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Baldur’s Gate 3’s Dark Urge Is Great For Your Second Run

The violent origin story is available from the start, but feels like a remix of a more standard Baldur’s Gate 3 playthrough

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Arendelle is shown holding his fingers to his head as if with a headache.
Screenshot: Larian Studios / Kotaku

When you boot up Baldur’s Gate 3, you can choose between creating a custom character, or playing as any of the party members who can join you throughout the game, like Astarion or Karlach. However, there’s one other option as well: it’s called the Dark Urge, and it’s kind of the best of both worlds. You get to make your hero in the character creator, but there are also some established parts of their back story that become more apparent as the game goes on. So the question is, should you pick it? Let’s break down the pros and cons.

What is the Dark Urge?

While you can customize your race and class as the Dark Urge character, there is a core story that is universal for characters with the origin. At first, it manifests in a sudden, nearly uncontrollable compulsion to enact violence. Essentially, your character sometimes experiences intrusive thoughts that, well, urge them to brutalize innocents they encounter. If you give in to the voices, you’ll see some of the most heinous acts of bloodlust and brutality in a game that already has plenty of that to go around. But if you decide to try resisting them, you’ll have to pass stat checks to do so.

The character creation screen shows the Dark Urge option selected.
Screenshot: Larian Studios / Kotaku

Baldur’s Gate 3 is already a challenging game on a lot of fronts, but doing a Dark Urge run cranks the roleplaying difficulty up a notch. It is both rewarding and frustrating in how it binds your decisions, but that’s kind of the point, right? In a game that often has some of its most difficult outcomes blocked by a dice roll, the Dark Urge playthrough puts higher stakes on every stat check because failing one can result in someone’s senseless death, even members of your party.


Should I play as the Dark Urge?

Though I’ve talked with some people who picked Dark Urge for their first playthrough, I still think it’s best experienced in a second run for several reasons. The simplest reason is that if you’re killing major characters like party members, you’re going to miss out on a lot of great quest lines, performances, and relationships. If I had been overtaken by a compulsion to kill my friends in a Dark Urge playthrough and ended up murdering Gale, Karlach, or Shadowheart, my initial Baldur’s Gate 3 experience would have been much lesser for it. But I can definitely see the argument for how fear of not seeing those relationships through can play into the high-stakes roleplaying of the origin.

But the biggest reason I’d say to hold off on Dark Urge until you’re playing through the game a second time is because it’s a very interesting remix of the standard playthrough. Your place in the world is much different, and the story arc has some pretty cool reveals that I think are elevated by the context you get from a standard playthrough. We won’t get into spoilers, but the Dark Urge character has a much more fixed place in the Baldur’s Gate 3 universe than a custom character does, and it makes the game’s third act especially impactful because your character slots significantly into other plot lines.

So should I resist the Dark Urge, or should I give in?

While it’s easier to take the path of least resistance, I think the Dark Urge playthrough feels most rewarding when you fight against your character’s violent impulses. Broadly speaking, I don’t think the evil ending of Baldur’s Gate 3 feels as fleshed out as other paths, but that might be changing with future updates that will expand upon what’s in the game’s epilogue. Ultimately, the roleplaying gaps are yours to fill, and you may find a different way to roleplay a Dark Urge character that makes senseless violence feel just as satisfying as overcoming it. The choice is yours, but either way, Dark Urge still feels like a complementary experience to a standard playthrough in which you’re creating a character whole cloth.