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Don't worry, you won't see 170 hours of Baldur's Gate 3 cinematics in one playthrough

"It does feel like a screenplay that is really specifically for you."

A fair-haired and very handsome elven character lying on the sand, looking up at the camera, with a concerned look on their face.
Image credit: Eurogamer / Larian Studios

Baldur's Gate 3 made headlines recently with the eye-catching claim that it has more than 170 hours of cinematics in the game.

Wrote Larian in a community update: "Baldur's Gate 3 has more cinematic dialogue than three times all three Lord of the Rings novels combined. It has 174 hours of cinematics, making it more than twice the length of every season of Game of Thrones combined."

This, however, raised concerns over how much cinematic dialogue people would be watching while playing the game, and whether it would interrupt the flow.

I got the chance to talk to Larian boss Swen Vincke last week and I raised this with him. And as I understand it, players will not see anything like that on one playthrough. The overwhelming bulk of that number comes from permutations in the game. For every decision you make, and every short cinematic conversation you see linked to it, dozens more are recorded for the same moment that you won't see. And it's when you add all of these don't-see permutations together you get the big number.

The Baldur's Gate 3 launch trailer - it really is that close!Watch on YouTube

"Correct," said Swen Vincke. It won't, in other words, feel like watching The Lord of the Rings film trilogy three times.

"No," he said. "That's why I insisted on doing my playthrough the way I did, so you get an idea of actually what it means."

Vincke is referring to a section of the game he played in the city of Baldur's Gate, which constitutes the third and final act of the game, where he was the druid Jaheira, and the world reacted to her in a unique way.

"If you don't have Jaheira in your party: forget all the Jaheira scenes," he said. "Those are not there - you'll have something else. That's what permutation-heavy means.

"It's very hard to understand that," he added, "but when you see it, you feel it, because it does feel - and you'll find that as you play through - like a screenplay that is really specifically for you. But it takes a lot of bulk of dialogue to be there to be able to do that."

Baldur's Gate 3 is due for release on PC on 3rd August, and then on PlayStation 5 - a version I've also played (and I'll tell you about as soon as I can type it) - on 6th September. It's also coming to Xbox, but there's a hold-up due to the Series S machine struggling with split-screen co-op, which Larian wants all console versions to have. It's determined to get this working, though, and I'll share some of Swen Vincke's thoughts about that soon too.

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