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12 Games You Really Need To Play If You Love ‘Baldur’s Gate 3’
There's something for everyone in this list of amazing games that is, in fact, more than just 12.
When you’re in love, you can think about little else. She infects every thought. The glint of her eyes when she smiles. The way she looks at you from across the table. Her scent, somehow entirely hers, lingers in the air.
Sure, she’s part of a dark cult and has a legion of red flags warning you away, but still: Shadowheart has captured your heart and there’s not a damn thing you can do about.
Of course, I’m not merely referring to my romance choices in Baldur’s Gate 3, however much Shadowheart has ensorcelled my character. I’m taking about the game itself. Larian Studios has outdone itself this time around, expanding on everything that made their previous games so great, and giving RPG fans one of the best D&D video game experiences ever made, and certainly the best thing I’ve played in the genre in years.
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There are many reasons you might fall in love with Baldur’s Gate 3. The world is rich and beautiful. The stories you find yourself a part of are detailed and surprising. There’s a terrific cast of characters both in your party—all of whom are potential romance options—and inhabiting the world as NPCs. And the turn-based combat, based on a homebrewed version of 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, is engaging and a reasonably decent challenge. Best of all, the game doesn’t hold your hand, encouraging players to explore and take risks.
Maybe you’re an old-hand at roleplaying games, or perhaps you’re coming to Baldur’s Gate 3 as a genre newbie. Either way, if you’re at all like me and find yourself head over heels in love with the game, you’ll be on the lookout for other similar titles to play once you’re finished. The following list of ten games represents a wide range of different types of games. Some are more like Baldur’s Gate 3 than others. Some are more focused on combat, others on story. Not all are Western RPGs, either.
What I have not included is anything from the action-RPG genre (though admittedly at least one of these has action-based combat). I’m referring to games like Diablo and Dark Souls which, while RPGs, are much more focused on combat and loot and so forth. Obviously, these are worthwhile games to play (Dark Souls is one of my favorite games of all time!) but the list would go on forever without some rules.
In any case, without further adieu . . . .
One of the all-time greats, Dragon Age: Origins took everything that BioWare had done with the original Baldur’s Gate games, Neverwinter Nights, Star Wars: Knights Of The Old Republic and the rest of their impressive catalogue and made something better.
Origins was the culmination of years of experience, resulting in an RPG with rich characters, a whole new world to explore, exciting combat and multiple race/class combos that completely changed the course of the game. It’s a bit dated now (I’d love a remake!) but it’s still a must-play RPG and remains my favorite in the series.
Not long after BioWare fell from grace (that EA acquisition stings to this day) Polish Studio CD Projekt RED took up the mantle of RPG-maker extraordinaire. All three Witcher games are worth your time, but the third one is by far the most expansive.
While I admit to a certain fondness for Assassins of Kings and its more linear-yet-branching adventure, there’s no denying that Wild Hunt is a masterpiece and one of the most important video game RPGs ever released. It’s certainly much better than the Netflix show!
Before Larian Studios released Baldur’s Gate 3, the Belgian game developer gave us Divinity: Original Sin II. Of all the games on this list, this is the one most similar to what you’ve experienced in BG3, and it’s a remarkable game in its own right.
Many of the game’s systems and mechanics will be familiar, but it has its own unique world and cast of colorful characters, and plenty of quests to go on, monsters to defeat and all the weird, quirky stuff that makes this studio’s games so endearing.
Bonus: Divinity: Original Sin
4. Wasteland 3
Tired of Medieval fantasy? How about post-apocalyptic instead? inXile’s excellent turn-based sci-fi game will take you across a dystopian future United States that’s brimming with danger, excellent combat and so much more. Like BG3 you have an enormous amount of freedom to choose your own adventure, make plenty of mistakes, and experiment in every situation. You also have lots of guns.
Speaking of guns, if you want to dive even further into a future post-apocalyptic nightmare scenario, XCOM: Enemy Unknown brings the aliens. This is a game that does a terrific job combining turn-based combat missions with a base-management / resource-management system that is at once highly addictive and super stressful (but in a good way! Mostly!)
When I started XCOM way back in the day, I couldn’t stop playing. It was a problem. I was totally hooked, researching new guns and armor, managing my battalion, sending my brave soldiers into battle against the dastardly alien invaders. Just a wonderful game all around, even if it lacks the RPG elements present in many of these other titles.
6. Mass Effect
If you want some of the best companions in any video game ever made, look no further than Mass Effect, which now has a totally overhauled Legendary Edition to enjoy. This is BioWare’s triumph, its apogee, its masterpiece. Mass Effect is great in every way, but its primary strength is that of its wonderful cast of characters, both human and alien. There is nothing else like it in video games, and if you haven’t yet, go choose which Commander Shepard you’re going to play, hop aboard the Normandy and go explore the stars.
Obsidian Entertainment has made many great RPGs over the years, but I like Tyranny because it’s so unique. It plays a lot like Pillars of Eternity, which is something of a throwback to the Baldur’s Gate / Icewind Dale games of yore, but instead of playing the good guys, you play the villains. This game didn’t get a lot of attention when it came out, but it’s a diamond in the rough in my book.
Bonus: Pillars Of Eternity II
Valkyria Chronicles 4 is a turn-based JRPG set in a fictional WWII, set in an allegorical Europe. You command a tank unit as you push further and further into Imperial territory, managing your squad and laying down fire with your tank. Great tactical combat, a cool setting, and a visual novel format for the rest of the game outside combat.
Another JRPG, Persona 5 Royal is a tremendously deep, stylish, fun game about a group of high school students who become the Phantom Thieves of Hearts and go into mysterious “Palaces” that are essentially dungeons inside the souls of abusers in a quest to steal their hearts and get them to change their wicked ways and confess their crimes.
Along the way you spend time in the real world doing real world things like homework and sports and time dungeon-delving with your companions. Combat takes place in a turn-based format where you unleash the power of your Personas, powerful beings who wield a wide array of spells and powers. I realize that this all sounds super bizarre to the uninitiated, but it’s truly a great game—as is Persona 4.
10. Darkest Dungeon
Darkest Dungeon is not for the weak-spirited or faint of heart. It’s a brutal, bloody, madness-inspiring dungeon delver that aims to destroy you and your party of vagabonds at every turn. And it’s absolutely tons of (bleak, horrifying) fun.
The art-style is grimdark perfection and the turn-based combat is often desperately challenging, but always a fun puzzle to solve. Those of your adventurers lucky enough to survive will likely go completely insane in the process, but that’s the price to pay for glory. Or, if not glory, perhaps infamy.
I play Pathfinder with my tabletop gaming crew more than D&D, so I’d be remiss not to include at least one Pathfinder-based CRPG in this list. This one is the sequel to Kingmaker and improves on the first game in almost every way, from graphics to gameplay. I’m also very curious to check out developer Owlcat Games’s upcoming Warhammer RPG Rogue Trader, which will follow a similar format as a full-fledged, character-driven RPG set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe.
12. The Classics
I couldn’t leave out the classics but I didn’t want to dominate the entire list with them so: The original Baldur’s Gate games, Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights. All these classic RPGs are absolutely worth your time if you enjoy Baldur’s Gate 3. Enhanced Editions make them playable on modern PCs (though they still look rather dated).
This D&D Classics bundle includes Baldur’s Gate Enhanced Edition, Baldur’s Gate II Enhanced Edition, Placescape Torment, Iceind Dale, some DLC and soundtracks all for a steep discount.
Not a classic, but retro in the style of classics like Might & Magic, you might want to check out The Legend Of Grimrock and its sequel. Dungeon-crawling first-person turn-based, with that retro feel.
Finally, you should check out the Warhammer 40,000: Rogue Trader game from the makers of the Pathfinder CRPGs, Owlcat Games. It looks excellent, and is essentially the first full-fledged CRPG set in the Warhammer 40k universe. It releases later this year.