Baldur’s Gate 3’s lead writer has explained the reasons why its second act cuts down on overworld exploration.
Adam Smith, the lead writer for Baldur’s Gate 3, spoke to GamesRadar about the direction he and developer Larian chose to go with for Act 2. Smith notes that it was important to differentiate the pacing of the first two acts to help the player hone their skills in the first before putting them into practice in the second.
“One of the reasons Act 1 is so open is so that you’ve got space to experiment,” says Smith, “and then as you get deeper into it, Act 2 is much more ‘did you bring some skills with you? Have you learned how to navigate this much more dangerous area?’ The systemic and emergent stuff that you’ve learned at that point, you need it to stay alive where Act 1 is much more playful.
“It’s adventure, right? The beginning of an adventure is much more free – you’re discovering what your role is, you’re discovering what you can do. And then, in Act Two, the intensity of the drama heightens.”
Smith adds that Act 2 feels more linear in structure to help guide players through a more focused plot. “I think some people have found it quite jarring because it’s like, ‘this is very different’,” Smith explains. “But that’s kind of the richness of it. In terms of the pacing, I think if we’d done three big slices of space like we did in Act One, I think it would get exhausting.”
The relative linearity of Act 2 is a smart decision. The opening act gives players time to figure out who they want to be in the world of Baldur’s Gate 3 and affords the opportunity to develop relationships with its excellently written party members before raising the stakes in the proceeding acts. I feel that certain events probably wouldn’t have hit as hard if the focus remained as open-ended as it was in the prologue.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is one of the best RPGs to release this year, but if you’re after your next RPG or strategy fix, consider browsing our guide to the best PC games to decide on what you should play next.