Baldur's Gate 3 has claimed a corner of my heart, and I haven't felt this way about a game for almost 10 years

Baldur's Gate 3
(Image credit: Larian Studios)

When a game truly resonates with you, it's like magic. The world around suddenly falls away, and everything clicks into place to keep you transfixed. You lose yourself to it, and find yourself at the same time. Maybe it makes you feel seen because of its exploration of a particular topic or theme, or perhaps it does something that grips you in an unexpected way, but for one reason or another, it begins to claim a corner of your heart. And for a while, it consumes you: you can't stop thinking about it, even when you're not playing it. When you reach the end, you're left with that singular bittersweet sting of knowing you can never experience it again for the first time, and if you're anything like me, you wonder if you'll ever feel this strongly about a game again. But what you are absolutely certain of is that you'll never forget it. 

I can still remember the first time I properly fell in love with a game. It was in 2010, the year before I went off to university, and after spending the better part of my summer with Ezio in Assassin's Creed 2, I was looking for something else to play. After digging through my family's collection of games, I spied a copy of Dragon Age: Origins on Xbox 360. 

Once the disc was in the console, that was it. I wasn't in Colchester anymore, sitting on the edge of my bed in the room I grew up in, I was in Thedas, fighting against the Darkspawn as a newly recruited Greywarden. From that moment on, I lived and breathed Dragon Age: Origins, consuming every piece of lore in the world, playing through it multiple times, and falling hard for the characters. The worldbuilding and storytelling completely drew me in unlike any game ever had before, and it opened me up to becoming the diehard RPG fan I am today. 

Following Origins, I fell head over heels with the games that followed with Dragon Age 2, and Dragon Age: Inquisition, and I became just as obsessed with the Mass Effect series along the way. It had been a long time since a game had cast the same kind of spell on me, but I once again found myself rediscovering the same kind of fervor for a game that first took hold of me in 2010 this year, and it's all thanks to Baldur's Gate 3

Falling for Faerûn  

Baldur's Gate 3

(Image credit: Larian Studios)

In the years that followed Dragon Age: Inquisition, I think I've always been searching for a similar kind of experience. I've been hungry for a new fantasy RPG that puts a focus on storytelling, choice and consequence, and includes romance options. It's a particular mixture of ingredients that speaks to me, but nothing has really filled the hole that Dragon Age left behind it in 2014. While I turned to Bethesda's RPGs in between, and have played many memorable games over the past decade, it wasn't until I first stepped into the Sword Coast that I began to feel myself get utterly swept away just as I had in Thedas all those years ago. 

But having only ever lightly dabbled in the realms of D&D prior to Baldur's Gate 3's release, I was somewhat apprehensive. Would I get on with the combat? Could I gel with the mechanics? How would dice rolls change the choice factor? Happily, a couple of hours into Larian's RPG would allay any fears I might have had, and before I knew it, the magic I had been seeking for so long was back again. When I wasn't getting lost in the Sword Coast, I was constantly thinking about it. What was left to discover? What if I do this differently? Who will I romance next? In fact, thanks to the myriad of choices you're immediately presented with, I was even plotting future playthroughs within the early hours, which is something I'd never done before. 

I already knew I was onto something special when I first met the cast of characters who join your side. What makes both Dragon Age and Mass Effect so memorable and special to me are its party members. Shepard needs their Vakarian, and Hawke, the Inquisitor, and the Grey Warden would have had a terribly difficult time if it weren't for the many loveable party members you meet along the way. I've always believed the companions in BioWare's lineup are the beating hearts of those adventures, and it's also true of Baldur's Gate 3. 

Baldur's Gate 3

(Image credit: Larian Studios)

Everyone is distinctly different and has their own reasons for being there, but getting to know them, and developing a romantic relationship if you so desire, brings added depth and heart to the experience of discovering Faerûn. On top of that, Larian's RPG serves up more opportunities to see new sides to its densely packed world by letting you actually play as the companions you can journey alongside. With so many possibilities open to me from the get-go, I felt the same kind of wonder and excitement playing Baldur's Gate 3 that I haven't felt since I role-played as a Grey Warden in Origins, or as Hawke in Dragon Age 2. 

When I think back to my first run of many in Baldur's Gate 3, it was a real learning experience - and I had plenty of blunders along the way - but I was completely absorbed by every encounter, scenario, and battle I faced. Just as Dragon Age transported me away from my bedroom in Colchester to a fantasy world, here I was, lost in Faerûn, enjoying every single minute. I wanted to unfurl every secret and peel back all the layers of the world, not unlike I wanted to read every piece of lore I could get my hands on about Thedas in Dragon Age. 

Last year, I wrote about how you never really move on from the games you love, and it's something I only believe more thanks to Baldur's Gate 3. Believe it or not, I've already lost count of how many playthroughs I've done since it launched on PS5 in September, but it's a game I've rarely stopped thinking about for a moment, even when I'm not right in the thick of it. And I know I won't ever really move on from it. 

Every now and then, you come across a game that reminds you of just why it is that you love games in the first place. They can make you feel less alone, bring you closer to yourself, and open you up to a world of possibilities; brimming with imagination and engrossing storytelling. Baldur's Gate 3 did all that and more for me this year, and I'm so thankful I've been able to recapture that special kind of magic all over again. 

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Heather Wald
Senior staff writer

I started out writing for the games section of a student-run website as an undergrad, and continued to write about games in my free time during retail and temp jobs for a number of years. Eventually, I earned an MA in magazine journalism at Cardiff University, and soon after got my first official role in the industry as a content editor for Stuff magazine. After writing about all things tech and games-related, I then did a brief stint as a freelancer before I landed my role as a staff writer here at GamesRadar+. Now I get to write features, previews, and reviews, and when I'm not doing that, you can usually find me lost in any one of the Dragon Age or Mass Effect games, tucking into another delightful indie, or drinking far too much tea for my own good.