Baldur’s Gate 3’s Marketing Is Getting Silly

I love Baldur’s Gate 3. I’ve resisted playing too much of the early access version on PC because I want to sink in deep at the full release and not emerge for 100 hours, but I love it all the same. I love it like a pen pal. I love it at a distance. I hope that this imagined love crystalises into the real thing once I finally get my hands on it. But after years of watching it with admiration and respect from afar, now that it’s drifting closer it’s giving off bad vibes. It just can’t close the deal. Never meet your heroes, kid. The latest in these late-game fumbles come via the endings, of which Larian is bragging there are over 17,000.


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A few weeks back it was the 174 hours of cutscenes we were discussing. At the time, I defended Baldur’s Gate 3. Firstly, I knew that most of these cutscenes would be exactly the same, only playing out with minor differences depending on which (if any) Origin character you chose to play as, and minor interactions around companions and romance options. There would still be a lot of cinematics, and notable differences depending on pathways chosen and the order of quests, but any one playthrough would be pushed to get even a quarter of those cutscenes.

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I argued this was a big game done right. Rather than endless and banal open worlds that filled the runtime with generic bloat for everyone, offering depth in this curated, replayable way seemed like a far better use of time and resources. It seemed authentic – our game is worth your time not because it will keep you wandering fields in search of serotonin for 200 hours, but because you’ll never play it the same way twice. But coupled with these 17,000 endings, it swings back around to artificial.

Baldur's Gate 3 elf

I know there aren’t 17,000 endings. But where I could overlook the minor differences used to inflate the 174 hours, here it all feels fake. It’s lying. It’s not only mixing in a lot of minor choices like whether or not you free one inconsequential dwarf from a hidden jail cell and claiming that’s the ending, it’s also counting what lines you choose in the final scenes and which companions you take. That’s the only way it can even get close to that number, and even then it’s so high it’s not worth caring about.

Mass Effect 3, famously, has just three endings, with a secret fourth ending if you kill the Catalyst and let the Reapers win. But by Larian’s logic, you could argue it has 17,000 as well. Rather than Destroy, Control, Synergy, Death, you immediately get ‘Romance Jack and Destroy’, ‘Romance Jack and Control’, and so on for all endings with all romance options. You could consider it a different ending if key characters like Garrus or Tali died in Mass Effect 2’s suicide mission. You could consider it a different ending depending on what happens with the Genophage. If you’re counting to 17,000 you can pretty much make up what you want because no one’s going to check.

Baldur's Gate 3, Astarion Watching Battle Commence

Baldur’s Gate 3’s promise is so obscenely high that there’s just no way it’s true. It’s impossible to imagine what this means. Are there really ten endings with 1,700 variants each? 100 endings with 170 variants each? Something in between? Is that maths even right? I have no idea and it just bores me. My most anticipated game of the year should not be boring me three weeks out from launch.

I still love Baldur’s Gate 3, I’m still going to play it to death, and I’m still going to watch however many hours of cutscenes I get and I’m still going to play all the way to my one, solitary ending. But enough of these wayward brags. The scope isn’t interesting, especially when it’s not even true. I want details about characters, combat, settings, not lies that are technically and mathematically true in ways that players will never realise or care about. Size doesn’t matter when it’s love, baby.

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