Now this is how you do a Winter of Not-E3 video game livestream.
I haven’t seen friends or family in any sort of natural or sustained way for months, the U.S. unemployment rate is only slightly below where it was during the worst months of the Great Recession, and hundreds are still dying every day of covid-19 while tens of thousands more get infected. Plus the U.S. Senate bailed for a late recess without doing jack shit about any of this, and meanwhile the 2020 U.S. Democratic National Convention began its first night by all but completely ignoring the historic protests against police violence that kicked this winter off (and are still going on).
So yes a video game livestream “panel from hell” feels about right, and Larian Studios — which is working on turn-based RPG sequel Baldur’s Gate III — delivered. Sinister skull paperweights? Check. Creepy glass vials lit by molten orange fluorescent lights? Also check. Creative director Swen Vincke sitting at the head of a long gothic table wearing gauntlets and a metal chestplate? Sure, why not.
And then there was this blood-soaked brain with tentacles standing on two chicken feet unfurling a long dialogue tree.
I haven’t been following the drip-feed of news around Larian Studios’ take on Baldur’s Gate a ton because I’m just ready for it to finally be out so I can play the damn thing for myself, which, as Larian helpfully revealed during the stream, I’ll be able to do when it hits Early Access on September 30. But it’s enough to know that the game focuses on mind flayers who have escaped from the Underdark and are trying to use their parasitic tadpoles to take over people’s minds. Sign me up.
Mostly though I just enjoyed Larian’s Summer Game Fest panel — yes, Mister Game Awards himself, Geoff Keighley, was hosting — because 2020 has been hell and so far, and this Baldur’s Gate III panel feels like the only games event that’s truly embraced the grim whimsy of it. I mean, sure, sometimes I like my video games to be an escape, sometimes I don’t, and other times I need something that effortlessly syncs up with my current mental state. It just so happens engorged brain-buddy NPCs are doing that for me right now.
You can watch it for yourself here: