Baldur's Gate 3 - Before You BuyAug 04, 2023
(button beeping) - Hey, we're back with another episode of Before You Buy, that show where we give you straight gameplay about our first impressions of the latest games released. As usual, it's me Jake and today we're talking about Baldur's Gate 3, this is the full release of a game that's been in early access since Fall 2020, believe it or not, for quite some time now, but that version of the game was limited and only a small part of it was a full, massive, finished release. And Baldur's Gate 3 is a big deal because it's a complete new game based on Dungeons & Dragons, the original Baldur's Gate, now a classic, was developed and released by BioWare in 1998, but now, in 2023, we have Larian Studios at the helm . , and are the developers behind the heavyweight Divinity games, most recently the successful and excellent RPG Divinity: Original Sin II, you've probably heard of it.
So now Wizards of the Coast has recruited them to participate in a new Baldur's Gate game and the result appears to be magical. So this is available on PC and it's coming out for PS5 in September, and eventually Xbox, and we've been playing a review copy for the last few days, but know that this arrived pretty well, we didn't. I didn't catch it very early, no reviewer did, and this is a huge game, so we want to clarify that this is strictly a review in progress, you know? Just strong first impressions. Me and the co-writer of this, Eric, have been putting in as many hours as we could and combining our powers because I'm personally not a big Dungeons & Dragons guy, and he is, so that way you can get a little bit of both perspectives .
Now, since we often only give first impressions in 'Before You Buy', we thought it was important to at least give you an early heads up here, we've seen beyond early access, but we haven't seen the endgame, so know that. But that said, all signs point to this being pretty good, a couple of little things here and there, but it's a pretty extensive RPG for quest and character lovers, it's challenging, but it also has an amazing amount of flexibility so you can play. make mistakes, make some bad decisions and experiment. And the game goes on, and you keep playing, no matter what you throw at it, it seems like you always have to give something back, you don't need to know too much about the Dungeons & Dragons universes, you know?
This is a new game, it's a new adventure, new characters and you will learn some of the story as you go. It can be overwhelming, but I was able to get through it. And it's a fantasy world with a new, darker mystery going on, the Mind Flayers are out there as a threat, and they're infecting people, and you and a few others end up with little spore-like Mind Flayer tadpoles burrowing into your head, and somehow you have to get it out and figure out what's going on. Now, that's like the very, very early setting of the game, if you played in early access, you know, and for anyone else, I'm not going to give anything away, believe me, it goes much further and dives into more fantasy.
Political intrigue, occultism, warring factions, basically everything you'd expect from a fantasy game, but with a good focus on strong characters and relationships. And that's where a lot of the work and the writing and the branching stories show up, and it looks really impressive, even just playing and loading up a few different saves and playing, there's a lot going on. So when you start you choose from one of seven origin characters, these are all characters connected to the story, with their own backstories, motivations, race and of course class type, and most of them are compelling and really tempting. select, but we ended up releasing our own custom character, you can do that too.
You know, you create them, change their faces, give them a backstory and a class, and they still have agency in the story, just like anyone else, but good luck focusing on the main mission, friend. There are a lot of distractions, almost from the beginning, and everything is tempting, because everything seems thought out and interesting, small missions will keep you intrigued, small stories can hook you, the loot may not always be great. Exciting at the end of the side quests, but XP and a good adventure make it worth it. For Eric, our resident Dungeons & Dragons fan, this feels like a miracle - the production values alone put it in the realm of AAA games, but the actual gameplay is so harsh and, you know, a little inaccessible. to see role-playing neophytes how they get on.
This is a hardcore computer RPG, through and through, and Larian apparently hasn't made many compromises - you have four party members in total, which feels a bit small compared to, I think, six you could have in the original games. but it does speed things up a bit, combat is turn-based but tends to be fast and brutal, which is a welcome change compared to the length of certain encounters in Divinity 2. The game does a good job of making it easier for you to get into. . combat, but once you get out of the tutorial the gloves come off, every encounter is a challenge and they almost never feel standard or half-assed, even the smallest encounters usually still require you to think and use everything, and can really be challenged, no It's not uncommon for you to come across something and make it (unintelligible), and then it's dead, like no, this isn't really that kind of thing.
Even at the beginning of the game, there are interesting and memorable enemy encounters that seem like something out of a D&D session, like something someone just made up, like this part where an undead crawls out of a coffin to scare you. , and while you're stunned, run around breaking more coffins to get reinforcements, if you're fast enough and kill a guy then no one wakes up. And it's not all just combat, for a computer RPG, there are a lot of environmental hazards, and it's not just traps like you'd expect from a D&D game, there are areas where the most dangerous thing isn't the enemies, but the world itself, like this burning building where you have to put out fires to get through, or these explosive mushrooms that you have to navi
There's also a lot of jumping, a lot of almost platforming sections where the only way to progress is by jumping, and like everything else, movement powers are essential in this game, as in other Larian games, if you don't want to. If you get stuck and overwhelmed by enemies, being able to teleport depending on who you are or jump long distances is practically essential, it can make near-impossible combat encounters much easier with the right movement skills. This sort of thing always keeps you on your toes, but it can also start to get a little taxing on the brain, because there are very few combat encounters where you can take it easy, especially since, unlike the OG Baldur's Gate games, where you could just spam resting whenever you want, this game makes you work for it.
One thing that makes this game different from other CRPGs is that, due to its D&D roots, spells don't cost mana to cast; Instead, your characters have spell charges that can be recharged with a special ability once, but can only be restored otherwise. taking a long break. In most D&D RPGs you just hit the rest button after each encounter, but this game forces you to think about it a little more because now you can't just take a nap every five seconds, you actually have to spend resources now. And it's not even a small amount, it's quite significant.
We like that the game really gives all the food you find in these games a real purpose - when you find boxes full of bread, meat or cheese, you'll actually say, "Oh yeah, I need that!" Because you need to spend those resources on resting, it's smart, even if sometimes it's a little stressful, like thinking about whether you should rest or not, overall we like the mechanic, it adds more depth to a mechanic that originally had none. . But of course it all comes down to your setup, the RPG stuff, but also how it affects your dice score and ultimately you rely on rolling dice for everything, it's great that it's at the forefront of the game.
It keeps that D&D vibe true to its core, but it doesn't feel cheesy, like it's pretending to be a board game or something, it just is what it is. And speaking of dice rolls, role-playing games, as we keep saying, are where the game really succeeds. For both of us, this is one of the most impressive things about the game, the depth and breadth of roleplaying opportunities here. It seems pretty incredible so far, it seems like every other event or conversation you engage in, you get a special response, directly related to your character. Now, Eric was playing as a half-orc paladin, with a guild history, so in any given situation, his similar responses were related to being a Baldurian citizen, a paladin, a healer, you could communicate with animals, use your sworn subclass alternative. to mediate the conflict.
And even according to D&D lore you face judgment if you break an oath, the game takes these things seriously, if you are a paladin who promises to protect people, then you sell them, then you lose your paladin powers and be reprimanded. thus. Next, I played as a performance-savvy high elf rogue raised on the streets, so I could take advantage of a bit of stealth, sneak attacks, and combat, which is pretty useful, but I could also talk. my way out of a lot of things, and especially when it came to having to pretend to be someone else, or put on a show as a distraction.
The amount of opportunities the game presents you to really embrace who your character is is probably the biggest achievement, as we keep saying. You can also embrace the darkness and harness Illithid powers which we won't spoil, but if you think about it, a lot of that stuff has been talked about before release, about being able to go crazy and do whatever. You want to, and even in certain cases, being a little bit evil and embracing the dark side seems really tempting whenever it comes up, although we haven't seen those things through to the end, to say how significant it really is, so I can't delve much deeper into it. it, but it seems good.
The world of Baldur's Gate 3 isn't the biggest, craziest thing - it's honestly no Assassins Creed - but it's very dense and it's easy to spend a lot of time in a relatively small area, just because of how much stuff there is. What's going on, and how much you have to do to move around, is so dense that sometimes seemingly essential plot things can be easily overlooked, there were some areas we had passed through several times before you even noticed any NPCs. important. Like much of the game, the amount of things becomes overwhelming at times, it's an exhausting game, but it's also easy to get deeply immersed in.
Even when you're stuck or don't want to progress, just go to your camp to rest and start chatting with your party members, this is where things can get quite fun and apparently a little spicy. It's actually one of those 'just one more minute' type games where they really force you to keep your mind active and engaged at all times, so you do one thing and you just have to see what happens next. Now if there's a downside to how deep and open the game is, it's that it can be easy to forget to quicksave and lose a lot of progress, this happened to me quite a bit, the game only auto-saves selectively.
It doesn't automatically save every time you change maps or talk to people, so if you don't save and then you run into a very difficult enemy encounter that wipes you out, and it's going to happen a lot, that can lead to wasting a lot of time, so get back that old muscle memory, make those quick saves, don't be like us. And another problem is that, because of how open-ended the game's story is, it can sometimes feel directionless, at least at first, because you're running around doing all sorts of cool, interesting, random things, and sometimes it is not clear when, and how you should resolve certain situations.
It's also a little hard to keep track of things sometimes, the game gives you so many options that sometimes when an option doesn't present itself when you think it should, it can lead to confusion. The whole situation in Emerald Grove near the beginning is a perfect example, this is a relatively early mission where there is a problem between these refugees and the druids, and part of the reason things have gotten so bad is because the leader Druid has disappeared. , you would think that finding the druid leader would solve things, it's the obvious thing, right? But it can be a long, long time before you find the guy, so you can spend a good portion of the beginning of the game with this story unfinished, well past the point where it feels like it's over.
If you've played a lot of CRPGs, you know what we're talking about, where you reach a point where you're doing something wrong, because you think you should be doing something, but the game actually doesn't. I want you to do that, it's not a big deal, it's a lotworse in Divinity 2, which had a lot more dead ends you could hit in the mission, but it's still something we both ran into. For some people, that's great - they love having to figure things out - but it can be frustrating for casual players used to more direct experiences. For me personally, this is what originally got me bouncing off the Divinity games, but with this one, I really stuck with it and found it to be worth it.
If you are new to these games, you just have to train your brain a little and you will have fun. Now what helps is that all of this, like the other recent Larian games, you can play cooperatively with other people, which is absolutely crazy. Awesome, and they have to be praised for it. Now, I know we weren't able to take advantage of this in our playthrough, so maybe check out a reviewer or two, but the mere fact that you can do it is incredibly appealing, and if you're up for it, it can be played with a controller, and the controls They are fine, feasible from now on, as good as it may be, I suppose, but we do not prefer to play these types of games on a controller, even so, the developers have said that they will modify the gamepad controls until the launch of the console;
Either way, you have plenty of options, controls, accessibility, and a good amount of graphical options. Now it's not perfect, of course it's a CRPG, there is some awkwardness with certain animations, like climbing a ladder, moving an object or climbing a ledge sometimes, and there may be some strange cuts or some downloaded resources flashing on the screen. screen for a section between screen transitions, but it's mostly solid, Eric didn't have any significant performance issues, but for my part, I did crash and have a couple of stutters, especially once you start getting into something. from larger, denser urban areas, but I was able to fix most of my issues with setup and a reboot, you know, fiddling around with PC stuff, isn't the worst.
And everyone's machine is different, so maybe consult other nerds, but at least in our experience, it doesn't seem like a disastrous PC launch like we've seen so many times, it seems fine, and when you get it running right, and you have a pretty decent graphics card, this game is attractive, the character faces and environments are very, very good, beyond what we usually see in this genre. Ultimately, again, review in progress, but so far, it's one of the strongest games to be released this year, and that's even though we feel like we've only scratched the surface. The developers have said 75 to 100 hours, but we easily see ourselves shooting other characters and spending a lot more time, and who knows how they will enter this game in the future, as of now, it is the result of just good, game creation from the developer and good comments from the community.
The early access period brought feedback from online players that you can find on things big and small, from character personality adjustments to quality of life aspects and inventory management, and the end result here, this final version, is solid. Now, with Eric, a Dungeons & Dragons fan, it's the modern Baldur D&D game you've been waiting for, and for me as a non-D&D fan, it's another kind of "Yes, Larian has done it again." Typical situation. A game that asks a lot of you, but it's so rewarding the more you unpack it, or I don't know, like peeling back the layers, the onions, I don't know.
Ultimately, Baldur's Gate 3, based on first impressions between the two of us, looks amazing and we're excited to see more reactions, more stories and weird things that come out of it. But hey, that's before you buy, you know how it works, we give you some pros, some cons and some personal opinions, and now I want to hear yours in the comments. Do you launch the first day? What kind of character are you going to play? We'd love to know, it's fun to share that stuff. But also, if you've been playing since the early access period, do you see any differences?
Have you been providing feedback? Who are you? What kind of player are you? Are you new to this? Let's talk about anything Baldur's Gate 3, below in the comments. If you liked this video and you like what we do here, clicking the "Like" button helps us, thank you very much, but as always, thanks for watching and I'll see you next time.
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