Baldur’s Gate 3 breaks all of D&D 5e’s unwritten taboos
Traps are lethal. Flanking and area-of-effect spells are common. Combat is challenging and chaotic. And no-one ever misses with a dagger. Some of these might be controversial opinions, but the RPG game from Larian Studios shows that D&D 5e could do with a few more tweaks in 2023.
The most recent D&D game from Wizards of the Coast is a huge success
It’s one of the best tabletop games around. However, it’s also very strict in its interpretation of the rules and in the way it approaches dungeon-crawling. Larian’s approach to RPG design clashes with what 5e players might expect, and it’s not afraid to take the game in a different direction.
Traps in BG3 are lethal, unlike the modern game’s emphasis on character building. This can feel like an over-correction, but it’s also a small but necessary change that makes fights more engaging. It immediately makes spellcasters more vulnerable, and it means that you can’t just brute-force your way through areas without considering the consequences.
The game also doesn’t shy away from encounter imbalances and exploitable mechanics. We’re used to seeing low-level enemies struggle against high-level characters, but BG3 doesn’t always tip the balance in favour of the party. Some battles are meant to be lost, and that’s OK – it encourages you to think about how to get around the problem rather than simply steamrolling through with brute force.
It also deviates from 5th edition’s scarcity of overpowered magic items. There’s a lot of loot in BG3, and it’s not all balanced. There are some items that can take over entire fights, but there are also plenty of opportunities to find creative solutions to combat problems. Sometimes all you need is a good old-fashioned bag of marbles.
Finally, the game is more open about flirting, sex, and player agency. The core of D&D 5e is built around social interaction, and Larian doesn’t shy away from this. The game stays true to 5e while offering its own interpretation, and it’s refreshing to see a more frank approach in a game that’s otherwise very wholesome.
All of these things can be considered controversial, but the success of BG3 suggests that D&D could benefit from more flexibility in 2023. Sometimes a change needs to be made to shake up the status quo, and Larian’s approach to Baldur’s Gate 3 shows that 5e doesn’t need to be afraid of change.
If you’re looking for a recommendation for the best D&D games, then you can’t go wrong with Baldur’s Gate 3. Check out our BG3 review for our full thoughts on the D&D game.