The most satisfying experience in Baldur's Gate 3 is repeatedly losing a battle
Baldur's Gate 3 is the rare game where the act of losing a battle is genuinely perceived as an integral part of the enjoyment.In most games, it infur...
Baldur's Gate 3 is the rare game where the act of losing a battle is genuinely perceived as an integral part of the enjoyment.
In most games, it infuriates me to repeatedly meet my demise. I have a fondness for FromSoftware's RPGs, yet I never complete them, as I always reach a threshold where the joy I experience from exploring the world becomes outweighed by the anger I feel when I am repeatedly reduced to a pulp by a formidable boss.
However, there are certain genres in which I find repeated failure entertaining instead of frustrating. In 2016, I played The Last of Us when I was just getting back into the world of gaming after taking a few years off, and I hadn't played many stealth games before. I died so many times at the part where Ellie is on the sniper outpost that I could draw the layout of the outdoor shopping mall from memory at any time. Every time I replay TLOU, I breeze through this section because I remember its challenges like the back of my hand.
Stealth games are like that for me. In Hitman: World of Assassination, I've invested more hours than any other game, making attempt after attempt to perfect my assassinations and search for the most peculiar optional kills in the game. Turn-based tactical games engage the same part of my brain. While I get angry at a reflex-based boss battle defeat, a lost turn-based battle fuels my ambition to improve.
Baldur's Gate 3 has the same effect. Recently, I encountered a battle with two powerful beings called Death Shepherds and a whole horde of ghouls and ghasts (which appear like ghouls after having a constant diet of protein shakes). This took place along the mountain pass that leads from the map of the first act to the Monastery of Rosymorn or the Shadow Curse-infested lands. The encounter is designed as an ambush. You venture onto a path, and suddenly a horde of ghouls sprints towards you to harass you, while the Death Shepherds sow fear in your heart as they slowly approach. The Death Shepherds appear imposing, but they are even more terrifying in action, as they can effortlessly resurrect any ghoul you've killed. What's worse, they can resurrect each other.
I tried my usual tricks, like dropping a barrel of Firewine on the path, increasing the spread of the flames with grease, and then forcing all my enemies to traverse a corridor of fire. It was futile. As long as the Death Shepherds were close to each other, one could resurrect the other as quickly as I could kill them. I died multiple times before the obvious part of this sentence - being close to each other - finally became apparent.
The corridor leads to a forked road, with dirty paths branching off to the left and right. I finally realized what I had to do. Of course, my corridor of fire was still useful, but once they passed through it, I had to lure the two Death Shepherds in different directions. So, I sent a group of two people down the right path and another group of two people along the left path. They followed and were far enough apart to prevent each other from resurrecting. Defeating them was not trivial, but I managed to do it without any of my group members falling into the revival abyss.
That's what I love about Baldur's Gate 3. Regardless of how difficult a combat encounter is, it can be solved and even made easy through enough thought and consideration. When it comes to reflex-based abilities, I've always been stubborn. I make the wrong move so often that my muscle memory insists the wrong way is the right way when I finally do the right thing. But with a game like Baldur's Gate 3, I can practically evolve and improve with every encounter. Who cares if I die often in the process?