm a playthrough.
NPC companions in Baldur’s Gate 3 are much more than just party filler, with each one having a unique storyline and personality that makes for a major facet of engaging with the game. Many possible companions come from the roster of Origin heroes that can be picked at the beginning of the game, who all have narratives compelling enough to make them a viable main character option. Currying favor, exploring quests, and even romancing multiple Baldur’s Gate 3 companions help recreate the social experience of Dungeons & Dragons in a solo campaign, so a playthrough that ends up stuck with custom NPCs instead is particularly lonely by comparison.
Even Origin characters originally selected as members of a multiplayer party can suffer from an abandoned attempt at co-op gameplay. Pre-written companions, once occupied by another player, cannot be spoken to at camp or rotated out as normal, leaving what seems like an unnecessarily hollow void in their place. Although it makes sense that an Origin character created in Baldur’s Gate 3 wouldn’t immediately revert to normal NPC status in case a party member just happened to miss a session of playing, the lack of any option to fix the situation if someone leaves the campaign for good makes sticking it in singleplayer afterward much less appealing.
Locking Characters In Baldur’s Gate Imitates D&D Poorly
It’s difficult to tell if the current situation with character locking in Baldur’s Gate 3 is the specific intent of Larian Studios or a low development priority that has never been addressed throughout several years of early access prior to release. Divinity: Original Sin 2 took a somewhat different approach, disallowing players from adding custom characters when jumping into a game at any point but the beginning and having them temporarily take over Origin characters instead. Custom characters made at the start of a multiplayer game abandoned by players would linger by default, but could be removed from the party.
Incentivizing commitment to a campaign is loyal to the way Dungeons & Dragons works as a tabletop game in some respects, but it’s ultimately a frustrating solution that fails to take into account the fundamental differences between the experiences. The main argument in favor of the system would be that it emphasizes the importance of committing to a campaign when playing with friends in Baldur’s Gate 3, as it isn’t meant to support casual team-ups in the way that many online games are. Punishing players for circumstances that can be out of their control, however, doesn’t seem like the best way to incentivize that kind of gameplay.
The lack of any kind of drop-in drop-out option that doesn’t cause lingering problems is a disappointment after Divinity: Original Sin 2 and ignores the viability of guest characters in a DnD campaign. Even a dwindling party in a tabletop game could be bolstered by characters controlled by the dungeon master or new players with fresh ideas, making the lack of recourse after a multiplayer game falls apart in Baldur’s Gate 3 a truly unique issue. There’s also no way to switch gears to a completely new story, as restarting to avoid being stuck with a flavorless party will require some retreading, no matter how many different choices are made.
Why Restarting Baldur’s Gate 3 Might Be Worth It
Choosing whether to restart a failed attempt at a Baldur’s Gate 3 multiplayer campaign can be a difficult decision, but in many cases ripping the band-aid off is the best course of action. Spending hours upon hours with a pale imitation of a normal Baldur’s Gate 3 party is far from the best way to experience the story, and nothing is more satisfying than trudging onward only to ultimately lose interest. Restarting may be less worthwhile deep into a campaign, but rolling up a new character anywhere near the beginning is an easier path to maximum enjoyment.
The frustrating systems of Baldur’s Gate 3 multiplayer are an important facet to take into consideration before committing to a campaign, as having even slightly disinterested players can have major repercussions. In a game full of options to personalize a playthrough, this one system feels all too restrictive. Locking Baldur’s Gate 3 multiplayer characters into the party might incentivize commitment, but the long trail of its repercussions can make restarting Baldur’s Gate 3 worth it.