There were a lot of things in Larian's final "Panel From Hell" preview of Baldur's Gate 3 that have me more excited than ever for the upcoming RPG, but the top spot may very well go to the funny papers: Baldur's Gate 3 will have an in-game newspaper, "Baldur's Mouth," that will change based on the decisions you make.
I don't know what else to say but that this is a rad as hell idea. It's such a small, strange detail to put development effort into, but I think a good videogame paper can really ground a fictional world. I loved the broadsheet "The Black Horse Courier" from The Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion—that one had special issues that would appear in the world on completion of certain quests.
The Deus Ex series has similarly had papers and news terminals that change as you progress through the game. More recently, Tears of the Kingdom's Lucky Clover Gazette quest was a very fun spin on the idea.
Baldur's Gate 3 is promising something altogether more involved though. "We've got a newspaper system in this city—it's gonna react to your actions, it's gonna talk about stuff that you've been doing," explained Larian creative director Swen Vincke.
"What I really like about the newspaper is that you can manipulate it. You can basically break into the printing house and start swapping stories around.
"There'll be a big surprise when you do that, and the game's gonna react to that. The stuff in the newspaper affects what the citizens of the city are gonna think about you."
Whereas The Black Horse Courier or Deus Ex's papers would just provide a neat reflection of side quest completion or main story progress, Baldur's Mouth seems more like a full-on, highly reactive system. That quest Vincke described sounds delicious, and the prospect of the paper reflecting not only quest completion but your choices really caught my attention.
Fallout: New Vegas could do this to a limited degree with Radio New Vegas: I particularly remember the quest where you pick a town's sheriff, and the one you went with would get their own soundbite neatly inserted into the radio report on the story. Equally in-depth was cult classic Arcanum: of Steamworks and Magick Obscura's newspapers, which could change to reflect a myriad of quest outcomes.
Former Troika Games developers like Tim Cain and Leonard Boyarsky have spoken of the Arcanum system as a labor of love that added further challenge to an already difficult development, but hopefully Larian has more of a sense of what it was getting into when it started work on Baldur's Mouth. I'm especially curious to see how the paper impacts your reputation in the city, and if you can find new quests or opportunities based on good or bad press.
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Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.