Baldur's Gate 3 is a world of infinite possibilities, but the most aesthetically pleasing ones involve your wardrobe. Experimenting with armor and fabric dyes is one of my favorite pastimes, decking out my Dark Urge monk in majestic deep green robes before updating Shadowheart's outfit to match her striking white-blonde tresses in Act 3. I've tested pretty much every single dye in the game, and it never gets old. But in being such a beautifully-detailed fantasy CRPG, I sometimes need to remind myself that Baldur's Gate 3 is not a life sim.
"It's kind of like The Sims 4," I explained to my colleagues one morning, "only with more blood, magic, and murder." Bizarre as it sounds, I still stand by that comparison. Baldur's Gate 3's isometric, click-to-interact exploration feels second nature to me, and though the same couldn't be said of its tanky bosses and turn-based combat at first, I'm having a blast turning BG3 into the Sims 4 Medieval experience I've been craving for years.
The Sim-ple life
She's basically the main character, but by forgetting about Lae'zel I became the villain of BG3.
Okay, fair enough: you can't build a castle or give birth to quadruplets in this game. But between stealing paintings from snooty art dealers, collecting cuddly toys to add to Karlach's tent, and sprucing up the campsite with random pieces of furniture found across Faerûn, something about Baldur's Gate 3 always felt familiar to me as a Sims fan.
Part of that reason is the beautifully detailed character creation menu, resembling a more stat-focused take on EA's iconic Create-A-Sim. Now that Larian has added a Magic Mirror in Patch 3, my campsite now features a stunning new way to step into this character creation mode anytime during a playthrough to edit my Tav's hairstyle, eye color, piercings, tattoos, makeup, and even their voice. You can't do so with any of the companions unfortunately – "they're very particular about their hair," Larian explained on Twitter – but I'll take what I can get.
Changing my character's whole look as they move through the story adds new layers of complexity to it. Much like Shadowheart's dramatic hairstyle change mirrors a marked shift in her personality, I immediately send my drow druid for a little makeover and come away with a new set of highlights before confronting Bane's Chosen.
Highlights and neck tattoos might not have existed in The Sims 3 Medieval, my favorite EA spin-off of recent years, but refreshing my hairstyle as well as armor set before attending Gortash's ceremony feels like a genuine Sims 4 moment. It's basically like planning a formal outfit, after all. I even stopped to perch on his throne during the bloodbath.
Sartorial flair aside, another way Baldur's Gate 3 reminds me of The Sims 4 is the romance itself. Building approval with your companions is just as tricky as making two Sims fall in love, and I don't even have a phone camera to snap a cheeky selfie and cheese my way toward a stronger friendship. Whenever I see the object of my affections approving of my actions, I immediately check our relationship meter to see how I'm faring in their estimations. The higher my approval, the more likely I am to woo(hoo) them later on – much like how romantic endeavors in The Sims 4 are more successful when you have a higher base friendship. Even Baldur's Gate 3's fully mo-capped dialogue and cutscenes are reminiscent of The Sims 2, since animations preceding most milestone moments in a Sim's life break away from the isometric camera angles of regular gameplay.
For me, approaching Baldur's Gate in the same way I approach The Sims 4 helps dispel a lot of my D&D newbie anxieties. There's obviously a lot more to do in Larian's sprawling fantasy adventure than simply right and left-clicking items to interact with them, and getting the hang of spell slots and short rests is a whole other story entirely. Still, taking advantage of quieter moments by Simming out is something I've been enjoying immensely, whether that be dyeing Karlach's clothes pink or stealing rustic furnishings from random people's houses. My campsite might be lacking a throne room, but once I'm through raiding the city, it'll be looking more and more like a regal palace from Sims 3 Medieval in no time.
We've also been interviewing animals in Baldur's Gate 3 in our spare time.