baldurs gate 3 logo

Baldur’s Gate 3 – Review

Baldur’s Gate 3…

It’s good! It’s better than good! Go get it. End of review.

Are you still here? Sigh fine, why is it good? Okay, where to begin…

Player Character relaxing at party camp, Scratch the dog seen in the background

From Larian Studios, the guys behind the critically acclaimed Divinity: Original Sin 2, comes Baldur’s Gate 3 a much-awaited sequel to the 2000’s classic CRPG that rewrote the rules on what an RPG played on a computer could be. Now 20 years later, while it doesn’t tear up the rulebook like its predecessors, it definitely moves the goalposts for similar games.

Shadowheart the elf looking sad. Caption reads: But we're here no harm in looking. We might be surprised

Set in the familiar forgotten realms D&D universe your character wakes up to a mind-flayer (or Illithid if you prefer) kindly introducing a tadpole to your brain via your eye. You are aboard a nautilus, a dimension-hopping Illithid vessel when it is attacked by the Gith. During the battle, your pod is released and this is where your adventure begins.

Lae'zel the Gith in a fighting stance with a greatsword

First of all is character creation. You have the option of picking one of the seven pre-generated characters or creating your own. While there isn’t a slider in sight there are enough options to create your own unique creation. (They even had the beard I sport in real life to my surprise). A vast array of races are here for your selection each with their respective traits accorded to 5th Edition rules. Gender is more than a binary choice as well and, as this is a mature-rated game, you have a selection of dangly parts to choose from.

Player party engaged in conversation

So you’ve spent the past hour creating your perfect avatar and now comes the next hour of choosing your class. Most major classes are represented here with only a few exceptions, each with their skills or spells. So much so that I often suffered from choice paralysis. There is even the option of multi-classing after a few level-ups. Following all this you are then asked to design a second character who will act as your guardian, a plot-specific character who probably won’t appear till several hours in depending on your play style.

Successful Die roll, showing of the d20 mechanic

There are three difficulties available from the start; easy, more story-focused with less emphasis on combat, normal as the Devs designed it, and hardcore for the more strategically inclined of you.

So you’ve rolled your stats, picked your proficiencies, set up your cantrips and chosen your name and are thrust into a crashing ship which serves as your tutorial area. You can view the game as an isometric like Path of Exile or you can pull the camera right in and play it third person like Dragon Age. You can use either a mouse and keyboard or controller on PC as both have been fully implemented, the UI even automatically changes depending on which scheme you use with larger fonts and icons for the controller but the ability to move stat or inventory windows is reserved for the mouse.

Player talking to a half -orc female clad in armour

While exploration is in real-time, combat becomes turn-based and follows the D&D 5e ruleset but branches off significantly. Initiative determines the order and each character gets movement, action and bonus action, all this is shown at the bottom of the screen with handy icons showing what the current character has left before their turn must end. A lot of the dice rolls are behind the scenes especially passives like perception but skill checks like, for example, using strength to force a door open will bring up a D20 where bonuses will be applied and guidance can also be used before ultimately rolling. It’s a nice touch to bring it in line with the tabletop experience.

Astarion in conversation with Lae'zel dialogue options appear at bottom of screen

It’s not a true TTRPG experience though as although you can manipulate the environment in a lot (I mean a lot) of ways you really cannot replicate the ridiculous solutions that you and your team come up with tableside, but it’s as close as you could ever get.

Speaking of teaming up, BG3 also has up to four-player co-op with some options for split-screen with full narrative control split between the party. Basically, whoever triggers the conversation can control it, with options to make these moments private or public.

Forest scene, a wooden bridge crosses over a small ravine and a stone plinth can be seen in the background

As you progress through the plot you begin to pick up party members. Remember six of those pre-generated characters from the character creation? Well, those are also your party members that you can pick up along the way each with their own personalities and motives which also open up different options for alternate playthroughs.

Interior of a tomb. flame traps are going off, a stone coffin is middle of the scene

There are some niggles though, but they’re mostly nitpicks, like I wish the autosave was a bit more forgiving as some battles can turn in an instant, meaning lost progress or the companion pathfinding can’t get a bit confused, especially if jumping is involved. However, a lot of these seemed to have been ironed out with hot fixes.

There are some gaming caveats made with a lore-specific skill tree unique to this game and Withers, a mysterious character who turns up in your camp. He can, for a fee, respec and reclass characters, hire temporary party members and even resurrect dead characters. Something that would never appear in the tabletop game for how busted and ‘gamey’ it is.

Player engaged in conversation with an elderly merchant

The music is glorious with their signature track “Down by the river” taking centre stage through a lot of the early stages. Aside from your character responses, the game is fully voiced and all the actors give 110% even in some of the more ludicrous situations

Graphics are gorgeous with cutscenes a mix of some epic pre-rendered cutscenes and in-game cinematics, although the familiar tennis-match-style conversations do rear their head. Environments are lush and detailed as well as varied, you can get lost for hours just roaming about.

Player exploring fleshy tunnel alone

BG3 doesn’t play like your typical modern RPG as there’s no grinding of sorts, mobs stay dead, but you do get experience from every successful check you do. A single level difference of one is enough to wipe your party, so you may feel the difficulty is too brutal at the start, but soon you start to realise that it’s not just about hitting hard, it’s about position, buffs, stats and most of all luck.

A character (possibly Astarion) standing on a sandy beach with flaming debris all around. Everything is dwarfed by a gigantic tentacle arching over the top of the image

Baldur’s Gate 3 is the new gold standard. This is a true role-playing experience as everything and anything will shift the plot around you, I once had a party wipe during a conversation (Protip: Don’t sass talk a god). Sure, there will be similarities, but no two playthroughs will be identical. My only complaint is that there truly isn’t enough time in the day to play it as I kept losing days without realising.

10/10 star rating

Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: Larian Studios
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Mac operating systems, Microsoft Windows, Xbox (TBC)






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *