6 Cool Things We Just Learned About Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur’s Gate 3 is imminent, and every time we see more of Larian Studios’ upcoming fantasy RPG, I’m reminded of just how large this game is going to be. The team put together one more Panel From Hell presentation to show off some more of the game before it launches out of Early Access for PC on August 3 (PlayStation 5 will come on September 6).

If you want to watch the full panel, you can do so right here:

Larian Studios

If you just want the broad strokes, read on.

The character creator is much broader than it was in Early Access

The first thing Larian put a spotlight on was the character creator, which will have several options not available in the game during its Early Access period. Some of the new features include skin options such as giving yourself wrinkles, freckles, and Vitiligo pigmentation. If you’re playing a horned character like a Tiefling, you can now change their horns’ color. One of the bigger changes includes the addition of body types, which allow you to change your character’s physical build to have a larger or smaller frame.

Alongside the overall changes that apply to most races, Larian also showed off the Dragonborn race, which they say was difficult to design compared to the other races, as they are reptilian.

The Dark Urge is a mystery origin character you can customize

While you can make your own character in Baldur’s Gate 3, you can also play as “origin” characters. This gives you a specific backstory and perspective to play, and will give you more insight into the cast than you’ll get as an original, player-created character who is getting to know them. Most of these characters are fixed in race, gender, etc., but Larian introduced a new one that you can customize, but will have a different backstory than the default custom character.

The Dark Urge origin lets you play as an amnesiac who is struggling with a near-uncontrollable bloodlust they can’t explain. While they’ll still be able to form friendships and more with their party, the violent impulses will play a part in their story until the very end.

Wyll is shown caressing the main character's face.

Screenshot: Larian Studios / Kotaku

Wyll has been entirely rewritten

If you’ve been playing Baldur’s Gate 3 in Early Access, you probably think you know its party pretty well. Well, one character’s story has apparently been completely revamped ahead of the game’s true launch, and that’s Wyll. According to the team, “pretty much every line of dialogue has been rewritten” for the Warlock party member, and his story has changed a great deal from the draft we saw in Early Access. This raised my eyebrows because Wyll was my romance in the Early Access, so I’m curious to see how I feel about him after these revisions.

You can have sex with a druid in bear form

One of the most notable segments of the showcase was when Larian focused on romance. This started out normal with a date between the player and the Tiefling Karlach. But then it quickly went into a wild scene of Astarion having sex with the Druid Halsin when he transforms into a bear. Make of that information what you will.

Larian Studios

The voice of Lady Dimitrescu is voicing a Baldur’s Gate 3 villain

If you, like many others, were captivated by Maggie Robertson’s performance as Lady Dimitrescu in Resident Evil Village, she’s voicing an antagonist in Baldur’s Gate 3, as well. She plays the shapeshifting Orin the Red, who is described in the stream as “relentless” and devoted to a deity that compels her to violent ends.

Warlocks can talk to their patrons

The Warlock class is known within D&D lore for having a pact with a patron. These are demons who grant magical abilities in exchange for their unyielding (and maybe unwilling) loyalty. As part of an effort to give different classes original means of problem-solving, Warlocks can consult their patron when making some decisions. As a Warlock player myself, this fucking rules. I’m excited to see how that relationship unfolds in the final game.

For more on Baldur’s Gate 3, check out Kotaku’s impressions of the Early Access phase.

9 Cool Games Coming To Xbox We Just Learned More About

We’re in a bit of a lull between big games right now, which makes it the perfect time to focus on some smaller releases that don’t often get much time in the limelight. Microsoft’s summer ID@Xbox livestream just did exactly that, highlighting a bunch of cool indie games coming to Xbox One and Series X/S in the months and year ahead.

The 10th annual ID@Xbox Showcase (hosted by IGN) was a good reminder of a bunch of neat-looking games that are either in-development or already out on PC and about to come to Xbox and other consoles. We didn’t get to see more of Silksong, the long-awaited sequel to crowd-favorite Metroidvania Hollow Knight, despite the fact that it continues to dominate every Xbox livestream chat even after the game was officially delayed.

But we did get a surprise reveal of a remaster of Prince of Persia designer Jordan Mechner’s first game, Karateka, as well as word that the excellent Axiom Verge 2 is finally on Xbox starting July 11. Plus, you can try out a bunch of new indie games for free thanks to the ongoing Demo Fest running through July 17. Here are nine other games that got world premiers, new gameplay trailers, or release dates today.

Birth – July 28

Birth is an action adventure puzzle game about constructing creatures out of old bones and spare organs. It’s a quiet and macabre point-and-click meditation on comfort and loneliness. It hit Steam earlier this year and is one of 2023’s best and least-expected cozy games.

Everspace 2 – August 15

Everspace 2 is probably one of the best games of the year so far that you likely haven’t gotten around to trying, mostly because it’s only been on PC. A space shooter with RPG and loot mechanics, it’s all about outfitting your starfighter and exploring space, like Star Fox mixed with Diablo. Right? Right?? And now we finally know it’s coming to Game Pass and PlayStation 5 just in time to avoid the Starfield blackout.

Mythforce – September 12

MythForce is a four-player co-op roguelike adventure in the vein of a Saturday morning cartoon. It kind of reminds me of Gauntlet, but in first-person, and it apparently draws inspiration from Baldur’s Gate and Neverwinter Nights. I’m looking forward to giving it a try.

Dreamers – September 1

Out of everything shown at the ID@Xbox Showcase, Dreamers was the most intriguing-looking. Its low-poly 3D world focuses on the adventures of a young boy, a girl, and their robot as they complete side quests and upgrade their vehicles. Their journey looks like it will take them from snowy roads to seaside beaches, filled with puzzles along the way.

Solace State – Summer 2023

Solace State is a hacker visual novel about fighting a corporate biotech conspiracy. It stars Chloe as she confronts political oppression and old romantic flings.

Worldless – Fall 2023

This one’s an ethereal adventure game that swaps between the physical and astral planes “within a shapeless world.” Worldless sports turn-based combat and is promising a “mind-bending” narrative. I’m skeptical, but the vibes seem chill and enticing.

Roman Sands Re:Build – Winter

The newest surreal thriller from the studio behind Paratopic, Roman Sands has you manage a decaying zoological research facility while listening to a strange voice on the radio. The flashy presentation reminds me a bit of Neon White, and the UI looks sick. If the final game can be half as stylish as the trailer, it could be a really good time.

Scarlet Deer Inn – TBD

Are you ready for the takeover of embroidery-core? Scarlet Deer Inn took over the internet earlier this year and it looks utterly delightful. The hand-painted backgrounds are inspired by “Studio Ghibli movies, Slavic folklore, and medieval Europe,” while the game itself will take place across monster-filled dungeons and optional character backstories.

Hellboy Web of Wyrd – TBD

What if a Dark Horse Hellboy comic was a roguelite brawler? That’s the pitch from Hellboy Web of Wyrd, and we finally got to see it (briefly) in action in the latest trailer. While there’s still no release date, it looks like the action will stay pretty cinematic and over-the-shoulder, with timed-dodges, heavy-punches, and gun blasts slowly whittling away at foes. Big Red is the late actor Lance Reddick’s last video game performance.

6 Things We Just Learned

Ten years in, Final Fantasy XIV is setting sail for new horizons. Square Enix has revealed a bunch of new information about what’s next for the blockbuster MMO, including new job classes, platforms, and an expansion called Dawntrail. The new story campaign planned for 2024 will see players travel to the “New World,” a continent called Tural that director Naoki Yoshida likened to the “best summer vacation ever.”

The deails were all announced during the Final Fantasy XIV FanFest Keynote in Las Vegas, NV on July 28. Yoshida appeared in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem t-shirt to talk about new damage-based classes coming to the game alongside patch 7.0 next year, as well as to invite Microsoft Gaming CEO Phil Spencer on-stage for the news that the long-running MMORPG will finally come to Xbox Series X/S. Here are all the biggest takeways from the next chapter in Final Fantasy XIV’s post-Endwalker saga.

Dawntrail begins a new journey

The upcoming expansion takes place in a water-filled, tropical world in the midst of a succession fight. Players will spend a lot of time in the new social hub of Tuliyollal, Tural’s capital. In addition to raising the level cap from 90 to 100, the expansion will also introduce two currently unknown DPS jobs, as well as new dungeons and a tribe called the Pelupelu. There’s a Final Fantasy X vibe to the whole thing, but unforutnately Yoshida confirmed there won’t be any underwater soccer, AKA Blitzball.

A graphical update will make the whole game look better

A comparison shot shows old and new flowers.

Image: Square Enix

While Dawntrail is the main affair, version 7.0 will also include a major visual overhaul that will help freshen up the aging MMO. We’re talking shinier metals, more detailed foliage, higher resolution objects and shadows, and more realistic skin. The new look will be most noticeable in the expansion, but old content will be getting tweaked over time as well.

Players can finally use two dyes

An information slide shows a new dye system coming.

Screenshot: Square Enix

MMOs are all about ignoring your friend while they explain the raid strategy to everyone and looking super stylish while you’re doing it. For years, players were limited to just one dye per gear piece when designing their look. Square Enix now plans to roll out the option to use two dyes per gear piece, leading to defeaning cheers throughout the world of Hydaelyn.

The free trial now includes Stormblood

A samurai draws their blade in Stormblood.

Image: Square Enix

Final Fantasy XIV is a paid MMO that also requires a subscription, but you can also try it for free. You’re limited in the number of characters you can create and your final level cap, but it’s more than enough to experience everything of note in the story. Previously, the free trial only included A Realm Reborn and Heavensward. Starting around patch 6.5 in September, it will also include Stormblood. The free period lasts for 30 days from when you start.

Final Fantasy XIV comes to Xbox with crossplay

Square Enix and Microsoft executives share the stage at FanFest.

Screenshot: Square Enix

After years of Spencer and Yoshida talking about how they’d love for the MMO to come to Xbox, it’s actually finally coming to Xbox. A beta for the port will go live later this year, with the full version supporting 4K launching in 2024. It will support crossplay with PlayStation 5 and arrive in time for Dawntrail. Both Microsoft and Square Enix hinted that the partnership was the beginning of new collaborations to come, potentially signaling an end to the RPG maker’s lopsided exclusivity deals with Sony.

A crossover with Final Fantasy XVI could be coming

Clive battles a guard in Final Fantasy XVI

Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku

With the MMO and new single-player entry sharing a producer, a crossover between the two games seemed inevitable. Yoshida has a running “dad joke” where he talks about how discussions between he and himself on the collaboration are going well. He said during a panel discussion over the weekend that they can expect an official announcement later this year, implying outfits or entire characters might swap worlds in the future.


13 More Things We Just Learned

A giant batch of new Final Fantasy VII Rebirth interviews and previews just dropped to kickoff Tokyo Game Show 2023 and the sequel is sounding more promising than ever. Here’s everything we’re learning from Square Enix’s latest marketing bonanza around the upcoming timed PlayStation 5 exclusive.

The new round of hands-on impressions come from two demos, one taking place during the Nibelheim incident flashback that sees Cloud fighting alongside Sephiroth, and another showing off open-world exploration around the outskirts of Junon, the sea-side military city with a giant gun mounted on it. Writers at IGN, Polygon, GameSpot, and more came away impressed by how the sequel expands on Final Fantasy VII Remake’s world and mechanics, though many are still eager to find out more about how Rebirth will deviate from the original 1997 PlayStation game’s story.

“As with the previous game, we have strived for the right balance between old and new scenes in Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, but we also tried to take on more new challenges than we did in Final Fantasy VII Remake with some of the new scenes,” producer Yoshinori Kitase told the PlayStation Blog last week. “I am confident these new scenes will be wildly enjoyable for fans and newcomers alike.” Time will tell. For now, here are a bunch of interesting new details going around in today’s previews.

Pre-order Final Fantasy VII Rebirth: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop

At 150GB, Rebirth is huge, but you won’t be swapping between two discs

Cloud attacks Sephiroth.

Image: Square Enix

Director Naoki Hamaguchi confirmed to Game Informer that the total size of the game on PS5 is 150GB, with 100GB on the first disc and 50GB on the second. Unlike the PS1 version, however, players won’t be swapping discs midway through. Instead, they’ll download the whole thing at once and then be able to play the entire game with either disc inserted.

The game ends after the Forgotten Capital

Aerith unleashes a thunder bolt.

Image: Square Enix

Creative director Tetsuya Nomura also confirmed to Game Informer that Rebirth will go up to and include the end of the Forgotten Capital, known as the City of Ancients in the original game. That’s where Aerith dies in the 1997 version, but given how the remake trilogy is messing with the canon, anything could happen this time around.

You can go on monster hunts

Cloud looks for monsters at Cosmo Canyon.

Image: Square Enix

Like Final Fantasy XII, XV, and XVI, Rebirth will have special enemy hunts out in the sequel’s much more expansive, semi-open world. According to Polygon, players will encounter extra difficult monster variants while exploring that can be defeated in specific ways to earn extra rewards. Hopefully the game uses this to showcase some deep cuts from Final Fantasy VII’s bestiary.

Synergy Skills and Abilities are like combo techniques from Chrono Trigger

Barrett and Yuffie unleash a synergy attack.

Image: Square Enix

Revealed in the most recent State of Play trailer, party members this time around will have an extra slate of attacks called Synergy Skills. These open up while blocking and allow multiple characters to work together, like Cloud knocking Barrett’s gun fire into nearby enemies. Synergy Abilities are even stronger, and GameSpot likens them to Chrono Trigger’s combo techniques. They basically combine multiple characters’ limit breaks into an extra powerful finisher.

There’s crafting

Cloud searches for crafting materials outside Junon.

Image: Square Enix

Fortunately, it doesn’t look too menacing. Players can pick up random materials while out in the world and use them to make phoenix downs and other recovery items. It’s not clear how extensive the system will be, but it probably beats running back to town when you run out of potions.

Sephiroth is playable

Sephiroth beckons.

Image: Square Enix

Players could command Sephiroth for a short bit during the original game’s Nibelheim flashback, and the new demos confirm that’s the case in Rebirth as well. There’s apparently even an extended sequence where he and Cloud team up to fight through enemy hordes, with players able to control the super SOLDIER as he unleashes hell with his giant Masamune blade.

Vincent is not, but he’ll still fight with you

Vincent confronts the party.

Image: Square Enix

Teased during the latest trailer, IGN confirms the former Turk turned shapeshifting gunslinger can’t be controlled but he’ll still accompany players in the late part of the game as Red XIII did near the end of Remake. Nomura hinted to Game Informer that Vincent may join the player’s party for real by the final game in the trilogy.

Nobody’s seen Cid yet

1997 Cid lights a stick of dynamite.

Image: Square Enix

The cigarette-smoking, curse-spewing pilot was absent from the latest round of demos. That doesn’t mean he won’t be in the game at all. In the 1997 version’s timeline, Cid joins the crew long before they make it to the City of Ancients. Rebirth has a ton of ground to cover, however. Either Cid is being held back for a later reveal or his content has been moved to a later part of the trilogy’s story.

Cloud can swim

Players can get some laps in around Junon if they want, the demos confirmed. Whether there will be anything to discover or fight in the water remains to be seen. Will the spikey-haired punk get an alternate speedo costume? He’d better.

The Junon dolphin is back

Swimming will also be crucial for one of the most memorable scenes from the early part of Final Fantasy VII: riding a dolphin to the upper layer of the Junon military base. Simply called Mr. Dolphin in the original, he looks great in 4K and his return shows Square Enix isn’t shying away from the 1997 version’s absurd mini-games.

Here’s Red XIII riding a chocobo

I can’t believe this is real.

You can pet the baby chocobo chicks

Chocobo breeding returns in Rebirth, complete with blue, green, and golden chocobos. But there are also chocobo chicks, they are adorable, and Cloud can pet them. It’s a beautiful Kodak moment before he hauls them off to the Gold Saucer racetrack. Unfortunately, IGN confirmed that there won’t be any actual Chocobo breeding this time around. Maybe by the final game.

Zack will get an entire episode to himself

Zack holds out for his breakout role.

Image: Square Enix

Cloud’s First Class SOLDIER friend had a very minor role in the 1997 game but it expanded significantly in subsequent adaptations and spin-offs, most notably Final Fantasy VII: Crisis Core. Kitase told IGN that the black-haired swordsman will be getting a lot more facetime in Rebirth. “There will be a new episode with Zack, that will contain even more of him than the Remake,” he said. “I’m not able to say much more than this as I would like for players to play and experience this with it in their own hands.”

Pre-order Final Fantasy VII Rebirth: Amazon | Best Buy | GameStop



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