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Yesterday, Larian Studios launched Baldur’s Gate III into early access. And so, with the game available for purchase, we can now check out a number of previews/early access reviews and learn what the third installment in the storied RPG series is all about, and how it plays right now. Have a look:
With its turn-based battles, different art style and focus on systemic shenanigans, Baldur's Gate 3 isn't an attempt to resurrect an old series. It's something new that pushes the systems and creative mayhem from Original Sin and combines them with the rules D&D. And they're perfect together. It's very promising and seems to be heading in the right direction, but should you buy in now? There's a good 25-30 hours of adventuring to be had, full of memorable fights and characters, but you won't be seeing the game at its best. It's already fun, but it's a bit janky, save wipes are guaranteed and, more importantly, you can't yet make a gnome illusionist, so really what's the point?
I could say much more about Baldur’s Gate III, but I want to leave a great deal of it for you to discover (I will note of my favorite entities from the Realms makes an appearance). But we do get a good look at where Baldur’s Gate III is going, and I think many of you are going to want to jump onboard.
As you've hopefully gathered by now, Baldur's Gate 3 has the makings of a classic in more senses than one. It has a firm grip on the atmosphere and camaraderie of BioWare's 90s epics, while introducing enough of Larian's house style to be a distinctive creation. There are a couple of features I miss, such as D&D's old moral alignment system - a clunkier element of the BioWare games, but one I'd have liked Larian and license owner Wizards to rediscover and elaborate upon. Then again, exploring the differences between eras in CRPG design is part of the fascination here. Alas, switching over to the public Early Access build means I'm going to have to say goodbye to both Saucepan and Teapot, but you can rest assured I'll be spending many hours in this long-lost corner of the Forgotten Realms as the winter goes on.
There will be some for whom the idea of an Early Access RPG feels intrinsically wrong - like racing the Nürburgring while it’s still being paved, or reading a series of epic fantasy novels before knowing whether the author will live to write the last one. There’s no arguing with the fact that, by playing Baldur’s Gate 3 now, you’re embarking on a journey you can’t yet finish.
Yet there’s something positive in that: the limited scope is an invitation to play - really play, to muck about and test the possibilities - rather than simply push to complete yet another RPG. This one’s worth hanging around in.
Even with a few technical warts, Baldur's Gate 3 has to be the most confident western RPG I've played in ages. There's a depth brought about by the dice and skill-check system that makes it so interesting to tinker with, and the combat is flexible enough that I imagine it'll be a blast hundreds of hours after the first sword slash. It might be a while before the 1.0 release it out, but given how brimming with quality the early access build already is - it'll be well worth the wait.
Of course, being an Early Access title, Baldur’s Gate 3 is far from perfect. A myriad of missing audio cues, visual hiccups, and just normal bugs still run rife through the first act of the story. If you’re someone who doesn’t enjoy dealing with bugs, then I suggest steering clear of the new RPG until it’s had a few more updates. If you’re someone who wants to enjoy what the team has made so far – and help it expand and improve – then you’re going to feel right at home in the scarred and ever-changing landscape of Baldur’s Gate 3.
Beyond the good looks of the graphics, I haven't found much in Baldur's Gate 3 to recommend it. Your character and party feel like insignificant gnats and are forced by circumstance to do and see awful things that they're not powerful enough to change. This is not a case of "tough moral choices" as seen in Wasteland 3, or in Obsidian's excellent 2016 RPG Tyranny—in Baldur's Gate 3, it feels like you have no agency at all.