The second act of Baldur’s Gate 3 is very different from the first. Fairytale studies are rapidly replaced by something much gloomy and less hospitable, but, according to the leading screenwriter Adam Smith, there is a very good reason for this.
Talking with Smith at Gamescom, GameSradar+ asked the question of a somewhat sharp difference in the tone between the first and second acts. The second act is more tough, gloomy and not as large as the first. But, as Smith explains, this shift was extremely important for the narrative structure of the whole game.
One of the reasons why the first act is so open is that you have a space for experiments, and then, when you delve into the game, the second act becomes much more: have you brought some skills with you? Have you learned to navigate in this much more dangerous area? The systemic and emergent things that you have learned by this moment need you to survive, while the first act is much more playful.
This is an adventure, right? The beginning of the adventure is much more free – you discover what your role is, you discover for yourself what you can do. And then, in the second act, the intensity of the drama increases. The most interesting in the first act is that the villains are in your head or pursue you vaguely. But the main antagonist: this is a parasite? What it is? And you are looking for it – "that here is the biggest threat to me?"
This gives many directions in the plot plan. And to the second act, I think, the hope that – and it seems, it works well – you better understand your personality in the game, what you would like, what you are capable of and how you want to cope with the situation. So in the second act you have a large space of choice, but it is more associated with that, "What to do with these very specific things?", not with that, "that we are studying what we learn?".
I think that it seemed strange to some people because they felt that "This is completely different". But this is his wealth. As for the pace, I think that if we made three large pieces of space, as in the first act, then it would be tiring. There is a plot stimulus, there are gameplay differences, but we did not want people to think: "So, it seems, I went through all the sections of this map", And then they went on and thought: "And now another". It can be great, but it may be so: "Okay, now I’m going to repeat the same process". So in the second act there are many research, there are many discoveries, but almost everything that you open for yourself in the second act indicates a strong direction that is Baldur’s Gate.