Video games have become a bit of a time commitment unto themselves over the last few years, especially RPGs. For many of them, a first run could last a few dozen hours or more, depending on how deep in the side quest weeds one chooses to get. But if you’ve been looking for something that takes substantially longer than that, Baldur’s Gate III is prepared to take up the rest of your 2023, my friend.
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On Friday, Larian Studios announced its Dungeons & Dragons game would have its release date moved up from September to August, in part to avoid getting swarmed by other games in that same timeframe. The studio also revealed some interesting statistics in regards to its narrative: namely, that this is gonna be quite a long game. Just on its own, the game’s cinematics are said to be “over 170 hours.” The studio bragged that it was over double the length of HBO’s Game of Thrones. (According to VG247, the eight-season series had a runtime of 70 hours and 14 minutes.) Similarly, dialogue during those cinematics is said to be triple the length of all three Lord of the Rings novels combined.
It’s an interesting flex to make on Larian’s part, given how both the two properties in question have come to define the mainstream fantasy landscape as we know it. On a technical level, that had to have been a logistical feat, given that Baldur’s Gate III is built on the player’s choices in conversations and key narrative beats, and the consequences that spin out of those. Considering this game has various character backgrounds, subraces and subclasses to take into account for its many systems, it’s easy to see how the dialogue and cinematics are as long as they apparently are. Someone (likely on YouTube) will surely be keeping track of all the different variations that the game has to offer, and it’ll be interesting to see all those changes, both big and small.
Length-wise, the game itself is said to average around 75-100 hours for a single playthrough. Naturally, that number’s going to double if you try to do everything the game has to offer, and Larian head Swen Vincke admitted to IGN his belief that players will find a way to extend that playtime. Citing the popularity of the studio’s 2018 game Divinity: Original Sin II, he said that players who form online parties with other people will “take a year, a year-and-a-half. They will make their regular sessions where they play, like D&D.”
Larian hasn’t made a “forever game” in the sense that Baldur’s Gate III is a live-service title in the vein of say, Destiny or Final Fantasy XIV. But game is built in a way that players are able to drop the game, play something else for a bit, and come back some time later. And Vincke’s pretty sure that players will make a new character (either hours into their current character or right after the credits roll). “You’ll be playing it in bits and chunks,” he continued. “We saw with Original Sin II, people played it for years. There are still quite a lot of people playing it […] I don’t think you’ll be done in a month, is what I’m saying.”
Baldur’s Gate III releases on PC on August 3, followed by a PlayStation 5 release on September 6.
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