PREVIEW – Baldur’s Gate 3 is a huge role-playing game called to make history. Larian Studios clearly has the BioWare touch to give life to a promising RPG which has everything necessary to conquer Dungeons & Dragons fans. Freedom, decisions and an exciting turn-based combat system. These are the keys to Baldur’s Gate 3. It’s huge, it’s turn-based and you decide everything. But will it be loyal to the original games?
I never imagined that more than 20 years after the launch of the legendary Baldur’s Gate 2 I would again enjoy an RPG based of this mythical saga, but here we are, at the doors of the premiere of a new role-playing adventure with which it is impossible not to get excited after seeing the ample presentation of the game. And someone tells you whose first impression was … well, let’s leave it in that I expected something different, something closer to the BioWare classic and not a game so similar to, on the other hand, formidable Divinity: Original Sin.
On the other hand, Baldur’s Gate 3 is a video game which does not seem to know limits in terms of freedom of action and scale of some turn-based battles that are truly spectacular not unlike, the previous Larian Studios games – including aesthetics and humour as well.
Let’s dig a little to discover the wonders that this RPG hides.
Freedom to do what you want
You will have a way to act as you please no matter how crazy and evil your intentions are. Every scenario, every battle, every simple conversation you have with others raises dozens of decisions that will mark the course of the adventure, sometimes with truly amazing results. In other words: imagine everything you could do in the extraordinary Divinity: Original Sin 2 … and now think big. That’s how high Baldur’s Gate 3 aims, and that’s why Larian Studios will once again resort to launch with early access. There are so many possibilities, so many ways to face your action, that no matter how big the development team is, and it is, they are not enough to test an RPG that is called to make history. And in this first contact, I want to make you part of the illusion that dominates me right now.
When the announcement of Baldur’s Gate 3 became official, we all hallucinated with the dark cinematic sequence starring the scourge, foreshadowing a dark RPG, to a certain terrifying point, in the line of the best stories of Dungeons & Dragons. However, you see, the video game of Larian Studios is committed to having a pretty colourful visual style, very much in the line of the Divinity saga, with humour very present in the action. I confess that I found, at the beginning, the presentation video shocking and somewhat disappointing.
Still, according to the developers, you won’t have to worry. “Baldur’s Gate 3 is going to be very, very dark. When you play you will live really bad situations that will make you feel uncomfortable,” says the game’s director, Swen Vincke. And the plot premise already points out ways with a group of adventurers who have escaped from the claws of the scourges … but not before paying a price: a parasite has entered their brain, and they must end it before they transform themselves into mind flayers. Promising, right? Well, this is nothing compared to what awaits us later, as the director of this coveted RPG told me. “And if you are evil you will be able to prove it,” he adds. It will not be due to lack of opportunities.
For example, if the main character is a vampire, he can carry out all kinds of misdeeds including sucking the blood of a teammate while he slept in the camp. “It’s not a small thing. And it has consequences,” warns the creative. The most terrible, of course, to end his life if you do not control your thirst for blood; but you will also cause the victim to become depressed, or suffer exhaustion, affecting their performance. The vampire, of course, will be happier than a partridge with some extra bonus in his pocket.
You decide everything
It was the most repeated phrase during this first contact with Baldur’s Gate 3, although it would be best to say that the dice decide. And I don’t mean just when determining how much damage you cause in combat. Every action you take during the game, every decision you make in a conversation will be put to the test by the goddess fortune creating fun and surprising game situations as this RPG always gives alternatives.
As in Divinity Original Sin 2, Larian Studios is shaping a huge maze of decisions and consequences so that you never cease to be surprised by the enormous freedom of action of Baldur’s Gate 3. And it’s no longer just that you can opt for stealth, or for the most unbridled action, or for following one or the other route. The incredible thing about this RPG is that from the beginning it makes you clear that you can do anything, whatever you want! No matter how crazy or impossible it may seem, you are able to solve the same situation in many different ways. And with that philosophy, the combat of the new Baldur’s Gate is equally exciting.
Turn-based battles in which everything is possible
The essence of combat is the same as that of Divinity: Original Sin, and only with that we would already be talking about an incredible battle system, but Baldur’s Gate 3 goes further betting on verticality. Saying that may not sound very spectacular but, heights here are everything; who attacks from an elevated position has a tactical advantage which can be decisive in the course of the toughest fighting. But when I talk about heights I don’t mean to be a couple of meters above the opposite and that’s it. What I am saying is that a character may be attacking the beams of a castle while his allies fight on the main floor, and in the catacombs, another war takes place with spells, explosions and all the chaos you can imagine.
It is so incredible, so beast what Larian Studios is achieving, that even the most insignificant battle is transformed here into a truly exciting death duel. These are also very challenging battles that require you to think carefully about each step you take, taking advantage not only of your characters’ abilities, but also the stage itself that is itself a protagonist. You can tear the stairs to prevent them from following your steps, or fabricate barricades to stand firm in one position, shoot lamps so that they fall on enemies causing a great explosion, or combine water with electricity or ice to torture the unsuspecting ones who have dared attack you.
You do not need to gather your party before venturing forth
If you enjoyed the turn-based fighting of Divinity: Original Sin here you will find an improved and expanded version of these fights, with massive battles that promise to make us vibrate with emotion. “You never saw something like that in Original Sin,” says Swen Vincke. How to manage this without becoming too complicated? Larian Studios has opted for a shift system in which first moves a faction, and then the next. Each character, of course, keeps its movement and attack points intact, but this system allows you to develop more complex strategies with some surprising options.
“It flows quite fast and you don’t have to wait too long,” adds the director of Baldur’s Gate 3 about this new combat system. And the great thing as I say are all the possibilities of play that he draws before you, allowing you to even separate the group so that while some fight, others look for ways to end enemies with a single blow. In one of these battles, while the main character tried to escape from an army of skeletons, another of the heroes opened an escape route allowing his escape. And it is just one of many options available, which will undoubtedly shine with own light in the multiplayer of Baldur’s Gate 3.
“Basically we have taken what we had in Divinity Original Sin,” says the creative, but never interrupting the experience of the team. Each player lives their own adventure, freely moving around the stage while others fight, or chat, or manage the inventory. Do you remember the vampire scene I was talking about before? There is a previous cinematic scene in which this main character is internally debated between biting an ally or not. “And you are there, and you see what the other player is doing, the options he is choosing. So you show you sleep, you ask yourself: ‘Are you going to bite me or not?’ And it’s something incredible, crazy because it adds some tension to the group. And it’s just what we wanted to do, “says its director.
The same moves to the fighting. “Everything happens simultaneously, so discussions arise about ‘do this, or do that’. And the players shout to each other.” You can get an idea of how fun this can be with 4 players online or 2 in the local cooperative mode. Because in addition the combats win a lot of thanks to actions such as jumps, to position yourself better, or stealth, which has capital importance.
A fantasy world to explore … and Baldur’s Gate!
If you are guiding a rogue, you can see the hero sneak up on the beams of a ruined temple, shooting water arrows to extinguish the torch flame, and immediately think of the memorable Thief. That’s how important stealth is in Baldur’s Gate 3. You can use it to stab enemies in the shadows, or steal them without them noticing; but you can also use it to prepare the battlefield, fill it with traps, and thus slaughter the rivals in a couple of turns once the action begins. The verticality of the scenarios and the great mobility of the heroes contribute to increasing the options incredibly. Play with the lights and shadows; use the stage and the objects that populate it to be the fiercest murderer or an expert escapist. And I love that freedom.
Baldur’s Gate 3 does not forget the puzzles and traps either and adds the interesting option to pause the action during the exploration moments so you can plan well every step you take. There are elaborate tests that go beyond simply looking for a switch to avoid dying in flames. And also here the freedom will be total, while you must act in one way or another depending on the special abilities of your character. At the moment there are 15 races of the D&D universe and 8 confirmed archetypes, with more to be announced in the future. As in Divinity Original Sin, you can choose to create its origins from scratch or bet on the stories written by the Larian Studios team. In any case, as always, any decision you make will affect the course of the game, with new lines of dialogue, more missions and ways to respond to the incredible fantasy world that recreates this RPG.
I don’t want to finish this article without mentioning how beautiful Baldur’s Gate 3 looks, with a great character design that looks really good. The new Divinity Engine 4.0 has allowed the team to create more detailed modelling, with better animations, and scenarios not only bigger but also full of life. Too bad that in this first video the team has opted to present a quite prototypical scenario, leaving us with the doubt of what the city of Baldur’s Gate will look like. But the important thing here is that we will have the freedom to explore its streets, and at Larian Studios they say it will be gigantic. Not only that. They also dropped that in the depths of the earth … well, many surprises await us. And it is not for less, considering that we speak of an RPG with a script formed by 1.5 million words. Or put another way: more than 100 hours of gameplay await us through hundreds of different locations with their own particularities, including special monsters and challenges.
When asked about the story, how much of Larian was in it, Swen Vincke didn’t hesitate a second. “All of it. Everything. The characters, the adventure, the background.” The creative assures that in Wizards of the Coast they have been given total freedom. “They intervene when, for example, they tell you that ‘this is not what a Dark Elf (Drow) looks like, but it must be so’; but when it comes to taking it to the video game, the mechanics, we have great mutual respect, they trust us, and they have given us a lot of white letters when it comes to work.” With all this, we only have to wait at the beginning of his early access on Steam, and trust that we do not have to wait long to get the final version of Baldur’s Gate 3 in our hands. However, at Larian Studios they are very clear.
” It would be a crime to release an incomplete game. So it doesn’t matter to wait a few more months.” We have endured 20 years for a new Baldur’s Gate, right? The important thing is that it shows the love with which Larian Studios is giving life to one of the most anticipated RPGs of recent times. And the best news that it seems that the wait, it seems, may worth it.
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Publisher: Larian Studios
Developer: Larian Studios
Relase date: TBA