I know I said I probably wouldn’t be writing a review of Baldur’s Gate 3; the game is exceedingly complex, and just focusing on the main story will net you around 40 hours of gameplay. A completionist playthrough will get you much more than that, and you’ll definitely want to play through a second time just to experience different endings and happenings.
Hell, I still haven’t finished a single playthrough as of writing this, yet I do feel I have enough playtime to give you my thoughts on whether Baldur’s Gate 3 is worth it or not for you. I just couldn’t help it; I have to extol the virtues of this game.
Let’s get started with what the game is.
What kind of game is Baldur’s Gate 3?
Baldur’s Gate is an intense roller coaster with potent situations and twists not entirely unlike whatever new drama show folks are addicted to combined with direction by M. Night Shyamalan.
I’m only partially joking here; A lot of the quests have a certain degree of intensity to them that you may find it off-putting if you’re neurodivergent like me and get drained very easily with powerful emotional situations.
The actual gameplay, however, is.. Brilliant.
I played Shadowrun in High School, and D&D in college. I have fond memories of that experience.
Baldur’s Gate 3 captures it fairly well.. Depending on how strict your DM was at adhering to dice rolls, but then again, that’s what save scumming is for.
It doesn’t stick to the D&D rulebook completely, adapting some things that work better on paper (badump-tss) than in a video game.
Ultimately, it’s a rich tactical turn-based RPG with an intense story that lets you really accomplish tasks in numerous ways.. And that includes doing things that haven’t explicitly been defined as an option.
What Makes Baldur’s Gate 3 so great?
The fact that it is so incredibly detailed – with a beautiful and vibrant world – while also having spectacular player agency, allowing them to make a variety of decisions outside the traditional scope offered in games is what makes Baldur’s Gate 3 one of the most popular games today.
Let’s take an early-game scenario here and explore the options available.
There’s multiple paths into some ruins. You can pick a lock, climb your way up a cliff, sneak through a hole in the wall, or climb down and take the back door.
If you chose the first 3, you can use your cunning dialog to convince folks to leave, engage in direct combat, stealthily take them out, or drop a pillar on them.
If you chose the last one, you can now enter the ruins via that hole. Otherwise, you can go to another locked door and either pick the lock, or convince the folks inside that there was an accident and their buddies need help (or enter the ruins via the aforementioned backdoor).
And those are just the obvious choices.
Don’t forget, you can literally throw your boots at someone in this game at any time you choose (more practically, I’ve found throwing healing potions works really well, too, when a buddy is downed).
Another wonderful reason for BG3’s success is the character creator: Not just the aspect of visual customization, but the thrill that comes from planning out character builds (expect a handful of character builds focused around stealth from me in the not too distant future). Whether you’re a min-maxer, or someone who enjoys roleplaying, you’ll find a lot of immersion in just creating your character.
Whether you prefer to play a “face” character that utilizes cunning and/or clever dialog to avoid tough combat, or someone who likes to charge in like a rabid barbarian and destroy all who oppose you, you’ll be able to create something that meets your needs.
Oh, and if you are familiar with the Book of Vile Darkness rulebook and found it to be a much-needed addition to your campaign.. Let’s just say the “Dark Urge” origin may be something you’re interested in.
What’s with all the bugs in Baldur’s Gate 3?
Much like a fresh release of a Bethesda game (an original experience we get to enjoy shortly with Starfield’s upcoming release), Baldur’s Gate 3 launched with a lot of bugs.
Most are gameplay related (although I do have one non-gameplay gripe: VO audio is sometimes inconsistent in engineering, sounding like they were recorded at separate times with separate micing distances).
This is not surprising; given the scope of the game and the sheer amount of player agency, there are going to be hiccups.
I myself lost count at how many bugs I encountered; some were minor annoyances, while others required I jump back to an earlier save, shuffle my inventory around, and talk to a character who previously didn’t want to talk to me because he thought we had already talked (due to a not-unique item being in my inventory).
Larian has worked hard to patch these bugs, but even a recent patch ended up breaking some folks’ games due to an improper build (they rolled the patch back and re-released it, which did fix those games, at least).
The further you progress beyond the content in early access, the more bugs you experience.. Which makes sense, given that the early access portions got the most actual player testing.
It’s a headache that some may not be able to live with, which leads me to our conclusion: Should you buy BG3 now, or wait?
Should I buy BG3 now, or wait?
You’ll note that I said “buy now, or wait”.. Because you absolutely should buy this game.
If you’re someone who finds emotionally intense stories difficult.. Yeah, still play it, definitely. Just take frequent breaks to reduce the discomfort.
If you’re someone who gets severely annoyed at buggy games, wait a month or two.. And then buy it.
If you’re worried about it being too close to Starfield’s release, play Starfield first.. And then buy this.
If you’re budgeting, save your money or wait for a sale.. And then, of course, buy this.
It takes a lot for a game to really, REALLY capture me. There are only a handful that have absorbed me like Baldur’s Gate 3; Control and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice are the only other 2 more modern releases that have done so.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is assuredly one of my top 3 games of all time.
You don’t have to have played the first 2 (or Icewind Dale, or any other Forgotten Realms setting game); BG3 stands well on its own.
It helps to understand how D&D works, but again, that’s absolutely NOT a requirement, and the game gives you enough of an idea of the world to get you going and having fun.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is well worth the positive press it’s getting, and is a fitting part of the Baldur’s Gate series. Larian should be proud of what they’ve accomplished.