Last updated on September 29th, 2019
Catching up with Larian Studios Founder Sven Vincke and Mike Mearls of Wizards of the Coast and Creative Director of Dungeons & Dragons, we had a few burning questions in mind in the wake of the news that Larian Studios are working on Baldur’s Gate 3. The studio is well known for its Divinity Original Sin series, and we wanted to find out exactly how this whole thing fell into motion. It was Sven Vincke who originally approached Mike Mearls with the interest of developing BG3, but as we found out in this interview, a lot went into this collaboration.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Interview with Larian and Wizards of the Coast
We knew fans would be eager to know how previous games would impact Baldur’s Gate 3, whether it would continue the story or use different time frames like their Divinity games. Vincke explained that there have been “several instalments of Baldur’s Gate involving the Forgotten Realm’s lore so you have Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2, as well as the tabletop campaigns”, with the newest one called called Descent into Avernus releasing on September 17th. Baldur’s Gate 3 will take place after these events “[meaning] you are going to see plenty of references to things that happened in city in the past” as well as seeing settings from BG1 was based on the Forgotten Realms, along with references to events that happened in the new campaign Descent into Avernus.
Vincke assures that this will be a new story for fans to enjoy, with “several characters from the campaign” so you will see some familiar faces if you’re fan of the series. We had a number of questions pertaining how their experience with Divinity would influence their development with Baldur’s Gate 3 as well further details features, multiplayer and more.
FL: What rule set will you be using?
Vincke: Based on the 5th Edition because we ported all the rules to the computer game and looked at what worked and what didn’t work. There are somethings that don’t work for video games. But there is also the aspect if you’re playing tabletop, the game master and imaginations is a large part of it. There are things that are just not described in the rule set that you could do and we obviously have to make it work inside of the video game, that is something that we have to add on top of it.
FL: Are you planning to add anything that you had done with Divinity to that, or will it be straight Dungeons and Dragons?
Vincke: No, if you are in combat you say “I take the table and I throw it at him” right so that is something that we have to describe in the video game also, that’s an interaction with the environment, things like that you will see we have gone quite far.
Mearls: We don’t have specific rules for all those interactions, its up to the game master to extend those rules.
FL: How linear are you planning on making it?
Vincke: It is similar to the original Baldur’s Gate, and especially in Baldur’s Gate 2 it has a really cool mechanic that I really liked and I referenced a lot throughout Divinity Original Sin to the team where it had earn I think it was 20,000 gold to be able to take a ship, that was the type of freedom that was present there which we offered in DOS and you will see in BG3.
FL: Can you create a save based on the actions based on your actions in the previous games Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2?
Vincke: No, as they are closed chapters.
Will BG3 have multiplayer?
Vincke: From DOS1 to DOS2 you saw a lot of change how we handled multiplayer. So from DOS2 to BG3 you will see an evolution on how we handle it. The party is a very big focus this time, the slogan of the game is “gather your party”. BG2 was very party focused, they had a lot of mechanics for that time, how they handled the party. So expect innovation in that direction. Yes it will have co-operative multiplayer.
We did ask more specifics on the mechanics of parties and how many would in a party but Vincke was not willing to share exact details at this stage.
FL: What engine are you using, is it the same as DOS2?
Vincke: It’s the next generation of our own engine, Dragon Commander was 1.0, DOS1 was 2.0, DOS2 was 3.0 and Definitive Edition was 3.5. Now we are heading to 4.0, a completely new shift, we’ve upgraded the engine, there’s a lot tech that has been developed for quite some time.
FL: In regards to the artstyle of the game is it going to be similar to Divinity or are you guys going in a different direction?
Vincke: You’ve seen the teaser trailer? That sets the tone.
FL: In terms of camera angles, are you going to use the top down isometric view or go with the approach that you had with the definite edition of DOS1?
FL: How long can we expect the game to be in terms of gameplay?
Vincke: I expect players to spends 100 hours, if they go through everything. We’re making it a more a length to what we had in DOS2, its hard to tell until everything is done but I would say approximately 100 hours.
FL: Are you going to keep the traditional D&D classes, will you maintain this or expand upon it?
Vincke: Yes. If you know D&D 5th Edition and start Baldur’s Gate 3, you will know what to do.
FL: Will you be able to take sub-classes like in other D&D games?
Vincke: Yes you will.
FL: Will you have any famous D&D players appear as Easter eggs in the game?
Vincke: No comment.
FL: This is a hugely anticipated sequel, how much pressure is that and how do you deal with that?
Vincke: Well there is obviously a lot of expectations, people have been waiting for this game for a very long time. We try not to think of the pressure, we focus on making a good of a game as we can, our team is very very talented. We have Dungeons & Dragons we have Wizard of the Coast helping us, the collaboration is very close, we also have the funding to do this also without the publisher pressure as we are doing it ourselves. We have all the ingredients to make a really good RPG, we could still fuck it up, but there’s a really big drive and passion within the team to make it really good, more so than what we saw with DOS2. For a lot of the members of our team, their first RPG was Baldur’s Gate. There are a lot of tabletop sessions going on continuously in the offices and the different studios, so there is a lot of drive in this.
This is what we’re trying to do with BG3, the video game is the game master we’re trying to give you as much possibility of doing things just like you would be able to in a tabletop, that’s literally the drive behind what we do.
FL: In Divinity Original Sin you added a Dungeon Master mode, are you going to add something similar to that?
Vincke: No comment.
FL: Are you going to have modding tools?
Vincke: No comment.
FL: What platforms will it be released on?
Vincke: PC and Stadia.
So far PC and Stadia are the only platforms announced for Baldur’s Gate 3, Larian were unable to comment on whether it will be open to further platform in future.
FL: What is your publishing time frame?
Vincke: We have a time frame we’re looking at, we know people have been waiting on this game for sometime, they will probably will wait a bit longer. We need to get it right, we won’t release it if it’s not right. This is a game we want to play ourselves also, so it’s something we’ve been waiting for ourselves for a long time. We are going to try really deliver on it, we’ll see how much time it takes. We announce now because we to want to talk with the community, really understand what they are looking for, match it against our vision of what we’re doing, then together evolve.
FL: Are you going to do an early access?
Vincke: What we are not doing is a Kickstarter. We will announce when the time is right.
FL: How do you guys know that Larian was the right studio?
Mearls: I was involved in the business side of things, once the deal was signed. It was funny because when I first was told “oh we’re working with Larian” I was running many DD campaigns, there was one DD campaign I was running, I asked people at the table if they were to make Baldur’s Gate 3 who would you want to make it? They all answered Larian. So that told me we were on the right track. I remember when we first started working together, started collaborating, it was just a natural thing. On a creative level I think we have very similar attitudes towards roleplaying games whether they be tabletop or digital computer RPG, and I think we also have a similar sense in idea of developing the community. Roleplaying gamers, it’s funny, we each tell our own story but I think like the role of telling our own stories together, that there just a natural sense of community. That’s what happens when you bring people together in a tabletop, or even in a video game, the idea of sharing what you’ve done or playing co-op. So I think its kind of reflected in how we work together, it feels like almost this adventuring party getting together and plotting out the next great D&D story.
One of our first meetings we just laid down a map of the Sword’s Coast in Baldur’s Gate, “what if we went here? What if we went to this location?” It just felt like a natural design jam, it just felt like the D&D team, it didn’t feel like outsiders coming in, it just felt natural. There’s stuff mechanically where we were thinking of making a change to one of classes of the tabletop game, so I sent email over to your side [Larian], Vicke said “oh we have something very similar, we’re already thinking of implementing”. Theres even some part we were working on in terms of the lore, that’s going to be coming back from the game to the sort of core of D&D, that might influence future tabletop stories. It feels very collaborative, if this wasn’t part of my career it would be something I would be dying to know about, it feels like a very natural partnership.
Divinity Original Sin has been the spiritual successor of Baldur’s Gate, it has the same agency, you can do so many things in different ways. From talking with both Larian studios and Wizards of the Coast, this seems to be a match made in heaven. Baldur’s Gate 3 appears to be in very good hands, not only taking inspiration from the previous titles, but adding their own uniqueness with their story as they plan together the next great adventure.
If you enjoyed this interview be sure to check out the Baldur’s Gate 3 wiki which will keep you up-to-date with all the latest information as it unfolds.