My knowledge of the expansive Baldur’s Gate franchise is limited to a short stint with the second game and a brief reading of the lore found in the previous title and expansions. Even with my limited experience with the series, going into Baldur’s Gate 3 was an exciting moment, as I am a fan of both Bioware and Larian Studios titles.
For my time with the preview-build, I decided to go with the hellish Tiefling race. In-part, due to wanting to play as a devil-like character and more importantly, to find a sense of being closer to the character Bhaal and his Lord of Murder offspring as chronicled in past games.
The story in Baldur’s Gate 3 emphasizes the Mind Flayer race found in some of the late-game areas of past games and Dungeons & Dragons alike. As players begin their journey, they find themselves aboard a Mind Flayer ship. After some lite introductory dungeon crawling, and after learning your character is infected with an alien worm that aims to turn you into another Mind Flayer, the ship crashes, and the game begins proper.
The Lovecraftian Sci-Fi aesthetic of the early-game feels fresh for a medieval fantasy title despite the series not being a stranger in mixing both hard fantasy with science fiction elements. From the ship, players are free to explore and gradually find additional adventures, intrinsically-tied together due to sharing the same Mind Flayer infection as the player.
On paper, Larian taking over the mantle from Bioware’s legendary series of genre-defining isometric RPGs seems like a perfect fit for Baldur’s Gate 3. From my 10 hours or so with the preview build, I can assure longtime Baldur’s Gate fans that Larian has taken everything that they’ve learned from both Divinity Original Sin I & II and has delivered an excellent game that wholeheartedly and fully realizes what fans could have wanted in a sequel to Baldur’s Gate II.
Baldur’s Gate 3, like Divinity before it, features an expansive world, dense with characters that all seem to have something to say. What elevates Baldur’s Gate 3 and sets it apart from past isometric RPGs is the attention to detail in its cinematic presentation when actually interacting with said NPCs.
In games like Diablo and Divinity, character interactions generally fall into two categories, voiced and written blocks of text. Nothing new or surprising and something that is perfectly understandable for games of that nature, as they tend to be larger in scope than other types of story-heavy titles. Baldur’s Gate III takes this notion and throws it out the window, adding Witcher and fittingly, Mass Effect levels of interaction with seemingly every NPC found in the Forgotten Realms.
The cutscenes and voiced lines alone make Baldur’s Gate 3 that much more engaging and fun to explore, on-top of the tight turn-based battles found from Divinity, making a return to Larain’s latest game, Baldur’s Gate 3 is shaping up to be a contender for RPG of the year.
To those unfamiliar with Baldur’s Gate or the Divinity Original Sin titles, Baldur’s Gate 3 is relatively accessible, with the opening of the game slowly introducing the player to how battles play out how as they explore the game world. In essence, battles are turn-based affairs in which players can engage in combat with both your typical assortment of spells and daggers but also via the environment.
An example of this can be as simple as casting an ice-spell which leaves the floor slippery, causing enemies to possibly fall or as complex as sneakingly throwing an oil barrel into an encampment of enemies, before setting things on fire via magic or fiery weapon.
Outside of battles, Baldur’s Gate 3 seemingly doesn’t run out of new story beats and folds to introduce to the overarching narrative of the game. The majority of my playtime was spent inside an enclave just outside of where the ship crashes during the opening of the game. In a typical game, I would spend anywhere from a few minutes to maybe an hour in a small settlement, but as this is a Larian studios title, the druid camp featured numerous questlines, that felt as well-realized as the main objective of the story (finding a healer capable of ridding the party of its parasite problem).
Even with its numerous bugs and rough around the edges feel due to the game being in early-access, I can’t encourage players enough to check out Baldur’s Gate 3. Both fans of the series and those who like role playing games will be sure to find something that will keep them coming back to the world of the Forgotten Realms.