Baldur’s Gate 3 Preview – Role-Playing With Depth

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While a trailer was shown at The Game Awards 2022, Larian got a little more hands-on for what’s to come regarding their latest title in the huge Baldur’s Gate series. During the gameplay, the presentation pulled back the curtain on one of the newest classes a player character can become, the Paladin, as well as how powerful a party can become once they hit level 5, and most importantly how role-playing decisions can affect not only the world of Baldur’s Gate 3 but the main character’s class as well.

Upon starting up the presentation, the main character who is of course the new class of Paladin has to adventure into the heart of an Owlbear’s nest — a towering staple creature from Dungeons & Dragons lore — and while examining the scenery with an inner monologue narrator speaking as to what the character is experiencing — in the same vein as a Dungeon Master — the party stumbles across a full grown Owlbear who threatens the party with throaty growls.

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This is where real board game-based dice play happens, with a wisdom dice roll check happening in the background as your character advances toward the creature. The narrator’s storytelling is similar to the Disco Elysium method of storytelling, constantly warning the player except there is no deprecation or sarcasm towards the player in Baldur’s Gate 3. The wisdom check was tried three times, as the first two resulted in failure, then upon using an inspiration cue, the dice roll stat check passes. The owlbear’s goal is to protect her cub and continues to glance threateningly at the player. Providing a large degree of depth and personality to gameplay.

Once you chose the path of violence, the party with the Paladin player character assaults the Owlbear, and while using solid tactics during the turn-based combat, the player can utilize each of the four-party member’s strength to take on adversaries, with a cleric buffing and healing the party, the warrior and rogue classes committing to damage making quick work of the owlbear adversary.

“Interactions with NPCs are reminiscent of the original Baldur’s Gate titles…”

After taking three huge hits, the owlbear enters a ‘prone state’ which basically hamstrings its abilities to damage ‘the good guys’ party. Many skills were displayed here, such as the Divine Smite skill, and variants of it once the Owlbears status hits a ‘prone’ condition, the fight is nearly over. In remaining faithful to the Dungeons & Dragons source material, the Owlbear cub then cannibalizes its mother without thought.

From here we move onto an explanation of subclasses, the presenter also mentioned how the Paladin class takes on the weight of an oath, whether it’s the Oath of Devotion or Oath of the Ancients. The hero character then proceeded to break their Oath by assaulting the innocent Owlbear cub, which has ramifications for the main character in Baldur’s Gate 3.

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Upon starting this new path for the player character, when returning to camp a threatening-looking knight is there to greet you. An Oathbreaker knight who introduces themselves as ‘the first to fall’ demands the reasoning behind the player’s brazen choice to murder the owlbear cub, and you have 6 response choices. This ultimately culminates in the player taking up the mantle of the Hidden Oathbreaker subclass, of which there are seemingly many. The player can now have up to two subclasses at once in Baldur’s Gate 3.

After changing classes this way, the Paladin character gains new powers under the Oathbreaker subclass in Baldur’s Gate 3. Skills such as ‘Spiteful Suffering’ and ‘Control Undead’ which are typically associated with Necromancy in Dungeons & Dragons lore, are then available for the player to use. These in-game mechanics show the weight of each choice the player makes in Baldur’s Gate 3, and while the Paladin loses their holy powers associated with having their oath intact, new abilities are available.

Interactions with NPCs are reminiscent of the original Baldur’s Gate titles, but close in on facial expressions just like in the Dragon Age series. While the hero Oathbreaker is speaking to a Wizard in hopes to have them join the party, their intention is seen across many animations while agreeing to the adventure. The menus in Baldur’s Gate 3 have received touch-ups as well, and are incredibly easy to decipher. Even small details such as Elves sitting on a bed to meditate instead of sleep are given special attention.

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The rest of the presentation showcased events leading to a ruthless Githyanki dragon rider burning down a bridge with locals on it, and a party member who’s also Githyanki responds accordingly by leaving your party and rushing ahead after the player character advises them to stay back. Party members definitely have autonomy with or without your guidance. Choices do matter in Baldur’s Gate 3.

“Some men just want to watch the world burn in Baldur’s Gate 3.”

Battle preparation is key in Baldur’s Gate 3, there are things to interact with within the environment that can give the player an advantage in a pinch, such as deluging the ground with a water pump, prior to facing off against a dragon. The water can help stop the fire from the dragon’s maw.

The Githyanki are clearly portrayed as adversaries and condemn the Githyanki party member, ultimately setting off a battle, although the player character attempted to be cordial. Some men just want to watch the world burn in Baldur’s Gate 3. During the fray, the newly recruited wizard unleashed a 3rd level Fireball spell — which has also been added in patch 9, the newly reachable character level 5 allowing access to more powerful skills and spells — which made a huge fiery explosion that has a large AOE effect dealing a superb amount of damage.

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During this combat segment, many checks are displayed, after using a command spell on an adversary, the enemy resisted and the action did nothing after the dice-roll check failed. There are constant game mechanics working in tandem at once, an impressive combat display. When attempting skills, the UI and information displayed show whether the player character thinks the function will succeed or not, giving the player more insight on whether to use certain actions or not, adding another layer to the tactical aspect of Baldur’s Gate 3. After an enemy falls victim to the sleep spell, another AI enemy cleverly uses the shove function to wake their comrade up showing intelligent and improved AI functions during combat.

While ultimately the player character’s party fell to the Githyanki threat ending the preview, the patch 9 framework is readily apparent in Baldur’s Gate 3. While as of this preview there is no mention on whether the title will arrive on consoles, fans can hold out hope for future developments regarding Baldur’s Gate 3 before it fully launches in August 2023. Fans can also visit their official website for more detail surrounding the exciting title.

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