I only recently got into Divinity Orignal Sin 2 and what a game it is to play. There’s nothing else like it and its deep and layered characters and story make is a phenomenal game. For the most part, Baldur’s Gate 3 is very much the same thing. A massive and impressive RPG with Dungeons and Dragons oozing out of every orifice. The early access version offers around 20 or so hours of gameplay, hundreds of spells, large areas to explore and a story to digest through its fantastic dialogue.
Upon loading up the game, Baldur’s Gate 3 threw me into the action with a gorgeous CG cinematic. After which, I was able to spend an hour creating a character using the creation engine. As all D&D stories, my character needed a back story that aligned with different bonuses and perks. Then there’s a race which includes human, dwarf, half-elf, elf, halfling, tiefling and githyanki. We then have the subraces too. There’s a lot of variety to choose from across all these systems and after sorting through menus and choosing eye colours and lipstick, I finally had the main character.
What I loved about the character creation in Baldur’s Gate 3 is how streamlined it was. While currently playing Divinity 2, I am not adept in these sort of RPGs. Thankfully, the game’s systems set things up to be clearly understood. What perk comes with which race and which bonuses and traits you can expect throughout your playthrough. While this system works and works well, the game’s visual customization is lacking during the early access. You can’t physically change your character’s body at all but everything else is there. I was delighted to see the sheer amount of options when it came to hair, skin eyes etc. Best of all, it all works and no matter your skin tone, there’s items and styles that fit perfectly.
Baldur’s Gate 3 early access contains one decently-long act to play through. The main premise of the story is to find the cure for the tadpole that was given to you while imprisoned on a massive floating tentacle ship. The tadpole can turn you into a mind flayer so time is of the essence. This is where Baldur’s Gate 3 shines. The way you play through this first act is completely up to you. Who you manage to take with you on our quest, what weapons you use, what you kill or don’t kill and so much more. There really is a sense of freedom that comes from the game that makes it so damn exciting. This is coupled with the game’s fantastic dialogue and narrative decisions that all add up to a wonderful session of digital D&D.
Mostly everything in Baldur’s Gate 3 relies on rolling a d20 dice. Be it hitting a critical slam on an enemy or sweet-talking your way out of the dialogue. These roll outcomes depend on your character’s stats and abilities. Someone who is a sweet-talker automatically gets a buff in persuasion and has a higher chance to hit the “roll 9 to succeed”. It is a great way to add this sense of gamble to the game even though some parts feel like it is overused. However, the d20 dice feature also means that no matter how high your stat is in that particular department, you can still fail at the preferred outcome. Baldur’s Gate 3 is unpredictable and it shines during these intense moments.
Of course, Baldur’s Gate 3 is an RPG and combat and strategy work together to make the experience enjoyable. This means the characters you meet or don’t meet because you screwed up a roll, each has their own ruleset, stats and abilities. This feeds into the game’s overall story and combat too. As I entered each combat encounter, I had to keep in mind the strengths and shortcomings of my party. I stood at the back and whipped firebolts at enemies while Lae’zel walloped them with her up-close combat. It also helps that the combat is a lot easier to understand and manage that Divinity 2. Encounters have higher and lower areas and each environment features mechanics that come in handy should I wish to use them. Things explode, water gets electrified and gas stays around for a while.
It almost felt as if every encounter was hand-crafted with its own unique set of opportunities. Be it a trap that is activated by chance or cover to sneak behind and deal heavy damage. This also means that a failed combat encounter results in a new way to approach it the next time around. There’s always a different route. There’s always a different set of skills to use. It is the freedom found in the rest of the game that is carried over to the combat and it is brilliant. It is going to be interesting to see where the game goes from here in terms of combat encounters.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is also all about the “RPG factor” and this means the world is full of discovery. Be it side quests that took me to weird and wonderful places or venturing into the corners of the map to see what was hiding behind the fog. There’s this magical sense of discovery in every play session that makes it one of the best RPGs I have played. Even though the first act is a small chapter of things to come, I could not help but dive into the stunning locations and speak to every single person I met. They all have something to say and every area has been crafted with the utmost attention to detail. Even if stumbling into an area meant I got my ass handed to me in a combat encounter I was not ready for. That is life, is it not?
Larian Studios has put a great amount of effort into the world of Baldur’s Gate 3. This oozes from all its characters, the story and the environment. It also all loos superb. I ran the game at 4K on my new Aero 15 XA. The world comes to life with vibrant areas, amazing skin details and not to mention some pretty impressive facial expressions. There’s a lot to love here.
Of course, this is an early access build so things can be a bit rough at times. My game crashed a few times, froze another and some NPCs often bugged out. However, we know the risk of playing early access content so just save, save, and save. With that being said, seeing the game grow and issues being patched seems like half the fun for me. You can play this act and then sit by in anticipation for the next. The strong RPG approach suits the episode-based story perfectly.
It is too early to score Baldur’s Gate 3 given its current state. There’s so much more coming our way and I can’t wait to see and experience it all. Just sitting down for a play session and forgetting about the world around me while I dived into the world was truly a spectacular experience. It is not perfect by any means. However, if this is the start I cannot wait to see what happens next.
This Baldur’s Gate 3 early access review is based on a code sent to us by Larian Studios. You can grab the game on Steam for R799