It’s absolutely worth playing Baldur’s Gate 3’s Dark Urge campaign

Baldur’s Gate 3 is such a dense and rich game that completing the campaign even once is a feat. But doing just one playthrough means you inevitably miss out on certain paths and branches in the game. There are few differences so extreme as doing your next playthrough as the Dark Urge. The Dark Urge is an origin character, found in the same part of character creation as our good friends Shadowheart, Astarion, Lae’zel, Wyll, and Karlach. Now that Baldur’s Gate 3 has been out for long enough for fans to compare and contrast between campaigns, it’s worth taking the time to recognize how dang cool the Dark Urge is.

The Dark Urge — or Durge, a portmanteau used on social media, à la “Shart” for Shadowheart — is an albino dragonborn by default, but can be customized to look however the player likes. In fact, going with an adorable halfling Durge can make more sense than the intimidating draconic figure. You see, the Durge comes with one hell of a problematic footnote: They are afflicted with a sometimes uncontrollable — one might even say a dark — urge to murder everyone around them. This starts early. When Gale sticks his hand out of a portal in Act 1, asking for help, you can simply chop his hand off and let him die. Yes, it means he can never join your camp. But you do get to run around with his hand in your inventory for the rest of the game!

Just like every other playthrough, the player has choices — the Dark Urge can be a multifaceted protagonist too! Sometimes, you can choose to resist your affliction. Other times, uh oh! You wake up and you’ve done a fucky-wucky and put someone in the forever box!

There’s a twist about the Durge and their origins that I won’t get into, because it’s worth experiencing for yourself. But it makes for a fantastic second playthrough. You can tell a tale of painful, hard-won redemption… or just rampage, if you prefer. The Durge reminds me of the Malkavian from Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines, or an Independent Vegas run in Fallout: New Vegas. You can absolutely play as the Durge straightaway, but going through a Durge run with the context of an already completed playthrough enriches both narratives.

The Dark Urge can be a lot if you’re just kicking off Baldur’s Gate 3. It’s not even an “evil” playthrough, per se; there are other ways of siding with the game’s villains. You can be a non-Dark Urge adventurer who sides with the Absolute, sends gnomes flying off windmills and into oblivion, and torments children for fun. It’s more like a constant battle against intrusive thoughts, and if you’re not prepared to meet every obstacle with steely resolve, you’re going to find yourself chopping off your party members’ limbs and freaking everybody out. But that doesn’t mean the Dark Urge is irredeemable. In fact, they can be played to be a true antihero going through a painful redemption arc.

This has, of course, inspired a host of great memes from Baldur’s Gate 3 fans. Most of them recognize the dire burden the Durge must grapple with. However, it’s still fun to depict the Durge as a scamp and a rascal who can be contained with simple tricks like, say, a kennel.

It’s delightful taking the time to peel back the layers and explore Baldur’s Gate 3’s branching paths. My first run was with a wood elf named Cestelle who romanced Astarion and was a hero who, sure, liked to get paid. But that run lacked the depth and intensity of a Dark Urge run, which is laden with moments that had me hooting and hollering. If you’re done with Baldur’s Gate 3 and you haven’t tried Durge, it might be worth giving the RPG another shot for one of the most surprising campaigns — even if you occasionally wake up from a dead sleep screaming, lost, and covered in blood.