Baldur’s Gate 3 Early Access
Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: Larian Studios
Genre: Turn-Based, Role Playing Game
Age Rating: PEGI 18
Release Date: Unknown, Currently Early Access
A code was provided for review purposes.
Old School Game, New School Delivery Methods
So, it’s finally here, a series I spent a lot of time playing as a youth has had its long-awaited sequel released. Baldur’s Gate 3 is only early access so it’s nowhere near its final release state and I am playing it on Stadia. I know, I know, stop the booing in the back you lot! I knew I was going to encounter bugs, I knew there would be issues, but I could not wait to RPG the hell out of this one!
While I am not a massive fan of these early access releases, I know why they exist. I know the end product will end up better but I do not like playing the worst versions of games. Things like Dead Cells ended up being massively improved and ended up a much better experience due to early access and I liked how the fanbase shaped its future. I just am not a fan of playing games in this state. I do love Baldur’s Gate though, so what is one to do?
With it being on Stadia, I did love being able to play on my TV, my phone or even my laptop with zero loading and no patches. Say what you want about Stadia, it’s not perfect but it does have its advantages. I do not want to turn this piece into a review of Stadia, I just wanted everyone to appreciate that I enjoyed playing with the freedom it offers and with very little faff. It was a nice change.
Baldur’s Gate 3 starts with what can only be described as one badass epic cutscene and I truly mean epic. The sort of cutscene that pushes you back in your chair. Brilliant graphics, great set pieces and cool looking characters pepper a story segment that makes you want to jump in and start adventuring. You can tell right off the bat, while the game may be in early access, it’s certainly got a certain quality to it.
Great, Another Few Hours In A Character Creator
After this breathtaking start, you are bellowed at by a deep ominous voice that asks. “Who are you?” After which you are dropped into a very deep character creator that I spent far too long meandering through. I love creating characters in games and Baldur’s Gate 3 is no different. There are perhaps fewer classes than I expected but there are enough races, tweaks and other options to make up for it. I fully expect more to be added as the game creeps forward to the full release.
I was spinning my character back and forth, picking traits and my race, messing with hairstyles and giving myself very brash face tattoos. As I said, far too long was spent in this section but I wanted things to be right. I then had to choose a character I was attracted to, god, there goes another hour. What was really funny is that I nearly had a bearded woman as my soulmate, haha. I created a very pleasant-looking lady, then I realized I could add a beard, it was nearly too comical not to have but in the end, I decided not to. Our faces probably would have stuck together like velcro anyway and who wants that?
A Grand Adventure
While I don’t intend to spoil any story points here I will say, as the opening cutscene suggests, the story is as grand as you would imagine. Big dragons, mind flayers, teleporting space-ships and much more are thrown into your early access adventures. Every scene, every environment and every character is bustling with life and everything feels touchable, well-realized and as deep an RPG experience as I have had, in recent memory anyway. That being said, Baldur’s Gate 3 is not without its issues, which is expected with the type of release we are previewing, which we will approach later.
So what is the gameplay like then? Well, if you can see past the rough edges you have a very excellent, rewarding, deep RPG. If you have played any of the Divinity: Original Sins games then you know what to expect here. I have read some fans backlash about the game being too similar to those games and while I agree somewhat, I don’t think it is necessarily a bad thing.
Old School Roots
To me, it retains what made the originals great and builds upon it. The combat system is much improved from the original games. It’s a true turn-based combat system that feels very much like a table-top game of Dungeons and Dragons. There are so many spell options, so many actions and environment variables that every battle is different and every battle felt great when your plans fold out just how you planned them.
Your actions also really come into play when you are exploring too. You can jump over hazards, find hidden treasures and even alternate routes that really make someone like me, who looks in every nook and cranny, feel rewarded for doing so. Other elements really hammer home that board game RPG style that I love so much. Things like dice rolls for skill checks and multiple actions and dialogue options that really seem to affect what is happening during gameplay. It’s a role-playing gamer’s dream to have all these branching dialogue options, these skill-checks and well fleshed out characters. It makes the story sections and exploring feel alive and robust.
Baldur’s Gate 3, Is At Times, Beautiful
The presentation is superb in Baldur’s Gate 3. Even on Stadia, which, at times, can be variable. I was treated to crisp beautiful rich graphics and a lovely soundtrack to match. Also, I must mention the voice acting, which was superb. Every character seemed unique, was well realized and had awesome voice acting. Now and again the voice acting did not match the face of the characters. Yes, it is circumstantial in the grand scheme of things but can detract from the immersion. As you will read in the next paragraph, things like this are regular in this early access title. I just took it as a work in progress, as it should be.
Let’s get onto the bad stuff then. Yes, I know it’s early access, yes, I know it’s not the finished product but there were some things that really annoyed me. It is all stuff that can easily be fixed and it’s all minor but irksome nonetheless. For instance, I kept getting stuck in doorways or part of the environment and had to change characters in order to rectify it. I kept losing my teammates for them only to re-appear like Dynamo the magician minutes later. I had a whole myriad of smaller graphical and environmental issues that would be too long to list. Like I said above though all this can be sorted and when early access is done right, like Dead Cells, we end up with an amazing product at the end. Let’s hope Baldur’s Gate 3 is like that. I am sure it will be.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Definitely Has Potential
All in all, I enjoyed and will continue to enjoy my time with Baldur’s Gate 3. You have a great combat system, great character interactions and an intriguing story. The whole thing feels like a digital board game and I loved it. You just have to realize that you are playing an unfinished game. It’s a work in progress of sorts and you must judge it accordingly.
In conclusion, just be aware you are buying into a long-term project and you must give it time. I am sure the end product will be stellar. Hopefully, the small issues can be sorted and more content added as I fully expect it to. Right, I’m off to roll some dice, slice some monsters and loot to my heart’s content. Laters fellow adventurers. We will have a full Baldur’s Gate 3 review when the game hits its full release.
If you would like to buy Baldur’s Gate 3 Early Access on Stadia, you can pick it up here: Stadia Store