Baldur's Gate 3 has '17,000' variations on its ending, a number that gives me a headache just thinking about it

elf woman holding giant puzzle box resembling d20 dice
(Image credit: Larian)

Baldur's Gate 3 is reported to have a massive amount of endings, according to a conversation Fextralife had with Chrystal Ding, associate writing lead at Larian Studios: "I asked her, how many variations on the ending are there?"

The answer is 17,000, which is a big number. It's one that joins other such huge promises from Larian: 174 hours of cinematics! 22 subclasses! A newspaper that responds to your choices! They're definitely stoking up the furnace on Baldur's Gate 3's pre-release hype, though I feel a little tempering of expectations is in order here.

17,000 endings doesn't mean 17,000 radically different experiences. What's more likely is that your choices will factor into an end-game epilogue of some description, similar to the one we got at the end of Divinity Original Sin 2

Time for some speculation: let's say there's 10 lines of dialogue with 2 variations each that can present in Baldur's Gate 3's ending—the ways in which you can arrange those lines would add up extremely quickly. They'd each technically create a bespoke cinematic, even if they weren't that unique from a player's standpoint.

That's still a huge amount of work though, and it doesn't surprise me at all that Ding has stated she's been chipping away at the ending for six months. The prospect of arranging so many possibilities in a way that isn't jarring is giving me a migraine just thinking about it. It's also reassuring to hear that your choices are being tracked in such specific ways, as that kind of authorship over your own story is key to any great CRPG.

Less reassured was Larian's director of publishing Michael Douse when they quote-tweeted the video with an expression of dread: "Oh no they found the 17,000 number." I can only imagine the flood of questions and speculation that's bound to follow in the video's wake. Fortunately we won't have to wait that long to start grinding out endings—Baldur's Gate 3 releases August 3 this year.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.