Baldur’s Gate 3 has just launched into early access. Available on Steam and Google Stadia, Larian Studios has stuck to what it’s good at: Creating fantastic CRPGs. However, unlike the Divinity franchise, this one comes with a twist. Baldur’s Gate is based off of Dungeons & Dragons, and this new release lifted the 5th Edition’s rules and put them into a video game. So, the game is out in first player… But, is it worth a buy this early into development?
Baldur’s Gate 3 First Impressions
The short answer: if you loved Divinity or Divinity 2, and love 5E, get Baldur’s Gate 3. Make your voice heard by Larian, and enjoy this fantastic game. However, there are a few things to keep in mind to help guide the decision.
Pros: Divinity 5E
If you were a fan of Divinity‘s combat system, Baldur’s Gate 3 will be really familiar to you. Its static movement and range calculations are all the same that we know, for better or for worse. You’ll waddle your way into fire puddles half of the time, but it’s still intuitive and extremely rewarding to do.
That being said, the battle system’s major change is its action mechanics. Divinity‘s AP System, where movement and attacks would be on the same energy, could lead to melee characters having to move far and then only get one attack. Now, melee characters and ranged characters get the same movement, the same action, and the same bonus action. This ends up really leveling the playing field.
A side-bonus of being based off of 5E is the promise of classes and spells. Since Larian doesn’t need to worry about any distinct things, there’s going to be a wide variety of magic and player options to come. If you’re a fan of the options in 5E, good news: There will be most of them in the main game. Right now, there’s not a ton of options, but there are enough to give you a few different characters or even playthroughs.
A Great Story So Far
Not only is there fantastic combat, but the story is great, too. I found that there were a few inspirations from Divinity 2, to say the least, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. The characters you meet are charismatic, the quests you get have deep lore, and there are a ton of ways to interact with the world around you.
Cons: An Early Access Experience
There’s bugs. There’s a lot of bugs.
This is standard for an early access game, and for one as complex as Baldur’s Gate 3 it was basically guaranteed for it to be swarming. That being said, this game somehow seems buggier than most. Part of the newly released experience, or maybe just recency bias, but there are a ton of little tics to the game that are annoying.
In addition, there’s a ton of content left out. When you get the early access, you get the campaign up to level 4 (also known as Act 1). Even among the content that we currently have, certain quest rewards, dialogue options, and opportunities are empty and devoid of purpose. You might work your butt off to destroy a Hag, and then get a quest reward that doesn’t do anything.
Personally, I preferred the “build your class” aspect of Divinity 2. While I love 5E’s system, it can be rather rigid, especially for classes like Fighter and Ranger. They have the boring job of “attack an enemy until it dies,” while casters get a giant suite of options that they can mix and match on a whim. In Dungeons & Dragons, that’s okay, because the Fighter or Ranger can build their own personality or interact with the environment in a dynamic way. Here… You’re just an attack button. It’s a bit of a sad loss, but this could be remedied in future updates.
The Only Real Problem
Even with my gripes, this is a beautiful, well-made game for how far into development it is. The upsides vastly outdo the downsides… except for one thing.
The early access version costs the price of a full AAA game. It’s listed for $60 on Steam.
So, right now, you are getting the content of a 4-6 hour journey for more than the price of Divinity 2, a game that could take up to 60 hours to complete.
Realistically, this game is not going to get more expensive; it’s hard to sell a $75 or $90 dollar game without massive piles of add-ons. So you’re kinda purchasing the full game five or six months before it’s released. That’s… Okay.
If you think you’re going to purchase Baldur’s Gate 3 on release no matter what, go for this early access. This game looks amazing, already has a great story, includes a few different character options, and promises a full game in just a short while.
But, if you’re skeptical, wait for the full release. This is a massive price tag for a game that isn’t complete yet, and the developers still have time to make decisions that sour the pot. I fully understand anybody who is interested in this game that doesn’t want to pay so much money for a fifth of it.
Jason Toro-McCue has committed his schooling to the study of the connection between game design and narrative. When he's not working on this bond through writing articles or guides, he's playing Dungeons & Dragons, or just playing games themselves and looking at the story there.