Baldur's Gate 3 and Starfield: two guardians standing before the labyrinth of autumn. One always lies, and the other can only tell the truth, but which is which? Having two mondo-huge RPGs holding the rest of the year hostage has me thinking about big games, the anticipation, setting aside time, tying up loose ends in whatever game you've been playing up till now.
The last time this happened, I don't think I was ready for how much Elden Ring would just dominate the two months after it came out for me. Right now, I'm trying to wrap up a Deus Ex: Human Revolution playthrough. I've already given up on my Fallout: New Vegas guy—I got him to a good stopping point and just let things lie, maybe I'll pick it back up in like, half a year. I generally think I take this stuff pretty seriously, but I've always been blown away by the stories of people taking a week off work for the release of Destiny or World of Warcraft expansions.
How do you prepare for a mondo-huge game release? Here are our answers, as well as a few from our forum.
Mollie Taylor, Features Producer: Honestly, for the most part I don't prepare at all. I almost took a week off for Final Fantasy 14's Endwalker expansion but decided against it, which ended up working in my favour since it got delayed by two weeks pretty close to the original release date. In fact, I think one of the only games I've ever specifically taken time off work for was Grand Theft Auto 5. Such a bizarre left-field choice for me, but yeah.
I usually find that if I throw myself deep into the hype and carefully prepare myself for release, I fall off the game after a few hours and never think about it again. Most of the time I end up getting surprise-attacked by a big release that I try just so I can talk with my friends about it, becoming utterly consumed and losing months of my life to it. This is the way.
Andy Chalk, US News Lead: I do my best to ruin everyone else's good time by reminding them that new game releases are routinely shit shows, and even if the servers don't buckle and it's not a sticky swamp of bugs and performance problems, the hot new thing you're looking forward to probably isn't going to be all that good anyway.
Hey, you have your fun, I'll have mine. [Editor's Note: Baldur's Gate 3 is going to be really, really good Andy. I don't care what you say.]
Chris Livingston, Features Producer: 1) I gather my nine children in the parlor and tell them tonight is the night I face the Beast what took their Ma. In case I don't return, I hand my eldest (Silas, 11) my weathered hunting rifle as he bravely fights back tears
2) I stand in front of my grandpappy's portrait and wordlessly vow to rid this land of the evil that has stalked us for generations. Lightning flashing through the windows of the great room makes the portrait almost seem... alive
3) I wrap my cloak tightly around myself and clutch the obsidian dagger as I step out into the driving rain to join my most trusted farmhand, Cyrus. He, too, has born the pain of the Curse all these years
Oh, sorry, misread the question. I thought it said how do I prepare for confronting the Wraith of Tottenham Falls.
Lauren Aitken, Guides Editor: Cry, make a spreadsheet, cry harder, drink far more caffeine than is necessary or medically recommended, then burn myself and my retinas out by staring at a screen for 10+ hours a day.
Oh, I almost forgot: ready myself for it to be properly shit so that I'm pleasantly surprised when I enjoy it.
Joshua Wolens, News Writer: If my experience with Diablo 4 is anything to go by, my process is to be completely uninterested during pre-release, try it out for work, play about 15 hours of it and then return to something that came out a minimum of ten years ago. Currently wrapping up a Mass Effect playthrough. That game's pretty good; you guys heard of it?
From our forum
XoRn: There's a scuba gear rental place surprisingly close by (for a guy in the mid west that is). I schedule a rental there for the day the game comes out. Then I tape my debit card to a rock and throw it into the near by lake and WAIT FOR REVIEWS.
That's to say I don't prep anymore. I don't take time off work or stockpile snacks and soda.
My life just doesn't have time for every big title on the horizon so I have to pick and choose my vices. I also generally find it easier to wait for a sale for a big single player release if I manage to not pre-order it.
McStabStab: After preordering Cyberpunk AND Battlefield 2042 the only thing I do to prep for game releases now is sit and wait for both critic and user reviews to roll in. Even one of my most beloved games, Cities: Skylines, is getting a sequel and I can't bring myself to think I'll be buying it without seeing the reviews first. My answer would have been different years ago but this is the state of gaming in 2023.
BeardyHat: The game will still be there when I'm ready to get around to it and I feel no need to be a part of "The Conversation", as I don't really use social media. When I was a kid, I could get hyped for something new, but I'm nearly 40 now and there's no game so groundbreaking that I need to stop my life for it; not to mention, there is generally going to be something comparable for me to play when the new shiny thing comes out anyway and the differences are so minor, why drop my precious money and time on the new thing? Because marketers say I need to?
I added 10 hours to my playtime in Torchlight 2 when Diablo 4 came out and I'll probably pick-up my Baldurs Gate EE save again when 3 comes out or maybe even finally try and make it through something like Pillars of Eternity.
I'm sure Starfield will be neat, but I'll play it when I feel the pull of something in space and I want to spend $20 on a new game in 4 years.
Brian Boru: [Re: Taking off work for MMO expansions] Yeah, I used to do that too, along with some of my buddies. But what many don't realize is the reason was to avoid the interminable water cooler chat from players during release week!
Alm: I think taking a week off is the most extreme thing I do for a game launch. I've already done it for Hogwarts Legacy and Tears of the Kingdom this year. I don't have enough leave left for Starfield unfortunately.
I am thinking of upgrading my PC for Starfield though which is probably more extreme than taking leave to play a video game.
Konquerah: It is a bit of a grey area for single player games or just massively driven story games. I'd rather sneak in a few hours, so I am not behind the curve. But this is generally because I don't wish to see any spoilers online anywhere. And more often than not, people don't have a filter online.
I'm not too fazed if it's a massive multiplayer game, though if a group of friends wanted to take a couple of days of and geek out over something, then I would probably take the time off to have a laugh with them.
mainer: Most years there are seldom any "mondo-huge" game releases that I'm interested in, and even those that I'm marginally interested in, I'll take a "wait & see" approach by reading reviews first. This year is exceptional, for me at least, in that there are two massive single player RPGs being release in Baldur's Gate 3 and Starfield, and both (unfortunately) are being released at nearly the same time, even with the earlier release of BG3. Both games will take months of my gaming life, and with tons of replay value, so they'll be residing on my SSD for a long time.
First order of business is to clear some hard drive space, as these games are not small. Starfield will be around a 125 GB, and Baldur's Gate 3 around 80 GB, and that's the current early access version, I think the official release will be larger (especially with 174 minutes of cutscenes). Freeing up 200 GB of drive space is not an easy task.
So I'll go through my SSD, moving old save files, screenshots, and mods no longer used to one of my storage drives, and maybe uninstalling some games that I won't get to for a while, as well as looking for any other media or programs that I really don't need. Some modded games, like Skyrim, Fallout 4, and Fallout New Vegas are essentially permanently installed, as well as associated mods & utilities. So there are difficult decisions to be made.
As we get closer to release, the choice of what to play becomes more relevant to me. I don't want anything too involved (story-wise). Currently, I'm trying to finish up the System Shock Remake (though I'm having some trouble in cyberspace), and if I finish (or bail) on that, I will probably go back to an older game and I can drop in or out of without a problem because I know it so well. But definitely, not a new game.