Tag Archives: Baldur’s Gate III

2023 Seems Cool So Far

While malformed and incomplete, 2023’s release schedule is already looking pretty impressive full. In the first few months alone we’re getting highly anticipated titles like Forspoken, the Dead Space remake, Atomic Heart, Octopath Traveler 2 and Destiny 2: Lightfall. While I don’t necessarily care about those games, other people seem pretty jazzed about it. But hey, let’s take a look at the announced titles that I actually am looking forward to thus far.

Hogwarts Legacy

I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest fan of the Harry Potter films or books, but even I can appreciate the atmosphere of the source material enough to want to play a game set in that universe. Considering Hogwarts Legacy is set around 100 years before the events of the film, I feel like I can get away with playing this game and not feel like a sucker for not being a diehard fan.

Based on the trailers, Hogwarts Legacy is visually impressive and certainly nails the feeling of kicking it in that old, wizardly castle that we all know and love. It also looks like its got a speedy and mechanically satisfying combat system coupled with some cool in-world RPG trappings, mostly surrounding making and learning new wizardly abilities by taking their respective classes, which to clarify all sounds pretty rad to me.

Outside of a trailer or two, I haven’t really kept up with much of the marketing blitz or promotional materials which has allowed me to live in blissful ignorance about whether or not Hogwarts Legacy is actually going to be the game for me. The one thing that does worry me and give me pause about actually buying the game surrounds J.K. Rowling being a miserable transphobe who monetarily benefits from my purchase, along with the fact that the lead designer has a history of being a shithead. I’ll wait and see how this one reviews when it eventually launches on February 10th, 2023, but I don’t know if I can justify a purchase.

Wild Hearts

On paper I really like the main conceit of the Monster Hunter franchise, but in practice I’ve found them to be clunky and unsatisfying to play. I know that I’m in the minority with those complaints but they’ve always been obstacles that have kept me from enjoying this wildly popular franchise. I’m hoping that the upcoming Wild Hearts can scratch that long unattended monster-hunting itch for me with what looks like much faster and more action-oriented combat.

The idea of teaming up with friends and setting out to hunt down some monstrous prey is extremely tantalizing as is, but Wild Hearts looks to blend in some light tower defense elements into the mix which if done well, could be a real game changer. In my mind I’m imagining a game that isn’t just about tracking creatures down, but also setting up traps and acting on what you’ve learned about said creature to use its natural instincts against it. I assume that’s something that happens in Monster Hunter, but I’ve never played long enough to know for sure. I also am well aware that this being a game about hunting legendary beasts, there might be less natural instinct to work against and more ancient magic or whatever.

If the combat and the tower defense mechanics actually deliver on their promise however, Wild Hearts might be the first monster hunting game I end up enjoy playing. Lastly, and this is a minor quibble, but if the menus in this game could be more straightforward and less of an Eldritch mystery that requires a damn cypher to decode, that would be huge for me. Wild Hearts is slated to release on February 16th, 2023, potentially becoming the second video game I end up buying in a six day period.

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

While not perfect, Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order was one of the best pieces of Star Wars media I’ve consumed in the past few years and a fun game to boot. The characters were likeable, the gameplay was tough but satisfying, and the story, while underdeveloped, was still filled with interesting and surprising moments filled with nods to deeper Star Wars lore for the hardcore fans.

Hopefully Star Wars Jedi: Survivor will build upon its solid foundation, adding in more variety in both lightsaber and force power combat, the latter of which in my opinion should resemble the Stormtrooper flinging simulator that was Star Wars: The Force Unleashed. Judging by preorder bonuses, it also looks to address the pitiful lack of customization options of the previous entry by offering more character skins that aren’t just color swaps of the tunic you’re wearing.

My only real fear here is that Star Wars Jedi: Survivor leans too much into its ‘souls-like’ or ‘masocore’ inspirations, tweaking the difficulty curve to be more inline with other games in the genre. Hopefully with it being a licensed game of one of the most popular franchises ever, the game will boast a wide variety of accessibility and difficulty options that’ll let even a casual like myself enjoy it. Guess I’ll find out when it releases on March 17th of 2023.

The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom

I feel like I really shouldn’t have to explain why I’m excited for The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom considering its predecessor is probably one of the greatest games of all time, but I’ll give it the ol’ college try.

I’ve never been a big Zelda guy, but Breath of the Wild was such a phenomenal experience that dropped you into a painterly version of Hyrule with the simple goal of ‘stop Ganon.” You could always look toward the castle to see wisps of his menace swirling around and encompassing it just begging for you to come and square off against the horrors within. But before you’d even attempt to tackle that, you could see seven other interesting places to explore, all of which led to several more.

Breath of the Wild represents the pinnacle of motivating the player to explore their surroundings and all I can hope for from a sequel is more of that. More places to see with more tools at my disposal to explore them. I’d also super love to not have to worry about weapon degradation anymore. I know that’s a common complaint and hot debate topic amongst fans, but for once I’d like to see Nintendo give a shit about their players and offer some accessibility options, specifically one that lets me use the Master Sword as much as I want without having to go through hell to do it. The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom allegedly comes out on May 12th of 2023, but I won’t hold my breath.

Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League

I’m not gonna sit here and pretend that I’m a big fan of the Suicide Squad or anything, but I’ve certainly been won over by what little I’ve seen Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League. Granted, there hasn’t been a ton of gameplay or anything for me to reference, but I trust Rocksteady Studios’ ability to make compelling gameplay so much that I’d play a game solely about Calendar Man if they made it.

In Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League, you play as one of 4 members of the Suicide Squad, Harley Quinn, Deadshot, King Shark, or Captain Boomerang, as you square off against a Brainiac controlled Justice League that’s doing some real nasty shit. I don’t know too much more about it other than it’s cooperative, but will fill in computer controlled allies where you need them which will come in handy when you can’t find anyone to play as Captain Boomerang, a character I know nothing about aside from his dumb name.

I’m excited to play this game because I’m a big fan of the Arkham games and trust that Rocksteady is going to make something that’s fun to play. As long as they don’t add some boring but mandatory Batmobile-tank battles to Suicide Squad: Kill the Justice League like some other Batman games, I think it’ll be a great time. They say it’ll be out on May 26th of 2023, but I’ve been lied to before.

Baldur’s Gate 3

This one’s interesting because I’ve already played Baldur’s Gate 3 back when it released into early access approximately 14 years ago and liked it despite its rough, buggy busted-ness. I made the conscious decision to not play it until its full release because every major update brought with it a wipe of save files and I didn’t want to deal with that, so I just put it back on the digital shelf so it could marinate longer.

But now Baldur’s Gate 3 has a projected release window for August of 2023, and once it does I’m fully anticipating losing a lot of hours of my life to what might become the best Dungeons & Dragons video game of all time, depending on who you ask. I for one have high hopes for Baldur’s Gate 3 because it represents the first real turn-based RPG I’ve ever really enjoyed, which is a colossal feat in itself.

The biggest thing for me about Baldur’s Gate 3 is that it’s using the 5th Edition rules, and since I’m fairly well-versed in those I’ve had a much easier time playing this genre of game without essentially having to learn two games at once. I just want a good way to play D&D without having to be a DM or even finding a group, and Baldur’s Gate 3 seems like it’ll fill that void for me.

Marvel’s Spider-Man 2

I really enjoyed both Marvel’s Spider-Man and Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales, so being excited for their inevitable sequel doesn’t seem like that much of a stretch. Insomniac Games already proved that they know how to make a mechanically sound Spider-Man game that can also deliver a compelling narrative, and that’s kind of all I want out of a sequel.

A lot of folks are clamoring for some sort of cooperative play between Miles and Peter, which would be cool for sure, but isn’t something that I need from Marvel’s Spider-Man 2. All I want from the sequel is a little more variety, both in terms of main story missions and side quests. Sprinkle in some new abilities and costumes, and you’ve got yourself a solid follow up to one of my favorite games of 2018.

But therein lies the exciting part, cause I don’t know what Insomniac could do outside of the things I’ve already listed in order to top themselves. I’m sure they’ve got something wonderful cooked up for players, but I’d sound stupid even attempting to predict what that could be. Sure I could theorize payoffs for the last game’s cliffhangers, but I’m more excited about what mechanical changes are implemented. I suppose I’ll find out at some point in 2023.

Mina the Hollower

For those unaware, Mina the Hollower is the next title from Yacht Club Games, makers of the tremendous Shovel Knight series. If Shovel Knight was their Mega-Man, then Mina the Hollower looks to be their Legend of Zelda: Link to the Past, which an incredibly exciting concept to me.

Full transparency: I backed Mina the Hollower on Kickstarter because it not only looks dope as hell, but is being made by a studio I trust. What really sold me in its initial pitch was the core mechanic of digging through the earth as a quick means of transportation, hence the ‘Hollower.’ That coupled with the variety of weapons, enemies and zones in the world made it really easy to throw 20 or 30 dollars at this unfinished product.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m not really a Zelda guy, but as I’ve essentially screamed at the top of my lungs twice already, I think Yacht Club Games could be the ones to finally make that math work out for me. It doesn’t have a concrete release date just yet, but they’re aiming for 2023 at the moment, but something tells me that date wont stick.


Call it wishful thinking or misplaced optimism, but I really hope that Starfield is good. My feelings about Bethesda as a competent game maker aside, I would love for a good sci-fi RPG cause I haven’t had one of those since Mass Effect was set in the Milky Way. I guess The Outer Worlds was pretty good, but it didn’t really leave a lasting impression despite really enjoying it at the time.

What excites me about Starfield is the fact that it’s a fresh start in terms of lore. Despite enjoying some of the Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, I could not tell you much of anything about that world because of how dense the lore was. I can’t say for certain, but it definitely felt like I was missing a lot of context for the universe by not following the series since its inception. Starfield represents a chance to get in on the ground floor and have Bethesda introduce not just myself, but everyone to this new setting.

Aside from lore, I just hope that Starfield isn’t as buggy and busted as some of its predecessors, a thing that most fans seem to find endearing for some reason. I also wouldn’t mind if the shooting was good. I get that it’s an RPG first, but there has never been anything less satisfying to me than shooting a character in the head being met with them just losing slightly more health. I mention this because as a sci-fi game, I would expect Starfield to rely more on gunplay than Fallout did, which I would hope would result in weightier combat, but what do I know? Those and other questions are bound to be answered when it releases sometime in 2023.

This list could have been a dozen or so more entries long, but these are kind of the big ones that I could think of from where I’m at in 2022. I’m sure a bevy of things will be announced and released as the year progresses that I’ll be equally excited for. There’s also the possibility that something on this list will slip into 2024 which would be insane considering most of these games already have been delayed. But hey, I’m sure we’ll talk about that stuff as it comes up during the year.

Blog: A Little Joy – 01/20/21

Everything is so chaotic right now and it’s insanely difficult to focus on anything outside of the ever growing train wreck that is American politics. Even now as I write this, I fear that by the time this article goes live some horrible bullshit will have happened. I pray that everything goes smoothly and America doesn’t collapse in under its own weight, but literally anything is possible these days. But at some point I can’t keep staring at the wreckage and need to focus on things that make me happy. So here are some of the distractions I engaged in last week that brought me joy.


During my Game of the Year 2020 articles, I mentioned at one point that I wanted to check back in with Baldur’s Gate III and see how it’s evolved since receiving a few patches. Considering I had to restart the game because all previous version save files were no longer compatible, I trudged through the prologue once more and made it back to the first real explorable area. I can’t really say that I’ve noticed many differences in performance or features, but admittedly I’m still very early on and haven’t quite had the chance to really see the majority of content available in the game. They did fix the camera though, which is absolutely huge and was one of bigger issues with Baldur’s Gate III when it launched into early access late last year.

Even though I’m really enjoying playing Baldur’s Gate III, I’m still struggling with the idea of whether or not I want to dedicate too much more time into it. Considering it is an early access title, I can only imagine that save files are going to be in jeopardy a few more times during the course of development, and I don’t know that I want to play through that prologue more than I have to. It’s a decent enough tutorial level but I’ve already played it like 6 times at this point, so I might still wait on that. But in the meantime, I could always dip into Pillars of Eternity or Tyranny to get my CRPG fix.


The rebooted Hitman series of games that started in 2016, have become some of my favorite and most anticipated titles with Hitman 3 being no exception. Technically the game doesn’t launch until the day that you’re reading this, but knowing that I’ll have a Hitman game to distract me from whatever misery may come tomorrow is good enough for me to mention it. I think what I love about the series the most is how it makes you have to improvise and adapt on the fly, dashing all of your well made plans into pieces because some guard walked around a corner for the first time ever and spotted you choking the life out of your target. But that’s why you get a cool gun.

I don’t know if Hitman 3 will be any good, but the early reception on it seems overwhelmingly positive. I’m really looking forward to getting to play this one whenever the download finishes.


I didn’t expect to be this into a superhero themed TV show, but here we are. WandaVision is an insanely cool take on the Avengers characters of the same names, placing them in this incredibly weird and unsettling version of a 50’s/60’s sitcom. It’s like watching an episode of I Dream of Jeannie that occasionally does its best impression of a psychological thriller, which doesn’t sound like a great fit on paper but it totally works. While the first episode left my partner and I both unsure of whether we wanted to stick with the series, the second episode really got its hooks into us. Or maybe it just hooked me and they were being nice. Who can say?

All I know is that WandaVision is so far one of the coolest things that Marvel has done with one of their properties. My only concern is how well it will actually stick the landing. As of now, I have some ideas and theories about what’s happening or where this is all going, but it does feel like one of those stories that could end with a lame twist like saying it was all a dream or something. I don’t think that WandaVision will do that, but you never know. Regardless, we’re gonna keep watching the show.


This one shouldn’t be surprising in any way, but it might be the biggest thing that’s brought me joy over the past few weeks. See, we recently decided to ditch our previous campaign in favor of one that was in a less boring setting. We landed on the Eberron setting, which is basically a magical version of the steampunk aesthetic that’s infinitely less insufferable. One of the biggest motivating factors for the change was the lack of any of the slice of life stuff that people usually engage with when playing a role-playing game. Our last setting didn’t have any real opportunities for the players to do anything outside of killing stuff and drinking ale, which made for a formulaic and uninspired game. I don’t think they minded it as much as I did, but I sensed a bit of fatigue with the module we were using. Also, I was fucking over it.

But that’s not the point. The point is that our campaign is set in a massive city that’s teeming with life and opportunity. We went through extensive character creation sessions where we really defined who their characters are. This was in service of not only creating fully realized characters, but to get my players invested in their avatars and understanding their motivations. Previous characters they made definitely wanted things, but without a setting to support those desires their characters were just walking murder-husks, devoid of any real direction.

I also changed our storytelling format to allow for more downtime and opportunities for their characters to grow through their actions. By using a combination of one-shots and custom campaigns, I’m able to hit them with story threads when they need it, and allow them to fuck around if they’d prefer that. It also allows me to react to their actions better than if I had tried to plan for said actions in advance. Everything about this campaign has been streamlined in a way that has taken a lot off of my plate. While I have a bunch of one-shots that are narratively linked together, an overarching story is something that’s entirely up to them and how they interact with the world. I might write in a bad guy here or a mission there, but I’m waiting for those plot hooks to come up naturally rather than me trying to force my players into it, all of which has made for a much more rewarding and fun Dungeons & Dragons experience for all of us.

So that’s it I guess. Hopefully when you read this, everything is cool and great. I would really prefer if we could just have something uneventful happen here at the finish line and I can go back to talking about video games without having to worry about if the former president is going to try and overthrow the government again. But yeah… good luck America. Good luck everyone, honestly.

Blog: Exhausted – 01/13/21

I don’t know that I necessarily have the words to properly describe my feelings about the events of last week, nor do I know that I want to go into too much detail about it. In short, it’s been extremely difficult to watch my country rip itself apart at the behest of a sore loser who refuses to believe that more people told him to go fuck himself than those who begged for him to stay. Things are bad right now, and with the ongoing threats of violence all around the country planned for the next few days I think we’re all kind of just hanging in a limbo and waiting for whatever is coming to finally arrive. It’s times like these that I’d normally try and turn to my hobbies to distract myself from the hourly misery that’s been foisted upon us, but there hasn’t been a video game that’s done that for me in the past few months.

But where video games have failed to do the trick, I’ve found myself diving into the various Dungeons & Dragons books I own in an effort to flesh out my next campaign. I’ve been doing a ton of world building and story crafting which has been a lot of fun for me as well as a welcome reprieve from the world I live in. Not to say that any of the stories inside of those books are particularly happier than those that take place in the real world, but I guess it’s just easier to disassociate when they’re talking about goblins and orcs.

One of the things that bums me out about this period of ambivalence I’m in, is that there are games I want to play but never have the energy or will to actually start. For instance, I haven’t played Baldur’s Gate III in a few months and that game has received some significant updates that I’m eager to check out. I’ve also had the PC port of Horizon Zero Dawn installed for quite a while, but I still haven’t launched the damn thing. Ideally I’d like to play that game before the sequel drops at some point this year. There are quite a lot of games that I really would like to spend more time with, but I just rarely have the energy or desire to actually do so.

The only thing I dip into regularly is NBA 2K21, a game that is literally just a way for me to occupy my hands while I watch or listen to something in the background. It’s a comfort food that’s going down real smooth these days, especially after what happened at the capitol last week. I’m just kind of using that game as a way to turn off my brain for an hour or so but I still have a ton of other games I really want to play. There’s just no motivation for me to dive into something new.

Look, I know these blogs have been overly dour and a bit more rambling in nature than I usually opt for, but it’s hard to write about video games right now with all of this shit going on. But I’m sticking it out the best I can, and I hope you’re doing the same. Be good to each other folks, and be safe.

Game of the Year 2020

Welcome to 2021, a year that I will set no expectations for because we all saw how well things turned out in 2020. But before we leave 2020 to rot in it’s rightful place in the universe’s dumpster, let’s bid one last farewell to the worst year I’ve ever experienced by celebrating the games that got me through it.

It took a long time and a lot of effort to get to a place where I could even list ten games I truly enjoyed this year, partly because nothing really stood out to me for most of 2020, and partly because the year itself was a debilitating nightmare that not even video games could distract me from.


Every year I find myself dipping into the latest entry in the NBA 2K series and pour hundreds of hours into it, and NBA 2K21 is no exception. It’s like this nice bit of comfort food that I can just dip into and have a decent time with my favorite sport as I live out my wildest fantasy of making the New York Knicks a good team. I never participate in the more exploitative modes that try to milk you for money in order to boost your stats or wear a cool hat, but I still have a bunch of fun just running through a couple of years of the franchise mode, adjusting rotations and negotiating contracts and whatnot. There isn’t much else to say about the game otherwise. It’s a solid basketball simulation that manages to consume a lot of my free gaming time throughout the year, which is enough to make it onto this list in some capacity.


Risk of Rain 2 opens up this list not just because I think it’s a good game worth sinking a couple dozen hours into, but because it was one of my favorite multiplayer experiences from this year. It’s one of those games that if I had played it on my own I’d be completely lost thanks to its large levels of inscrutability and ultimately back away from, but when I had some friends acting as my Risk of Rain 2 navigators, I found it to be an overwhelmingly good time.

The game itself is a tough as hell rogue-like shooter that is relentless in how much it throws at you. Eventually you reach a point where you’re inundated by items and abilities that don’t exactly explain themselves well, but thankfully I had people around me to help fill in the gaps. Aside from Risk of Rain 2 just being a really well made game that really shines when you play with friends, the soundtrack is amazing. It’s this incredible progressive-rock soundscape that washes over you while you play it and is quite well done. If nothing else, you should listen to the soundtrack.


When I think about the absolute misery that was 2020, it’s important to try and counteract the constant stream of negativity with the few moments of pleasantness I was able to find. Spiritfarer is a game that granted me some reprieve from the horrible world outside, by making me the shepherd of departed souls that’s been tasked with ferrying them to the other side. While that pitch sounds grim as hell, I assure you that the game itself is a heartwarming experience that provided an incredible story despite dragging in a couple of places.

The real thing that won me over in Spiritfarer was just how it looked. Everything about the presentation is warm and inviting, masking the reality of the task you have to take on as the titular Spiritfarer. You learn about the people you’re ferrying along and who they once were through talking to them and doing side missions on their behalf, most of which were really touching. It’s also got some farming simulation and management stuff in there to help break up the monotony with a different kind of monotony. But aside from some of the slower and less story relevant bits of the game, I think it is just a tremendous title that was well worth the time I put into it.


As an unapologetic lover of games that “simulate” relatively mundane professions, Hardspace: Shipbreaker was a particularly exciting blend of that concept and my love of science fiction. In Hardspace: Shipbreaker, you’re just a person whose job it is to break down and salvage derelict spaceships. Armed with some cool laser beams and a recently added explosive charge, you can really destroy your frame rate with how granular you can get when dissecting these floating behemoths. But it isn’t without some challenge, because one wayward cut could result in a catastrophic explosion that will obliterate much of ship along with any salvageable materials.

What I really enjoy about Hardspace: Shipbreaker is how it takes this fantastical world of accessible space travel and decides to focus on this mundane concept of just being a scrapper rather than some fighter pilot. It reminds me of all of those Star Wars side stories that focused on like a Death Star janitor or something. It’s also just an intensely satisfying and meditative experience to just get in there and slice a ship apart piece by piece while listening to a podcast or something.


If it wasn’t for Fuser, I don’t think I would ever have discovered my secret ability to create true auditory hell-scapes, and that’s a newfound talent that I’m incredibly proud of. But Fuser isn’t just about making nightmarish song combinations, it turns out you can actually make unlikely mashups of classic and contemporary songs that sound really good. That’s the power of Fuser.

I’ve always been really keen on making music but never really had the understanding nor the desire to dip my toes into the world of being a live DJ. I don’t foresee myself ever buying turntables or any of the other required pieces of equipment to live out that particular fantasy, but Fuser allows me to dip into that world without much prior knowledge needed. It’s an incredibly accessible and instantly fun, albeit a fairly thin experience.

Fuser more of a game I can dip into a couple times a year and have a blast with as opposed to a game I’d spend consecutive days playing, but that’s honestly fine by me. It’s also just a really fun thing to pop on and show friends, although that particular party trick will have to wait until I can once again entertain people. But till that happens, I’m perfectly fine being a DJ for an audience of one.


I don’t think many folks actually know about I Am Dead and its particular style of puzzle solving, but I would implore anyone who wants a fairly light and breezy puzzle game to check it out. Despite the overly morose title, I Am Dead is actually a really pleasant game with a heartwarming story. It isn’t overly difficult and doesn’t soak up too much time, clocking in at around 6 hours or so. I found the main puzzle mechanic of peeling back layers of the world to reveal hidden objects to be pretty satisfying without ever wearing out it’s welcome.

It’s also just a really pretty game to behold, with an overall aesthetic that can simply be described as colorful and endearing. It’s a delightful little game that I feel didn’t get its due when it released, something that I’d describe as criminal. I fear that going into more detail about the game would teeter on the edge of spoiler territory, so all I’ll say is that you should absolutely check out I Am Dead if you’re in dire need of a puzzle-based palette cleanser from this miserable year.


Baldur’s Gate III is still in early access and will probably remain that way for most of, if not the remainder of 2021, but it still deserves a spot on this list. The game itself launched in a pretty rocky state, but has only been improving as time has gone on. Many of the issues I had with Baldur’s Gate III when it launched into early access have been addressed or are at least on the list for tweaking, which is a great sign for someone like me who has no love for traditional CRPGs.

But therein lies the real reason why Baldur’s Gate III is on my list. See, up until it released towards the end of 2020, I very much wasn’t a fan of CRPGs and would even go as far as to say I had an aversion to them. But Baldur’s Gate III managed to capture my love for Dungeons & Dragons in a way that made me willing to give the genre one last shot. It turns out that all I needed to connect with this genre was a good entry point and Baldur’s Gate III gave me that. Now I’ve got like 4 other CRPGs in the backlog that I’m eager to dig into which might have been a little ambitious if I’m being honest, but it is what it is.

Aside from how Baldur’s Gate III basically opened up a world of new games to me, it’s just really fun even if it plays a little fast and loose with the rules of D&D. They recently patched in an update that fixed a lot of the graphical weirdness and camera issues that I had, but it also invalidated all save files from before the patch, so I’ve been putting off playing through the intro for a fourth time. But I truly think that when Baldur’s Gate III enters a 1.0 release, it will be a titan of a game. Even as is, the game shows so much potential both mechanically and in terms of it’s story. I just wonder how much time I want to put into it between now and then.


You awake in the middle of the night to the sound of your old timey telephone ringing. Since it’s like the 1930’s and there’s only one phone in your home, you throw on your nightgown and head into the room with the phone in it. You pick up the receiver and say “Hello?” That’s when you realize that on the other end of the call is no person, but the sea itself, calling to check in on you. Because the sea is in a different time zone they called you thinking it would be okay, but the sea realizes now that they’ve made a poor decision and are terribly sorry for disrupting your sleep.

So Call of the Sea is a really cool puzzle and adventure game that didn’t seem to get too much press, probably because it came out like two days before Cyberpunk 2077 did. But instead of playing that game, you should all play Call of the Sea instead. Call of the Sea is a narrative driven adventure game with some pretty challenging puzzles to solve, as well as a really intriguing mystery that unfolds and only gets wilder as you progress.

When I first launched the game I didn’t think I would end up spending too much time with it, but the story that kept unfolding around me was enough to keep me going to see it through to the end. I don’t really want to go in depth on where the story goes, but the setup is that you’re this woman who is heading to this mysterious island to find your husband and his expedition crew. They went in search of a cure for the mysterious disease that your character is afflicted with, but too much time has passed and your character is worried and decided to just find her partner on her own. Aside from the really captivating mystery of your missing husband and his crew, there’s a very touching love story that’s unfolding around you as your character recalls all the reasons why this man is so precious to her. It’s a very sweet subplot in a game that has a very haunting story, and I think it all comes together pretty flawlessly.


By the time June rolled around I was pretty sure I hated Animal Crossing: New Horizons, something that came as a surprise to me considering that like the rest of the world, it dominated every free moment I had when it launched. I feel bad for Animal Crossing: New Horizons, because I think a lot of people had that same trajectory with it. The truth of the matter is that it released as one of the darkest moments in human history was unfurling around us, thus thrusting it into this position of being everyone’s go-to game for both escapism and social gatherings. The problem is that Animal Crossing: New Horizons isn’t meant to provide you with long gaming sessions, rather, it’s a thing that’s designed for you to check in with once every few days.

But the pandemic just started an the world entered lock down, leaving us with nothing but the newest and cutest game out there to keep our minds off of the misery outside as well as keeping us all connected. Animal Crossing: New Horizons was a lifeline for so many people, myself included. My partner and had a lot of date nights on our islands in lieu of being able to actually see each other in person, and I’m thankful as hell for that. Animal Crossing: New Horizons is a really good Animal Crossing game, but might actually be better described as the most important game of 2020, similar to how Pokemon GO! was the biggest cultural event of 2016.

Around November I eventually found my way back to my island much to the delight of my little virtual animal neighbors, and I started playing it the way it was intended. Once I got into that rhythm with Animal Crossing: New Horizons, I started remembering why I was so taken with this series in the first place. It’s pleasant and charming and never aims to stress you out. It truly is the best foil to 2020 that we could have asked for, and for that alone it deserves a spot on this list. But because of how well made it is, minus some quality of life improvements that Nintendo just refuses to make for some reason (doing anything that involves the internet), it would have been on this list regardless of a pandemic or not.


What isn’t to like about Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2? It’s a fantastic remaster of two of the most beloved games of all time that was able to make good on how I remember those titles looking and feeling. From the soundtrack to the levels and challenges, everything was pretty much just how I remembered it, although I did appreciate how they went ahead and aged up the skaters to reflect what they look like now. Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 is really just a celebration of two classic titles that despite the efforts of some later and more mediocre entries in the series, never were overshadowed or forgotten.

It only took an hour or so for my muscle memory to kick in, allowing me to pull off some insane lines and combos that I would inevitably fuck up because I tried to do one too many rotations in mid air. You wouldn’t believe it, but I miss that particular brand of frustration. I remember being a younger man and bashing my head against so many of these challenges while listening to the first two minutes of every song on the soundtrack. I usually try to catch myself when something is trying to play off of my nostalgia in such an explicit way, but I fully embraced what Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 did to me and I’m much happier for it.


And here we are, at the number one spot chilling with Spider-Man himself. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is the refined version of its 2018 predecessor, Marvel’s Spider-Man. That game was fantastic, but Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is even better. It’s story is emotional and moves along at fast enough pace that you don’t feel like you’re ever losing the plot. It also cuts out a lot of the bloated side content that existed in Marvel’s Spider-Man, but isn’t completely without some truly lame side missions. That just seems to be a pitfall of most open world games though.

But Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales wastes no time in letting you bounce around the city as a much more competent Spider-Man, circumventing the need to spend upgrade points on essential traversal abilities. From the jump you’ve got way more combat, stealth and traversal options at your disposal, and Miles has his own unique set of upgrades to work with that make him feel very different from 2018’s Peter Parker. The game as a whole manages to skirt the line of being a “Spider-Man living in the shadow of Spider-Man story”, by making it obvious that Miles is his own character and his struggles both as Miles and Spider-Man are just as important and impactful as anyone else’s.

I truly loved the time I spent with Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales and basically devoured it within the first few days of its release. Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is a truly fantastic game that tells its story incredibly well and efficiently, is mechanically rewarding and engaging, and it doesn’t even cost as much as a full priced title. It’s a truly exquisite game that every Spider-Man fan should play. For all of those reasons and more, Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales is my game of the year for 2020.

Well that’s it I suppose, another year in the books. Thank goodness. I’d like to personally thank you all for sticking with me this year and reading the things I write, it truly means more to me than you could ever know. But that’s it y’all. I hope your 2021 is demonstrably better than 2020, although that can’t be too high of a bar to clear. Thanks again everyone.

Gut Check: Solasta Crown of the Magister

Not so long ago I wrote a lengthy piece about my issues with the state of the early access release of Baldur’s Gate III. Without rehashing that entire article here, the main crux of it focused on the mechanical liberties Baldur’s Gate III took with the rules of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. My initial thought was that translating the rules of D&D into a video game would naturally require a ton of concessions, however another CPRG named Solasta Crown of the Magister recently entered early access and proved that theory wrong.

Solasta Crown of the Magister is a turn-based, isometrically viewed, party-focused RPG that might not have the best presentation, but impressively implements the rules of D&D in an easy to understand fashion. It’s actually been quite refreshing to be able to jump into a CRPG and know exactly what I’m doing for once, because usually it feels like I’m trying to learn a new language with these types of games. Solasta Crown of the Magister uses the SRD 5.1 rule set to great success, managing to appeal to veteran players of D&D without compromising accessibility to new players, and that’s something that deserves to be praised.

When you start Solasta Crown of the Magister, you can build an entire party from scratch or use some of the pre-generated offerings if you like. When building a character, you can choose from 8 playable races which include specific race variants (i.e. High Elf & Sylvan Elf), 8 backgrounds and 6 character classes. You are walked through character creation step by step, letting you know everything from what a particular god is all about, what benefits a certain background might grant and much more. I genuinely love the process of creating a character and think it’s fantastically well done, with the exception of how the character actually looks.

Therein lies my main hangup with Solasta Crown of the Magister. The actual appearance of your character is pretty rough. There’s only a handful of face and hair options to choose from which is particularly underwhelming for any role-playing game, but it highlights this hilarious imbalance between how mechanically sound the game actually is, versus the customization stuff. That point is only exacerbated by the facts that not only do the character models look very rough, but all of the NPC’s in the game are made from those same options. It led to a lot of moments where I’d see the same “dude with a beard” as both a quest giver, and a random bandit attacking me in the night. There isn’t any real variety for physical appearances, which desperately needs to be addressed.

But hey, it’s early access, and I honestly prefer having a mechanically sound game versus a pretty one. If I could mash up both Solasta Crown of the Magister and Baldur’s Gate III, we’d have ourselves one hell of a CRPG to contend with.

I also really appreciate that this game starts with your adventurers meeting in a tavern and sharing their stories (tutorial missions) about their journey here to each other. It’s a very funny jab at the fact that all good D&D campaigns start in a tavern, although it really tries to force some of your characters into specific tutorial boxes. For instance, my party is comprised of a paladin, a fighter, a cleric and wizard, all of whom shared their “tale of triumph” with one another.

The first tutorial taught me how to just move around the world via escaping a prison, the second taught me how to kill wolves and push them off cliffs, the third taught me how to utilize light, resting, and healing potions, and the final one was a stealth mission. Now, you may have noticed it too, but I don’t have a rogue in the party. However, Solasta Crown of the Magister made a decision and decided that my cleric was the perfect fit for the job. She handled it well enough, but I’m certain the rolls were weighted in my favor for the tutorial. It’s nothing game breaking by any means, but it certainly is immersion shattering when the game just decides on a character trait for the sake of a tutorial.

Once through the tutorial, you get your first chance at navigating dialogue situations. Each player was given a set of tags to choose from during character creation based on their alignment and background, which I believe (although I’m not certain) impacted who had a certain dialogue option to use. I didn’t see any dialogue choices in the traditional sense, but a tutorial tooltip made it sound like the game would automatically select the character with the highest stats to perform a particular dialogue skill check. But from what I saw in the first hour or so of playing was that each character just has one dialogue option to interject into the conversation. Hopefully this expands as I play more of Solasta Crown of the Magister, but as is, I do appreciate how every character is at least involved in the conversation.

Solasta Crown of the Magister really shines in a lot of different areas despite being pretty rough in the presentation department. The voice acting is hit or miss and the characters all look pretty bad, but it’s mechanically competent for a D&D video game. One of my favorite touches is how you’re placed into a visible grid when you enter combat, leaving no ambiguity about where you are or who you’re vulnerable too. Honestly, the user interface in general is much easier to follow than it is in Baldur’s Gate III.

Another really intriguing aspect about Solasta Crown of the Magister is how it’s structuring campaigns. From the looks of things, there isn’t going to be one overarching campaign that will occupy you for hours upon hours. Instead it looks like they’re going for a more anthology approach, with Crown of the Magister being the first playable campaign. It’s a really interesting approach that comes with its own set of pros and cons. For instance, I can see a really easy post launch support structure that just injects new campaigns into the game, but it also makes you wonder if you’ll get any of the inter-party drama that you would get from other games like romance options and new recruits.

Solasta Crown of the Magister is in early access, so my gripes with the game as it is are bound to change, but without a development roadmap to refer to, all I can do is speculate at this point. Most importantly, it should be noted that this comes from a very small studio that hasn’t shipped a game before and found their funding via Kickstarter, so their resources are a bit more limited. To expect Solasta Crown of the Magister to offer the same amount of features and intricacies that something like Baldur’s Gate III is implementing would be unfair, but in my opinion they’ve already tackled the hardest part by successfully translating the D&D rules into a video game. That alone might be a good enough reason to check it out.

Blog: Divine Intervention – 10/21/20

Change is good, isn’t it? Like, exhibiting personal growth and being able to look back and recognize that maybe you were a little too harsh on something just because you didn’t know any better and changing your opinion because of it is something to celebrate, right? That’s where I’m at with Divinity: Original Sin II, and I honestly couldn’t be happier to be wrong.

I don’t think I ever really hated Divinity: Original Sin II, rather, I would just write it off as a game that people other than me could actually enjoy. Hearing the rave reviews from critics and friends alike made it painfully obvious to me that the game was excellent, but it just always seemed like an experience that just wouldn’t resonate with me. Then Baldur’s Gate III entered early access, and everything changed.

I’m not going to reexplain everything I’ve mentioned in my previous articles about Baldur’s Gate III, so you can read those on your own if you’re so inclined. Instead, I’m just going to say that because Baldur’s Gate III managed to sink its claws into me, I was able to easily make the transition to Divinity: Original Sin II. Let’s be clear though, I want to play more of Baldur’s Gate III far more than any other game I own at the moment, but it’s so early and janky that I’d rather wait and play a similar, yet structurally sound game for now.

Divinity: Original Sin II isn’t a perfect game, nor is it scratching the exact itch that Baldur’s Gate III was, but it’s still a good time. I’ve been told numerous times that Divinity: Original Sin II has something of a difficulty spike towards the end of the campaign, but that’s why easy mode was invented.

Not only did I make the decision to not only play on the easiest difficulty, but I also opted to load the game up with mods to make it a more “interesting” experience. I’ve got custom classes and unique weapons falling out of my ass at this point with all the shit I’ve injected into the game, and I’m enjoying this play-through much more than my initial, mod-less one. And I can already hear the cries of, “aren’t you going to play the game normally?” to which I say, “no.”

I’m playing Divinity: Original Sin II in a way that’s enjoyable for me, and I have no interest in looking up optimal builds or guides that will basically tell me how to play the game step by step. I’d rather just wade into the game on my own terms along with the ability to summon any item in the game whenever I damn well please. Sure it isn’t the “intended experience” or whatever, but I’m happy with the version of the game that I’ve created called, “Divinity: Original Sin II: Ari’s Bastardized Edition.

Blog: Recap – 10/14/20

This week has and continues to be surprisingly busy for me, which hasn’t left me a ton of time to play the games I’ve wanted to. Alongside that, I’ve been neck deep in preparing and running my D&D campaign, which requires an alarming amount of time and dedication. I genuinely don’t know how people could balance that workload along with leading a normal, pre-pandemic life. But anyway, let’s recap the week.

First and foremost, Baldur’s Gate III was released into early access which was both exciting and extremely disappointing. While the game shows incredible promise, but in its current state it just isn’t the solo D&D experience I’m looking for. It did make me excited about a CRPG for the first time in my life. I suspected at one point that Baldur’s Gate III might be the game to do that, but I’m glad to see that “prophecy” fulfilled. I have no doubt that with time many, if not all of my issues with the game will be addressed in some way, but right now I’m taking it easy and letting the game marinate.

Aside from that, I tried out some demos from the Steam Game Festival over the weekend, and while some of them were okay, nothing really blew me away. That is with the exception of a game called SuchArt!. SuchArt! puts you in the position of one of the only, if not the only remaining human artist alive, which I think is because the robots that rule this universe are incapable of making good art or something. Robots will send you requests for art pieces that you need to fulfill to the best of your abilities.

What I really enjoy about SuchArt! is how despite its goofy premise, the tools at your disposal to make the art are surprisingly robust. There are several types of brushes, canvases, stencils and other art adjacent tools that may or may not actually be used in art such as hair dryers and Nerf guns that fire paint. It’s extremely goofy, but also very therapeutic and calming to play.

Outside of those two, I’ve played some more NBA 2K21. I enjoy it. It’s fine.

And yeah, it’s just been a lot of D&D prep work on top of all of that. We’re running the latest adventure module, Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, which is okay. I’m not a supremely experienced DM by any means, but there are some things in the book, and specifically more that’s missing from the book, that make the whole story feel disjointed and bolted together. There’s been a lot of tweaking I’ve had to do in order to make the story feel cohesive, which might just be a thing that DM’s have to do with these bigger campaigns, but I’m just uncovering that.

Oh, also, I voted. You should vote too. Oh, and wear a fucking mask.

Some Notes About Baldur’s Gate III

Before I dive into the bulk of this article, it should be mentioned that no video game could ever truly capture the Dungeons & Dragons experience solely because there are static limitations to any video game. You can account for a lot of things as a game designer and try to cater to dozens of styles of play, but no game could adapt to the wild and imaginative things that players regularly ask of their DM’s quite like a living, breathing person present. Yet in spite of all of that Baldur’s Gate III already shows incredible promise when it comes to representing D&D and is a game I’m genuinely enjoying.

Don’t get me wrong, Baldur’s Gate III is a technical mess at the moment but I know what I signed up for when I decided to buy a game that’s in early access. I’m not going to harp on the performance of the game too much, but if you’re curious about what I mean by a “technical mess,” I can summarize that really quickly.

In its current, fresh into early access condition, Baldur’s Gate III runs inconsistently, usually fluctuating anywhere between running at 20 fps to 144 fps on my machine. Lip syncing for the new “cinematic” conversations is basically non-existent, and graphical glitches from T-posing, duplicating NPC’s you’re actively talking to, and ragdolls going wild are common occurrences. That kind of stuff is all bound to be smoothed over during the course of their early access period, so I’m not worried about that.

With that said, there are some things I would very much like to see fixed, changed and improved that pertain more to how the Dungeons & Dragons rules are translated into a video game. While this article isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, it does represent the things that I have personally noticed. I really love D&D, but I wouldn’t consider myself an expert in its mechanics or lore, so this is truly just representative of how I enjoy playing Dungeons & Dragons.


In D&D you have a core set of skills like strength or wisdom, that as you pour stat points into them you’re granted a higher modifier. A modifier is the number you add to your roll or in some cases subtract from it, representing…well your skill at a particular ability. For instance, a rogue is going to be pretty good at sneaking around, picking pockets and doing cool flips, so their dexterity score and thus, modifier are going to be higher. Without just explaining the rules of D&D anymore than I already have, the rogue would have a couple of numbers they can add to a D20 roll in order to clear the difficulty class (DC) that represents how hard what they’re attempting is.

A DC of 7?

Baldur’s Gate III does this as well, but oddly enough reverses it. Instead of you adding numbers to a roll to clear a DC, all of your stats and bonuses subtract from the DC. It may not sound like a big deal, but after years of playing D&D it’s an incredibly jarring change. I suspect that the reason for this change is to make it simpler for new players with little to no experience with D&D to comprehend what’s going on. It’s obfuscating the math as not to confuse people and just have them focus on the dice roll itself, but that should definitely be something I can toggle on and off. As a player and a DM, I want to see those numbers.

Also, it just feels better to roll higher numbers than it is to roll low ones.


Considering that there isn’t really a DM in Baldur’s Gate III outside of a narrator who pops in regularly to make you feel like everything you’re doing is wrong, there isn’t much of a way to just perform random skill checks as far as I can tell. In D&D, if I find myself in an ancient library as a barbarian, I’m going to just sit back and contemplate how flammable these “books” as you call them, actually are. Yet if I’m a big brainy wizard, I’m going to be rolling arcana and history checks like they’re going out of style.

Half of the fun of playing D&D is being able to uncover clues or lore about the world through performing well timed checks. Being able to do a perception check when I enter a room or run a nature check on a potentially poisonous berry are just a sliver of ways that players get to feel powerful and useful as their characters.

There isn’t really any of that going on in Baldur’s Gate III however. The way that certain skill checks are handled is kind of bizarre and a little too passive for my liking. The only active checks I can perform are in dialogue situations, where I pick the line of dialogue that allows me to roll an insight or deception check. I understand this limitation in conversations because the alternative would be an colossal feat of programming. Allowing me to just roll whatever check I want in any and all conversations seems akin to asking Larian Studios to work on Baldur’s Gate III till the end of time.

But outside of conversations and combat, it’s just weird to me how pushed into the background a lot of these checks are. Almost every skill check that occurs while exploring is transformed into a passive check. I assume the game is rolling a dice in the background, but it’s still incredibly weird that I have no say over what check I’m rolling and when. I wouldn’t mind if there was some sort of “active DM” situation that would prompt me to roll a stealth check when I wander into a bad situation unwittingly. And if I do succeed on a passive perception check it would be nice to know what it is I noticed, because virtual Ari might see it, but flesh Ari does not.

While I’m bellyaching about the checks in Baldur’s Gate III, I wouldn’t mind if the game slowed itself down entirely to act like a DM. If there’s a trap I’ve wandered into, stop the game and bring up a menu that says, “hey, you fucked up and didn’t check for traps cause we don’t let you just do that, and now you’ve gotta roll dexterity saving throws for these party members. Good luck!” That’s the kind of D&D stuff I’m looking for from Baldur’s Gate III.

I think I just want Baldur’s Gate III to capture the feeling of sitting down to play D&D more than I want it to capture the world and lore. Sure those things are important to me, but when I ask for more transparency in dice rolls and checks, it’s because I’m trying to get that rush of playing D&D out of Baldur’s Gate III first and foremost.


This one is genuinely confusing to me, because it’s such an important part of the communal experience of D&D that its absence from the game is beyond odd. In D&D, your character cannot and should not be a skeleton key that can just do everything. Your characters are supposed to be flawed and fallible, which is why adventures travel in parties. The wizard may be a really smart magic-man, but he needs the fighter and her strength to defend him cause he’ll just get squished like a bug.

In its very early access state, Baldur’s Gate III seems to miss that mark by a wide margin. At the moment, my party has a cleric, fighter, rogue and a warlock, all with different skills and proficiencies that should work fairly well together. In combat, different skills and abilities work wonderfully together. Having the rogue shoot an oil barrel causing its contents to create a puddle under my enemies, followed by my warlock igniting said oil was a satisfying example of synergy, but outside of combat that isn’t really the case.

What isn’t in Baldur’s Gate III is an easy way to compare the skills and proficiencies of your characters without having to dig through a menu. So when I’m trying to break down a door or disarm a trap, I have to make an assumption on the fly of who to send to tackle said obstacle. Giving me a prompt or tool tip that just says like, “lock picking check” and then an ordered list of who in my party has the highest relevant skill for it would be nice.

But the most infuriating example of this is in situations where you have to talk to people. Baldur’s Gate III doesn’t do a great job of incorporating the rest of your party into your conversations. Sure, their lifeless husks will loom in the background unblinking while a man tells you the sad story about his brother or whatever, but they won’t help you in any way. For instance, if my character had a super low charisma score, I’d have to live with that every single time I entered into a conversation with someone. I wouldn’t be able to let the smooth talking bard (who isn’t in the game yet) do their thing and schmooze people over, no, instead Gronk the dwarf with a brain injury is going to ruminate on the income disparities that run rampant throughout the city of Waterdeep. That’ll fucking go well.

All I’m saying is, the adventuring party relies on one another for their talents and abilities, and I feel like Baldur’s Gate III doesn’t deliver on that in certain aspects of their game to varying degrees.


There are times in D&D where a player might have a plan in their mind that they try to enact, only to find out that mechanically it wouldn’t be possible. That’s the good thing about having a cool DM, they’ll let you know that your harebrained scheme isn’t going to work or they might even work with you to make that nonsense happen. What’s even cooler is when a DM let’s you rewrite your turn upon finding out that said nonsense isn’t going to work.

Baldur’s Gate III is not a cool DM and is a bit of an asshole when it comes to you being able to fix your mistakes. Now I’m not asking for Baldur’s Gate III to allow me to just try out spells on enemies till I get the result I like or anything, but I don’t think it would be a big deal if it let me undo my movement if I haven’t taken an action yet. With the camera and path-finding in Baldur’s Gate III being what it is, which is to say it’s bad, being able to undo your movement in your turn would be extremely helpful.

Too often I’ll find that I’ve wasted my movement, taken an opportunity attack, and ended up in prime position to be blasted by 3 wizards and an archer. All of this could be fixed with a simple “undo” button. To be entirely fair though, that button may exist somewhere, but lord knows I haven’t found it yet.


I never thought an isometrically oriented game could have so many camera and movement control issues, but here we are. It’s borderline maddening how many times I’ll try clicking on something that I can clearly see, only for my character to interpret “go there” as, “climb that mountain behind you.”

Part of this frustration has to do with the camera, which might function exactly like it did in Larian’s previous titles, but I couldn’t say for sure. But in Baldur’s Gate III, the camera does this cut away trick to reveal the area in front of and around you while dissolving any trees or natural coverings that would normally obscure you to account for whatever angle you’re viewing the action from. Think of how The Sims does it, where those things are still there, but you need to rotate the camera to see them again.

What Baldur’s Gate III does which has resulted in my great frustration, is allowing me to click on things that I can’t see. There was an instance where there was a natural stone archway that formed out of the side of mountain that had a road running underneath it. I made the mistake of stopping too close to the archway I suppose, which resulted in me trying to click further up the road to progress forward, but the cursor actually clicked the top of the archway that was dissolved away by the camera. I couldn’t see the thing I just clicked on, but my party tried to climb that archway with gusto.

Luckily for me though, there wasn’t an actively burning fire on the way up the mountain or else my party would have just charged right in there without any sort of self-preservation in mind. For instance, during the tutorial you find yourself in an area where fire is happening all around you and you need to kind of just walk past it. There’s a pretty large path to follow, but your characters only know of the most efficient route to get to where you clicked, which is barreling straight through regardless of what’s in their way.

The amount of accidental fire damage I’ve take in Baldur’s Gate III already is alarming, and I really hope the path-finding gets better cause I’ve already wiped my entire party because instead of running around the combat encounter, they walked right into and stopped in a puddle of grease putting them in prime roasting position. It was a nice present for my enemies I suppose.


Look, I don’t have a ton of experience with games like Baldur’s Gate III so I’m sure that a cluttered inventory and unorganized hotbar are just expected at this point, but the way in which Baldur’s Gate III “organizes” your spells is truly abysmal. For those who don’t know, casting spells in D&D is a bit of a process that involves making sure you have the spell slots available, picking a level, and then casting the spell and rolling its damage. If that didn’t make any sense to you, that’s fine, just know that Baldur’s Gate III makes finding your spells a chore.

Instead of giving me a list of spells I could cast and then asking me what level spell slot I want to burn on it, they just give you an icon for each spell at each level. Wanna cast magic missile at level 2? Well you gotta scroll through the hotbar to find the magic missile icon with a little roman numeral 2 on it. It’s painfully unintuitive at the moment, but I suspect it’s a remnant of trying to shove the D&D mechanics into Divinity: Original Sin II‘s engine.

Your spells are also just kind shoved into the hotbar all willy-nilly, something I think you can reorganize, but it crams everything your character can do into it with no organization. For instance, I have a fighter in my party who can perform strikes that can cause the fear condition in an enemy. I recently leveled her up in a way where she’s received some spells she can use as well. Instead of separating those skills into folders that are marked as “fighter abilities” or “cantrips,” it’s just all kind tossed in there for you to click through along with the myriad of spell scrolls you pick up, making combat kind of a slog when it’s the turn of a magic user.

In the same vein, the initiative tracker is absolute garbage and needs to be changed entirely. There are times where it’s supposed to be my turn, but then someone else just gets to cut in front of me for some reason. I’ve even had instances where a character I’m controlling will get two turns in one round. It’s bizarre.


I don’t want to be that guy or anything, but it sure does feel a bit like the enemies in Baldur’s Gate III are just kind of freestyling it when it comes to their abilities. I noticed this very early on when there’s a goblin attack you find yourself in the middle of. I’ve played enough Dungeons & Dragons to know the goblin stats pretty damn well, so I took notice when the goblin took more than 7 HP worth of damage and still lived.

Goblin – D&D Beyond

It’s a really weird an unwelcome choice to tinker around with the stats of enemies when you’ve got literal books worth of reference material to pull from. I understand the need to alter things to make them work in a video game, but this one seemed completely unnecessary. Now I can’t use the Monster Manual as my own personal strategy guide.


If there is one thing to me that is more damming about Baldur’s Gate III than anything else I’ve already mentioned, it’s that this game feels awfully similar to another Larian Studios game, Divinity: Original Sin II. I didn’t play very much Divinity: Original Sin II, but I sure as hell played enough to recognize it when juxtaposed with what’s supposed to be a game recreating the D&D mechanics. Aside from both games having a ton of visual similarity, there are two mechanics that I’ve personally seen that made me feel like I was playing a version of Divinity that was cosplaying as D&D.

First and foremost has to be the movement and map structure. I know it’s way more dynamic and interesting if you can have free access to just about anywhere on the map during a combat encounter, but for a game trying to present the rules of D&D accurately, there should be some sort of grid-based movement. In D&D, each grid block is supposed to represent 5 feet, which is important to know and be aware of considering how many things are tied to your precise position.

I hate this stupid hat, but it gives me +1 to dex saves

For example, I tried to set up this choke-point in a hallway that would effectively be a gauntlet of blades for the enemies trying to escape and alert their buddies. I managed to get 3 of my party members in what I assumed was stabbing range, but these enemies just found this sliver of daylight and plowed throw untouched like they were Barry Sanders or something. It’s things like this that make me yearn for some grid that confined movement or even an arrow I can point that’ll alert me about what I’m getting myself into if I move somewhere.

The other Divinity-esque thing I’ve seen is how much Baldur’s Gate III incorporates environmental effects and hazards into its gameplay. At first, the ability to knock over a bucket of water onto an enemy and light them up with a lighting bolt for extra damage seems awesome, but then you might find a pathway obscured by some fire and have to make the choice of burning a spell slot on it or not. These choices certainly come up in standard D&D play, but the frequency at which these hazards present themselves are a little too much for my tastes.

Like I said, I haven’t played a lot of Divinity: Original Sin II, but from my understanding you have less resource intensive ways of dealing with things like that than you do in D&D.


Okay this one is really just me being ridiculous, but I stand by the fact that it should be more fun to roll the dice than it actually is. Clicking a big die and watching the numbers change is fine and all, but what if there was like a physics driven dice I could roll? That would be a lot of fun for me, a simpleton who is easily amused by physics in video games. It would also make it feel more like I was playing D&D proper.

Despite all of my bellyaching about some of the mechanics in Baldur’s Gate III, I’m really enjoying it for what it is. It’s very early and I’m sure I’m not saying anything the developers haven’t already heard, but as someone who plays Dungeons & Dragons regularly these were just some of the things that stood out to me. I haven’t dipped into the multiplayer just yet due to reports of it being busted, but I look forward to giving that a shot once a few patches hit.

I know worrying about certain mechanics that are present in this current version of Baldur’s Gate III is premature at best, and I’m sure Larian Studios will make great strides over the course of their period of early access. It’s going to be a long time before Baldur’s Gate III fully releases, and by then I’m sure I’ll barely be able to recognize it as the same thing I’m playing now.

Ultimately, I might be looking for something that Baldur’s Gate III cannot or isn’t attempting to deliver on. I want that feeling of playing Dungeons & Dragons more than anything else. It’s a big ask for sure, but I feel like this is the closest I’ve come to getting to play a single player D&D game in the rule set that I know. I might take a break from Baldur’s Gate III until some more patches and fixes get implemented, but I can assure I’ll be reading the patch notes that come with every update just to see if it’s the right time to dive back in.

Blog: More Than Games – 09/23/20

Welcome to another fantastic edition of this blog where I sometimes talk about video games. Boy howdy are there a ton of video games I want to talk about this week, I’m basically swimming in rewarding gameplay experiences that I’m eager to discuss. It’s hard to convey sarcasm through a written piece, but that was all a big fib. I did a lie. No, this week has mostly been about me reading a book, hearing about how people are enjoying games I know aren’t for me, and watching the slow and steady erosion of our democracy continue unabated. So hell yeah, video game blog time!

Honestly it’s been a week of just reading through the latest Dungeons & Dragons module, Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden, and preparing to run that for my group. You can read more about what that process has been like in September’s Master of Disaster feature on “prepping,” but to quickly summarize, it’s been a lot of work and a lot of fun. It’s consuming most of my time these days but I’m enjoying the process of it all.

Rime of the Frostmaiden – Wizard’s of the Coast (Image Published on IGN)

Otherwise I’m just kind of watching people lose their collective minds over the release of Hades and Spelunky 2, two rouge-like games that I know aren’t for me. But seeing all of this praise being dumped on these games is making me feel like I owe it to myself to at least give them a shot. I’m really in a holding pattern until next week when Baldur’s Gate III enters early access and the desire to play other games will leave my body.

Oh, and there’s that clusterfuck of a “pre-order” situation that Sony and Microsoft both waded into unwittingly that’s been interesting to watch. For those who don’t know what happened, both Sony and Microsoft had some pretty rough pre-order snafus, with people even ordering the wrong Xbox in some cases. It was bad, and even though I literally just wrote about my wanting both Sony and Microsoft to delay their consoles, I still keep trying to get a PS5 anyway. Like, there’s barely anything to play on launch day as is, but I just want the new shiny thing! I can’t buy a 3000 series graphics card because I’d literally have to upgrade everything else in my computer to accommodate it so I want the funny looking PlayStation instead!

Image Credit – Forbes

But hey, all of that is small potatoes when stacked up against the deluge of bullshit that’s currently going on in the world. So do yourselves a favor, check your voter registration and make sure you vote on November 3rd. Seriously, it’s fucking grim out there and it’s getting worse every day.

Blog: Games-tember – 09/02/20

I cannot believe that it’s already September. This year has simultaneously felt like it’s taken forever and vanished in the blink of an eye. I personally love the fall and can’t wait until this muggy, humid, miserable heat fucks right off for a few months. Along with that shift in weather however, the fall comes bearing oh so many highly anticipated video games along with new consoles that arguably should be delayed. But let’s focus on the games for now with this short list of my most anticipated games of September.

NBA 2K21 – 2K Games

NBA 2K21 – 09/04/20

I wanna just get this one out of the way and get it over with. NBA 2K21 releases in a few days here and I’m all in for it. I don’t expect anything to change too dramatically in this latest entry, considering they never actually update the modes that I play. but in lieu of any real update to the modes I normally play, I end up buying every entry in the series just because I love basketball. NBA 2K21, like its predecessor, will be a game I end up dumping hundreds of hours into over the course of the year. For instance, I’ve put almost 700 hours into NBA 2K20, so I’d say that I can definitely get my moneys worth out of these games. I don’t expect it to be markedly better or worse than previous entries, I’m just a sucker when it comes to basketball games.

Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 – Vicarious Visions

TONY HAWK’S PRO SKATER 1+2 – 09/04/20

I genuinely don’t know if I even have dexterity to play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater anymore, but you can bet your ass that I’m going to try. Like a lot of people in my age group, the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series holds a special and borderline sacred place in my heart. I can still remember some of the mission specifics and optimal routes from certain levels in past games, and am especially eager to hear that classic soundtrack once more. Cause the only way to listen to Goldfinger’s “Superman” is during a two minute chunk where you’re trying to find a fucking secret tape. I look forward to revisiting these games for the first time in over a decade even if I’m destined to be terrible at them.

Marvel’s Avengers – Crystal Dynamics


I’ll be honest, I did not come away from the beta for Marvel’s Avengers with many positive things to say, but it’s just one of those things where I need to see how it turns out. I like the Avengers as heroes and would love nothing more than to play a good Avengers game that appropriately captures the feeling of working together as a super powered team. Do I think this game is going to capture that feeling or even be good? No, not one bit. But I would love to be pleasantly surprised and proven wrong. I’m definitely going to wait and see how people feel about it before I make a purchasing decision, but I’m still lured in by those big beefy lads and lasses in tights and fun costumes.

Spelunky 2 – Mossmouth

SPELUNKY 2 – 09/15/20

Look, I did not, do not, and probably never will understand why people enjoyed Spelunky so much, but I am curious to see how those people receive the long awaited sequel. Spelunky is often called one of the best games in a genre that I don’t enjoy (rogue-likes), so it’s not hard to understand why it was never for me, but I’d like to give it a shot and potentially see what all the fuss is about. Maybe Spelunky 2 will be the game that makes me a believer, or maybe it’ll be a big disappointment for all of the fans of the first game. I guess I’m mostly just trying to mentally prepare myself for when everyone I follow on Twitter starts posting nothing but videos and screenshots of how good they spelunked or whatever you actually do in that game.

Baldur’s Gate III – Larian Studios

BALDUR’S GATE III – 09/30/20

I’m pretty sure I’ve written 2 or 3 different articles about why I’m jazzed about a game that is historically part of a genre of games I usually hate. Like my previous features about Baldur’s Gate III posited, I just really like Dungeons & Dragons 5e and am eager for a way to get that fix on a more than weekly basis. I feel like I’ll also be more comfortable with this Baldur’s Gate III because I already understand the rules and mechanics of Dungeons and Dragons, so the learning curve won’t be as insurmountable. I never would have predicted that I’d be excited for a game like this, let alone consider it one of, if not my most anticipated game to come out this year. I have to temper my expectations however, because Baldur’s Gate III isn’t officially releasing this year, it’s just entering early access.

So that’s what’s on my radar for this month. Despite the large amount of delays that have cropped up this year, there’s still a lot to look forward to. But with the new consoles coming out within the next few months, September might be the last month big games can come out without being in the shadows of Microsoft or Sony’s shiny expensive boxes. Or maybe they’ll delay the consoles like they probably should, but that probably won’t happen.