Fantasy role-playing games are a dime a dozen in video games. But very few of them that get made are as deep or intricate as the very few that manage to become incredibly popular. Often this is due to a lot of inspiration coming from the classic fantasy tabletop RPG Dungeons & Dragons, where creating a unique character and stats determined by the roll of dice lead to epic adventures for players. Baldur’s Gate 3 (for PC and consoles) is the third entry of the series that takes nearly every element of a DnD campaign that people love and puts it into video game form. Though it manages to be epic in scope and highly detailed in ways few other RPGs achieve, Baldur’s Gate 3 is not without a few stumbles that hold back an otherwise incredible role-playing experience.
Just like in DnD, you create a character and pick it out from a wide selection of classes and traits that make your individual character feel unique. Between the choice of races, combat classes, body structures, and much more; Baldur’s Gate 3 really goes far with letting players play with many different combinations in creating a hero. You might spend a long while picking out each individual trait for a character, which may or may not become significant in later portions of the game. Something small about your character might end up being a thing that affects circumstances or options you have open to you at a given moment, or even give you a variation on dialogue. It’s details like this that really push the idea of playing a role in this world incredibly far, which is at the heart of something like Dungeons & Dragons.
Because there are so many options and traits to browse through, it can feel like Baldur’s Gate 3 throws a lot of information at you early on. Most of the time, the game doesn’t do a great job of streamlining players into certain aspects of gameplay, especially when it comes to factors that determine battles or affect how other characters perceive you. In some cases, you might end up ruining a relationship with a certain faction simply because you had a specific character in your party or you chose a specific race for your own character.
The game doesn’t always explain that things like this can happen, which might cause you to stumble into situations you would otherwise not intend. The same can go for how you approach battles or interact with objects in the environment. You’ll have to often experiment or take time away from whatever task you’re doing to see how far you can go with certain actions in and out of combat, mostly because the game never makes it clear what you can or cannot do in some instances.
But what about the story in Baldur’s Gate 3, what is the campaign you’re playing through? Your character, and an ensemble of others you meet on your quest, are infected by a parasite from mind flayers that take you captive. After things go very wrong, the ship you’re on crash lands and scatters you and other captives all over. After meeting up with a few allies, you’re tasked with finding out more about the mind flayer’s parasite, how it’s connected to the evil army, and your place in the fate of the world around you. Although that’s a very simplified version of the main plot in Baldur’s Gate 3, there are so many things that happen alongside the main quest and build out the world you adventure through. The writing for nearly every part of Baldur’s Gate 3 is high quality, with many different permutations of the same situations you might find yourself in. And what’s more is that a lot of it can change based on so many different factors, not just the decisions you end up making along the way.
While the writing and overall visual presentation of Baldur’s Gate 3 are absolutely fantastic, the gameplay is where things start to suffer from bad luck. Exploring and getting into combat is what you might expect if you’ve played other fantasy role-playing games that are inspired by a DnD system. Playing on either mouse & keyboard or gamepad will have different controls that may or may not work out well for some players. You honestly have to get a feel of both styles to figure out the most comfortable way to play. For some, fantasy RPGs on PC are meant to be played with a mouse & keyboard for things like key bindings and screen organization. For others, however, using a gamepad will feel natural and allow for better control over the camera and other specific abilities. Both styles have their pros and cons, but it comes down to which you feel the most comfortable using for a long period of time.
The overhead view lets you see the battlefield when things get dicey, with all of your characters and their abilities displayed in menus to pick from. Attacking foes or utilizing your surroundings is the key to victory, which more often than not will require you to think outside the box to gain the upper hand. Although you’re not always able to go in swinging widely, mostly because of how important stats are in determining the outcome of rolls. Nearly every aspect of movement, fighting, exploring, and dialogue exchanges is determined by dice rolls, which is similar to a real DnD campaign.
Often this works out very well based on stats for your character and the rest of your party, but it can also lead to some unintentionally disastrous results. Sometimes bad luck will be the determining factor of outcomes and just how difficult some battles end up being, especially when your rolls are very poor in comparison to your enemies. Often this can be very frustrating in most scenarios when you feel you have a grasp on a situation, only for things to go very wrong moments later from something that rolled in favor of your opponents.
And that leads to one of the biggest and most divisive issues with Baldur’s Gate 3, saving and reloading. Often referred to as save scumming, you might find yourself frequently reloading saves when things go sideways. For some, this isn’t an issue in a role-playing game like this. However, the constant need to reload saves when something goes wrong in a battle or dialogue exchange heavily impacts the immersion and flow of the gameplay. This can also happen often after reloading because of how wildly inconsistent Baldur’s Gate 3 can be with the outcome of scenarios, especially those that require dice rolls for different actions.
Most unfavorable outcomes and events feel completely out of your control and at no fault of your own. Luck is such a big factor with so many things in Baldur’s Gate 3 to a fault at times. You might be talking to a character and need to roll dice for a specific option, only to roll a 1 on the dice and critically fail regardless of your stat and boosts. That might be a common thing in Dungeons & Dragons, but it often feels like a cheap jab that spontaneously happens at the worst times in Baldur’s Gate 3, with no reason behind it.
And yet, save scumming can also be the product of other issues that arise in Baldur’s Gate 3. The game suffers from a number of bugs and glitches that can pop up as you go about your adventure. Some areas will experience texture pop-in and a few collision detection issues that aren’t a huge deal, they end up being more of a nuisance than a big problem. However, some bugs you run into during combat and certain dialogue scenes will cause the game to lock up and force you to reload a save. This can happen a lot in various sections of the game and often occurs during critical battles when trying to complete a quest.
One example of this would be a character whose turn comes up in a battle, but the menus on the screen are stuck as the ones you would see during a conversation. This leaves you unable to select other options or end their turn, with other prompts on the screen being completely unresponsive. When something like this happens, you have to reload a previous save because there is no way to move forward. Bugs like this can happen suddenly and really impact your game in the worst way possible, which might cause you to lose out on a significant amount of progress.
Another major bug you might run into with Baldur’s Gate 3 is with the companion A.I. during movement. You might be exploring an area, or sneaking around enemy territory in stealth, and your allies will have very erratic movement. Sometimes they’ll randomly go along paths away from the party, or try to move through hazardous areas despite being given a path to avoid them. This becomes a major problem when you’re trying to get an advantage on foes through stealth or be careful with your placement before a major battle. Issues like this can often be addressed by splitting up the party and individually moving each ally, but this can drastically stretch out the time you spend dealing with a given scenario.
If you’re someone that loves to play fantasy role-playing games with a deep level of detail, then Baldur’s Gate 3 will be an experience that one can definitely recommend. But this isn’t a game that everyone can easily jump into, especially if you’re not accustomed to DnD-style gameplay systems. For all of its faults, there is a lot of value in here for those willing to stick around for the long haul. Baldur’s Gate 3 requires you to have a lot of patience and understanding of its many aspects to get the most out of the vast world you’re dropped into. And if you’re able to give it the time and open mind to understand how things work, you’ll find yourself getting immersed in a rich fantasy role-playing experience.
What do you think of Baldur’s Gate 3? Are you a big fan of Dungeons & Dragons or fantasy role-playing games? Tell us your thoughts about Baldur’s Gate 3 in the comment section down below!
Baldur's Gate 3
This is a deep and highly detailed role-playing game. The overall presentation is great, with a lot of characters to meet and places to go. The writing is very good, with some interesting story-beats that can change depending on many factors. There are some bugs and glitches that can heavily affect the experience, with some real bad ones. Combat and exploration have a lot of options that can allow you to approach situations in many ways. For some, it may be overwhelming with the amount of information to keep track of, while others will enjoy the vast amount of customization available.
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