How Final Fantasy VII Influenced Baldur’s Gate

Baldur’s Gate lead designer James Ohlen has explained how Final Fantasy VII influenced the Dungeons & Dragons video game series.

During an interview with Rock Paper Shotgun, Ohlen recalled how playing Final Fantasy VII inspired him to make major changes to Baldur’s Gate’s characters. Dermot Clarke, an Interplay producer, told Ohlen how the characters in Baldur’s Gate were lacking compared to those in Final Fantasy VII. That comment led Ohlen to play FFVII to see it for himself.

Final Fantasy VII’s characters pushed Baldur’s Gate

“I’m very competitive,” Ohlen said. “I went and played Final Fantasy VII and was like, ‘Oh my good god, these characters make ours look like a bunch of cardboard cutouts. This is terrible.’” The revelation led to developer BioWare adding depth to the NPCs and companions. Some, like Jaheira, remain popular characters among fans decades later.

The Final Fantasy games, particularly FFVII, have generated notoriety among gamers for their iconic characters. Some, like Final Fantasy VII protagonist Cloud and antagonist Sephiroth, remain well-known and beloved in the industry for their complexity and depth. This popularity led to the massive remake trilogy still underway at Square Enix.

Since working for BioWare and EA, Ohlen has moved on to working more extensively in the tabletop industry. After attempting to retire from the industry in 2018, Dungeons & Dragons developer Wizards Of The Coast contacted Ohlen about creating a video game studio. Since 2020, he’s led Archetype Entertainment — a division of WotC — working on a sci-fi RPG. Although he led the design on Baldur’s Gate and its sequel — even creating many of the popular characters based on his on D&D campaigns — Ohlen was not involved in Larian StudiosBaldur’s Gate 3.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is available now on PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X.

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