Baldur’s Gate 3 Review
Now and then, a game comes along that redefines one’s perception of what the medium can offer. Death Stranding, the Last of Us, and even lesser-known pieces like Inscryption have all done things that defy tradition. They bridge the gap between games and art in a way that leaves players flabbergasted. In a way that forces one to reflect on their experience with a sense of awe-inspiring wonder. Baldur’s Gate 3 firmly lands in this upper echelon of gaming. It is, in every way, an unparalleled masterpiece that routinely resists what you think you know about conventional RPGs. After dozens of hours with it, I don’t know if I’ll ever be the same.
There are so many things Baldur’s Gate 3 (BG3) does to separate itself from what’s come before. However, the first example is the sheer quality of its production. BG3 is a gorgeous game. Locations drip with style and substance, whether on a brightly lit mountain path or in a dark, dingy cave. Not only is exploring made fun merely from a formidable need to see every nook and cranny of each area but also stumbling upon a seemingly limitless number of secrets. The density of BG3’s map is utterly staggering, and one could spend countless hours simply combing through the locales.
Beauty and the Beasts
Equally as impressive are the character models. It blows me away how even the most meaningless characters are given the love and attention afforded to the main cast. A dwarf found begging on a street corner or a common goblin trudging through the mud, share every bit of detail that your own avatar does. It can’t be understated how important this has been to constructing immersion. I’ve tried to recall the last time I played something built with this kind of care, though I can’t think of anything. Inevitably, every game has models that come across as ‘lesser than.’ BG3 laughs in the face of this trope. Granted, I’ve been playing on a PC with the settings maxed out, and it’ll be interesting to see how the console versions hold up in this regard. On a computer, BG3, from top to bottom, is breathtaking.
BG3’s density isn’t just apparent in its visual presentation, either. Quite frankly, there is an astounding amount of dialogue to work through. Most importantly, each line is delivered with a Hollywood-esque cadence that rivals anything you’ll hear on the silver screen. Much like the meticulousness in character detail, it’s remarkable how the most minute NPCs express themselves with every bit of emotion as more essential personalities. It’s another reason BG3 demands you spend as much time as possible to stop and smell the roses. You’ll want to hear what these characters have to say, regardless if they’re divulging something that doesn’t push the story forward.
The Butterfly Effect
Speaking of the story, BG3’s narrative is brilliant. As complicated of a game as BG3 is, developer Larian Studios needed to come up with an easily digestible story. For most of my playthrough, I found myself wading through a neck-deep ocean of mechanics. One that I don’t think I would have been able to survive had it not been for its easy-to-follow writing. Yes, tons of stuff happens, and there are many moving parts. But not once did I find myself scratching my head about what the plot was trying to convey. This was crucial to keeping me engaged throughout BG3’s extensive runtime. There’s an intelligent simplicity behind what drives you forward in BG3, ensuring everyone will have something to love within its expertly crafted world.
With that being said, it’s beneficial to keep in the back of your mind that each decision you make will inescapably come with an unforeseen butterfly effect. People are going to die in BG3. Of this, there is no question. It’s only a matter of time before you feel the crushing weight of your resolutions. So much of BG3’s narrative is built upon beautiful tragedy. Because of this, I implore players to avoid save scrubbing. Letting your chips fall is an intrinsic part of this tale that Larian Studios has masterfully woven.
Letting the Chips Fall
As mentioned, however, there were plenty of times I felt thoroughly lost in BG3’s mechanics. Admittedly, I’m new to both Dungeons and Dragons and Baldur’s Gate. Naturally, someone such as myself may find themselves questioning their every move. And this was a tough feeling to shake off. The truth is, I don’t think there’s necessarily a ‘wrong’ way to play BG3. Though, I’m not convinced it does everything it can to welcome newcomers into its world. Many things happen behind the scenes, and at first, I struggled to understand why my party could only use certain moves for a limited time. Much of my early game was spent looking up tutorials on how to play. If you’re new to Baldur’s Gate, becoming overwhelmed is unavoidable. However, I’m not sure if I’ve played a game that was more rewarding for pushing through these initial growing pains.
Once I figured out most of BG3’s nuances, the combat became thrilling. The number of ways you can approach most situations is mind-boggling. The players willing to take their time and assess conditions will be rewarded the most, but this doesn’t mean you can’t get through areas more quickly than anticipated. If you find yourself having a harsh time with a fight, you may discover that a simple conversation gets you through instead. Scan the site, and you may notice the environment is capable of doing most of the work for you. There are many ways in which BG3 will keep you playing for years to come, yet the sheer depth of each combat situation may be its biggest strength.
However, I can’t say my time with BG3 has been a flawless escapade. Slight technical issues permeated my time with it, though, never did they truly take away from the overall product. Framerate dips are the biggest offender, sometimes even fooling me into believing my game froze. This especially becomes apparent when you reach the city of Baldur’s Gate. And for as beautiful a game as BG3 is, it comes with a hard-to-ignore level of pop-in at times that can be distracting. Again, these aren’t drawbacks that hurt my overall enjoyment, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t notice them. Regardless, whether or not BG3 has a few hiccups is irrelevant. My journey spent with Larian Studio’s latest has been astonishing.
If you’re an RPG fan, get Baldur’s Gate 3. Now. It’s one of those titles that feels like a ‘once in a century’ experience. Its systems are deep while being rewarding and thrilling to master. Its narrative is bold, exciting, and at times, devastatingly heartbreaking. Though – to BG3’s credit – the writing never gets to the point of being overly complicated and full of itself. Even if you don’t consider yourself an RPG fan, you must play it. Baldur’s Gate 3 is that good. It’s a rare achievement that will sit in the discussion of the greatest games ever made for the rest of time. Bravo to Larian Studios for crafting a genuine work of art.
***A PC code was provided by the publisher***
- Beautifully woven narrative
- Combat is engaging/thrilling
- Incredible production value
- Extraordinary amount of content
- A masterclass cRPG
- May be difficult for newcomers
- Minor framerate issues
- Minor pop-in