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Baldur’s Gate 3 Review – A Journey Through Dungeons, Dragons, and Destiny

Baldur’s Gate 3 is one of the rare RPGs that spent a long time in early access development, emerging fully realized as one of the best RPGs of this generation and one of the standout games of 2023. Although it launched as part of early access and was available to players for almost three years with only Act 1 being playable, it’s a massive RPG that requires hours of investment, making it a complex game to review.

The combat and role-playing elements of Baldur’s Gate 3 are based on Dungeons & Dragons 5e. If you’re a fan of the tabletop RPG, you’ll feel right at home with the game. The turn-based combat system draws inspiration from Larian’s previous work on the Divinity Original Sin series. While the story continues the events of Baldur’s Gate 2, you don’t need to have played the earlier games to enjoy this one; it stands quite well on its own.

I’ve struggled to immerse myself in most of the CRPGs currently available, aside from the Divinity Original Sin series. However, Baldur’s Gate 3 is designed in such a way that I had no trouble grasping most of its mechanics. The cutscenes in the game are of surprisingly high quality, complete with voice acting, despite their abundance. It’s truly a marvel to see how Larian was able to include so many cutscenes without sacrificing quality, maintaining consistency across the board, and adding voice acting to enhance the experience.

Starting off, players are presented with the option to pick and customize their character. In addition to creating a unique character, the game offers the choice to select a companion. With nearly a dozen classes and multiple subclasses to choose from, the game caters to various playstyles. It’s not just a single-player RPG; the PC version supports co-op multiplayer, offering the best of both worlds with split-screen and online options. The story, in a traditional sense, revolves around the battle of good versus evil. Darkness descends once again in the world of Baldur’s Gate 3, with the opening scene showing the main character imprisoned by mind flayers and grappling with illithid tadpoles implanted in their body. After surviving an attack on the mind flayers’ ship and escaping to safety, the journey begins to survive the implanted parasites.

Even if you’re unfamiliar with the rules and world of Dungeons & Dragons, Baldur’s Gate 3 does an excellent job of explaining everything through tutorials. Multiple difficulty settings are available from the start, and if you’re new to this genre, it’s advisable to begin with the easiest setting. Baldur’s Gate 3 is a challenging game, where each battle tests your wit and strategy. I’m not ashamed to admit that I died countless times while navigating the game, but each failure became a learning experience.

The combat in Baldur’s Gate 3 features a turn-based structure, allowing players to perform multiple moves at once. Various actions, class-based abilities, and items are available during combat, and as the party levels up, more options are unlocked. If you think the combat is engaging, just wait until you reach level 5 and above; that’s when the game truly begins to shine, enabling more efficient handling of enemies. However, one wrong move can halt progress and lead to the party’s demise. Thankfully, the game includes autosaves and a quick manual save/load function, which is highly recommended to use before key battles.

Baldur’s Gate 3 offers a unique experience, filled with varied choices, especially in combat, ensuring that no two playthroughs are the same. Beyond selecting different classes, the key to survival lies in taking advantage of your surroundings and fully utilizing your party members. The game places most abilities within easy reach through a neatly organized hot bar. For those who prefer playing with a controller, a well-designed radial menu holds these abilities, although it may be somewhat slower to navigate compared to traditional controls.

I was intrigued by how the RNG (Random Number Generator) elements functioned in the game. Although based on D&D 5e, the roll of the dice sometimes introduces an element of luck when deciding key moves. This occurs during combat, exploration, and even conversations with NPCs. Depending on the dice roll, you may succeed or fail at an action, with improved proficiencies potentially enhancing your chances. This reliance on RNG adds to the authentic D&D experience, reminding players that they are not in complete control of their destiny, but rather guided by a virtual dungeon master. Even in combat, hits or misses are determined by behind-the-scenes dice rolls. While this may be off-putting to newcomers, it begins to feel natural over time.

The game is divided into three distinct acts. The first act serves as an extended tutorial, introducing the basics and the main cast. It’s a substantial portion of the game, taking up over 20 hours of playtime in my experience. Exploration is encouraged, as there’s much to discover, and lacking a specific ability may cause you to miss out on certain locations. This design encourages replayability, allowing players to see everything the game has to offer. Thankfully, combat encounters are fixed, not subject to RNG, so the enemies you encounter remain consistent. Further exploration may lead to additional combat encounters away from the main story, often yielding valuable rewards.

NPCs play a pivotal role in shaping the story of Baldur’s Gate 3. Recruiting specific NPCs can unlock unique story paths, making their recruitment an essential aspect of the gameplay experience. Relationships, including romantic ones, add further depth, leading to some steamy scenes that garnered media attention even before the game’s full launch. The combination of RNG elements and the diversity of party members and NPCs ensures that the game offers substantial replay value. Chances are, you’ll never tire of exploring its many facets. Sounds like fun, right?

Baldur’s Gate 3 allows players to choose their moral alignment, whether virtuous or villainous. Your choices throughout the story will determine your character’s path. With hundreds of different converging storylines leading to various branching endings, the game offers an impressive range of outcomes. It’s hard to imagine two players, even if playing simultaneously, reaching the same conclusion. The revolutionary integration of D&D’s RNG mechanics into storytelling is something unprecedented in modern gaming, and Baldur’s Gate 3 showcases it brilliantly.

Technically speaking, Baldur’s Gate 3 is a highly competent PC release. I encountered no major bugs during my playthrough and found the game ran smoothly on a Steam Deck. It supports all the features of a modern PC version, including Ultra Widescreen, high refresh rates, and DLSS, without being overly demanding. A Mac port was even available at launch. Overall, this is one of the most polished releases in recent memory, a feat made possible, in part, by the game’s early access phase.

Baldur’s Gate 3 Game Information

  • Price: $59.99
  • Publisher: Larian Studios
  • Developer: Larian Studios
  • Platform: PC (Reviewed)
  • Disclaimer: A review code was given by the publisher
Score
9

Summary

Baldur's Gate 3 is a remarkable RPG milestone. Inspired by Dungeons & Dragons 5e, it offers an engaging blend of turn-based combat, intricate storytelling, and top-notch visuals. The game caters to various players with its character customization, multiplayer options, and unique RNG mechanics. Its exploration, NPC relationships, moral decisions, and diverging paths add to the replay value.

Total Rating

9.0
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Ali Haider

Ali Haider loves to dabble in multimedia projects. He has a passion for editing and managing YouTube videos and loves writing in his spare time.

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