Yet Another Gushing Review For an Extraordinary Game
This year, the only game I had actively on my radar was The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom. I took four days off from my day job to make time for returning to Hyrule and playing uninterrupted; content that Tears of the Kingdom would be in its default “game of the year” spot. I did not have any expectations for anything to dethrone it. So imagine my surprise when I got NAT20 of authority, to face the experience that is Baldur’s Gate III. I’m sorry, Link, you failed the charisma check. It should say a lot that coming from a pretty obsessed Zelda fan, nothing could stop this game from claiming game of the year spot for 2023.
Well Darling, Consider Myself Obsessed
Since the launch of Baldur’s Gate III out of early access, there was some discourse gamers and developers would regale in about the level of quality, both in polish and in design, that put many on the backfoot about the standards for AAA video game releases in the current generation. The legions of game fans the world over sing praise of Baldur’s Gate III, and for good reason. The game is a lightning in a bottle case; a perfect storm of the right people with the right experiences, with dedication to craft and an IP rich with personality, world, magic and adventures.
If your social media has somehow managed to not to be flooded with adoration for the various companions (I am torn between Karlach and Astarion, myself) the devotion shown from players is owed to the well written and performed characters. Cutscenes, dialogue, and the stories of BG3 make for a very memorable experience for the many diverse players (may see online the custom character be referred to as Tav) it encourages interactions of the world and the companions’ reactions to the world around as you all travel together.
I Am So Obsessed With This Game I Almost Failed Out Of Med School
Baldur’s Gate III is the kind of game that generates watercooler buzz about it; coworkers and friends can share stories of the same adventure with wildly different outcomes thanks to the depth of a full fledged Dungeons and Dragons campaign. For myself and one other coworker, we’re heavily familiar with D&D, so for us, our conversations have taken the form of breaking the game with character builds and gushing over the mischievous antics we’ve gotten up to. Then there is my other side, players who are not as versed with D&D and Baldur’s Gate III has created massive curiosity on what a typical campaign may be like. The game bridges so many different experiences. My condolences to the wallets of newbies once they break the seal and get their first set of click-clackies.
Baldur’s Gate III brings an intuitive way to engage with D&D systems easily and breaks through the barrier a lot have for tabletop RPGs such as D&D. While my experience at time of writing is limited to the PC version, I look forward to trying it out on console with its specific controls in the future. I could gush about Baldur’s Gate III for ages, as I have, and my others do. But, for all that it dazzles, it isn’t immune to imperfections. As it shines, its shadows are cast.
There are moments within cutscenes where the models and dialogue seemed to hiccup and stutter, the results of which are some hilarious screencap moments, but break the critical immersion. While accurate to most CRPGs, the camera controls are a bit janky with the mouse and keyboard and sometimes it can be extra frustrating mid fight where an action should totally be possible but doesn’t register, or leads to a disadvantage turn trying to move to a more ‘optimal’ point and hope you don’t get taken out from an opportunity strike for it.
The companions’ movement can either induce amusement or frustration at any moment, as there is a clear path where they won’t be harmed, yet act like moths to the flame for some reason and a detour in the cloud of daggers seems to be their favorite pastime. Such is the case with the broad variety of the modern gaming PC market, optimizations will come with time, but this is the case running on an AMD Radeon RX6600XT post launch in Fall of 2023.
Your FOMO Is Accurate. This Is An Absolute Gremlin Obsession.
Online co-op can be wonky due to differences in cutscenes and interactions. The one time I attempted to play a campaign with a friend, neither of us had the settings set to where interactions and dialogue should have been hidden, however he was the only person able to interact with the story but instead of standing around being blown off by everyone (the player 2 curse) I was able to wander around.
One thing I can say, I wasn’t restricted to a small area while the other player had the cutscenes playing. He was on a beach and I ended up outside an area on the other side of the map with no lag or crashing. So that was interesting, but engaging with the story would be moreso. The UI for actions, spell casting, and skills has an outdated looking display that reminds me of a PC game from the 90s which is charming yet clunky. Once you’re used to it, navigating it isn’t the worst thing on the planet.
Where Baldur’s Gate III excels is the characters and the storytelling. Certainly a good portion of the game is replayable from new perspectives: good, evil, chaotic, “dark urge”, and all the alluring components of D&D. There is plenty to explore through repeat playthroughs. Being able to speak and interact with animals is certainly entertaining with the interactions with the different creatures that roam the realm of Faerûn. Early enough in the starting section, one may recruit a dog to stroll through and enjoy the camp as in between rests you’re able to pet and play fetch with them – what more does one need?
A Mania God’s Envy, A Potion Of Angelic Slumber
The smallest of interactions between the vast numbers of NPCs and the environment when you consider how large the game world is in comparison is well thought out, there is such an organic flow to things and it’s very easy to find yourself playing till the wee hours of the morning for multiple days, like I did. It is now rare to not chew on thoughts of Baldur’s Gate III. Whether it be what kind of run through I want to do next, a class I want to try, maybe redo a battle with some cheesed up mechanic of chaos – would be fun to have a boss die to a poutine or a sausage being thrown at them!
Even romancing the various companions is a bisexual paradise or hellscape, depending how you look at it. They’re all so tempting in their own way, each having lush stories. However, reading through various forums and opinions online I would agree that the momentum from Act I and II there is quite a bit lost in ACT III even if you do everything that is available provided you have done certain things within the prior acts that do not lock you out of options.
With so many loose ends to tie, and a dizzying number of story branches to weave, the ending is expectedly solid. The various roads someone can take to get there depending on their play through, is it worth asking if Baulder’s Gate III has a flawless ending? No, it certainly had its bumps on the way with some battles and areas being more lackluster than others. The Chosen was kind of laughable, and barely holds a candle in comparison to other fleshed out more companion story lines.
If there was a change to suggest, probably Act II ending of the tower should’ve been the leading to the end-end encounter. Given how more fleshed out and impactful it was in comparison to Act III choice of leading to the end stretch of the game.
Larian Studios has already made comments about updates based on the feedback of the game, including the ending of a certain companion. Time will tell how that will go, I’ll be the last to complain for more content as a whole. I had not noticed anything different story wise locked behind increased difficulty. This is good as you also could change it in the middle of gameplay. On that note, the tactician class is excellent for anyone who likes to have an absolute challenge, the balance is friendly enough to newer players of D&D or turn based like fights but also wants a bit of a challenge, and the explorer is great for those who would like to focus on story rather than game play. However, I will note that locked behind a certain playthrough is a more involved story with the “dark urge.” Whether you resist or give in to the urge, it’s playthrough enriches the story and interactions with the various companions in the world. “Save-Scumming,” when there is a mistake made (battle, dialogue choices etc) isn’t punished as the game just wants to be enjoyed and you’re welcome to do it however you’d like.
If the thought of creating your own character from scratch is overwhelming, Baldur’s Gate III provides origins of the various companions as playthroughs and these are also a delight and give insight to things you won’t experience if you have a Tav playthrough. The endless variety of playthroughs almost feels infinite as one is never like the other.
The game flourishes and radiates far beyond its blemishes and players of all varieties can find their way into this world and wait, is that blood? … No, Nevermind.
Roll for initiative and may your adventure into the Forgotten Realms be memorable.
No Your Honour, It’s Complete Brain Rot
Okay, now that is out of the way, can I go ahead and go back to gushing about my various playthroughs? Between finished and unfinished, not even started yet- I have so many ideas. Imagine a bard monk, absolutely ridiculous but the vicious mockery is hard to ignore given everything.
I have even been bouncing back and forth between characters and minus trying to remember where I was. It’s so organized. The saves are per character rather than just this disorganized mess.
There are certain saves that are quite literally for divergent runs, like fracturing timelines in the playthroughs. It’s insane.
I’m still mad that because I went with [redacted] I got locked out of [redacted] BUT, BUT I got [redacted] in place of [redacted] on this other play through and it’s so much better for my sorcerer bard and their summon named basket.
Think next run I will try [redacted] in place of [redacted] oh it won’t do any damage but it is hilarious in concept.
What do you mean there are other games?
Featured images ©Copyright Larian Studios | Wizards of the Coast, Hasbro
Game Copy Purchased by reviewer / Played on Windows PC
‘Baldur’s Gate III’ Is Available Now On Windows PC, Mac OS and PlayStation 5