I have finally solved the impossible question of how to play Baldur's Gate 3 with a partner
I had heard some unsettling anecdotes about people playing Baldur's Gate 3 together: arguments arising from conflicting decisions, stories going in ci...
I had heard some unsettling anecdotes about people playing Baldur's Gate 3 together: arguments arising from conflicting decisions, stories going in circles, frustrations with the challenging nature of the game leading to real-life tensions. Despite my love for Baldur's Gate 3, it didn't seem advisable to play it with a loved one. However, it appears that I am not wise. Wisdom is not my strong suit, as I recently asked my wife to play Baldur's Gate 3 with me. Fortunately, everyone else's concerns turned out to be unfounded.
My wife and I enjoy playing Dungeons & Dragons together, so I was aware of her existing interest and understanding in role-playing games. While she leans more towards the storytelling and role-playing aspects of D&D rather than focusing on optimizing stats and intense combat, I knew Baldur's Gate 3 offered a balance between both. I would be there to assist with gear and combat strategies. However, video games have always been a bit challenging for her. She tells me she likes them and she tolerates and occasionally enjoys watching me play different titles I keep up with. However, she possesses a unique combination of being highly competitive but not particularly skilled in gaming.
Since she doesn't play games frequently, it's evident that she's not an expert. At times, she needs to refer to the controller to understand the controls— that's her skill level. Even when we take turns playing something relatively easy like Spyro, she doesn't enjoy the skill gap that exists. She mentions a preference for Crash Bandicoot because it involves moving in a straightforward manner, but she often gives up halfway through because it becomes too challenging. Considering Baldur's Gate 3 is considerably more difficult, it was a significant risk to play together. However, up until now, it has proven to be a worthwhile decision.
At first, I created my own character as Player One, while she created her character and focused on controlling her own. I handled the management of Lae'zel and Shadowheart, equipping everyone with appropriate gear. I took charge of the conversations, consulting with her to determine what "we" should say. While navigating through the Nautiloid, her only contribution was asking about certain objects before accidentally triggering a bomb and taking damage. As we progressed through the complex corridors, I didn't hold much hope that our journey would extend beyond the Emerald Grove, let alone reaching Baldur's Gate itself.
However, she quickly adapted and grew more comfortable with the game. The next time we leveled up, she took charge of the process. She started leading the conversations and controlling the other party members. She made decisions regarding when to involve Gale and Wyll, expressing her lack of interest in Astarion. By the time we actually reached the Emerald Grove, I found myself merely following along as a background character with my own character. When we arrived at the Goblin Camp, I completely stopped playing my character. She took control of both her elven ranger and my dragonborn monk, while still keeping "me" in her party. It became her playthrough, with her as the main character, making all the choices and leading the way.
It's interesting how the co-op dynamic in the game has evolved. At what point does it cease to be a co-op game? My character is still present, and I continue to sit alongside her, watching her play and offering advice on spells and gear. However, by taking this approach, she can fully enjoy the game on her own, and I don't have to constantly trail behind her. I can still guide battles or even take over if necessary. I try not to give away too much in terms of decision-making, as I've already experienced it all before. Yet, I can subtly steer her away from unintended disasters, ensuring that it remains a shared experience between us.
It's interesting how the roles have reversed a bit. My wife would often mention the times "we" played games like Mass Effect, Final Fantasy, or the one with Keanu Reeves (likely referring to Cyberpunk 2077). In those games, I was the one playing while she watched, occasionally providing input for minor decisions. Now, the situation has changed, and I find myself in her position. Yet, we are still actively engaged in playing together, even though my role has shifted.
I'm unsure how long her interest in the game will continue. So far, she hasn't experienced any character death, and although I've been reminding her to save frequently, I'm aware that losing progress can be disheartening. I hope she never encounters a significant setback. However, she has been steadily progressing through Act One and has played for extended periods, which is more than what usually happens with other games she quickly loses interest in. It seems like I may have discovered the key to playing Baldur's Gate 3 with loved ones: to approach it in the same way they typically play games "with" you. Simply sit alongside them, quietly watching their gameplay.