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Bethesda Game Lead Explains Why Their RPGs Are Different


Since Baldur’s Gate 3’s launch, there’s been a lot of questions about why other RPGs seem less meaningful

A former design director from Bethesda shared some insights on what separates RPGs like Skyrim and Baldur’s Gate 3. MinnMax’s podcast interview with Bruce Nesmith, a former Bethesda director who had a very impressive history at Bethesda.

He worked on many projects during his tenure at Bethesda Game Studios and he was also the lead designer for Skyrim and then a senior systems designer on Starfield. Nesmith went on to discuss Baldur’s Gate 3, calling it a “triumph of trying to make the tabletop experience actually happen right there in the computer.”

Baldures Gate 3 Cover art depicting the characters.

Nesmith also shared a unique insight on why Baldur’s Gate 3 feels and plays so differently compared to Bethesda’s RPGs. Larian who, “poked into all the darkest corners,” something that never took place in Bethesda while he was at the studio. “They’ve [Larian] come out and said quite bluntly, ‘We don’t care if only 1% of the players ever see this. Those 1% that do will be happy and they’ll tell the other 99%, who will then be happy that the option existed.’”

Nesmith further mentioned: “And at Bethesda, the games we were making were so big, we had to take the approach of, well, everybody’s got to be able to do this at some point. We can’t block off content that way. And you can see it in our games. We don’t. You can get to be the heads of all the guilds, you can be friends with all the companions. you can go to all the places. Nothing is off limits.”

One of the Baldurs Gate 3 characters.

With Baldur’s Gate 3 Nesmith felt “this decision I’m about to make will close off parts of the game and open up others. It’s meaningful. That means something.” this change in Baldur’s Gate 3 and Starfield isn’t a coincidence.

Nesmith also said Bethesda was in the “business of making games that people would play for hundreds of hours,” and if the studio decided to “cut out 50%” of the game based on player choices, then suddenly achieving those numbers wouldn’t be so easy. “Whereas, very few of the decisions in a Bethesda game feel highly meaningful,” Nesmith went on, “You maybe get three or four of those. And we tried to make those really big and important.”

There has been a lot of speculation on the future of RPGs, Baldur’s Gate 3 didn’t just release a popular new game, it changed scopes and got everyone asking questions.