The meshing of modern RPG mechanics, fused together with the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition ruleset, is a magical experience with the return to the Baldur’s Gate universe. Beautiful graphics, a new conversation camera, and the wonderful 5th Edition ruleset makes Baldur’s Gate 3 a fantastic Early Access game. Combined with creative ways to fight and experience the story in the Divinity Engine, and it feels like the new era of modern RPGs. Despite a few bugs and performance issues, Baldur’s Gate 3 gives a large swath of content with tons of replayability that should keep players content between each set of updates.
Hail to the New Standard of Roleplaying Game
The original Baldur’s Gate was one of my first introductions to roleplaying games, but in recent years I’ve had a hard time replaying it or similar RPGs. Enter Divinity: Original Sin. Beautiful graphics, unique storytelling, and combat that felt immensely satisfying with creative options to boot. Now coupled in that same modern engine is one of the best tabletop roleplaying games of all-time, and there you end up with Baldur’s Gate 3. While it does have to take some liberties to be converted to a digital format, the rules feel fresh and crisp when combined with beautiful storytelling.
An exceptionally clean user interface makes interacting with a complex RPG a relatively simple process. A big turn off for these types of RPGs is the growing complexity that can get lost in a messy or unorganized UI. Fortunately, Baldur’s Gate 3 takes advantage of tons of easy to examine tooltips to make the onboarding process easy when learning the Fifth Edition ruleset. Expect some bugs with all the new shiny tools, but overall I didn’t run into too many issues and have yet to crash in the game after 20 hours.
The Feel Good Combat
You can definitely see hints of Divinity within Baldur’s Gate 3, but it feels completely different because of how different Dungeons and Dragons action economy works. In Baldur’s Gate 3, you’re given an action and bonus action. It’s simple, but within each action, you might have multiple attacks or can utilize a variety of other abilities during each character’s turn. For a rogue, you might hide, utilize sneak attack to gain bonus damage, and then use your bonus actions to run or deal additional attacks. Added to the complexity of each encounter is the positioning of your party members and managing spell slots for your casters. Throw out a bottle of grease, cast a firebolt on it, and watch it catch fire to set a bunch of enemies on fire. Better yet, use the shove action to send enemies flying off cliffs. I’ve yet to play an RPG that captures the creativity you would expect from a tabletop RPG, where the best Dungeon Master can give much more free license to its players.
Creativity is what really shines through, and it adds massive replayability in the long run to Baldur’s Gate 3. Not only are there a million different ways to tackle each individual combat engagement, but there are numerous ways to tackle big quests. For example, getting that pesky mind flayer worm out of your head. You can attempt to contact a goblin priestess, one of your companion’s tribes, or by rescuing the leader of a druid tribe who might be able to help you. Within that, there are even more choices for completing your tasks. Befriend the goblins, help rescue one of their kind, or simply go attack them and wipe out their camp. Actions have big consequences, and in just one playthrough you can see your choices play out in the world around you.
Storytime Feels Special in Baldur's Gate 3
While much of the game is inaccessible during this period of early access, it still manages to drop about 20-30 hours of content. What really shines through during this time is the story. Each character feels full of life and with the new addition of the dialogue conversation cameras by Larian Studios, every interaction feels even more immersive than Divinity. It seems like a small addition, but getting up close and personal with each character really sells the intense emotional moments between your character and your companions.
Most of the characters you interact with are standoffish, but I feel like that’s often pretty normal in a Dungeons & Dragons campaign. My biggest hope is getting to see some character development over the course of the game, as initially, each character seemed more out for their personal gains rather than some uniting force (sans the mind flayer were stuck in your head). Still, by the end of this first act, you can start to see cracks in some characters’ icy demeanor. It’s nice to see the start of meaningful character development between your party members that harkens back memories to Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic.
The Golden Era of RPG Has Arrived
As someone who has distanced themselves from the traditional roleplaying game more recently, it seems like we’re entering a golden age with Baldur’s Gate 3 and Cyberpunk 2077 on the way soon. Despite being just one act and giving you a relatively limited area to play in, you can find a massive amount of content in this first portion of Baldur’s Gate 3. With modern turn-based combat and an alarming amount of choice in how you complete quests, expect Baldur’s Gate 3 to be one of the best RPGs in a long time.
TechRaptor previewed Baldur’s Gate 3 on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the publisher. There is no current release date for the full game.