“Baldur’s Gate 3: A Promising Start with Room for Improvement”

By | August 3, 2023

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Baldur’s Gate 3, the highly anticipated high-fantasy RPG, is estimated to have a playtime of around 100 hours on a first playthrough. Review copies were distributed, and after 22 hours of gameplay, the game is receiving positive feedback. The game successfully captures the freedom and imagination of playing Dungeons & Dragons, allowing players to find unconventional solutions to problems. The level of detail is impressive, with the ability to interact with the environment and even talk to animals. The writing and voice acting are strong, and the game offers a mix of serious and quirky side quests. While there are some bugs and visual glitches, they are not game-breaking. Combat has improved but can feel overwhelming due to the number of spells and decision fatigue. Death has less consequence, but progression feels slow. However, the art and music are praised for bringing the world to life. Overall, Baldur’s Gate 3 is highly enjoyable and a worthy addition to the series. IGN reported

Baldur’s Gate 3: A Promising High-Fantasy Behemoth

Baldur’s Gate 3, developed by Larian Studios, is estimated to take approximately 100 hours to complete on a first playthrough. Review copies were recently distributed, and this article aims to provide an initial impression based on the 22 hours of gameplay experienced thus far. Although not a Time Wizard, this review will assist in making a day one buying decision and will be updated with new thoughts and insights until the game is completed. So far, it is safe to say that Baldur’s Gate 3 is a captivating and immersive high-fantasy adventure.

One common challenge video games face when attempting to recreate the experience of playing Dungeons & Dragons on the tabletop is the freedom and imaginative problem-solving that comes with using real-world logic. While no game can fully replicate such freedom, Baldur’s Gate 3 represents a significant step forward from titles like Skyrim or Dragon Age. This progress greatly contributes to making the game’s world feel more authentic, while also making players feel intelligent for devising unconventional solutions.

In Baldur’s Gate 3, if an object appears flammable, chances are you can set it ablaze with a fire spell. If an enemy is standing in water and you electrocute the water, the outcome is as expected. Secret areas can be accessed by climbing and jumping. Almost any object that appears movable, including furniture, can be picked up and even thrown, provided the character possesses enough strength. This level of detail extends to the game’s inhabitants as well. Each character has a name and is fully voice-acted, including animals. Playing as a ranger with the ability to speak to animals, not a single bird, ox, or wolf encountered thus far has remained silent. Impressively, even a ferocious owlbear could be persuaded not to devour the player character.

The writing in Baldur’s Gate 3 is commendable. In contrast to Larian’s Divinity: Original Sin games, which failed to deeply engage players in the plot, the game begins with an appropriately epic introduction involving a squid-like spaceship being pursued by dragons through magical portals. The player characters become infected by mind parasites, which gradually transform them into brain-eating cthulhu monsters called mind flayers unless a cure is found. The voice acting throughout the game is superb, adding depth to the characters. While not every traveling companion may be likable, they are all intriguing, harboring secrets and rich backgrounds that are gradually revealed.

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Although Faerûn, the world of Baldur’s Gate 3, possesses a more serious and grounded tone than Divinity’s Rivellon, there are still quirky and offbeat side quests that provide a refreshing change in atmosphere. For instance, stumbling upon a female ogre and a bugbear engaged in an intimate moment led to an unfortunate outcome but provided a humorous moment that was difficult to forget.

While the game does feature several bugs, none have been game-breaking thus far. Some examples include a goblin with missing dialogue lines, camera lingering too long on a character’s face, and the wrong party member taking on a negotiating role. Additionally, there are instances where clothing on models clips into their bodies during certain movements, lighting glitches during dialogue scenes, and other visual oddities. It is worth noting that two significant bug-fixing patches have been released since the review build, and it remains to be seen if these issues persist in the final version.

Combat in Baldur’s Gate 3 has improved since the Early Access version, feeling more fluid and dynamic. However, it does suffer from attempting to faithfully adapt the complex rules of Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, a system that arguably works better on the tabletop than in a digital format. The game presents players with numerous buttons and abilities to manage even at the initial levels, and introducing spellcasters to the party further complicates matters. Leveling up a spell-focused character can be overwhelming due to the sheer number of spells available, many of which may go unused. Moreover, the damage inflicted by enemies in comparison to the player’s health pool at lower levels can make even minor battles highly stressful.

On the other hand, death in Baldur’s Gate 3 has been somewhat downplayed. Early on, players encounter a character capable of resurrecting any fallen party member for a meager fee of 200 gold. This diminishes the sense of risk associated with death in the game. A more preferable approach would have been a game balanced around a lower likelihood of death, but with more severe consequences when it does occur.

Progression in Baldur’s Gate 3 feels somewhat limited. Out of the 20 levels available in the 5th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons, only 12 are accessible in the game. This means that players will level up a mere 11 times over the course of 100-plus hours. While leveling up does feel significant, it is disheartening to find that the party is still only at level 4 after more than 20 hours of gameplay. Although power increases can be obtained through magic items, the slow progression can be disappointing, especially after completing major quests that contribute minimally to the experience bar.

Fortunately, the art and music in Baldur’s Gate 3 leave little room for criticism. Both elements bring the Forgotten Realms to life, depicting a vibrant yet grounded high-fantasy world. The game beautifully renders everything, from humble halflings to terrifying red dragons, in a style that is realistic without venturing into the uncanny or bizarre. The character creator is particularly impressive, offering a wide array of visual options for each playable race.

Overall, my experience with Baldur’s Gate 3 has been highly enjoyable. Although some minor bugs and combat system issues exist, the game comes closest to recapturing the magic of classic CRPGs with a modern high-quality look. Stay tuned for further updates on the game’s progression, and look forward to the final review in the coming weeks..