Romance has become a central component of RPGs, with many gamers sharing stories of their favorite sweet moments and engaging in heated debates among themselves over who is the best choice for their leading lady. Standing tall as an RPG giant, BioWare has set the industry gold standard for RPG romance progression. it all started with Baldur’s Gate II.
Released in 2000, Baldur’s Gate II it was quickly recognized by players and critics at the time as a triumph of storytelling and gameplay, with positive reviews across the board putting it in the same category as Planescape: Torment Y Fall. One of the most prominent features of the game was the four NPCs that could be part of the player’s party. These NPCs, of course, were also an important part of Bhaalspawn’s life as romantic options.
Baldur’s Gate II’s romance options were a game changer
Prior to Baldur’s Gate II, the romance options in video games were relatively limited. The player was supposed to simply accept the fact that the protagonist was in love with whomever the plot considered the main focus of emotional attachment. Often this was done with little preparation or connecting moments. Everyone can agree that Mario and Princess Peach are an iconic couple, but few can really explain what the basis of their romance is beyond baking cakes and fighting Bowser.
On the other hand, the four romantic options in Baldur’s Gate II (Aerie, Jaheira, Viconia, and Anomen) are so much more than just plot devices or a way to build tension within the plot. They are all characters with their own wants, needs, and quests outside of Bhaalspawn’s intervention. It’s even entirely possible to play the game and not be aware that there are possibilities for romance with party members. However, the player misses out on a lot of content by not delving into their stories. Each NPC can affect the player’s perception of the game and the different factions. In turn, the player can also influence the NPC with how quests are handled and the decisions they make. Simply by falling in love, characters could have their class kits and alignments affected and their story endings altered.
While this sounds commonplace now, in the early days of PC gaming this was a whole new concept. Players often didn’t have as much responsibility for how individual characters’ stories might turn out, and very rarely got to make decisions about who their character might fall in love with. This was BioWare’s first foray into video game romance, and it would quickly become a staple of their games, as seen in Knights of the Old Republic and future titles like dragon age Y mass effect. The players’ love story with Tali and Garrus began in Baldur’s Gate II.
Romance options attract more gamers to video games
Romance is something that naturally intrigues many people. As long as there have been stories to tell, there have been stories about romance and romantic encounters. The introduction of romance in video games can be attributed as one of the many things that brought the games to a wider audience. When Baldur’s Gate II was first released, it sold just over 225,000 copies. On the contrary, his spiritual successor, Dragon Age: Origins, sold more than three million copies in its first year. As one of the things these two games had in common, the romance and romance options added narrative value to the overall experience for many players.
BioWare made romances a feature players were looking forward to. It has become expected of RPGs, even becoming something that draws players into the experience who may not have had other reasons to enjoy the games. Romances are a fun way to hook players into playing a certain game. For interested players, romances add a little more life to the protagonist’s story and open up possibilities for interaction. Back in the days of Baldur’s Gate II, romances were limited. As time and attitudes have progressed and changed, everyone can find the romantic option for them in video games. However, it all started with an isometric RPG where a Bhaalspawn could fall in love with an elf (or a human).