Baldur’s Gate is an incredibly beloved PC RPG franchise, but Baldur’s Gate II released in September of 2000, so there is a good chance that you missed the original buzz. Thankfully, Baldur’s Gate III might be the perfect entry point. Larian Studios is handling development, and the studio received a ton of praise for its work on the Divinity: Original Sin series. We recently had an extended look at the game, and based on what we saw Baldur’s Gate III could be a must-play RPG for the generation. To prime your excitement, here is everything you need to know about this promising project.
Do I need to be a fan to play this?
No. Whether you’re a fan that has been waiting 20 years for Baldur’s Gate III or a complete newcomer, developer Larian Studios is working to ensure that the game is approachable for everyone. If you are a fan of Baldur’s Gate or even the Dungeons & Dragons universe, there will be plenty of Easter eggs to find, but an understanding of the franchise isn’t a prerequisite for fun.
What is the story about?
The game opens with a giant floating ship traveling across the country and kidnapping people. Those prisoners are infected with a vicious-looking tadpole creature that is slowly turning them into Mind Flayers – psionically powered monsters with a face full of tentacles. However, the ship crashes before the process is complete and everyone onboard is scattered to the wind. You control a group of survivors who must deal with the tadpoles in your brains before you mutate into Mind Flayers.
Okay, so who are these poor saps?
In Baldur’s Gate III, you can create your own character or choose from one of several pre-made heroes. These pre-made characters come with their own backstories, skills, and motivations. Even if you create your own hero, you will encounter Larian’s pre-made characters throughout the game and they may join your party. We were given a brief glimpse of a few of Larian’s characters, and they are all unique. For example, Astarian is a vampire spawn who suddenly finds that he can walk in the sunlight without burning. However, he still possesses a hunger for human blood. Another interesting hero is Shadowheart, a cleric who was on a mission but voluntarily had her memories wiped, and now all she knows is where she needs to go to complete her mission. Whoever you choose as the main protagonist will dramatically color the rest of the story, change your side quests, and influence the interactions you have with everyone else in the world.
Enough about story! How does combat work?
That’s a bit aggressive, but okay. Baldur’s Gate III’s combat is turned based, and you control a group of heroes that unleashes an assortment of magic spells, ranged attacks, and close-quarter skills to dispatch a variety of foes. The action takes place from a grid-free, top-down perspective and feels like a lot of strategy games and classic CRPGs. Players have a wide number of options during combat. Each hero has their own set of unique skills, but you’re also rewarded for thinking outside the box and using the environment to your advantage. We watched a mage cover a group of enemies in grease and then set them on fire in one deadly explosion. In another combat encounter, our heroes tried to push a stronger enemy into a pit full of deadly spiders. Several encounters did not go according to plan, but improvising your way out of a jam seems to be half the fun in Baldur’s Gate III.
Seems like there are a lot of systems in this game … uh, this isn’t a question.
No, but it is a correct statement. Larian is a big fan of systemic game design, and the developers told us that they want to let players do anything that a dungeon master would allow during a session of D&D. That sounds ambitious, but Baldur’s Gate III looks incredibly open-ended. We watched our heroes stack boxes to create a staircase toward a hidden alcove, douse flames to remain hidden from enemies, and sneak behind an archer then push them off a cliff before combat started.
So the game is entirely top-down?
Actually, no, many of the cutscenes we watched featured more dramatic camera work similar to modern RPGs like The Witcher III. In fact, you can zoom in with the camera to have a behind-the-shoulder view while exploring the world. A zoomed-out, top-down view of the battlefield seems best when managing a party of four in combat, but it’s nice to have a more intimate view of the world if you desire.
Sold, when can I play it?
Larian Studios is fond of early access and plans to release Baldur’s Gate III in early access to players sometime in the “next few months.” Players will only be able to play an early chunk of the story, but Larian will continue to release more of the game as development progresses. Still, you won’t have to wait long to start getting to know Baldur’s Gate III’s characters or to explore this interesting world.
Still have questions about Baldur’s Gate III? So do we, but while we wait for more info read our review of Larian’s Divinity: Original Sin 2 or our interview with studio founder Swen Vincke.
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