Nothing beats having companions by your side in RPGs. As well as being useful in a fight, party members can bring so much added depth and heart to the overall experience. It's often through their worldviews, motivations, and backstories that you get keen insight into the setting you're in, and they can breathe so much life into your journey as you go up against any number of dangers together. Ultimately, it's why I've loved spending so much time in Baldur's Gate 3.
Larian's RPG is home to a cast of characters that join you in your quest through the Sword Coast. Getting to know them as Tav over the course of several playthroughs has been one of the highlights of my gaming year, and as such I feel closer to the characters in Baldur's Gate 3 in comparison to almost any other RPG I've played. That's thanks to the Origins, because not only can you experience their personal stories by developing a bond with them, you can actually role-play as them.
Personally speaking, this is the first time I've experienced a game that lets me role-play as the very companions I've gotten to know as a custom character. Not only does this give you the unique opportunity to experience the story and world from their perspective, but you get to experience their personal story first-hand. I've yet to play Larian's previous RPG, Divinity Original Sin 2, but hearing that it also features Origin characters only makes me want to try it out all the more.
Ever since I started playing Baldur's Gate 3, I haven't been able to stop thinking about the many ways Larian lets you experience the Sword Coast. From the different classes, races, sub-races, and backgrounds, how you build your custom character feeds into how you can interact with the world and how it reacts to you. Much the same applies when it comes to Origins characters, who all have different assigned classes, builds, and backgrounds to their name. But it's their personal stories that make a run in their shoes so unique.
You're still propelled forward through the adventure by the tadpole that's burrowed in your brain, but each character has their own quest to fulfill, with their own personal motivations driving them forward. Sure, you get to help your companions with their personal quests as Tav, but experiencing those quests as them shifts the perspective and gives you a different kind of role-playing experience. While the party member's stories can have different outcomes depending on what you choose as Tav, how each member of the cast navigates through the adventure with you is fairly scripted. But, when you're role-playing in their shoes, it gives the opportunity to shape and tailor their journey in a way you otherwise couldn't.
Plus, playing as a character I've come to know as my own customized character changes the way I role-play. I try to make my decisions based on what I think they'd likely do in any given scenario, and base my dialogue responses on what best fits their personality. It's also simply fun to interact with the other cast as a party member you've come to know and love as a companion.
I love how playing as Astarion, for example, leaves it up to me to decide whether I should tell my companions that I'm a vampire. In one instance, I couldn't help wondering how Shadowheart would react if I used the bite attack on her before she knew I was a spawn. Naturally, she didn't take it well, and a confrontation unfolded you would just never see if you weren't actually playing as Astarion.
It factors into one of the best things about Baldur's Gate 3: it's impossible to see everything in just one playthrough alone, with so much to discover, and the Origin runs are home to plenty. Whether it be unique lines of dialogue, interactions, occurrences, or encounters that are tied to a particular character, playing through the origins feels like it's further lifting the lid on the companions I've gotten to know as Tav, as well as the Sword Coast itself.
Baldur's Gate 3 is home to a wealth of possibilities, with so much freedom and choice to tailor your experience. But one of the great joys of getting swept up in the Sword Coast is how effectively it makes you care about the characters that journey with you. I can't help but wonder what other RPGs would have been like had I been able to role-play as one of the cast I got to know so well. It brings something else to the table I've not experienced before, and you better believe I'm going to pick up Divinity Original Sin 2 because of it. While it might not work for every adventure, I would love to see more games in the genre play around with this idea in future.