The moment long awaited by millions of players around the world has finally arrived, Baldur’s Gate 3 has arrived. After 20 years since the release of the second chapter and after three years of the Early Access version, the latest effort by Running Studios it is between us. The long wait was equal to the expectations created on the new chapter of Baldur’s Gate, a saga that, over the years, has shaped the genre of strategic role-playing video games. Ever since the first trailers and announcements, Baldur’s Gate 3 seemed to be a worthy successor and after diving into the amazing land of Faerûn, we are ready to tell you everything (without spoilers of course) in this review.
Our review of Baldur’s Gate 3
The story of Baldur’s Gate 3 begins with a nautiloid from the illithid, the disturbing humanoid race with psychic powers that has kidnapped the protagonist (to be chosen at the beginning of the game). Here, our character, along with many others, comes infected with a Mind Flayer tadpole which, if not eradicated in time, will turn him into a Mind Flayer in turn. Luckily for us, the nautiloid fleet is attacked by a group of Githyanki, an alien race that resides in the Astral Plane in eternal struggle with the illithids. Following a violent attack, the Nautiloid we are on is shot down but we will emerge mysteriously unharmed from the incident on the coasts of Faerûn.
From here begins a glorious journey of finding a cure for our illithid infection and solving the mysteries, struggles and problems that caused the Mind Flayers to attack. Added to this is also the rise of a new deity, theAbsolutewhich is influencing the minds of the populace endangering the peace of the world and the safety of Baldur’s Gate.
In addition to the intention of not wanting to tell you anything else, it is almost impossible to list in one article the mammoth amount of events affecting Baldur’s Gate 3. To the main story (lasting about 40 hours) many other events, secondary missions and related to the characters are added and intersected. From the most intense and long chronicles to the fastest and lightest missions, all characterized by a very high attention to writing that will make you lose yourself in the fabulous world of Faerûn.
The Hero of Baldur’s Gate
Like any self-respecting RPG, the characters are the soul of the game. The protagonists of Baldur’s Gate 3 are
- Astariona charming High Elf affected by a vampire and victim of a cruel master
- Lae’zelresolute Githyanki warrior in eternal struggle with the Mind Flayer race
- GaleResourceful human wizard who hides a terrifying secret
- Darkheartadept of the dark deity Shar in possession of a mysterious and powerful talisman
- WildHero of the Sword Coast exiled from Baldur’s Gate and bent on fighting demonic forces
- KarlachTiefling escaped the eternal struggle of Avernus after 10 years of service in the underworld
Each hero has a fixed class and characteristics as well as their own bubbly personality and personal story. Each of them can be met within the game world and be part of our group.
To these is also added the ability to create a custom hero choosing from the various races (and sub-races), classes (and sub-classes) and various backgrounds which, in addition to providing different abilities, will change the way others interact with you. A separate case is reserved for Dark Pulse, a character different from all the others who, despite being one of the protagonists, can be completely customized and cannot be met in the game world except by choosing him as the main hero.
Whatever our initial choice, the stories of the world and of the characters who inhabit it will be at our complete disposal and our every action will influence them and have repercussions, often important, on the main plot.
The apotheosis of RPGs
The gameplay of Baldur’s Gate 3 moves on three main tracks: exploration, interactions with NPCs and combat. The world to explore is very large and is divided into three main macro-areas (one for each act of the story) to which are added many secondary areas such as dungeons, underground cities and so on. In addition to a tremendous attention to detail, the maps are chock full of areas to explore, items, chests, equipment to collect, and of course, tons of NPCs (Non-Player Characters) to talk to (or fight).
Almost all NPCs will have something to tell you and theinteraction takes place through a system of choices to which unique options can be added depending on the character, race or background. NPCs will also provide you with side and non-side quests that can affect, intersect or cancel other quests, but fear not, the beauty is right here! Choosing what to do and how to do it is your prerogative and will help you shape the story as you please. Among these non-player characters you could also find valid allies or dangerous enemies therefore, be careful, every choice, even the one that seems the most stupid, counts.
And when your choices lead you to take up arms, it’s time to fight. Baldur’s Gate 3 features a strategy-focused turn-based combat system. Characters and enemies take turns on the playing field using actions, spells or movement points to prevail on the field. The goal here is only ever to survive, by any means necessary. Between swords, hammers, spears, bows, crossbows, spells, fists, thrusts and evocations, there is no shortage of tools available but pay attention to your class! A wizard equipped with a heavy hammer won’t get very far unless he has the appropriate specialization. And it is (also here) that the role component comes into play.
At one die roll
RPG mechanics are the lifeblood of Baldur’s Gate 3 and affect every element. Everything is fine race e subrace has specific characteristics and traits and each class provides their own skills and competences. To these are added the classics characteristics of the characters between Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, and so on. Even the Background we choose will provide us with different skills that will influence the way we interact in the world.
In RPG mechanics and to be precise, among those related to Dungeons & Dragonswe find the roll of the mythical D20the iconic die used during D&D “tabletop” sessions. The success or failure of some key actions will depend on the dice roll as well as in our attempts to Persuade, Intimidate, Break In and so on. If the figure on the die exceeds that required to succeed, we will succeed. This mechanic also manifests itself in combat. Equipment, weapons and spells respond to certain characteristics of the character or skills and the success of certain actions will change depending on them. We will not roll a die with each sword stroke but the probabilities or opportunity rolls indirectly depend on it.
For those unfamiliar with the world of D&D, fear not. The work done by Larian Studios has been masterful and in addition to visually representing certain mechanics in an intuitive way, a clear tutorial at the beginning of the game will explain everything you need.
That of “Freedom” is certainly a fundamental theme in Baldur’s Gate 3. Although some paths are mandatory to reach the end of the game, how we travel them will depend only on us and our choices. Do you want to explore every corner of the world? Go straight to the point? surround yourself with friends? finish the game solo? kill any character that comes in front of you? become the villain of the situation? Everything is permitted. There is no wrong path or “right” way forward.
On the technical side, Baldur’s Gate 3 uses a new version of the Divinity Engine, the graphics engine developed by Larian Studios itself, which proves to live up to expectations. Already used in the chapters of Divinity, this engine offers an ever-increasing quality and quantity of graphic details and great attention. Likewise the animations and models of the main characters are excellent and help give them life and personality.
The whole is wonderfully immersed in a world of vibrant beauty and liveliness, even in the darkest and most macabre areas. From the woods, to the cities, to the disturbing locations of the Mind Flayers, each setting manages to completely kidnap the player by projecting him into the beautiful, dangerous and magical world of Faerûn.
Of course, there are technical flaws. We didn’t want to break the magic but graphical and technical bugs and glitches are present and aplenty. From flying characters to rash actions, up to NPCs that sink into the ground or non-clickable areas and characters due to bizarre overlaps. Nothing, fortunately, that has prevented us from going forward or has spoiled our gaming experience. It must also be said that while writing this Baldur’s Gate 3 review, Larian Studios released an update to remedy the most common bugs. obvious and we are sure that many more will come.
The audio sector is exceptional. The soundtrack of Baldur’s Gate 3 was in fact entrusted to Borisslav Slavov, former composer of that of Divinity: Original Sin who continues to confirm his incredible talent with epic melodies and…