Baldur's Gate 3's Act 2: A More Focused Experience
Baldur’s Gate 3’s Act 2 intentionally scales back exploration in the RPG game to offer a more “contained” experience that still offers progression and variety. In a lengthy interview with PC Game Spotlight, lead writer Adam Smith discusses the decision to narrow the game’s scope and how it provides a more focused experience that balances between chaos and control in the upcoming Baldur’s Gate 3 release date.
Act 1 of the RPG game was massive, filled with all manner of chaotic adventures that spanned a variety of maps and environments. However, Smith explains that the team felt that “burning out” players with three big slices of space like this would be exhausting.
“I think it’s a good pacing thing,” Smith says. “If you’re in that first act and you’re just exploring the world, by the time you’ve unlocked all of the areas in the first act, you’ve done all the main quests and side quests, you’re like ‘oh I’ve done everything here, I’ve done all the quests, I’ve cleared out all the dungeons.’”
Smith says that the team’s goal was to avoid players feeling like they had completed all the content in a map before moving on, and that narrowing the scope in Act 2 allows for a more specific focus.
“So I think the answer to that is, Act 2 is a tighter, more controlled experience,” Smith says. “It’s more about specific choices, handling certain situations. Act 2 is more about progression, whereas Act 1 was more about exploration.”
From my own perspective as a long-time RPG player and dungeon master, I can certainly appreciate Smith’s stance on turning your mind off and ticking off side quests as a means to provide variety to a game. However, I would say that it’s important to recognise that a CRPG such as Baldur’s Gate 3 is not simply a series of side quests to be completed, but rather a rich and deep world that is meant to be experienced in whatever way you choose.
Regardless of whether you choose to adventure in a more structured or free-form way, the progression in Act 2 reflects how Dungeons & Dragons campaigns often unfold. Your characters begin with low-stakes adventures in the first few levels, before gradually introducing bigger stakes as you progress through the game. Act 2 mirrors this transition, allowing you to accomplish some significant goals while still offering a different experience to Act 1.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is a massive game, and variety is important. Act 2 doesn’t feel like a step back from Act 1, but rather an addition that offers a different tone and experience to the RPG game.
The full interview is extremely in-depth, covering everything from “Tiers of Play” in D&D to the writing process for a game as big as Baldur’s Gate 3. Check it out here.
Alternatively, you can enjoy some of the recent additions to the game in Baldur’s Gate 3 update 20, which introduces a new dungeon and expands the scope of a familiar location.