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RPS asks: turn-based or real-time with pause combat?

Now that we’ve gotten a proper look at Baldur’s Gate 3, the ol’ war machines are firing up. Baldur’s Gate games from years of yore featured the combat shared by other Infinity Engine games—real time action with the ability to pause and dictate to your party. Baldur’s Gate 3, developed by those Larian folks of Divinity: Original Sin 2 fame, will have turn-based combat similar to Larian’s last big RPG. So then, which is better? Come hash it out, but please do so in an orderly, turn-based queue.

For my part, I was previously a defender of real-time with pause (henceforth RTWP). That’s how Baldur’s Gate games were and that’s how they should continue to be, right? Pausing every couple seconds to micromanage was an inherent part of my experience with not just Baldur’s Gate but Icewind Dale, another RPG built in the same engine. In the modern day, I’ve enjoyed the throw-back quality of RTWP systems in classic-style RPGs like Tyranny and Pillars of Eternity. I’d even chuck the much earlier Dragon Age: Origins in that same stew pot. I’m not ready to give in to folks who find RTWP clunky and annoying—it still has a place in my heart—but I am ready to let it go on this occasion.

When it comes to Baldur’s Gate 3, I’ll gladly kiss my spacebar pause button goodbye. I massively enjoyed the tactical turn-based combat that Larian designed for their two Divinity: Original Sin games and would have been disappointed to see them build something intentionally backward-looking instead of iterating on the great system I already enjoyed. Not only that, but their turn-based system seems a better fit for a game inspired by a tabletop roleplaying setting, does it not?

Dungeons & Dragons, the ruleset and lore in which Baldur’s Gate has always been set, is a turn-based system. Back when, I imagine that RTWP must have seemed so slick. What action! What drama! Battles play out without waiting for a teammate’s dice roll. Computer RPGs are a marvel, truly. Now, real-time action is taken for granted and I’m of a mind that Baldur’s Gate will benefit from a return to turns. It’s not only more authentic to the source, but I think it will encourage tactical thinking more true to the spirit of a tabletop game as well.

What do you think? Remember to roll for initiative and take turns down there in the comments section.

If you’re just catching up, why not check out everything we know about Baldur’s Gate 3 or Alice Bee’s quite thorough Baldur’s Gate 3 preview.

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Lauren Morton

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