There is a Belgian video game studio who hit the ball out of the park and right into the stratosphere. Larian Studios is far from an indie developer. Founded in 1996, the studio has made multiple educational games and the long-running Divinity series of action role-playing games.
However, the studio has taken a major step towards cementing themselves as a household name in the world of gaming software with their latest title — Baldur’s Gate 3 (BG3).
The game is the third mainline installment in the Baldur’s Gate series, which is based on the famous Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) tabletop role-playing game (RPG). Players got their first taste of the game when an early access demo was released in October 2020 on Windows. This was the only way to play until the full release last month with ports due later.
Larian’s experience with action RPGs through Divinity shines in BG3. The mechanics are based on D&D’s fifth edition system. I am not qualified to get into the minutiae of how 5e’s strengths and weaknesses translate to keyboard controls, but the process seems to have been smooth enough.
It is a turn-based game where strategic thinking is just as important as busting skulls and what you do outside of combat –- whether it be resource management, interacting with non-player characters and party members, and prepping spells after long rests – absolutely matters. Button mashing will not save you, in fact running head first into battle will do more harm than good if you fail to grasp what lies before you.
What dialogue options you do or do not choose can just as easily avoid combat as it can land you in trouble with potential allies. Companions will not always like how you go about conversations, and there are times where combat is just pointless.
You are in a living, breathing world where actions and words have consequences. How you interact with other people will colour the adventure moving forward. You are free to choose, but not free from consequences.
As much fun as the campaign has been, this definitely is not a game for everybody. The turn-based style of gameplay will not provide any adrenaline rushes or heart pumping action most faster paced games offer. Combat balancing is not always fair. There have been plenty of encounters that have forced me to save-scum due to how bad the fight has gone out of my favour.
Speaking of saving, that is something you must do often. Think of how often you click save in your term paper document and multiply that by six. Tides turn quickly and you might be forced to load a save to undo a catastrophe and lose lots of progress doing so.
Balancing your party and managing inventory can also be a headache if you are not the most organized person, which is why I highly recommend taking breaks to think things out thoroughly. Finding out what you want and need to extract the most fun out of your playthrough is paramount to getting your money’s worth. Seeing as the game is $79.99 before taxes, the strategizing begins before you even open the program.
There are also performance issues if you do not have the latest visual effects card installed for this 120GB software. I have definitely experienced some but nothing game-breaking so far, except that one time it crashed.
If you are interested in tabletop role-playing games, strategy, and playing the social game then BG3 is the choice for you. Professional reviewers and many players have given the game a thumbs up, and I can certainly do the same.