There’s a fortified encampment of druids you come across early in Baldur’s Gate 3. Just outside the camp’s gate, there are travelers, under attack from goblins, begging to be let in. There’s a chance you could save the travelers, but there will be casualties. This latest attack pushes the current leader of the camp to expel all the refugee tieflings it had previously taken in, both to fortify the camp with an elaborate ritual and because many believe the nomads’ presence is the cause of these latest attacks.
Your party is let through the gate. What you’re there to do, technically, is find a healer. But what you can do inside is a remarkable amount of role-playing. Role-playing of the kind familiar to any player of Dungeons & Dragons player. Role-playing like you might have done in the Baldur’s Gate games of 20 years ago or the Divinity series that brought developer Larian into the D&D fold. It’s the kind of crunchy, infinitely replayable, “Half-orc ranger with Gloom Stalker subclass” game that makes you feel like your choices matter, both to the world and how the gameplay unfolds. The wait has been long, the anticipation strong, but even from a short dive into the release version of the game, it all seems worth it.
Patch-y, but worth playing now
Baldur’s Gate 3 is “a huge RPG designed to be played over many weeks,” according to a statement sent to reviewers with early game codes. “Early” ended up being about four days, with a new patch arriving nearly every day. With other things to write about and the typical sleep, food, and middle-aged life tasks required of me, I’m not nearly as far as I’d like to be in the game. Technically, I could have been playing the true Early Access of the game since late 2020, having access to the first act and roughly 25 hours of the game, but I did not (and Early Access players’ saves and progress will not transfer over to the full game). My impressions come from about six to seven hours of gameplay, including a lot of time spent in the character creation tool before deciding to run with the stock characters.
There’s a patch arriving today, and another outlined for shortly thereafter. The game has been playable on my Windows 11 desktop with an RTX 3070 graphics card, though not without some graphical hitches and stutters, which were far worse before I switched from the default DirectX 11 to the Vulkan version for the game, though your results will certainly vary. If you’re capable of waiting a bit before diving in, many things will likely be smoother for you. But as-is, the game is playable, and my saves—local, on Steam, and on Larian’s own cross-platform save system—seem intact.
As I’ve come to expect from Larian, everything about the map movement and the combat is tight, fluid, and visually intriguing enough without being too visually busy. The rendered cutscenes, especially the opening cinematic, have been impressive enough, but I’ve only seen a half-dozen or so. Dialogue scenes are far more frequent and involve tight shots on speakers and reactions. The lip-syncing is not quite there, but there’s a lot of engaging dialogue to get through, so it’s an easy thing to overlook. You’ll probably be more focused on whether your paladin can make a persuasion check against a shopkeeper, anyways.
Today’s launch is for the PC version only. Versions for Mac, PS5 (September 6), and, eventually, Xbox consoles are due to arrive in the coming months.