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Baldur’s Gate 3 solves an annoying RPG problem with one little symbol

Praise to the exclamation mark!

Lae’zel from Baldur’s Gate 3 Image: Larian Studios via Polygon
Cass Marshall is a news writer focusing on gaming and culture coverage, taking a particular interest in the human stories of the wild world of online games.

Baldur’s Gate 3 throws a lot of information at you as soon as the tutorial ends and the adventure begins. There are a bunch of new party members to recruit, each with their own wants and needs, and tons of quests to tackle. Luckily, Larian Studios does a good job of keeping things organized. One of the best examples is your camp, and a tiny little icon that I have come to appreciate and admire: the exclamation point.

You can roll solo or with a spare few allies if they want, but if you’re the sociable type, you can quickly pick up a baker’s dozen of RPG companions. You can’t bring them all with you; it’d be a little bit of a clown car to have all of your allies traipsing about. Instead, you bring three friends on your current quests, and everyone else waits at camp.

Crucially, you can head to camp at any time, either to chat with the colleagues you left behind, or to settle down and rest. It’s delightfully reminiscent of, say, Mass Effect’s Normandy spaceship, but there’s one improvement: You can actually tell when your party has something new to say, thanks to a ! over their heads. This is obviously a very small part of the overall game — but it saves a lot of potential headaches.

In RPG hubs, there’s always the temptation to jog around and talk to everyone in case there’s a scrap of new dialogue or a fun reaction to be seen. Usually, the NPC just gives a line to express that they’re too busy to chat, like when Garrus Vakarian tells you he’s occupied with making calibrations to the ship. Unsure of whether he’s still busy the next time you see him, you might prompt him again, only to hear the same exact line of dialogue. This grates quickly.

In Baldur’s Gate 3, things can happen naturally when you stop and rest for the night, especially if you do something like say, invite a guy’s demonic arch-nemesis into the fold. But in cases where your party members aren’t taking the initiative, but rather, staring pensively into the flickering flames of a campfire, there’ll be that tell-tale ! letting you know it’s a good time to chat. These conversations tend to contain the best role-playing moments in the game, and they’re a good chance to farm approval by being sympathetic or encouraging to potential friends or romantic partners.

So far, I’m having a blast with Baldur’s Gate 3, not just because of the sheer amount of adventures to undertake, but also because of how elegantly it’s organized. I, for one, appreciate the contribution of the simple but mighty exclamation mark.

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