On September 2nd, nearly a month after its initial release, I was finally able to begin my journey through the world of Faerun in Baldur’s Gate 3, the latest CRPG from Larian Studios. This post will focus on my early impressions of the game as I approach the end of the first act of three. To be honest, I had no prior anticipation or hype for Baldur’s Gate 3 until word started spreading post-release. These types of games have never really been my cup of tea, with Wasteland 3 being the only title I’ve seen to completion, in addition to a handful of hours put in between Divinity: Original Sin II and Pillars of Eternity. Generally, I’d blame my lack of CRPG resonance on my short attention span as, despite being a blog writer, I’m not much of a reader myself and CRPGs can be rather verbose. Fast forward to Baldur’s Gate 3, however, and I believe Larian has found the perfect recipient for success between its production value and addicting gameplay, allowing it to break out of its niche and be in the conversation for “Game of the Year” next to Tears of the Kingdom. 

On the topic of its production value, the time and care that went into BG3 is striking from the outset. Now, I’m not talking about visual fidelity or saying it’s free from bugs, no, what sets it above the rest is the quality of its writing in conjunction with full-scale voice acting. Everything in the game is narrated and the characters have full voice acting that really helps keep you invested and does not allow your mind to wander off if you’re like me. Honestly, this has been an essential aspect for me as it allows the game to feel that much more immersive. The other surprising aspect of the game is how much fun the combat is once you get the hang of it. Using abilities and casting spells in turn-based, free-flowing combat, based on the Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition ruleset, translates a lot better than I would have expected. Even though it can be limited depending on your playstyle, I find myself continuously wanting to test out my new tools in combat and challenge myself against larger enemies, which I wouldn’t have assumed going in. It’s encouraging that BG3 perfectly encapsulates that feeling of playing a tabletop campaign and allows you to live out the D&D fantasy without the need for a consistent group. 

When you boot up BG3, you’ll be greeted with its robust character creator or the option to begin as an “origin” character, one of the many companions of the game. In my many D&D adventures, I always play an iteration of an elf named Kalneiros Milner, often an agent of chaos and an overall seeker of wealth, fame, and power. As such, it felt only right to continue this trend, so I’m playing as an Arcane Trickster, a rogue who utilizes magic, per my original Milner’s class. As for my alignment, I’ve been playing fairly neutral in Act 1. I’ll do anything for the right amount of coin or whatever will benefit Kalneiros the most, which in BG3, has found me on the side of good more often than not. Act 1 sees you escape the clutches of a Mind Flayer ship and crash land directly into the local struggles of the land. Helping a druid enclave, negotiating with (or, in my case, slaughtering) goblins, and discovering the mysterious cult of The Absolute are among the many quests you’re tasked with that feel like they can play out quite differently depending on your choices.

Early on, I stumbled upon two characters arguing in front of some ruins. Through the power of persuasion and a lucky dice roll, I was able to convince them it wasn’t worth their trouble, so I could explore the ruins for myself instead. Without having a lockpick to break into the ruins, I inspected my surroundings and found an opening to drop in from above, which immediately found me in combat with a party that was set up for an ambush, had I come through that locked entrance. Fast forward an hour later, and I discovered there was another means to enter the ruins along the mountainside that I completely missed, which could have also circumvented the previous combat encounter. That sense of discovery along with the toolsets provided allowed me to forge my path through this single encounter, a small part of the larger experience. That small moment encapsulates what Act 1 of BG3 has to offer. It’s not so focused on a single deep story point but instead sets the stage and unleashes you into its sandbox as you learn the world around you and how you wish to play. I suspect that will change as I enter Act 2 and begin centering on what’s going on, but for an introduction, it sets the bar extremely high for what’s to come.

So far, Baldur’s Gate 3 looks to be a truly robust experience that justifies the hype surrounding it. I’ve been extremely impressed by the freedom of choice the game offers while taking everything into account. There are definitely limitations here and there, but once you understand how wide the borders extend, then you’re able to color within to great effect. Throwing oil or a cloud of poison to then have your magical allies set fire to enemies within will always be novel and equally as stratifying as using your bonus action to push someone off a cliff to their demise. Or, talking your way out of situations and allowing the dice rolls to push your luck to the limit is a viable and often welcomed option, as well. There’s really something magical about what Larian has done with Baldur’s Gate 3 in presenting one of the finest RPGs we’ve seen in the last decade, all right before Bethesda’s long-anticipated Starfield releases. As RPG fans, between this game, Starfield, and the Cyberpunk DLC, Phantom Liberty, we’re eating well this year on top of the many other stellar releases we’ve seen to date. For now, I’m committed to Baldur’s Gate 3, and many adventures still await me so stay tuned for future updates. Now, onwards to Act 2!