Short Thought: Baldur's Gate 3 Party Management
Baldur's Gate 3 is one of this year’s biggest games, and it is, without question, a critical success. I’ve never played an RPG quite as absorbing as this one, to the point that I haven’t thought about any of the other new releases I was playing before its launch (sorry, Final Fantasy XVI). There’s just so much it does well, from supporting a wide variety of playstyles to offering a rich narrative experience. The combat encounters in particular are engaging and kick my butt constantly. And I keep coming back for more! But if there’s one thing that lacks the level of polish Larian Studios has given other areas of gameplay, it’s the clunky and tedious party management system.
In BG3, you can have four characters in your party — you and three other party members. Unless you’re as attached to Shadowheart and Karlach as I am, you can come up with a number of different team compositions, swapping out members when you’re at camp. Whether for quest reasons or to test out a combat strategy, you’ll frequently need to decide who stays behind and who comes with, which should be simple. Except it’s not.
Say I want Astarion to sit pretty at camp for a day. I’ll have to initiate a conversation with him, choose the dialogue option to remove him from my party, endure a guilt trip about my unwise decision, and then confirm again that I don’t need him to come with me. You’d think I just kicked best boy Scratch off a cliff, judging by how upset these characters get when I temporarily don’t need them. It’s a tad dramatic, and I’m a chronic people-pleaser, so I usually feel terrible! Then, I have to run over to whichever party member I want and start yet another dialogue sequence just to get them into my party.
This becomes more annoying when you’re just switching up your group to manage their individual inventories and equipment. It’s one too many conversations and guilt trips for my liking, unnecessarily slowing the process down. If your entire team is in the same location, I think it makes sense to give you access to everything in one go. It makes me miss Dragon Age: Origins' system, where you’d page through everyone’s character sheets, manage a communal party inventory, and select who joins you when you’re about to leave camp.
Sometimes simplicity beats immersion, and Baldur’s Gate 3 could definitely benefit from more seamless party management. Leave the dialogue for questions, lore, and, of course, flirting! Maybe if I roll a 20, Larian Studios will change this in Patch #3…