America 2025, Donald Trump has requested the 87th vote recount, in between being fed by a nurse in his geriatric home, and it’s now a race between old age and dementia. Whoever lives out the year will be crowned President-elect.
In the streets it resembles a scene from the Simpsons when the town is split in two, over warring area codes. For some reason there are fires everywhere in trash cans, Snake Pliskin emerges from a nearby storm drain, with the only copy of Cyberpunk 2077 in existence, and a secret mission to deliver it to EA, our corporate overloads, to monetise it.
Welcome to the future.
What do you think of my opening for my new RPG? I’m thinking of calling it “Escape ‘Murcia”. I think if people spent less time worrying about politics and more time gaming, we would be happier. This week though I am reviewing the much-anticipated Baldur’s Gate 3. It’s a chance to escape the chaos of an uncontrollable world and get stuck into an RPG, where I can choose my own destiny, free from being off sick with Covid. I just can’t seem to catch a break recently!
We all know how fantastic Baldur’s Gate 2 was and if you don’t, maybe you should have a little read up. To say this game has been on the hype train would be an understatement. Since the cinematic trailer dropping showing the mind flayers this has been something RPG fans and myself included have been eagerly awaiting. And if the user ratings and Steam reviews are anything to go by, then Larian Studios, creator of Divinity: Original Sin II have worked their magic again.
Let’s get some disclaimers out of the way here. This is a £50 game. It’s not cheap and it’s also in early access and subject to changes. I’ve played multiplayer with Stef and two other friends for a full party and single-player as well to a total of 30 hours to feel comfortable writing this.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Basics
Baldur’s Gate is a turn-based RPG in which you control up to four characters – one created to start the story with and the other three you find and meet along the way. Each have complex motivations and interact with you depending on who you are and the choices and actions you make. The game has integrated dice rolling, sometimes clearly with a counter, sometimes behind the scenes with passive checks. This allows you to play in a multitude of ways, from sneaking to casting magic to straight up sword swinging if that takes your fancy.
Let us start with bad.
The camera view is sometimes shockingly poor. I often had it glitch somewhat in big battles. This can occasionally be rectified by pressing O for a tactical top-down view though work is needed. The sheer volume of cutscenes and lines pose a mammoth task in any RPG but the volume of lore and alternate conversation paths is impressive. Cutscenes are live rendered. This can result in some hilarious facial animation hiccups and bendy necks. These are known issues no doubt, and sometimes I think it’s best to go in expecting some of the bugs/glitches you would from an early access game of this size. I have even come across a scene where it straight up says “cut scene not ready” which really did take me out, as I was trying to romance another member of my party! Multiplayer also has some issues that need to be rectified. You can have a party member start a very important cut scene and if you aren’t with them and right click “listen” you will miss it and the chance to vote on dialog options. You may not mind that but as we were playing as a party, these moments for me felt like an option to build our story with the virtual DM being the cutscenes and choices we had outside of battle.
Larian has been very active about this with the community and just by reading the updates on the Steam game page, you can see how committed they are to bring this much-loved classic to the modern age and do it complete justice.
At this current point in time early access is expected for another year and you won’t be able to import your save file, so expect big changes to come. So those are the bad.
Well, what about the good then?
Baldur’s Gate looks beautiful. It immediately sucks you in and the story and dialogue options are where the game shines for me and how different races react to you can have some huge changes on different playthroughs. For example my first playthrough with a group, we reached a goblin settlement and immediately were tasked with fighting our way through. My second solo playthrough, I was playing as a Drow race and upon entering the camp I was greeted with the opportunity to talk down to them and bully them around as the “superior” race and walk around free to rescue the prisoners. I wandered without any combat whatsoever, which really shows you the volume of subtle intricacies Baldur’s Gate 3 has.
The game is underpinned by Larian’s interpretation of the 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons ruleset. CEO Swen Vincke explained that some rules and systems don’t translate well directly from tabletop to digital game, so Larian has worked to create an interpretation of 5th Edition rules that work for the game. So, if you know the 5th edition well, some of it may frustrate you as it’s not 100% accurate, as my friend Joe who knows D&D well, picked out a few bits in our multiplayer playthrough. However, if you don’t know anything about 5th edition like me, then I think it works well and as a newbie, it’s very accessible. The integrated dice roles keep it fresh, and sometimes missing a roll is half the fun as it takes you down new twists and turns you wouldn’t expect. Like for example when you needed to roll seven on a D20 dice (a dice with 20 sides) and twice in a row you failed. Now you’re getting poisoned. Unless of course if you want to be cheap and save before every dialog trying to maximize each outcome, which let’s face it, is kind of cheating and doesn’t make it as fun.
The combat can be tough sometimes. The frustration of missing a hit based on a hidden skill roll will always feel deflating but when you pull off a brilliant combo it can be just as fun and once you level up you get the opportunity to pull off bigger sets of actions and spells. I found myself enjoying the combat more so at levels three and four over levels one to three.
This game is brilliant and for all its flaws, it’s still fantastic. When it’s completed it’s going to be a masterpiece, heralded as another great RPG for years to come. The issue is, as the audience, you need to be fully aware this is a D&D turn-based game that’s in early access with a heavy fantasy story focus. If that doesn’t sound like your cup of tea that’s fine, but if you enjoy RPGs, Lord of the Rings, fantasy stuff, D&D or more of that kind of thing, then this should be a must-buy. Wallets at the ready boys, be prepared to drop fifty big ones on this and get a party together with a nice cuppa and have some socially distanced gaming, as long as they don’t slurp their tea into their microphone. Then you’ll have a problem. #throwbackthursday.
Baldur’s Gate 3 system requirements
Act 1 content releasing in early access will only take up 80GB, however 150GB is taken up for future updates along the way.
OS: Windows 7 SP1 64-bit
Processor: Intel i5-4690 / AMD FX 4350
Memory: 8 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GTX 780 / AMD Radeon R9 280X
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 150 GB available space
OS: Windows 10 64-bit
Processor: Intel i7 4770k / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
Memory: 16 GB RAM
Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB / AMD RX580
DirectX: Version 11
Storage: 150 GB available space
9/10 if you don’t buy this we can’t be friends, sorry I’m putting my foot down
p.s Stef I’m sorry I lost the save file for your warrior. Let’s start again please buddy.
*Stef’s reply… don’t do it again.