How important is NPC animation for you?
This is Sebille. Sebille is a NPC companion, an elvish rogue with a complicated backstory, in Larian Studio's Divinity Original Sin 2.
This is Astarion. Astarion is a NPC companion, an elvish rogue with a complicated backstory, in Larian Studio's Baldur's Gate 3.
In game, both Sebille and Astarion are relatively small on the isometric map, when you play at a usual zoom level. You only really "see" their faces when you talk with them. As as you can see from the above examples, Sebille is a static portrait, while Astarion is fully animated in 3D. All 5 NPC companions in Baldur's Gate are fully animated and voiced in long dialogue cutscenes. And those scenes are graphically far more demanding than the isometric maps and UI. In other words, a significant chunk of the budget for Baldur's Gate 3 went into replacing the portrait of Sebille with an animated Astarion. And I wonder if that budget wouldn't have been better spent elsewhere.
As a player of D&D, I would like to see all 12 basic D&D classes in Baldur's Gate 3 (13 with the Artificer). I would like to see more subclasses, I would like to see more spells. And I would like to see a lot of quality of life improvements to the somewhat clunky UI, and the horrible inventory management system. And instead of all that, I get an animated Astarion. For me that animation isn't doing much. Yes, it's pretty, but I'd rather have a better user interface and more character choices.
What do you think? Are animated NPCs a reason to buy one game rather than another for you? Or do they provide relatively little bang for the buck, which should have been spent elsewhere?