Review – Baldur’s Gate 3

The Baldur’s Gate games are my most played across both time and platforms. I played the OGs and Enhanced Editions on PC. Then on iPad when they released there, and they’re on my Android phone now. Finally, there’s the shockingly fantastic console ports I have on PS4 and Nintendo Switch. The only other franchise that’s done more to define and shape my taste in gaming is Diablo, and Blizzard has shown laughable care for their legacy compared to Larian’s for somebody else’s. Because yes, Baldur’s Gate 3 is a phenomenal game, one of the best ever made. But it’s also a shockingly good legacy sequel, one of the best across all forms of media. I personally don’t even consider it one, but a proper full blown continuation of the Bhaalspawn Saga. Words I didn’t think I’d be saying six months ago. 

I’m not afraid to admit I was wrong, happily so. My love for the original games made me incredibly skeptical about a modern sequel to these timeless classics. All you have to do is look anywhere else to see how poorly most legacy sequels to beloved properties turn out. Sure sometimes we get Blade Runner 2049, but mostly we get Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Sometimes things end for a reason, and it’s usually best to respect that and move on. I didn’t have much faith in Larian either. Sure Divinity: Original Sin II was a great game, but that was compared to modern RPGs setting a low bar. Poor writing, boring characterization, and that combat style wouldn’t suit Baldur’s Gate’s. I barely touched its Early Access (which I did bought on Stadia of all things), and mostly spent its years of hype ignoring it.

Baldur's Gate 3 Elder Brain

It just feels good to be saving Baldur’s Gate again.

The best way to have gone about it in my opinion. It made my first of many many playthroughs feel fresh and new. You only ever get to do something first once, and my first Baldur’s Gate 3 playthrough was downright magical. This was partially due to my choice of starting character, Dark Urge. Much like Original Sin II, BG3 gives you the option of playing as either a custom character or a pre-generated Origin character. Unique to Baldur’s Gate 3 is the Dark Urge, a custom Origin character that gives you a pre-generated backstory but lets you customize everything else. It also comes with tons of unique story, dialogue, and encounters that really bring the plot and themes directly in line with its predecessors. A must play for everyone eventually, but for Baldur’s Gate veterans Dark Urge needs to be first. It genuinely changes the game. 

There’s many things to be impressed about when it comes to Baldur’s Gate 3. The level of reactivity and freeform approach to quests and exploration. Larian’s adaptation of D&D 5E for fantastic and varied character progression and customization. The itemization system built around intriguing unique items and traits versus randomized generic gear. Or the combat that takes OS2’s combat, D&D 5E’s rules, and creates a fast brutal system with an unfathomable number of options and strategies. The fantastic graphics, facial animations, and voice-acting that shows how these things can elevate a sublime RPG even higher. The list goes on, but for me it’s how all of this together feels like a modern continuation of the Baldur’s Gate formula. 

Baldur's Gate 3 Raphael

Such a way with words.

It’s more than just copying Dragon Age: Origin‘s style, which was in itself Bioware’s best attempt to reclaim their own BG glory. Baldur’s Gate 3 takes the high points of both 1 and 2, while eliminating their flaws. It successfully recreates Baldur’s Gate 1’s feeling of openness and exploration. Act 1 especially really recaptures the genuine feeling of adventuring that few games have managed since, Outward being one that comes to mind. However, it also successfully balances this openness around a Baldur’s Gate 2 style plot-heavy linear narrative with a huge focus on characterization and interactiveness. It’s funny, to this day there are people on both sides arguing over which approach was better. Heavy story and characters or heavy exploration and questing. Baldur’s Gate 3 nails both expertly, while feeling like an evolution not something totally different. This is Baldur’s Gate and Larian clearly respected what came before. 

That’s what makes Baldur’s Gate 3 special. The love and care that Larian poured into every part of this game. Dare I say it feels like the “Bioware magic” that Bioware itself lost long ago. The party is composed of some of the most interesting and compelling characters I’ve had the pleasure to adventure with. Newbies like Shadowheart and Astarion holding their own against series staples Jaheira and Minsc. Each with their own backstories, branching quests, likes/dislikes, and if you should so choose romances. The story itself is gripping and intriguing, weaving story threads both old and new into something worthy of being called Baldur’s Gate 3. Fighting cults, confronting conspiracies, exploring exotic fantasy lands, and ultimately facing the choice between salvation or embracing the darkness within. It all drew me in like no game has in such a very long time.

Baldur's Gate 3 RNG

The utter elation when the RNG gods roll in your favor is utterly exhilarating in the best ways.

Is the game perfect though? For me basically yes, but technically obviously no. The biggest issue is clearly performance, with bugs and glitches next up. Specifically Act 3, where you finally arrive at the gorgeously realized titular Baldur’s Gate. Upon release it wasn’t unplayable, even on Steam Deck. Still a far cry from acceptable, and while it is much improved, especially with FSR 2.0, more work can and will be done. Same with bugs and glitches, with the game launching with tons that have since been dramatically fixed in droves. Again nothing unplayable, and given the ambition and breadth of the game I’m kind of impressed and satisfied with that. But performance issues and bugs are what they are, and thus ultimately unacceptable. In the end it has zero influence on my feelings of the game admittedly, but it’s important to acknowledge faults as much as accomplishments. 

It’s not just performance where Act 3 is said to fall short. Pacing issues, weaker villains than previous Acts, and an underwhelming finale to the overarching Tadpole plot. Overall though, I actually disagree. The Tadpole plot does putter out, with some real unsatisfying reveals. However, I feel like this was intentional? Or at least unavoidable. As the game progresses the real villains slowly emerge, and the Tadpole plot reaches the end of its usefulness. I don’t hate the way it was done, though it could have undoubtedly been resolved better. Same with Act 3’s villains. One of them is critically connected to Dark Urge, which totally changes things if you’re not playing as them. And the other isn’t so much weaker as they are simply not as good as the other two. Another case of it could have been done better, but it’s hardly bad. Still better than most. 

Baldur's Gate 3 Jaheira

Larian knows EXACTLY what they were doing, and I’m all for it.

When it comes to pacing issues, this is where I completely disagree with most others. I feel it’s satisfying, and does the impossible job of tying up so many loose ends across such a huge game. Which is where I think the complaints come from, misunderstanding the structure of the game. It’s essentially an upside down pyramid, with Act 1’s plethora of choices trickling down and narrowing as you progress. Act 3 is where these choices culminate, where you face the consequences of your actions. It’s one long climax. It helps that it’s bolstered by the best dungeons and combat encounters in the game. Especially a certain musical boss, an absolute monster of an encounter with a killer theme. I also don’t think there’s anything relevant to discussions of cut content here. Baldur’s Gate 2 famously had huge chucks of the game cut, it’s just the process of game development.

Against all odds Baldur’s Gate 3 is everything it’s hyped up to be. An RPG with few if any equals. A project of passion, made by RPG fans for RPG fans. A niche game, developed with AAA quality graphics, sound, and animations. Phenomenal writing, compelling complex characters, and some of the best turn-based combat I’ve ever enjoyed. And best of all, for me personally, is that it does its predecessors proud. I’ve replayed the Baldur’s Gate games again and again, and now Baldur’s Gate 3 will join the first two in my endless playthroughs. There’s so many possible paths to explore and characters to build, that it’s more than up to the task. It’s a game that’s incredibly easy to get utterly lost in, and I couldn’t be happier to never escape. 


Graphics: 10

Baldur’s Gate 3 more than holds its own with AAA games graphically, with extremely impressive facial animations that ultimately put it head and shoulders over any RPG not called Cyberpunk.

Gameplay: 9.0

Combat, exploration, and dialogue are the foundation of the genre, and Baldur’s Gate 3 does each expertly.

Sound: 10

While he writing IS fantastic, it’s the phenomenal voice-acting that brings the game to life and the soundtrack is just as great and varied, with epic exploration themes, haunting atmospheric tracks, and even a Disney villianesque lyrical boss fight song.

Fun Factor: 10

It may be cheesy to say, but Baldur’s Gate 3 genuinely made me feel excited, invested, and entranced in a way that no other game has in recent memory and I happily place it next to the others among my favorite games of all time.

Final Verdict: 10

Baldur’s Gate 3 is available now on PC and PS5.

Reviewed on PC.