My fellow dungeoneers, critters and roleplayers, the video game that can finally encapsulate everything we love about Dungeons & Dragons is finally here. Larian Studios’ Baldur’s Gate 3 finally jumped into Early Access this year.
If you’re a fan role-playing games like Divinity: Original Sin 2 or someone who wants to start playing Dungeons & Dragons but doesn’t have a Dungeon Master or other people to play with, Baldur’s Gate 3 could be your first stepping stone into the world of Dungeons & Dragons.
All of the combat, world-building and character creation are taken straight from the pen and paper game. Larian Studios has already shown off a ton of gameplay, clips from the story and how the feeling of Dungeons & Dragons is present within the world of Baldur’s Gate 3
Here’s everything you need to know about Baldur’s Gate 3.
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Baldur’s Gate 3 release date
Baldur’s Gate 3 Early Access is officially out right now on Mac and PC.
Keep in mind that Baldur’s Gate 3 is launching in Early Access, so you won’t be getting a polished or finished game. It’s unclear when Baldur’s Gate 3 will be officially released, but if Divinity: Original Sin 2 is any indication, it’ll take at least one year before Baldur’s Gate 3 is considered finished. Divinity: Original Sin 2 was released in Early Access on Sept. 15, 2016, and was fully released on Sept. 14, 2017.
Baldur’s Gate 3: The Dungeons & Dragons connection
The big difference between Divinity and Baldur’s Gate is that the latter is actually based on Dungeons & Dragons. What does that mean? Well, races, classes and even the setting are pulled straight from Dungeons & Dragons, specifically the 5th Edition of the pen and paper game.
You’ll be caught between one of the most iconic wars in the franchise, the Blood War, which is based on the adventure module, Dungeons & Dragons Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus. The two parties involved in the war are the demons, who inhabit the evil plane of chaos of the Abyss, and devils, who live in the equally evil but lawful realm of the Nine Hells. If you’re confused by the difference, an easy way to distinguish the two is remembering that demons want to destroy everything while devils want to control everything.
However, the story that Larian Studios is telling is completely unique, so you won’t find spoilers about this story online. You can, however, read into The Forgotten Realms, the universe that Dungeons & Dragons takes place in to gain some insight into the world. Key locations that you’ll be visiting in this game are Avernus, the first layer of hell, as well as Baldur’s Gate, which is an influential merchant city on the western coast of Faerûn.
Baldur’s Gate 3 races and classes
Baldur’s Gate 3 is going to launch with a limited number of races and classes in Early Access, but Larian Studios will continually add more to the game, so if your go-to Dungeons & Dragons class or race isn’t present at launch, it’ll likely get added before the official release.
Your race will have an impact on dialogue, special abilities you get, and story beats that you’ll experience. In Early Access, the confirmed races you’ll have access to are:
- Drow (Dark-elves)
- Vampire Spawn
While the number of classes is also limited, Larian Studios stated that in the full release of Baldur’s Gate 3, players will be able to roll any class from the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition ruleset, which is great because I want my Sorcerer damn it! Below is the list of classes as well as the subclasses you can choose from:
- Fighter - Battle Master, Eldritch Knight
- Wizard - Evocation, Abjuration
- Rogue - Arcane Trickster, Thief
- Ranger - Hunter, Beast Master
- Cleric - Life, Light, Trickery
- Warlock - Fiend, Great One
- Druid - Circle of the Moon, Circle of the Land
Swen Vincke, Creative Director at Larian Studios wrote in an AMA on Reddit that in Baldur’s Gate 3, "custom characters have a much stronger connection to the world and the main arc of the story. […] We’re confident that you won’t feel short-changed in terms of narrative breadth and depth if you choose to play as a custom character."
"When we say there are serious consequences to your choices, we really mean it. As you move through your adventure, you’ll discover quest-lines and stories that relate directly to the character you’re roleplaying, and the things that you’ve done," he added.
Baldur’s Gate 3 gameplay
Baldur’s Gate 3 is a third-person/isometric RPG that’s very similar to the likes of Divinity: Original Sin 2. Like any RPG, there will be deep conversations with diverse dialogue options, but this game’s combat will revolve around a turn-based ruleset.
You’ll take control of a party of four heroes, one of which will be your own custom character, and the others will be party members you’ll find out in the world. If you’re playing online, you can queue up with up to three other players with their own unique character.
Like Dungeons & Dragons, how well you perform actions or pull off risky dialogue choices will be determined by the roll of the dice. For those who are unfamiliar with how Dungeons & Dragons works, your character will have modifiers depending on what they specialize in, so how well you do isn’t entirely reliant on luck, as you can become an expert in certain skill sets.
Depending on the character you play, you can cast spells, fling daggers or go chop chop with a giant greatsword all from a tactical top-down view-point. It’s very much a strategy game when it comes to combat, but thanks to the creativity of Dungeons & Dragons as well as Larion Studios’ Divinity 4.0 engine, there is still a lot of freedom to explore and experiment with different things around you.
According to Vincke, "We'll stay true to our roots, so we'll give players lots of systems and lots of agency to use these systems and try to accomplish what you need to on your personal adventure and your party's adventure. That's not going to change; that's the core of what we're doing. But then there will be an interpretation of D&D, because if you port the core rules—we tried it!—to a video game, it doesn't work."
When you’re outside of combat, you’ll be able to initiate a turn-based mode if you want to do something clever and careful outside of combat, such as preparing ambushes or sneaking around in the dark.
Baldur’s Gate 3 story
Evil squid-looking monsters called mind flayers have escaped the Underdark and want to take over the Astral Plane. These mind-controlling sentient beings only procreate in one way, and that’s shoving parasites in other beings, and guess what? You and your party members all have that parasite in your brain.
"The mind flayers have rediscovered the secret of nautiloids," Vincke told PC Gamer. "Those are big problems! If you know D&D lore, especially Volo's Guide, you'll know they used to rule the Astral Plane, but they lost it all and had to flee to the Underdark or they'd be exterminated by another alien race, the githyanki. They want to restore their empire, so we see the mind flayers invading a city, with a nautiloid, so you can imagine what might happen. But it's not what you'll expect!"
In the opening cutscene, you can see githyanki attempting to stop the mind flayer invasion as they ride in on a bunch of red dragons. You’ll get the opportunity to create a githyanki character. In fact, one of the first origin characters you can choose from instead of making your own is a githyanki. Here’s a list of the five initial origin characters:
- Astarion - Elf/Vampire Rogue
- Gale - Human Wizard
- Lae’zel - Githyanki Warrior (I assume they mean Fighter?)
- Shadowheart - Half-Elf Cleric
- Wyll - Human Warlock
The latest story snippet showcased our characters landing in Avernus, the first layer of hell, which is the setting for the aforementioned Blood War. You and the mind flayers are caught in the crossfire as the mind-controlling squid people attempt to escape the defensive githyanki force.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Early Access updates
We’ll be posting a list of updates as they arrive at Baldur's Gate 3 Early Access. At Early Access, players will be able to access 20 hours of playable content. While that might not seem very long, Larian Studios gave comparisons between Divinity: Original Sin 2's Early Access launch and Baldur’s Gate 3’s Early Access.
- Number of combat encounters: 22 in DOS2 EA vs. 80 in BG3 EA
- Number of English dialogue lines: 17,600 in DOS2 EA vs. 45,980 in BG3 EA
- Number of characters: 142 in DOS2 EA vs. 596 in BG3 EA
- Number of spells/actions: 69 in DOS2 EA vs. 146 in BG3 EA
Despite the numbers, Vinke made a point that you technically won’t be playing Baldur’s Gate 3 Early Access longer than Divinity: Original Sin 2's due to the diverging storylines.
Since launch, Larian Studios have published several hotfixes that fixed crashes, random deaths and numerous bugs. The developers also recently published its first real patch, which fixes a bunch of bugs, but also adds some more polish to graphics, alters NPC dialogue, adds additional tutorial messages and more.
The most recent patch, however, will force you to either restart your game or keep you on the old patch. “Patch 3 [...] is just around the corner,” Larian announced Nov. 24 on Steam, “and with it comes the first changes that affect the story. Unfortunately, this means Patch 3 will introduce the first save incompatibility, transitioning to the new version.”
“You can already move to the beta branch now, if you’d like to protect your save file and continue on the current version,” Larian added. “Save files are not ‘deleted’ from your computer; they’ll remain in your folder, but you’ll only be able to load saves specific to their respective versions.”
In the most recent update, Community Update 11, Larian added rewards for pacifism, made companions more tolerant, made it so low rolls in dialogue doesn't lock you out of content, made it so companions follow you more strictly while adventuring and gave you 2 short rests after a long rest. They also rebalanced and fixed a ton of issues. This update also introduces cross-save functionality.
Larian just launched Patch 4, which introduces the Druid as a playable class. The Druid gets two subclasses, including Circle of the Moon and Circle of the Land. Another added feature is Loaded Dice, which balance out the dice so you're not hitting to many natural 20s or natural 1s. There's a cinematic for "Speak with dead" moments as well as a number of quality of life changes.
Larian hasn't published a huge update in a few months, but recently the team pushed Hotfix #11, which addresses a few crashes concerning water and animations.
Baldur’s Gate 3 trailers
There are quite a few trailers for Baldur’s Gate 3 that detail cinematic story beats as well as fleshed-out gameplay sessions. We’ll dump the most recently revealed trailers below.
The trailer above is the most recent Panel From Hell, in which Swen Vincke along with Geoff Keighley, Chris Perkins and Adam Smith take a deep dive into Baldur’s Gate 3. They discuss Baldur’s Gate 3’s Early Access release, touch on lobotomies, the permutations in gameplay and the last part of Baldur's Gate 3’s cinematic intro.
Baldur’s Gate 3 minimum and recommended requirements
Larian Studios just recently revealed the minimum and recommended PC requirements to run Baldur’s Gate 3, so there’s no guesswork here.
At a minimum, you’ll need an Intel Core i5-4690 or AMD FX 4350 CPU, 8GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 780 or AMD Radeon R9 280X GPU. Meanwhile, it’s recommended that you’re toting around at least an Intel Core i7-4770K or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X, 16GB of RAM and an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 6GB or AMD RX 580 GPU. The game is also going to take up 70GB of available space.
Those requirements are liable to change as the game gets updated, optimized and polished throughout its Early Access. The notes even read, “The recommended requirements might decrease over the course of Early Access, as performance improves.”