"Just a quick go" I said, after Baldur's Gate 3 had finally finished hoovering up what little free space was left on my SSD. "I'll just tweak the settings, make a character, watch that icky intro, and then carry on with whatever I was doing before" I said. After all, Destiny 2's Solstice event wasn't going to grind itself.
I told myself those lies… I'm not quite sure how many hours ago, now. What I do know for sure is that my tea's gone stone cold before a single drop of it has touched my lips, I've missed important messages from family members, the laundry I left to dry in the sun is now soaked with rain, and my home's resident teenager has gone quiet. Suspiciously quiet.
And I honestly couldn't be happier (not without a warm cup of tea, anyway). For just a little while I've taken a break from being a heavily caffeinated writer with one eye on an incoming deadline slash busy woman trying to juggle a million different chores. I am Kimimi, a Tiefling sorcerer with cool twisted horns and purple hair who flings spells around like areas of effect are everybody else's problem. I am an adventure perceptive enough to realise I'd been ripped off by a charming kid-merchant, but not quite perceptive (or bothered) enough to do anything productive about it. I am a warrior who has possibly set fire to herself in the heat of battle one too many times.
I am having a wonderful time.
I imagine many of the other 814,665 people who were also playing Baldur's Gate 3 last weekend felt the same way. It's been a long time since a game absorbed me like this, to the extent that every moment I'm not playing somehow feeling "wasted". No, it's not even that—it's been too long since I've played a game that made me want to slow down and take in the sights, with so many sights that were worth seeing I'm ready to give up on sleep for the foreseeable future.
From the moment I decided I was going to gently pull a talking brain-monster out of a stranger's skull on a giant squid-ship travelling through hell I realised I should be daring and curious in Baldur's Gate 3, because this game will always have something up its sleeve that takes my actions and decisions into account. There will be a reason why a character does or says something odd that catches my attention, and I might (skill and persistence permitting) be able to find out why in the future. A locked door isn't a painted-on barrier designed to keep me on the invisible critical path, it's something I might be able to open and spend hours exploring, with treasure to loot and monsters to die to because "Kick down doors and prepare never" is just how I role(play).
Everything in this game feels like it has a purpose, whether I choose to investigate it or not.
Well, almost everything. I'm not entirely sure I want to find out why Gale's underwear crackles with enchanted energy, but I suppose the option's always there if I change my mind in the future.
The buffet of choices at every turn makes playing this tadpole-infested game feel like a virtual holiday. So many games want me to play faster or better or hurry up and clear the endgame raids before the next expansion appears, but Baldur's Gate 3 just wants me to… do whatever I want to, even if all I want to do is gather some honey and medicinal herbs before chatting to a few backstory-laden NPCs. I'm taking forever to make any progress and I just don't care, because "progress" here isn't defined by my party's strength or their proximity to the ending, progress is doing the things I want to do, when I want to do them.
What will happen afterwards? I'm not sure, but it'll always be my own fault, my own new micro-(mis)adventure in a world that's stuffed full of strange little quests, their plot threads spreading out across the world in the same way the tendrils of the terrifying parasite lodged in my character's head wrap around her delicious, impulsive brain.
I'm sure I'm going to strain a few more relationships and sacrifice many more cups of tea as I explore the Sword Coast, blindly wandering into caves crawling with deadly spiders for the 10th time and definitely not reloading an earlier save when it all goes so very badly for me (as we all know, "real" RPG fans definitely don't do that. Oh no. Never.). I wouldn't want every game to be this absorbing—I don't literally want to play Baldur's Gate 3 forever (do I?)—but a little total immersion in a gorgeous fantasy world where everything I do actually matters, as a treat? Yes please.
I just need to remember to get up, stretch, and go outside for some fresh air every few hours. Maybe even
gather my party and venture forth ask my family if they want to come too. Then again, spending time walking around Faerûn is almost the same thing, isn't it? So I suppose I may as well keep on playing. This time it really will only be a quick go—promise.