Since its August launch, Baldur's Gate 3 has been lauded as among 2023's best games. It's a massive game with enough content to last dozens of hours, and its role-playing variety makes it highly replayable.
Yet, once over 200 hours are logged in, a desire for something more comes. It's a beautiful siren song I have fallen into and one I haven't heard in years. Not since my days playing the PC versions of Fallout: New Vegas and Skyrim for days on end.
I'm, of course, talking about installing mods. Mods are a wonderful thing that enhances titles like Deus Ex and makes Vampire the Masquerade: Bloodlines tolerable. They come in all shapes and sizes, ranging from bug fixes to DLC-sized content additions that stretch what a mod can be.
Baldur's Gate 3's popularity also makes it a popular game to mod, and some are already amazing. I resisted installing them for my first couple hundred hours of play because I love the vanilla game and already crown it as one of my favorites. Yet I couldn't become a sexy magical gunslinger in the vanilla game, and mods were here to rectify that.
I installed the Artificer mod for Baldur's Gate 3, and something awoke inside me. It was like I was 15 again and spending more time modding Skyrim than actually playing it.
I need MORE!
Since I figured out how to make mods work, I asked myself if I could install a few. The answer was yes, so I went a little mad installing various mods that caught my eye. Most were among the most popular mods, including Faces of Faerun and Tav's Hair Salon. Baldur's Gate 3's character creator is already solid, but it never hurt to have more options.
It was around here I remembered being a kid modding Skyrim. A quest here and some new customization options there, but nothing that fixed things like the janky combat. Things got out of hand when I dipped into reshaders and animation alterations, and I would spend lazy days attempting to fix whatever broke.
It got to the point where I changed so much I took a step back and wondered why I invested so much time into this. It's been years since I played Skyrim because I can't stand the vanilla game. This is far from the case for Baldur's Gate 3 because I adore it, but I also worried that going down this rabbit hole could sour my overall thoughts.
Those thoughts dissipated when I remembered that Skyrim isn't a title that aged well with me. Unlike my younger self, I showed some self-restraint with modding Baldur's Gate 3 and stopped at around a dozen mods. I wasn't fixing this game, just adding a couple of things.
I created Ashe once I was done, a tiefling Artificer with a dark urge to kill. She's the type of girl who's as intelligent as she is quirky, and by quirky, I mean thirsty for blood. With her eldritch cannon at her side and a gung-ho attitude, she ventures into the world ready to adventure.
Going pew pew across the Sword Coast
My original intent for modding Baldur's Gate 3 was to add the Artificer mod so that I could play as an Artillerist. Other Artificer subclasses were cool, like Alchemist for potion brewing or Armorer to magically become a tank.
Yet, in my opinion, all these pale to the Artillerist because it's the only option that makes me a gunslinger. Part of the whole appeal behind being a sexy gunslinger is actually slinging a gun around.
Well, it's not a gun per se, but the tiny eldritch cannon is functionally a fantasy pistol. It acts and has the same animations as a hand crossbow but is way cooler because it comes with some deeply overpowered skills.
A part of me considered installing the mod that re-enables achievements in Baldur's Gate 3, but several Artillerist skills shatter the balance. My most used of these is Force Ballista, whose functions similarly to Eldritch Blast and is also a bonus action in the mod.
The mod authors intended to make changes that kept the game's balance, and that shines through even though I can give my entire party temporary hit points at almost any time. I enjoy Baldur's Gate 3's challenge immensely, but I love tripping out on a power fantasy more. Thankfully, the game's difficulty is largely intact even with these buffs.
Baldur's Gate 3 is wonderful modded and vanilla
My biggest takeaway from returning to modding is how much I just enjoy Baldur's Gate 3. Having more spellcasting options is great, but I largely stick to what Larian Studios included. More face options and hairstyles are fantastic, but that doesn't mean I won't ever use the vanilla options again. The only thing I still don't get is why Hexblade Warlock wasn't included because it rocks.
Periodically checking out new mods is also fun in itself because it demonstrates how passionate the community is. My favorites are probably the mods implementing various D&D 5e subclasses that didn't make the vanilla game's cut. Turning Astarion into a Glamor Bard or Lae'zel into an Arcane Archer helps spice up build variety, especially after hundreds of hours.
I still enjoy vanilla Baldur's Gate 3 quite a lot. I've been jumping back and forth between the PC and PS5 versions and have a blast either way. I don't particularly miss any of my installed mods when on console, and think of it as jumping into a playthrough as another build.
I know I'll install new mods now and again if one catches my eye, but the process is different than before. There is no longer a need to fix every little part of the game I dislike or any moments where I pull my hair out troubleshooting when a game crashes. I just feel amazing adding stuff to a game I love.
Baldur's Gate 3 isn't a perfect game, and no mod or new official content will change my mind. There will never be a perfect game, and that's okay. If Baldur's Gate 3 can be compared to a delicious sundae, the mods are the cherries on top.
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