Do you accept this devil as salvation for your problem, or was the forest witch perhaps a better option after all? You can always look up that old druid, maybe he can help you. By the way, how will you enter that goblin camp, just through the front door? They may be friendly, but will you take that risk? Choices, choices and more choices. Baldur’s Gate III is full of them, and every choice seems to have real impact. You’d almost think it’s too good to be true, but Larian Studios really pulled it off.
Baldur’s Gate III is genuinely a gigantic game. There is a bizarre amount of well-crafted content. From the story that can be tackled in countless ways, to the gigantic selection of classes and subclasses. Hence, this review is in-progress; this game is simply too big to fully review right now.
A world full of choices
How open and free you are in Baldur’s Gate III is the first thing I noticed. You can approach the game in so many ways that you almost get dizzy from the number of choices. To keep it spoiler-free, I will briefly set up here a theoretical mission and location that you could well find in the game. Suppose you have the mission to steal an important treasure from a castle. How you go about this is entirely up to you.
You could break open the gate with your weapons in hand and do battle with everyone in the castle. You could try to walk in and negotiate with the owner of the treasure. You could jump in from the cliff above the castle with a feather fall spell. You could try to find a side entrance and break it open with a lockpick. You could take an invisibility potion and carefully enter the castle. You can take the form of a cat and search the castle with it and I could go on and on.
During such a mission anything can happen, too. Who knows, you might find someone in the basement of the castle who will lend you a hand if you help him along the way. Maybe you’ll discover a dark secret to blackmail the owner of the treasure. In addition, everything has an impact later in the game. For example, what does the patron think if you literally massacred the entire castle to get that one treasure? There are so bizarrely many choices that my own creativity limited me rather than the options in the game.
There’s so bizarrely much choice that my own creativity limited me rather than the possibilities in the game.
This freedom returns in the combat of Baldur’s Gate III, which is actually a direct copy from Dungeons & Dragons 5e. Combat works through a turn-based system where everyone can perform a number of actions, such as running, shooting, hitting, casting a spell, helping someone, picking up an object, pushing something and more. At first, the combat in Baldur’s Gate is not too complicated. Cast a few spells, hit a few times and you’ll be through the enemies in no time. However, this doesn’t always stay that way and the game will soon ramp up the difficulty. The further you get into the game, the more complicated and fun the battles become.
Creativity is the key
The game expects you to be creative enough to tackle combat successfully and come up with the right combinations. For example, you can use a spell to fill the ground with oil and then set it on fire with another spell or torch for bins of damage. A spell that lets you stop a character from talking can come in handy out of nowhere if you hit a powerful mage with it. He will then suddenly be unable to cast his strongest spells, and there are numerous other examples.
The key to successful combat is actually making use of the environment. For example, I had a fight with a large number of zombies in an abandoned village. The fight was bound to go the wrong way if I didn’t make smart use of the environment. I sent my party up the roof of a building via a staircase and then set the staircase on fire, leaving the zombies helpless and returning to death with ease via a rain of arrows and spells. With the help of a feather fall spell, my party was then able to safely get off the roof and on with the adventure. So you really need to embrace this creativity, as failure to do so will make the game a lot harder and less fun.
Eleven races and twelve classes
Where the greatness of the game is evident is in the character creation and classes. Baldur’s Gate III gives you access to 11 races, 27 subraces, 12 classes and 40 subclasses. I started the campaign with a class I usually choose in similar games: the Druid. At the moment, I can really only comment on this class, but I can assure that it alone is full of variety. For example, you can build the class as a kind of tank, focused on turning into powerful beasts and taking hits. You can also make the class a healer or mage or something completely different, as I did. My Druid ended up becoming a sort of “Last of Us” zombie master by infecting any enemy that fell with mushrooms to fight on my side for a short time. Personally, I can’t wait to play the game again as a bear druid, and I haven’t even touched on the other classes yet.
Without telling too much about the story, I can assure that it is well written and really gripping. Your main quest starts out simple at first, but quickly becomes quite complicated. In the process, each side quest is full of interesting characters and well-written and voiced dialogue.
Especially the stories surrounding the other party members really grabbed me. These characters are by far the most interesting and have a deep background that is definitely worth fully exploring. I couldn’t wait to get to know them better, although there was one part that did feel a bit separate for me. Namely, it didn’t take long for my elderly halfling to be loved in multiple ways by every party member in the game, if you know what I mean. I don’t know what it was, but apparently my druid had a kind of sugardaddy charm that fell well with both the women and men of the party.
Don’t forget to save
The only part that has disappointed me about Baldur’s Gate III so far is the number of bugs and crashes you encounter. Especially the camera during dialogue pieces can take really weird positions, which really pulls you out of the game. For example, the camera is sometimes in the wall, in the grass or in a completely different location than it should be. You then completely fail to see what is supposed to be discussed. Regularly, characters also repeat random parts of their dialogue, which also pulls you out. These are mostly beauty flaws and do not break the game in my opinion, but what I did experience were a number of crashes. What made this extra frustrating was that sometimes a crash occurred right after a big fight. This wouldn’t be mega bad if the game didn’t save very erratically and thus I had to redo the whole fight. Therefore, I really recommend making a save after each fight so you don’t have to redo them, because they can be quite challenging.
So far, Baldur’s Gate III is really highly recommended. It has been a long time since I got to play a game as big and comprehensive as this one, and I can’t wait to continue either. During my review sessions, I played from noon until 12 a.m., after which I really had to restrain myself not to start it up and continue playing deep into the night. Although due to the greatness of the game I cannot give a full verdict right now, I can see a very high rating coming out of this, think a nine or even a ten.