What would you get if Wizards of the Coast D&D 5th Edition and Larian Studio Divinity: Original Sin II had a love child? The answer would undoubtedly be Larian Studios’ early release game: Baldur’s Gate III. I think this will be a child that everyone will want to play with when he becomes fully developed and ready to play. This is the second time that Baldur’s Gate III was to be created. The first time was in 2003 when Black Isle Studios were making the game titled The Black Hound. However, due to a financial crisis and the studio being shut down, the game was canceled and I never thought it would see the light of day.
Thankfully, Larian Studios was interested in rebuilding the franchise and they even reached out to Wizards of the Coast back in 2014 to take a shot at it. Unfortunately, the studio was still new to Wizards of the Coast and they thought they were too small of a company to take on such a heavy burden. In 2017 that changed, and Wizards of the Coast approached Larian Studios and a deal had been brokered so to speak, and now as fans of this magnificent franchise, we are blessed with this early access.
Now I must stress that this is early access and there is limited content to play through. However, I have found it very enjoyable and there is plenty of room for improvement. I must admit at first, I thought this was going to be a shadow copy or a branch off Divinity: Original Sin II. Amazingly for me once I started playing, I was quickly warped back to the world of Faerun. From the world interaction to the character creation to each specific race, I was drawn back to what I thought was a masterfully done franchise expansion from Baldur’s Gate I and II.
I am an exploration fanatic in all games that I play, so I was consistently looking into every crevasse and behind every tree to see if there was something to collect or obtain. The realism and the constant awe of the dramatic scenery and foreground made this game compelling for me to venture around more and more. I also will note that I did a ton of saving so if, and when I failed at my progression, I could instantly redo it and try another path. I would suggest this to anyone trying to make the most of their game.
Now I must admit, I am used to playing these games in real-time with pause playability. Baldur’s Gate III, however, uses the turn-based combat system. I appreciate this type of gameplay since I was raised on D&D, and all tabletop games are in this format. Plus, since it is a Wizards of the Coast style game, I got that feel of the tabletop dice roll and it made me very happy.
Now this game does borrow some mechanics from Divinity: Original Sin II. One of them I noticed is where you can pick up anything and move it around wherever you want. This does allow for some very well thought out combat encounters. One tactic I was able to do was to put explosive barrels near an enemy and then stand back far enough to explode them with a firebolt, which helps knock their life down a lot. I also was pleased to see that it helped in discovering anything secret in the area. Now there is also a downside to being able to pick everything up as well. Your bags get overloaded and either you need to have a companion help carry the load or you need to run back to camp to unload your inventory.
Baldur’s Gate III has a lot going for it right out the gate for the pre-release. Some of the things that took me by surprise were the amazing voice acting performances and the in-game banter between your companions. The rich and detailed graphics that create boundless beautiful landscapes and environments were also nothing short of impressive. Moreover, the traditional adaption of the D&D 5th edition gameplay was also very solid. Of course, they were some problems worth mentioning to such as glitches, quest bugs, and some performance issues. Some of these have already been addressed with the first patch that was released but this is far from a done game, so I expect to see more of this as we progress towards completion.
I have been asked if I would suggest to anyone to buy Baldur’s Gate III right now and if so why or why not? I would say without a shadow of a doubt, “YES, you have to get this game!” Even if you just want a small taste of what Larian has given us then my answer is a resounding YES. Both fans and new players to the series will appreciate the victorious path back to Faerun. However, if you have issues with playing through bugs and other aggravations before the completion of the game then I would say, I understand and go ahead and wait. But, please do keep this on your must-buy list because for what I have seen and played so far, you will absolutely not regret it.
Baldur’s Gate III early access is a huge starting point for the reinvigorated franchise, and I am ecstatic to see what the end product will be like. Baldur’s Gate III early access is available on Steam and GOG.com now for $59.99. It has also been made available on Google Stadia. If you enjoyed D&D 5th Edition and you ever had a chance to play Divinity: Original Sin II, then this will be your must-have game when it is fully released.
This review was written based on a digital review copy of Baldur’s Gate III for PC provided by Larian Studios.