Saturday, February 29, 2020
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that today, February 29, is Leap Day. You know, the day that comes about every four years because calendars and planetary rotations are weird. In any case, Red Dead Redemption 2 developer Rockstar Games definitely did not forget, and threw in a little treat for observant cowboys and cowgirls in the game’s online mode.
First spotted by Reddit user Moonshiner, a list of daily challenges popped up in Red Dead Online tasking players with, well, leaping a whole bunch on Leap Day.
Challenges include jumping from a horse onto a moving train, jumping from a horse onto a moving wagon, jumping from a horse onto...another horse, and jumping onto a horse from a height of at least three meters.
Nice one, Rockstar.Reddit user jason21521 also pointed out that a daily challenge to "successfully fend off an ambush" could also count as "getting jumped." Bit of a leap itself, but we'll go with it. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/02/20/red-dead-redemption-2-online-recreated-in-dreams"]
If you want some assistance completing these challenges and others in Red Dead Online, check out our Red Dead Online wiki, where you’ll also find our huge interactive world map and more.
We’re pretty sure that Rockstar would prefer people to leap onto horses rather than leap into bed, given that a modder created a new version of the infamous Hot Coffee mod.[poilib element="accentDivider"] Joseph Knoop is a writer/producer/cowpoke for IGN.
Friday, February 28, 2020
Bangalore - Apex Legends
Bangalore, aka Anita Williams, is the certified badass of the Apex Legends crew. She’s a soldier, not a show-off, and while her kit isn’t that flashy, it proves that the basics still hit hard. From playing mind games with the smokescreen to running laps around your enemies before bombarding them from space, Bangalore is a formidable opponent and a great choice for the Apex games.
Beyond the arena, Williams isn’t just a decorated military veteran, but also someone dedicated to her family. The in-game lore reveals she’s fighting for something real, for the family that raised her to be the fighter she is, which helps make her one of the most admirable Legends out there. Plus, one of the best things about her character design is that they gave her an accurate modern Black hairstyle. It’s a small detail, but it's something that gets butchered in most games. Someone needs to tip Bangalore’s barber, because the fade is way too clean.
Elena - Street Fighter
In a series so based on throwing hands, Elena stands out because... she never actually needs to throw any. She’s the only character that utilizes the unique Afro-Brazilian dance-fighting style of Capoeira to clobber her opponents, and it’s built around exclusively using kicks, acrobatics, and healing. It’s a super cool style, a graceful kinetic performance that requires both intense physicality and rhythmic skill to master. It makes Elena one of the more fun characters to both play as and watch in a tournament, since her moveset offers a sense fluidity and finesse that other characters don’t possess.
A princess from a tribe in Kenya, who loves friends, music, and fighting, Elena debuted in Street Fighter III: New Generation back in 1997 as the first playable Black woman in the series, and, at the time, one of the only Black women in video games at all. If you’re ever looking for a solid main in an older Street Fighter game, Elena’s your girl. She might not carry the most clout in the Street Fighter world, but that doesn’t mean she won’t backflip, bait a heal, and send a flying foot to your enemy’s face with lightning speed and a smile.
Sgt. Avery Johnson - Halo
Avery Johnson is the ultimate hype man, the king of inspirational speeches. With just a few words, he can get anyone pumped up to blast some aliens and save planet Earth.
Johnson is funny, sure, but he’s more than just token comic relief -- his raw tenacity and go-getter attitude serves as a beacon for humanity in its darkest hours. Throughout the series, he’s been a bastion of wisdom, grit and perseverance — and inspired others to that same standard. Master Chief wouldn’t be the legend he is without Johnson’s guidance and his classic action hero puns.
Lola - Afterparty
Even though she’s trapped in Hell, Lola stays a sharp-witted smartypants in overalls who doesn’t have time for anyone’s BS. Before she ended up down below she was an activist fighting for good in the world, and her passion carries over into the Underworld. Afterparty is a game powered by conversations and characters, and Lola’s perspective always makes situations more interesting, and it was a nice touch to have Lola able to go off about social justice throughout the game.
It’s such a change of pace from older black characters, who either didn’t have their own personality, or suffered from one that was based entirely around cringe-worthy stereotypes. Lola is thought out, well-rounded. She oozes sarcasm and quips, she’s unafraid calls people out when it’s necessary, and the plans she comes up with are ingenious. She might not always be the nicest to other characters, but she doesn’t need to be - she is literally in Hell, after all.
Grace Walker - Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus
The first time you meet Grace, she has a gun pointed at famed Nazi-killer Billy J. Blazkowicz’s face and asks, “Just who the f*ck are you, white boy?” In a series about overthrowing Nazis and klansmen, it would have been easy to paint the same worldview onto all of Wolfenstein’s characters — but Walker’s perspective is a fresh one. Bombate’s story in The New Order some of the difficulties that black men face the world over, but Grace’s experience as a Black woman in America is a vastly different one.
One of the few survivors of the nuclear attack on New York’s few survivors of an atom bomb attack, Grace’s role as a tough-as-nails Resistance leader is one that requires a delicate balance of camaraderie and no-nonsense hardass-ed-ness, a combination absolutely nailed by voice actress Deborah Wilson’s impassioned performance.
Carl "CJ" Johnson - GTA: San Andreas
Although Grand Theft Auto often exaggerates real-world social issues for comedic value, it’s still a series that gives the player no choice but to acknowledge those issues head-on. In 2004’s GTA San Andreas, Carl “CJ” Johnson is at the center of it all, confronting all the hot-button social issues of both the mid-2000s and its early 90’s LA setting.
CJ is one of the most mild-mannered protagonists of the Grand Theft Auto series, but he and his crew are full of Black personalities that carry the game. Writer Mark Jordan, better known as DJ Pooh - who in addition to writing San Andreas also penned the first Friday movie and produced records with everyone from LL Cool J to Tupac - did a great job crafting dialogue that was true to both the madcap style of the GTA series and accurate to Black culture of the time. Jordan’s work made San Andreas feel like one of the first interactive experiences fully dedicated to Black culture. While the antics CJ and his crew got up to were often over-the-top, San Andreas still delivered thoughtful social commentary and criticism smartly packed in Rockstar’s signature blend of comedy and action.
LifeLine - Apex Legends
Ajay Che, better known as Lifeline, is a combat medic, and a support Legend who’s easily one of the MVPs of the Apex games. Since the launch of Apex Legends, her kit has been one of the most useful (not to mention coolest) loadouts in the game: sporting a shielded and shortened revive time, a mobile healing drone, and a whole lot of charisma. Support mains everywhere rejoiced over Lifeline, because even though her skills are utility-oriented, Lifeline is still on an equal tier with the rest of the legends. She doesn’t play into the docile support archetype, a skilled Lifeline player can go in and solo-carry while making sure her squad is feeling A-Okay.
As a character, Lifeline has dedicated her time to helping others ever since she found out her family were war profiteers - pity more folks in the real world don’t follow her example.
Cere Junda - Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order
Fallen Order tells a bit of a darker Star Wars story than we’re used to, and Cere is one of the main reasons that Respawn pulls it off. Cere is one of the survivors of Order 66, and that survival came at a price that she carries with her throughout the game. Considering that you can count all the Black people in Star Wars on one hand, it’s great to see the first Jedi that’s also a Black woman be such a strong, complex character.
Part of that is thanks to another great performance by Deborah Wilson. Full of passion and regret, Wilson brings a welcome layer of gravitas to her character’s arc. Cere is a trooper (not a storm one!). She’s someone who confronts her murky past so that she can move past it, and continue doing everything she can to unite Jedi and fight the growing forces of the Empire.
Clementine - TellTale’s The Walking Dead
Clementine is basically everyone’s video game daughter – it feels like it was just yesterday we were cutting her hair and teaching her how to shoot a zombie. In reality, though, it’s been almost eight years since The Walking Dead Season 1 dropped and we got introduced to one of the most charming and dynamic zombie-fighting duos ever - even if it was short-lived.
Sure, the first season of Walking Dead falls into the popular gaming category of “middle-aged dad protagonist caring for a child,” but Clementine’s growth throughout the later seasons made her the star of an entire series. She had to make a truly twisted decision at the end of Season 1, continue surviving and then raise a child. She has gone through so much, and we’ve been able to see her develop her skills from amateur to pro. It’s a powerful feat to achieve in an industry full of characters who don’t look like her, especially given the fact that she isn’t relegated to a supporting role or prone to any uncomfortable stereotypes. It’s rare that you get to see a Black protagonist get the chance to be so vulnerable and real in a game – we definitely need more of that.
[ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/5-notable-black-characters-in-anime-history"]These are, of course, just some of our favorite Black characters throughout gaming - what are yours? Let us know in the comments, and if you want to help make our gaming community a more colorful place, consider donating to a charity like Black Girls Code, Games for Change, or the National Society of Black Engineers. [poilib element="accentDivider"] Funké Joseph is a Freelance Writer for IGN who wants Birdo in Smash Ultimate. Please make it happen and also follow him on Twitter.
Valve IndexValve's Index headset was already sold out practically worldwide following the announcement of Half-Life: Alyx, with Valve proactively working to supply more for those who hadn't secured a pre-order. In a statement, however, the developer confirmed that coronavirus-related factory shutdowns meant there would be "far fewer units" available on release than planned: "With Half-Life: Alyx coming March 23rd, we are working hard to meet demand for the Valve Index and want to reassure everyone that Index systems will be available for purchase prior to the game's launch. However, the global Coronavirus health crisis has impacted our production schedules so we will have far fewer units for sale during the coming months compared to the volumes we originally planned. Our entire team is working hard right now to maximize availability." It's unclear at time of writing how many will be made available at release, but it may well be that Index is in short supply, at best, come March 23.
Oculus Quest and Oculus Rift SOculus Quest, considered a popular entry-level device for VR, is in a similar position. Facebook (which owns Oculus) has also announced that the standalone VR headset has been selling out in many regions, and remains unavailable to buy in the UK and US at time of writing. It too, has seen an impact on replenishing those stocks because of coronoavirus. A spokesperson told IGN, "like other companies we’re expecting some additional impact to our hardware production due to the Coronavirus. We’re taking precautions to ensure the safety of our employees, manufacturing partners and customers, and are monitoring the situation closely. We are working to restore availability as soon as possible.” Facebook wouldn't comment on the effect of production shutdowns on its other headset model, the Oculus Rift S but, given it too is made in China, it seems likely to have been hit by factory shutdowns as well. The Rift S is also currently unavailable to buy in the US or Australia, with no indication of when stock might be replenished. It remains to be seen how many units of either Oculus headset will be released in the next month but, again, it feels unlikely to meet demand.
HTC ViveOf the three main manufacturers, HTC is the only company seemingly untouched by production problems, and its Vive headsets seem to be the surest bet for availability come launch day. In a statement to IGN, a spokesperson said, "As our Vive VR products are assembled and built in Taiwan, our supply chain has been relatively unaffected by COVID-19. In addition to having our Cosmos headset in stock, the newly announced Cosmos Elite began preorders on February 24 and will ship to those who preordered on or around the on-sale date of March 18 [...] We look forward to allowing customers to experience Half-Life: Alyx on our headsets as soon as it is released." Of course, Vive remains a relatively expensive way to play HL: Alyx – requiring a powerful PC as well as a headset that comes in at $499 USD / £499 / $939 AUD. However, with no production problems, it may be the easiest route to playing as Alyx on March 23. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2019/11/21/half-life-alyx-reveal-trailer"] [poilib element="accentDivider"] Joe Skrebels is IGN's Executive Editor of News. Follow him on Twitter.
That screenshot, if legitimate, also appears to confrim characters called Viper and Brimstone, alongside a number of character portraits. This design for Sage appears to match up with previously-shown Project A footage (below) of a character that uses a green orb to summon walls and resurrect teammates. Sage's abilities shown in the image match with that footage, and place her as functioning something like Overwatch's Mercy and Moira characters. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2019/10/16/riot-games-project-a-announcement-trailer"] Riot announced Project A – a PC hero shooter unconnected to the universe of League of Legends - at the end of last year. The game will be set on a near-future Earth, and will take the form of a 5v5 shooter with a search-and-destroy mode. Former Counter-Strike: Global Offensive pro HenryG said it felt most similar to CS:GO in action. It's not the only secretive game in development at Riot (which, for many years, only worked on League of Legends) – a long-rumoured fighting game, Project L is also in the works, alongside several others. [widget path="global/article/imagegallery" parameters="albumSlug=riot-games-competitive-pc-shooter-codenamed-project-a-screenshots&captions=true"] [poilib element="accentDivider"]
Most parts of this #ProjectA screenshot have been shared on various pages, here is the the full image in the highest resolution we could find! L: Three character names [Brimstone; Sage; Viper], type [support; defense; offense?] B: Chat and avatars R: Sage‘s ability descriptions pic.twitter.com/3B24nEZQCC— ValorantTheGame - #ProjectA News & Leaks (@ValorantTheGame) February 27, 2020
Thursday, February 27, 2020
- Kanto – Charizard
- Johto – Umbreon
- Hoenn – Rayquaza
- Sinnoh – Lucario
- Unova – Chandelure
- Kalos – Greninja
- Alola – Mimikyu
- Galar – Dragapult
The newest feature coming to Pokemon Masters is the Battle Villa, a tower of challenging battles that can knock out sync pairs for an entire day — but only in the Battle Villa. This new event likely won’t be the thing that brings you back if you’re a lapsed player (though maybe the new chapters and sync pairs added since launch can), but it is an interesting way to mix up daily in-game tasks.
If you are one of those lapsed players, here’s a short rundown of all the other things added to Pokemon Masters since its launch last summer:
Chapter 19 to 24
Weekly bingo missions
Sync pair level cap increased to 120
New sync pairs, including Legendary Pokemon
Interactable characters in the Dex
The Battle Villa was definitely designed with longtime players in mind given how quickly it gets difficult. The challenge in this event space is to defeat as many of 25 “halls” of enemies as you can to earn tons of rewards before the two-week event is over. Each hall can have one to three rounds of opponents waiting, and you can scope out their Pokemon weaknesses through the Area Details menu like you can in any other battle.
But unlike the rest of Pokemon Masters, any damage your sync pair takes stays with them for the whole day and you can only select nine sync pairs to play within the Battle Villa for that day. You can heal during a battle and once out of battle if you have the right items. However, you can’t heal any sync pair that have fainted within the Battle Villa, so you’ll need to wait until the next day to get them back.
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I went into the Battle Villa with several sync pairs of varying types at max level. At first I felt confident I’d clear the Battle Villa quickly. My recommended power was almost always vastly over what was recommended — at least for the first five halls. By the time I completed the fifth hall on the first day of playing, my sync pairs were starting to struggle to deal out enough damage to keep them in the fight. The Battle Villa did test my strategy, which was nice. I felt a bit more pressured to not only consider the obvious type matchups, but to also think about how my three sync pair’s skills and moves work together to try and prevent pairs from fainting.
By the seventh hall, I lost significant momentum. Not necessarily in a bad way, but my sheer power wasn’t really giving me much of an advantage anymore. Some days it felt like I was just throwing pairs at a Hall to weaken them enough until I could cycle in the real damage dealers back in the next day. Opponents don't recover health and any progress made in a hall persists between days. I do wish there was a way to revive at least one sync pair per day, though. If my sync pairs were all generally lower level, I feel like the Battle Villa would be more of me throwing sync pairs at battles with little chance for success rather than having options for tactics.
If you make it far enough into the Battle Villa (and have sync pairs at level 80) you can start earning a new item for the new Lucky Skills. These Lucky Skills are bestowed at random and can raise a sync pair’s stats with a Crunchy Lucky Cookie or prevent stats from being lowered with a creamy lucky cookie. There’s also a Crispy Lucky Cookie that shields sync pairs from status and “certain other conditions.” There’s also a Lucky Scroll for learning Lucky Skills. You can't earn too many of these is a complete Battle Villa run, so you'll want to save them for your favorite pairs.
[ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2019/06/27/pokmon-masters-official-animated-trailer"]The Battle Villa is an interesting addition to Pokémon Masters' daily offerings. I know if I want to attempt to make it through all 25 halls (and get the numerous rewards that come with it) I'm going to need to get to work to do some extra training with all my sync pairs. I do wish the final rewards were more appealing than more Lucky Skill, leveling items, and just enough gems for a few more pulls, but I do appreciate having a new challenge to conquer.
For more on Pokémon, be sure to check out our coverage of the newly announced Mythical Pokémon, Zarude.
Happy Pokémon Day! Miranda Sanchez is an executive editor at IGN and is celebrating the day with her Sobble, Pikachu, and her other favorite Pokémon. You can chat with her about Pokémon and other video games on Twitter.
Stadia’s official unveiling at GDC 2019 was an exciting day. It gave us our first real look at the streaming service that Google was touting as “The Future of Gaming,” and – most importantly (for me, at least) – Divinity: Original Sin 2 studio Larian was deep in development on Baldur’s Gate 3.One of the best developers in the role-playing business, working one of (if not the) most beloved RPG franchises ever, on a fascinating new platform that could revolutionize the way we consume games… it was a lot. Now, just under a year later, we’ve finally gotten an in-depth look at what Larian’s take on the D&D-verse of Baldur’s Gate looks like, as well as just where things stand between Larian and Stadia, how it’s implementing some of Stadia’s unique features, and what we can expect from its upcoming early access release. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/02/27/baldurs-gate-3-has-some-awesome-stadia-exclusive-features"]
The State of StadiaSure, Stadia may have experienced a few stumbles since it launched its Founders’ Program last November, but the Baldur’s Gate 3 team stands by the platform. “It’s new technology,” says Larian’s CEO Swen Vincke, speaking to IGN at a recent event where his team showed off nearly two hours of Baldur’s Gate 3 gameplay (it was awesome). “I think that they [Google] are committed to it and we're going to still see very cool things come from them,” he continues. “They just need time… When Microsoft had just launched the Xbox, that wasn't necessarily over roses either. Right? It's very complicated to launch a new platform.” [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/02/27/baldurs-gate-3-opening-cinematic-in-4k"]
The promise of Stadia is two-fold for Larian. First, there’s the business side – Stadia’s streaming and sharing features are a great pair for how complex, systems-based games like the ones Larian is known for become popular: word of mouth. “You talk to these people who say ‘I didn't think it was for me, it looks like maybe a little bit too much,’” Swen says. “With something as easy as sending somebody a link and saying, ‘Hey, let's try it out and you can jump into my game instantly without having to install anything,’ I think that has a very great conversion power.”
The other aspect is something that’s much more reliant on Stadia making good on its many promised features but, when they’re eventually released, could create a whole new dynamic for players who want to interact more with the communities they stream and play in. And it’s been heavily implied that there’s more to come: “The reason why I'm vague about this is I don't even remember which one they announced and which ones they didn't, Swen adds with a laugh.
Baldur’s Gate 3’s Stadia-Exclusive Content
BG3 may not be a Stadia exclusive, but Larian has big plans for that specific platform, leaning heavily into the community and streaming-focused concepts that Google is working to enable.
“Some of the Stadia features that we're supporting are going to be specifically built around involving the community in the decision making,” Swen says. “Or letting them affect the dice, for instance. Now, it may sound like some sort of technical wizardry, letting someone watching a livestream hundreds or thousands of miles away change the outcome of your decision, but Stadia has been planning for developers to implement ideas like this since day one.
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According to a developer blog post, the Stadia team is working on a feature called Crowd Choice — a tool that’s designed to let devs enable exactly the kind of interaction that Larian is focused on. It allows game developers to mark certain points in a game that, if the Crowd Choice mode is enabled, will trigger a poll that comes up somewhere in their stream’s chat window (we’re assuming this will be strictly a YouTube feature, at least for now).
This could be as simple as causing the stream to try to coerce the player into making a certain decision — to explore a tomb or the dangerous forest, for example — but the Stadia team also claims that the results of the polls can let a game’s programming “use these results to affect what’s happening in the game.” In the case of Baldur’s Gate, this could mean anything from, as Swen suggested, affecting how a player’s dice roll will turn out on a critical check, or perhaps altering the loot that you’ll find in a dungeon, or even choosing the dialogue for an NPC.
While there are some Twitch extensions that can achieve the same effect, they seem to be relegated solely to modded emulators for now — what Larian is looking to do with Stadia is much more involved and may be an entirely new way of enabling streamers to engage with their audiences.
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There are other social features planned for non-Stadia users, like the ability for players in a multiplayer party to see the choices you’re about to make (say, for example, if your high-elf vampire was trying to choose which party member to feed on while they slept). While we don’t know what this feature will look like, exactly, Stadia’s Stream Connect feature - which allows a team of players to see PiP feeds of each others screens - seems like a natural fit. Regardless of how it manifests, the ability to coordinate (or argue over) certain decisions could go a long way to helpLarian emulate the feeling of being at a table playing D&D with friends.
“It’s like tabletop,” says BG3’s lead writer, Adam Smith. “We want to give people the chance to just introduce chaos and we want to give people the chance to go into conflict with each other. I mean, there are so many things that we want to do that tabletop does that it's very, very difficult to do because you can't be as reactive and you can't improvise as much, but we go as far as you can there.”
The big question, of course, is when will these features actually become available? The answer currently is a resounding “?,” since Stadia has been fairly quiet as of late when it comes to its roadmap and timeline, but it is possible that we’ll see some of them implemented when Baldur’s Gate 3 enters early access later this year.
Why Baldur’s Gate 3 Is Entering Early Access
It might not be the “Launch Window” release that Stadia initially promised – according to Larian, “Something was lost in translation there,” and the plan was always for Baldur’s Gate 3 to come out in early access first.
“When you've been working on something for years, and you're this close to it, you're kind of too close to it,” explains Matt Holland, one of the gameplay programmers on BG3. “We just aren't sure, we can't quite anticipate, where that's going to be. Because if we could, we'd do it ourselves.”
As Swen explains it, “What we're looking for is feedback from the people that are playing it to death and who are giving us really good ideas... then implementing [them] and seeing what works. We also want to see stuff that doesn't work. In [Divinity: Original Sin 2], we found a lot of stuff that didn't work during early access, and we changed it and modified it.”
What’s In Baldur’s Gate 3’s Early Access Build?
The full scope of Baldur’s Gate 3’s early access release hasn’t been revealed yet, but we know there’s going to be a lot to it.
According to Larian, the early access version will contain the opening area – what they’re referring to as “Act 1-A,” which consists of the two hours we played in our demo session plus “much more.” Swen says it will be more extensive than the early access build of Divinity Original Sin 2, which consisted of about eight to 12 hours of story gameplay, several character options, and even an early multiplayer build.
“It’s purely because of the amount of permutations that you have,” he says, explaining the amount of content coming in early access. “There's so many ways of doing things now that just to cover it, we just have to put it all in there. Otherwise it doesn't work.”
We know that we’ll see a litany of story paths and character options included in early access, as well. The demo we saw featured several potential race and class combinations and, depending on how far the level cap extends (and how faithfully the team has mirrored D&D’s current player advancement system), we may see some additional subclasses as well. Other character considerations, like whether to play as good or evil, or which of the many gods your Cleric prays to, for example, will be included, along with more class and character options being added as development continues.In terms of when we can expect to get into Baldur’s Gate 3’s early access, we’ll have to wait a bit longer to find that out, since there isn’t a set release date for its launch. “We wanted to do it around now,” Swen laughs, “But we saw we weren't going to make it, so we reserved the rights to give ourselves more time.” [poilib element="accentDivider"] JR is a Senior Editor at IGN, and is very much looking forward to infuriating his BG3 party members with his terrible decision making. You can cheer him on (or scold him appropriately) on Twitter.
After watching two hours of Baldur’s Gate 3 gameplay, it’s hard not to compare it to Larian’s most recent RPG-darling, Divinity: Original Sin 2. But BG3 is not simply Baldur’s Gate: Original Sin –it builds upon and morphs DOS2’s isometric turn-based RPG system into a gorgeous world, touched – well, more like bathed – in Dungeons & Dragons’ current rules, systems, and lore.
As someone who loves Original Sin 2 and D&D, I’m absolutely on board for all of it.
My heart is telling me to start with the D&D nerdery, but, damn, Baldur’s Gate 3 is beautiful. Definitely watch the full video preview above to get a sense of what it looks like, and the full cinematic below.
Sure, we saw a few hiccups here and there, like admittedly misbehaving hair, but since our preview build was running on what’s basically a whole new engine we were reminded Baldur’s Gate 3 is “still very much in development.
While some elements have been ripped straight from the last iteration of Larian’s engine – like the 2-player local, 4-player online co-op multiplayer – Baldur’s Gate’s new rule system, its entire cinematic pipeline, and – to quote Larian directly – a “shitload” of features added on top that aren’t finished yet, are all new updates. A lot of these changes are visual – like a new dialog-driven cinematic camera, and a zoomed-in “almost-third-person” camera-view option – but some of the bigger differences are mechanical.
For starters, verticality plays a major role in Baldur’s Gate 3 – with many environments comprised of three or four layers in the same space. Players can hide in the rafters, or explore seemingly unreachable areas that require creativity – like a risky jump – to access. And though it seems like a small addition, stacking boxes to leap up vertical levels opens up a legitimate new exploration tool.
This adds yet another layer of gameplay, too, because from what we saw, nearly every object in Baldur’s Gate 3 can be manipulated. Hanging candelabras, for example, are atmospheric, sure, but they’re also begging to be dropped onto enemies stupid enough to stand underneath them. If environmental traps aren’t your thing, you can dip your bow into fire to acquire flaming arrows (that can light flammable materials like barrels of smokepowder), or find alternate entries into dungeons by using a rock slide to smash a hole in the ceiling. Baldur’s Gate 3 is full of these little flourishes that emphasize the creativity at the heart of Dungeons & Dragons.
Combat can be just as creative as exploration, too. In one instance, we saw Vincke separate his rouge from the rest of the party, and while the rogue snuck up behind a bandit as insurance, he moved the rest of his party in plain sight. He attempted to persuade the bandits to leave through conversation, but (thanks to some unlucky dice) failed spectacularly, leaving him no choice but to fight. When the battle began, his rouge was still waiting patiently behind a bandit, whom he shoved off the ledge to the floor below in a surprise attack. It’s this sort of team strategizing that can really affect the outcome of the battle.
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Roll for Initiative
Now, onto the D&D nerdery: I was first drawn to Larian’s Divinity: Original Sin 2 because I heard it was a great digital D&D substitute (complete with couch co-op!). Starved for a tabletop environment after having recently moved away from my regular group, I picked it up with a partner and had an absolute blast. Sure, there were no dice-rolls to get excited about or any specific D&D lore, but its strategic turn-based gameplay and outside-the-box ingenuity had me feeling like I was playing a homebrewed tabletop RPG with my friends.
Baldur’s Gate 3 convincingly offers to up the ante, taking that feeling and dragging it into the legitimate Dungeons & Dragons video game experience. That’s not easy to do.
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Something Larian repeated over and over during our demois that they aim to be your Dungeon Master, and you’re playing in their home D&D game. There are some house rules, of course, but nothing too far out of bounds. Everything they’ve tweaked or added for the sake of making a compelling video game has been vetted by Wizards of the Coast, so you’re still getting the authentic D&D experience.
Some of these tweaks are technically already in D&D as variant rules, and the others are not unlike the house-rules a tabletop DM might come up with. For example, shoving an enemy off a cliff or throwing an object in D&D replaces your attack action, but in Baldur’s Gate 3, it won’t (at least for now; part of Larian’s goal with early access is to make sure they find the right mechanical balance in combat).“It's really kind of in service to give the players more to do in their turn, and more options to play with,” explained combat designer Matt Holland. “Especially for some of the B-league classes in the early game. They don't have a lot to do with their turn, so we want to make sure that they have other options.”
If you’ve played Divinity: Original Sin 2 or Dungeons & Dragons, you’ll probably be right at home with the turn-based combat system of Baldur’s Gate 3. When combat begins, you have a certain amount of movement to spend, and a limited amount of actions to perform (like a shove, melee attack, or a long-range magical Firebolt, arrow or buffing spell) every round for each character in your party. It sounds simple enough, but strategically placing your characters and devising how best to gain advantage against your opponents plays a big part in Baldur’s Gate 3 - even bigger than in Divinity Original Sin 2.
[widget path="global/article/imagegallery" parameters="albumSlug=baldurs-gate-3-cinematic-screenshot-gallery&captions=true"]Perhaps the most important variant rule Larian is adopting is that Baldur’s Gate 3 uses team-based turns instead of individual turns. Vincke explained this not only speeds up gameplay considerably and allows you to maximize your party’s combat effectiveness, but also allows for more coordinated strategies in multiplayer, too.
“Suddenly, you’re much more engaged with each other,” Vincke said. “...which is very similar to what’s happening at the [D&D] table.”
That connection to the tabletop game is front-and-center in so many of Baldur’s Gate 3’s mechanics and systems. It’s loaded with luck-of-the-die skill checks being decided by the on-screen d20 — but even if you don’t care about the inner workings of the game or the math behind the scenes, watching that die spin in a tense moment infectiously trains you to react to rolls just like you would at the D&D table.
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On a critical success, a golden D20 flashes on the screen, and the audience during our demo all reacted accordingly with cheers and applause. On a critical failure (a one on a dice roll), the room audibly groaned in anticipation for the great consequences to come.
Larian is so clearly trying to replicate the spirit of playing D&D with your friends, about the only thing missing is tossing out a set of misbehaving dice.
As with Divinity: Original Sin 2, Baldur’s Gate 3 provides couch-co-op for up to two players, and online co-op for a party of four, with an easy drop-in-and-out system. And Larian has been developing BG3 with co-op and streaming play in mind, allowing your teammates to see your dialogue options and dramatic cutscenes. For example, if you’re playing Astarion the vampire spawn – which is one of several preset character origins you can select for a more crafted story, just like in Original Sin 2 – your party will be able to see you debating whether or not to feed on them at night for a delicious, blood-soaked buff the next day.
And though they were tight-lipped about the details, Larian plans to integrate a system for live stream audiences to actually participate – and sometimes even control – the player’s dice rolls, which introduces a whole other level of communal play. Read Baldur’s Gate 3 Devs on Stadia-Exclusive Features and Early Access Plans or watch the video above for more detailed information.
I could go on about Baldur’s Gate 3 for ages. I could talk about the fully voice-acted forests of branching dialogue trees, the 1.5 million word-and-counting script, the staggering offshoots of storylines to uncover, ignore, or actively destroy in an instant, or the detailed character creator, and so. much. more.
But for now, I’ll end it here - these are only my first impressions, and as Baldur’s Gate 3 is still very much in development, things are apt to change. You’ll be able to play sooner than you think, too, as Baldur’s Gate 3 is set to hit Early Access later this year. And I, for one, cannot wait, even if it means buying into a streaming service like Stadia to participate.
For more on Baldur’s Gate 3, make sure to read Baldur’s Gate 3 Devs on Stadia-Exclusive Features and Early Access Plans and Baldur's Gate 3 Aims to Capture the Dungeons & Dragons Spirit.
[poilib element="accentDivider"]Casey DeFreitas is an Editor at IGN who plays D&D about eight hours a week, consistently, every Saturday. Catch her on Twitter @ShinyCaseyD.
Measuring the IntangiblesWhenever I try to explain why it’s hard to recreate the Dungeons and Dragons experience, the easiest example I go to is the arcane schools of magic and the mind-bending shenanigans they offer. You've got spells like Firebolt, Fireball, Haste, Dimension Door, Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion, and Meteor Storm – all fairly straightforward, right? Then you’ve got things like Minor Illusion, Major Image, Suggestion, Phantasmal Killer, Legend Lore, and Wish leaning on the intangibles of collective creativity. How do you plan for that? “Well, thankfully we actually have a lot of experience doing this sort of thing from Divinity: Original Sin 2],” said Matt Holland, Combat Designer on Baldur’s Gate 3. “As for the intangible ones, like Wish, for example, we do have to give you a limited option of things you can do. [poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=%22If%20you're%20worried%20about%20not%20having%20enough%20access%20to%20options%20and%20the%20spell%20lists%2C%20don't%20worry.%22"] “Depending on the situation, you never know what the options are going to be. Maybe that is your ‘win’ button. But similar to Baldur's Gate II, there are some really snarky and funny interactions you could have with that.” In BioWare’s Baldur’s Gate 2, casting Wish essentially gave you a list of options to choose from based on your ability scores. In many cases, you had a shot of completely screwing yourself over, and with a poor enough check, you were almost guaranteed to harm more than help. It wasn’t quite the limitless fountain of power you can get away with at the table, but it was pretty entertaining, with a diverse list of options to choose from. And that was in the year 2000. The prospect of a Larian-crafted set of possibilities are, well, pretty exciting for a video game of which they’ve only shown two hours and still managed to touch on vampires, devils pitching contracts, a red-dragon-riding-gith squadron, Illithid interplanar travel, and a somehow smarmier version of Volothamp Geddarm. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/02/27/baldurs-gate-3-opening-cinematic-in-4k"] “We're thinking really long and hard about which spells we're putting into the game and how we want to adapt them into our system,” Holland said. “Even something like Mage Hand, which was really difficult. We weren't sure how we were going to do it, but it ended up being so that it's [like its own] character that can push things and throw things and all that. “Obviously you won't see every single spell, but there's really a lot that you get to play with. There are still spells that we are working through and trying to get the design written out for in our system. But yeah, if you're worried about not having enough access to options and the spell lists, don't worry.”
Real Time Stop“What do you do?” If one question could define Dungeons & Dragons, I think it’s that. All at once it’s a call to action, an invitation to creativity, and an assurance that this story is made up of the infinite possibilities knocking around your collective imaginations. That’s a tough concept to tackle in a video game for two reasons. For one, you need time to stop for a moment, to figure out what you want to do, what you can do, and the best way to go about it. But you also need time to have a sense of continuity so the consequences of your actions or inaction can be adjudicated and therefore meaningful. That’s why Baldur’s Gate 3 is introducing a fusion of real-time and turn-based that’s similar to Divinity: Original Sin 2, but more in line with the six-second rounds of Dungeons and Dragons. When you’re not in combat and exploring, time flows freely. When you’ve rolled initiative and turns are declared, you drop into turn-based combat – it’s roughly the same balance as Divinity: Original Sin 2. But that grey area between the two is where Baldur’s Gate 3 shines. [poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=You%E2%80%99ve%20broken%20into%20some%20poor%20cheesemonger%E2%80%99s%20shop%20to%20rummage%20for%20soft%20cheese%20and%20hard%20profit."] For example, playing Dungeons & Dragons, let’s say you’re in a village and you’ve broken into some poor cheesemonger’s shop in the dead of night to rummage for soft cheese and hard profit. How chaotic of you. Suddenly you hear a groggy thud followed by a series of shuffling footsteps on the weathered boards above you. What do you do? You ask, “Is there somewhere I can hide?” There is, in fact, somewhere you can hide. There’s a barrel that smells of fermentation or a corner beyond the offensive bright rays of the full moon where a deep shadow calls home. You make the decision and roll for Stealth. Then the footsteps – and what sounds like a large club clacking against a hard surface – begin to drift down the staircase from the second floor. They’re loud, and they’re getting louder. What do you do? [widget path="global/article/imagegallery" parameters="albumSlug=baldurs-gate-3-gameplay-screenshots&captions=true"] These call and response moments of tension are some of the best parts of Dungeons & Dragons, and in Baldur’s Gate 3, they’re manifested in a real-time pause mechanic. In situations where you’re not in open battle, but you need to plan each action or segment of your movement, you’ll smash that pause button and begin to map out a daring and deft series of commands and then advance the turn, allowing the round to move forward before you plan the next six seconds. It’s incredibly cool to see it in action and taps that same vein of tension. “I think the big thing you guys are going to notice when it comes to that gameplay is how good it feels to play a stealth character,” Holland said. “You know that you get to move, and then the world gets to move for six seconds, and then you get to move again. Really plan it out and it just adds a whole other dimension to playing that character. Divinity: Original Sin 2 was a lot more finicky, and you really had to time it well. It just never felt as good as we would've wanted it to, and with this system, it feels just amazing.”
All Four OneBaldur’s Gate 3’s most apparent shift from the familiar rules of Dungeons & Dragons is the initiative system. It’s actually not a departure from the rule book, but Larian has opted to use the Side Initiative option – look it up, page 270 in the 5e Dungeon Master’s Guide – for better team cohesion. At the table, I prefer the standard rules: players roll, monsters roll, everyone goes in turn. And to be honest I was a little taken aback when I spotted this variant in play in Baldur’s Gate 3. But, actually, it makes a ton of sense considering the communal elements Larian is baking into the game. Side Initiative essentially boils down to each side rolls a d20, the side with the highest roll wins, and everyone on that team goes first in whatever order they choose. On the upside, combat is faster, and it allows for some really creative combos and powerful group tactics. On the downside, characters that optimize for high initiative rolls don’t get any of those benefits, and it allows for some really creative combos and powerful group tactics. That means the side that goes first has a really good chance of unbalancing the action economy by focus firing one or two targets or dropping a bunch of utility spells to immobilize or debuff opponents before they get to go. It’s a double-edged sword. [poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=Side%20Initiative%20in%20Baldur's%20Gate%203%20is%20a%20small%20change%20that%20really%20captures%20the%20D%26D%20spirit%2C%20namely%2C%20spirited%20D%26D."] However, here’s why it makes sense in Baldur’s Gate 3: cooperative multiplayer. Larian is pulling the two-player local and four-player online multiplayer nearly straight from Divinity: Original Sin 2. That means when you’re playing with three of your friends and a fight breaks out, instead of waiting for those three companions to go in sequence, you all immediately start shouting at each other over Discord or Ventrillo or face-to-face about priority targets and action sequences and starting that delightfully chaotic process of working together as a team. It’s a small systemic change that really captures the D&D spirit, namely, spirited D&D. “We experimented with it and we found that it worked really well in single-player to do combos,” Larian CEO and founder Swen Vincke said, “but it also works super well in multiplayer because suddenly, you're much more engaged with each other and doing your moves simultaneously. So then you increase your engagement, which is very similar to what's happening at the table.” [widget path="global/article/imagegallery" parameters="albumSlug=baldurs-gate-3-cinematic-screenshot-gallery&captions=true"] It also increases the speed of combat. Vincke repeatedly told me that the scale of the battles in Baldur’s Gate 3 is possible because they moved so much more quickly with this new system. It wasn’t uncommon to see 12 or more combatants in a fight, which should open up quite a few really cool possibilities since the threat of overwhelming odds is such a powerful one in Dungeons & Dragons. Who hasn’t wanted to stand as a bulwark against the undead hordes? That idea of sheer numbers being prohibitively overwhelming from both a gameplay and technical perspective extends down into the roots of Baldur’s Gate 3. Not only am I talking about monsters, movement, and management but actually interacting with the world as a constant. Specifically, the regular ability checks that serve as your character’s sensory proficiencies as you wander about the wilder places. [poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=Baldur%E2%80%99s%20Gate%203%20takes%20care%20of%20the%20cascading%20torrents%20of%20d20s%20that%20are%20happening%20behind%20the%20scenes%20at%20all%20times."] It’s a core philosophy at the heart Fifth Edition Dungeons & Dragons itself: cut down on the needless rolls and keep things moving. Things like Passive Perception and Investigation just work when you’re not actively looking for things or opening every drawer in the cupboard of a cheesemonger’s shop. True to that design principle, Baldur’s Gate 3 takes care of the cascading torrents of d20s that are happening behind the scenes at all times. “We like to make you roll but we didn't want you to make too many rolls,” Vincke said. “Especially because each party member rolls actually, so if you have four party members, you would have to do all those rolls and that becomes too much. That's why that was made as a passive.” For example, as you order your vampire-in-training Astorian to walk past a wall that holds a hidden panel, there’s an automatic roll that happens above your character’s head. If you pass the check, the hidden object materializes in a shimmering bend of light and you can then interact with it. If you fail the roll, nothing happens, though it is a bit of a softball letting you know something’s there, and you just didn’t make the cut. But that’s when you can bring another character over to try and try again. It’s not quite one-to-one with the Dungeons & Dragons rules. Most Dungeon Masters who’ve run games have a story about a really cool room or secret wall or treasure cache that the party totally missed because of a low passive perception or a bad roll of the die. And that’s why I think this system is actually pretty cool, because I, you, we can always make up more Dungeons & Dragons content in our minds. We can repurpose that room down the line or in the next adventure or campaign. There’s a finite amount of Baldur’s Gate 3, and if we miss it, that’s it. I appreciate being given the nudge to try again. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/02/27/baldurs-gate-3-has-some-awesome-stadia-exclusive-features"]
High LightsOne of the most reassuring elements of Larian’s grasp of Dungeons & Dragons was how well they understand the personality of environments in the game. Whether you’re perched on the sizzling red shelves of a blazingly bright canyon wall waiting to get the drop on enemies below, or you’re skulking through the darkness of a shadow-blanketed tomb to avoid patrolling skeletal guardians, the need to interact with your surroundings in meaningful ways is the mortar that holds these make-believe worlds together. Baldur’s Gate 3 is set up to tackle as many of the pillars of environmental interactivity as one could reasonably expect, namely: verticality, light, and manipulation. Throughout my preview, I saw roughly a half-dozen different environments, maybe a few more, as the party trekked through a typical medieval forest, a craggy coastal area, the wreckage of a Nautiloid ship, overgrown chapel ruins, a dusty subterranean tomb, and a recently goblin-claimed fort. In each of these locales, a common theme of verticality was emphasized, and that may sound like a simple thing. But while I don’t have the data to back up my suspicion, I’d wager one of the leading causes of low-level adventurer death is gravity. Well, the sudden stop, but gravity certainly plays a part. Elevation plays a huge role in Dungeons & Dragons. [poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=%22You%E2%80%99re%20forced%20to%20decide%20whether%20you%20stand%20and%20trade%20with%20firebolts%20and%20crossbow%20bolts%2C%20or%20split%20the%20party%20and%20scale%20the%20structure.%22"] In Baldur’s Gate 3 that’s manifested in the cliffs you jump up and down getting from one point to another. It’s apparent in the rafters you can sneak across to find yourself perched above the Hobgoblin boss inspiring bloodlust through a rage-inducing sermon, ready to cut the rope to the candelabra swinging above its head. It’s woefully apparent when you walk into a seemingly abandoned township and find yourself caught in a deluge of jagged goblin arrows from the roof of the building towering over you. In moments like this, you’re forced to decide whether you stand and trade with firebolts and crossbow bolts, or split the party and scale the structure. These kinds of tactics are really at the heart of D&D. Even if you’re outmatched, outnumbered, and out-crossbowed, with a little ingenuity you can overcome incredible obstacles. [widget path="global/article/imagegallery" parameters="albumSlug=icons-of-the-realms-baldurs-gates-descent-into-avernus-complete-set-gallery&captions=true"] “We take that same mentality and put that into combat as well,” Holland said. “You saw it with Swen during the combat encounter with the bandits in the chapel. He took one of his characters and branched off from the group and got up top and behind [them]. It’s a way to mitigate those different layers of advantage and disadvantage, to approach every single combat as creatively as possible. ‘How do I avoid having to be at the mercy of the dice?’ “One interesting thing about working with a combat system that's so reliant on percentages and rolls and randomness, is how do you as a player mitigate that? We have randomness mitigation,” Holland continued. “Any event the player can interact with, we want to give them as much freedom to interface with that situation as possible, as many different ways to solve that scenario as they can.” The other major environmental scenario I noticed this principle really hammering home is lighting. Light plays a major role in Dungeons & Dragons, dictating whether or not you’re making perceptions checks at disadvantage in dim light, or if you can even target an enemy with a spell in total darkness. Those are the obvious ones, sure. But it also matters when that Shadow Demon you’re chasing turns a dark corner and is able to hide as a bonus action, or when that cackling Boneclaw that just stuck three of its favorite finger-talons into the chest of your cleric suddenly Shadow Jumps 60 feet away with your healer in tow. It’s all in the lighting. [poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=The%20light%20system%20is%20literally%20how%20it%20is%20in%20the%20book%20and%20it%20works%20super%20well."] “Light manipulation actually goes quite far in giving you advantage, sneaking up on somebody, surprising them to get the initiative,” Vincke said. “These are very important mechanics that change the entire flow of combat. “The light system is literally how it is in the book and it works super well. It compliments very well with the environmental manipulation, which is something that we already pioneered in Divinity, that we upgraded here. But it's a logical thing, right? If it's something that normally would be happening passively behind the scenes or as part of the calculation, can we make it active so that the player actually knows that they're doing this?” [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/2019/10/02/why-is-dd-so-popular-again"] Baldur’s Gate 3 seems to be taking this seriously, though I can’t speak to the demons or Boneclaws. For me, it was best illustrated in that aforementioned skeletal-guardian tomb, where Vincke was attempting to stealth through the seemingly random patrols with his impossibly moody half-elf vampire spawn Astorian. Baldur’s Gate 3 borrows Divinity: Original Sin 2’s really straightforward and easy-to-understand stealth system. You pop into stealth and you can visually identify the areas every enemy can see thanks to the shifting bright red blanket that covers the affected terrain. Stay out of the red and you’re good. But why it illustrates the functionality of active lighting so well happened when he was stuck out in a hallway as a Skeleton was turning the corner. He was dead to rights. Except, one small corner, where a pillar cut off the light from a torch burning on the wall a ways back, casting the smallest shadow behind it. He ducked into the corner and every inch of tomb around him lit up in bright red vision-cone as the skeleton rounded to face his direction, except for the shadow. He was safe, hidden in the dim security of a crumbling old pillar. That kind of organic light manipulation and active application is really impressive and I can’t wait to mess around with it.
The Action EconomistI think there’s room for debate here, but the action economy – how many things each side can do on a turn – in Dungeons & Dragons Fifth Edition is arguably more important than it’s ever been. It's key to the core central experience of combat thanks to bounded accuracy, a term that, boiled down, essentially means there’s always a chance for something to be threatening. Doesn’t matter if you’re a fresh-faced level one or a half-god level 20 – a pack of goblins can still kill you given the right circumstances. Gone are the days of an armor class of 47, and so more hits mean more chances for something to happen, and Larian is running with that principle. It’s easy to see the skeleton of Divinity: Original Sin 2 supporting Baldur’s Gate 3’s combat, but even just a slightly deeper past the surface reveals them to be two different beasts. [widget path="global/article/imagegallery" parameters="albumSlug=icons-of-the-realms-guildmasters-guide-to-ravnica-complete-set-gallery&captions=true"] “Baldur's Gate is a class-based system, which is not the case in Divinity,” Vincke said. “That changes a lot of things. The economy of actions is very different. You get one action, you get a bonus action, that's a hard lesson. Then you get your movement, which is different, so this affects things heavily.” Though what you can do with each of these actions is fairly clearly defined in Dungeons & Dragons, it’s still coming together in Baldur’s Gate 3. Since every system directly or indirectly touches one another, considerations need to be taken to make sure some things aren’t unintentionally overperforming. “We're fooling around with these things, so don't take anything [as it is now] as definitive,” Vincke said. “This is one of the reasons we go to early access, to see what's overpowered to us.” For example, Vincke really likes to shove monsters off high places. Can’t blame him. In Fifth Edition shoving a creature is a special attack, which is an action, which is expensive considering you can use that action to hit that creature in the head with your Flametongue Axe. That’s a decision to make, and it might not translate entirely in Baldur’s Gate 3. Hence the tweaking. “[Shove] is a bonus action right now, so we cheated there on that. We did it on purpose because we were going to change it now, but we're still fooling around with what is a bonus action, what is an action,” Vincke said. “We have made some changes to the original system when we felt that people would never use it if it's an action because it's too expensive. But we found that with the shove, we can make it an action now because it's powerful enough, but we'll increase the chance that it works better. Right now it works correctly. If you do it from sneak, your shove actually always has an advantage, and that is cool.” [poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=If%20you%20don't%20play%20it%20right%2C%20these%20little%20goblins%20that%20have%2C%20what%2C%20seven%20to%2010%20%5Bhitpoints%5D%2C%20are%20going%20to%20mess%20you%20up."] And to bring this idea of actions, economy, and accuracy home, Larian said it’s still very much intending to keep the bounded elements of D&D Fifth Edition accuracy. In short, they want you to feel the threat of danger whether you’re fighting goblins or ancient red dragons. “Well, we are making sure that every single common encounter can be deadly,” said Holland. “We want to make sure that the player has options to mitigate the risk. So there's always going to be encounters where if you don't play it right, don't take the time to really set yourself up, these little goblins that have, what, seven to 10 [hitpoints], are going to mess you up.” Holland continued: “The thing we want to avoid is having the player enter every single encounter and use the exact same skills in the exact same order way every single time. We want the players not only to think during combat, but before combat. ‘How am I going to approach this? How am I going to maximize the most out of my action?’" My biggest question was how Reactions are going to work. How will the game know when you want to cast Shield or Feather Fall? What about Counterspell? How will the game know if you’d rather not take an Opportunity Attack in favor of saving your reaction for something else? Long story short: Reactions are still very much a work-in-progress in some cases, and just not used in others. “What we found was that pausing the game action for a popup for the player to choose to take a reaction, it didn't feel good,” Holland said. “It kind of really cut away at the snappiness of the gameplay. So we have a similar Opportunity Attack,” which is based on proximity and is automatically triggered. “With something like Counterspell, it could go a similar way, but it has yet to be decided.” [poilib element="accentDivider"] Brandin Tyrrel is a Senior Editor at IGN. You can find him on Unlocked, or chat over on Twitter at @BrandinTyrrel.