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Reflections on Immersive Food Placement in RPGs

One small thing that just keeps fascinating me as I play through the game - the attention to food placement throughout the game’s environment.

Ondřej Purchart, Blogger

October 10, 2023

5 Min Read

Baldur’s Gate 3 has undeniably many great aspects that push the RPG genre forward. However I noticed one small thing that just keeps fascinating me as I play through the game - the attention to food placement throughout the game’s environment.

Probably most of us who have played Skyrim, or even the previous entries of The Elder Scrolls saga, got at some point into a situation where there were no healing potions left but an abundance of food in the inventory. And I am not talking about a feast, I am talking about absurd amounts of apples, potatoes or cheese wheels. So what did one do? You ate enough so that it healed you. This in itself is   quite an immersion breaking situation, and it is also quite well memed one, although that’s not the point I want to make.

Ask yourself: Where did I collect all that food? It was very likely mostly in crates and chests or it mayhave been just lying around. But it was not just that, was it? No, fresh food could have been found literally everywhere even in ancient tombs and in houses abandoned for ages. How did it get there? How come it was still fresh and edible? I read several theories trying to justify this and I am not writing this to criticise Skyrim - I still love that game. I am merely pointing out a small but significant hole in the logic and immersion for those who are looking for such things in videogames. A hole that is much more eminent when compared to Baldur’s Gate 3.

Both the games use food in different ways, although in both of them food is an important way to restore health. And in the case of Baldur’s Gate there are even other gameplay resources like Spell Slots and actions with limited uses. In both Skyrim and BG3 you can acquire the food by wandering around the game world and looting whatever container you can open. The main difference is that the designers of the latest piece by Larian thought through the logic of placing  fresh food in a particular area.

Not only can the food in Baldur’s Gate 3 be found only in places where it makes sense - i.e. places where people still live or where it looks like someone has stayed a short time ago, like a camp abandoned not long ago. But when you enter an area where no one lives and have never lived then it is unfortunate of you to think that  you could find some food there for your Long Rest, saviour of the Realms. And it goes even further than that. What if you find yourself in a place where someone had lived before, but it has been some time since they left? Well in that case there is a good chance you would find at least some food in there. Yay, right? Don´t hold your  hopes high, because someone thought this through and it is almost certain that the food you might find is rotten and inedible, so you will have to wait with your Long Rest just yet.

Now, I am not saying that Baldur’s Gate 3 is the only game ever not placing fresh food in abandoned temples and mouldy dungeons. I am pretty sure that you would not find food in those places in The Witcher 3 either. And I am sure that there are RPGs that contain perishable or rotten food that can be outright found. But I cannot think of any RPG from the top of my head that made the food placement so intuitive and natural.

The joy I had having found some rotten food in a place where it made perfect sense for the first time was probably too big for such an insignificant part of the game. But it has been there since and I still am happy when I encounter such a place. And it is not just dungeons or abandoned houses - the whole area of Cursed lands in Act II contains only rotten and inedible food complementing the logic of the place. No living being can stay there without the help of at least a lit torch so how could there be any fresh food?

Overall, I am fully aware that I am praising a part of Baldur’s Gate 3 without a huge gameplay effect. And there is a great chance that only a small part of players will notice or realise how much it is thought through. However for me it is an integral part of the picture and it adds to Baldur’s Gate 3 being such a great game and a milestone for CRPGs. Like it or not, everyone will compare any future  isometric view RPGs with the latest Baldur’s Gate (games like Starfield or Cyberpunk 2077 are a different subgenre and shouldn’t be compared, at least not extensively) and this seemingly stupid thing with placing food where it makes sense is setting the bar for future creators. This is one of the things that makes this version of Faerûn so lifelike, even though other components probably play a more significant role in creating such a vivid world.If you enjoy DnD, old Infinity engine fantasy CRPGs and love great fantasy storytelling and well acted NPCs you might, after finishing this blog, like to give Baldur’s Gate 3 a go (if you haven’t played it yet) and try to focus on these little things in the game. Maybe you will find your own insignificant part of the mosaic that will keep making you happy through the dozens of hours you are likely to spend with th

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