Baldur's Gate 3, our early access tried

Who I am
Lluis Enric Mayans
Author and references

Dungeons & Dragons has never looked so good

When playing a campaign of Dungeons & Dragons, there is always the feeling of being guided by an "almost piloted" narrative. But the real joy of a tabletop RPG is the unpredictability. Even with the best of intentions and well laid out plans, a die roll to hit or a saving throw can completely change the narrative and destiny of the players. Something that has always been the focus of a good D&D campaign. In this sense, with Larian Studios acting as a Dungeon Master, Baldur's Gate 3 captures the essence of an RPG and what makes it so tempting to meet up with a group of friends and play a first-person fantasy adventure.

"Baldur's Gate 3 is unabashedly a D&D-inspired adventure with a really heavy emphasis on RPG"

As the developers of the series Divinity: Original Sin, Larian was perfectly capable of getting his hands on the Baldur's Gate series, one of the all-time classic RPGs. While Divinity: Original Sin 2 players will likely find a lot of that game's DNA littered in Larian's latest project, Baldur's Gate 3 is unabashedly a D&D-inspired adventure with a really heavy emphasis on RPG. From its storyline set in the Forgotten Realms, to its systems looking straight out of the 5E Player's Handbook, Baldur's Gate 3 is one of the best game adaptations in the D&D universe, although it clearly has a long way to go to reach its full potential. potential.

Baldur's Gate 3 was released by Larian Studios in Early Access on PC, Mac, and Google Stadia, which will give players a chance to delve into the RPG before its full release in the future. The most notable part of the early access version, which is worth mentioning, is the fact that this build does not fully represent the full game. In fact, it focuses exclusively on the first of three narrative acts. A dense experience in itself, offering around 20-25 hours of gameplay.

"Baldur's Gate 3 is one of the best game adaptations in the D&D universe"

Work in progress

In its current form, there is no doubt that Baldur's Gate 3 is an immature Early Access experience filled with bugs and glitches. In the time spent with the game, texture loading, missing character animations, and delayed sound signals were among the most common problems we encountered. While the title as a whole often looks gorgeous, there were times when well-reproduced scenes were dampened by low-resolution textures or a polygonal model of the character not appearing correctly. The whole thing is to remember that this build is functional to get a taste of the game but it is not completely finished yet.

However, despite some of those problems that are inevitable with a version that is clearly a work-in-progress, what Larian offered with the early access version was a pleasant and satisfying experience.

As there are many more updates and changes in store for this build in the coming weeks and months, the best approach to making the most of this early access build is to think of it as a very extensive demo of what will (ultimately) be a huge, highly detailed RPG. From the hours we spent in the company of Baldur's Gate 3, we understand that there is a wealth of tools and options that incentivize players to experiment with each of the classes and races available in the build.

The character creation model

After a cinematic opening cutscene introduces the Mindflayers threat to Faerun, Baldur's Gate 3 takes players into its character creator. Here, Larian Studios has already managed to achieve an excellent balance by packaging a lean, accessible and profound creation tool. Realized alter egos seem to be - once finished - all incredible and convincing. Whether you choose to be a Tiefling wizard or a half-elf cleric, the character creator in Baldur's Gate 3 offers enough depth for players to finely shape their characters. From skin and hair color to tattoos and facial features, but with enough accessibility without ever giving that sense of heaviness if you want to delve into the action.

One hundred years later

Baldur's Gate 3 wastes no time in introducing players to its history, world and stakes. Is set one hundred years after the events of the second chapter. Our character is on board a ship Mindflayer along with other prisoners, with the infamous implanted parasites that will soon turn them into members of the enemy army. With the help of a Githyanki Warrior named Lae'zel, our protagonist manages to escape from the prison ship. From here on out he will fight in an attempt to find a cure to eradicate the larva and to thwart the Mindflayers' plans to invade Faerun.

So many mechanics to get to know

After the simplicity of the initial setup, the rest of the Baldur's Gate 3 experience places a greater emphasis on teaching players the basics of exploration, combat, character interaction, and the dynamics of its many game systems.

Like previous Divinity games and the Dungeons & Dragons mechanics it draws on, Baldur's Gate 3 is a bit complex for those without a basic understanding of D&D fundamentals. But even here, Larian does a great job of working out the basic mechanics of exploring each environment to identify the objects you can interact with, how to deal with conversations with different characters and, finally, how to engage in combat.

The influence of the Divinity series is particularly felt in Baldur's Gate 3, as Larian places a strong emphasis on interactivity within each environment. The elemental effects and learning how to combine them with the environment, can be fully exploited in Baldur's Gate 3. How to sprinkle enemies with oil and set them on fire with a flaming arrow for extra damage. For Divinity fans, it won't be a difficult transition at all with so many points of contact and mechanics from the series making their way into Larian's latest project.

"Baldur's Gate 3 offers players a variety of choices and different ways to approach each match."

Dear d20… Don't play jokes!

However, D&D's more immediate influences on Baldur's Gate 3 are felt in conversations with other characters and exploration. These rely heavily on dice rolls and saving throws to determine the outcome. In several situations, players will be presented with a roll of the d20. It will therefore be necessary to reach a certain number to successfully pass a match. But remember that situations in Baldur's Gate 3 can vary from game to game.

For example, at the beginning of the game where the player encounters a Intellect Devourer (a brain with legs) feasting on a prisoner's skull, several choices are presented. Like, destroy the brain, gently remove it and let it join our journey, or leave it alone. Having played the opening section of the game twice, both results were very different. In the beginning, we managed to get the brain involved in our cause by fighting the IMPS. While in the second game we turned down the opportunity to gently remove it and it all ended up in the blood. While this is just one example, it makes it clear what Baldur's Gate 3 is made of. In fact, it offers players a variety of different choices and ways to deal with every encounter and situation.

"Unsurprisingly, Baldur's Gate 3 already shows what it's made of and could be a fitting successor to the iconic RPG series."

Turn-Based Combat

In terms of combat, Baldur's Gate 3 takes place in turns between party members and engaged enemies. Each character has a move, attack, and bonus action to use each turn. If you're already familiar with D&D, the approach to combat should be straightforward and accessible, with some tweaks made to make things a little easier.

Even if you aren't, Larian has made his systems quite accessible. If you have played some form of tactical RPG or strategy game, even something like XCOM, you will quickly understand how to deal with enemies in turn; mechanics that offers the possibility to reflect and plan your next moves.

Final comment

This early access build of Baldur's Gate 3 has given us a chance to understand what we should expect from the guys at Larian Studios. All through its complex but satisfying systems of exploration, combat, personalization. As it stands, Baldur's Gate 3 is a fun but far too immature one-shot experience. Full of bugs and technical hesitations that will surely be fixed once we have the fully refined experience in our hands. But even in this form, Baldur's Gate 3 appears to be the start of a great role-playing campaign.

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