Baulder’s Gate 3 launched almost a month ago, and many players noticed some significant differences between the first and second acts. Act 2 is much more linear than Act 1 and trades the first act’s fairytale atmosphere for a darker tone. This was not an accident, and one developer recently explained why Baldur’s Gate 3’s first two acts feel so different.
Baldur’s Gate 3 writer explains why Act 2 is so different
Lead writer Adam Smith discussed Baldur’s Gate 3 in a recent interview with GameRadar+, explaining the change in tone. According to Smith, the developers wanted Act 1 to feel like the start of an adventure. This meant giving players a sense of freedom, and an opportunity to experiment and decide what role to play. Act 1’s conflict is also deliberately vague, as players know little about the game’s antagonist. They know they need to get the worm out of their head, and have a general idea that the villains are looking for them. However, Baldur’s Gate 3’s main conflicts haven’t begun in earnest yet.
However, that changes when Baldur’s Gate 3 players begin Act 2. By that point, players should have a better idea of their character’s motivations and personality. This frees them to focus on the character’s primary objective. “So, you have a lot of choice space in Act 2,” explained the Baldur’s Gate 3 writer, “but it’s much more about ‘How do we handle these very specific things?’ rather than ‘What are we exploring, what are we learning?’” This is important to the game’s narrative pacing, as Act 2 should feel like the story is ramping up.
He also talked about how Act 1 gives players time to learn the game at their own pace. Act 1 is more of a challenge, testing them on what they have learned so far. Furthermore, Smith says that Act 2’s linearity keeps players from getting burnt out trying to 100% three equally massive zones. Smith acknowledges that some players will find the differences between Act 1 and Act 2 jarring. However, he believes the more focused second act was the right decision for Larian’s Baldur’s Gate 3.