Dungeons and Dragons has dominated the gaming scene since its release in 1974, becoming one of the most inspirational fantasy games of all time. It isn’t always an easy hobby to get into, however. Buying the books, learning the rules, and actually finding a group to play with can be challenging. Whether you’re a Paladin or a Rogue, video games offer players a more straightforward path into D&D, but some adaptations are more faithful and fun than others. Baldur’s Gate 3 is the perfect introduction to D&D outside of the tabletop itself. Here’s why.
Why Baldur’s Gate 3 Is the Perfect Introduction to D&D
Dungeons and Dragons is a fantasy roleplaying game, but that’s like saying a PB&J is a sandwich. It’s true, but it doesn’t explain the unique qualities that make it great. D&D is all about collaborative, improvisational storytelling. Watching your plans fall apart when your Wizard gets shot by a sleep dart and captured by goblins, forcing the party to improvise a rescue, is what the game is all about. Baldur’s Gate 3 is a better introduction than any other game regarding this kind of storytelling. Sure, you can save scum if you want to, but half the fun of Baldur’s Gate 3 comes from watching the unexpected directions the story takes after your mistakes.
From the prologue area onward, Baldur’s Gate 3 throws choices at the player, and you never know which one is best. Mistakes get made, conversations turn awkward, and sometimes people even die. Games like Neverwinter Nights and Planescape: Torment simulates these branching stories wonderfully. It’s just that Baldur’s Gate 3 does it better. It’s evident from a single playthrough that Larian Studios went out of its way to make choices, and consequences matter. If you want to murder a hobo your way through town, killing everyone who tried to help you to steal their stuff, you can do that. If you want to play the archetypical Paladin, extending a helping hand to everyone you meet, you can do that too.
Explaining the Rules
Dungeons and Dragons have evolved countless times over the decades. Currently, in their 5th edition, the game’s rules are spread across three core rulebooks and countless supplemental books. These books are a collector’s delight but a new player’s nightmare. Learning to play D&D doesn’t have to be painful, but many times it is, which is a shame. Players shouldn’t have to memorize the rules behind Attacks of Opportunities or Hideous Laughter to pick up and play. Baldur’s Gate 3 is an almost perfect introduction to the rules, taking the burden off of players. The game does the heavy lifting and number crunching behind the scenes, freeing the player up to enjoy the game.
Most D&D-inspired video games nail the storytelling but falter with the rules, feeling cumbersome or confusing. On the other hand, Larian Studios’s new title does justice to both. Players can watch the consequences of their choices in real-time. Because the rules behind those consequences are clear, the player never feels lost or robbed. When a goblin ambush leaves you scrambling to resurrect half your party, you have the comfort of knowing that it was a Critical Hit and Higher Ground that put you in this position.
Freedom of Choice and Inclusivity
It’s impossible to explain what makes Baldur’s Gate 3 the perfect introduction to D&D without talking about choice. The freedom to choose how to attack, explore, and make friends is central to this game’s success. Even just deciding what to do first is tough. Play co-op and watch your friends inevitably screw something up or play a scene differently than you’d imagined. Baldur’s Gate 3 immerses players like few other games despite being a turn-based, isometric RPG. That’s because it–like D&D before it–understands that what matters most is choice.
Baldur’s Gate 3 also nails inclusivity, and that’s important. No one should feel gatekept from a hobby due to a lack of representation. In a game that lets you play as an Elf or a Dragonborn, why shouldn’t you be able to play a character with vitiligo, various hair textures, or diverse body types? Baldur’s Gate 3 lets you. D&D and the games it inspired are about more than slaying dragons: they’re about seeing yourself as the hero in another world. At least a version of yourself who can throw lightning bolts and make friends with centaurs. It’s just another reason this game is the perfect introduction to D&D.