Baldur's Gate 3 Dark Urge
Image via Larian Studios

Baldur’s Gate 3 Dark Urge Origin Calls Back to Series’ Beginnings

From the moment I saw a glimpse of what appeared to be the classic grinning skull offset by glowering red eyes, I knew that Bhaal would make a returning in the newest Baldur’s Gate. Larian Studios didn’t made it a secret that the Dark Urge, one of several unique starting Origins available to players in Baldur’s Gate 3, would touch upon that in some way. As a die-hard fan, to which I’ve professed what feels like a hundred times on my Twitch channel, this was the very first Origin I selected.

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I was familiar with the Bhaalspawn Saga. I lived for it. I devoured the Avatar trilogy as some of my very first fantasy novels, I thumbed through The Forgotten Realms campaign setting book that released with Dungeons & Dragons 3.5 Edition. I played and replayed Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn so frequently that I knew how to navigate around conflicting alignments for party members with perfection. The Prima Strategy guide my father bought for Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn was so well worn by me looking through it that the pages were lovingly creased, dogeared on every page that explained my favorite classes. So naturally, I was pulled in by the allure to potentially play a new, but familiar, twist on an already established character type. I wanted to be the Bhaalspawn again. I wanted to resist the dark urge that flowed hotly through my blood, and I wanted Larian Studios to challenge every bit of that resistance along the way and show me what made Bhaal just as relevant in 2023 has he was in 1998.

Editor’s Note: Major spoilers for Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate 3 below.

The Dark Urge Origin in Baldur’s Gate 3 calls back to the series’ beginnings, in more ways than one. Not only are you playing a progeny of the Lord of Murder, but Sarevok Anchev, the antagonist of the first Baldur’s Gate game (and fellow Bhaalspawn), appears in the game. Personally, I felt like the Dark Urge by itself was a good enough nod to what it entailed being a Bhaalspawn, if not overly violent at times. The narration in both Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate II: Shadows of Amn, helped paint a vivid enough picture of what you were fighting against, and what that losing that fight could cost. It was vivid, but not overly descriptive. Maybe because you couldn’t really zoom in all that much in those games, and sprites weren’t as detailed as 3D models are now, the violence felt like it came in vague swipes of color and fast animations of swords being swung or talons lurching forward when in the Slayer form. Which does make an appearance, whether or not you become the Slayer is your choice entirely, but it’s everything I wanted and more.

However, concerning Sarevok, it felt very much like a scenario where Baldur’s Gate 3 needed some kind of tie to the previous games to legitimize it’s claim to the name. It reminded me a lot of the Star Wars trilogy that released in the late 2010s, where certain characters were given connections (Rey to Palpatine, for example) to significant figures to irrevocably tie them to the past. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good bit of fanservice. But I like fanservice when it feels earned. When Orin the Red was revealed to be the granddaughter of Sarevok, it felt a little cheap. Orin didn’t need to be anyone to be the avatar of Bhaal, and her relation to Sarevok just felt unnecessary. Not to mention that the Bhaalspawn (or followers of Bhaal) that accompany Sarevok as “Echoes” aren’t all that significant outside of one, which was Amelyssan. I was legitimately surprised to see Illasera of all characters show up in the game, someone that exists in Throne of Bhaal to appear for three minutes and then die.

Baldur's Gate 3 Dark Urge

Screenshot via Siliconera

When you do encounter Sarevok, he basically exposits a bunch of lore, to catch the player up on information if they didn’t play Baldur’s Gate and explain how he’s still alive and why he’s gone back to his Bhaal worshipping ways. You can choose to join the ranks of the Bhaal worshipers beneath the city or you can fight him. The fight itself is extremely underwhelming, even if he has the Echoes of former Bhaalspawn and Amelyssan to support him. He may be level 16, but he was easier than a level 12 fight I had for a character’s companion quest, which was supremely disappointing. But I get it. You need to get past him to get to Orin and progress the story. It’d suck if he was a roadblock for players, especially if he’s not the final encounter. It was just like fighting Vergil in Devil May Cry 5 all over again. I was expecting something truly harrowing, only to be let down. But maybe the Tactician fight will make me eat my words.

Becoming the Slayer on the other hand, felt really awesome. The Dark Urge Origin in Baldur’s Gate 3 will have you face off against Orin in a one-versus-one duel to see who will inherit Bhaal’s legacy and become the Slayer. This was actually pretty cool and evoked those same feelings of turning into the Slayer in Baldur’s Gate II. I was terrifying and I was powerful as I stabbed, pierced, and eventually tore Orin to pieces. before she melted into nothing but blood and bone. This was probably my favorite aspect of the Dark Urge’s accompanying fanservice. I didn’t need to see Sarevok or have Orin be related to him for whatever reason, to justify me fighting her to the death to become the Slayer. If Orin and I had just come to a head because we both wanted the same thing, I think it would have been even more compelling.

But hey, I guess Sarevok is here and he’s willing to stay. And if he’s going to stick around, I may as well dabble in some carnage, just as Bhaal intended.

Baldur’s Gate III is available for PCs and will release on the PlayStation 5 on September 6, 2023.


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Author
Kazuma Hashimoto
Senior staff writer, translator and streamer, Kazuma spends his time playing a variety of games ranging from farming simulators to classic CRPGs. Having spent upwards of 6 years in the industry, he has written reviews, features, guides, with work extending within the industry itself. In his spare time he speedruns games from the Resident Evil series, and raids in Final Fantasy XIV. His work, which has included in-depth features focusing on cultural analysis, has been seen on other websites such as Polygon and IGN.