After around 20 hours of adventure in Baldur’s Gate 3 when it launched Early Access, I can already tell you that this is probably the story-driven RPG of this type that comes closest to the Dungeons & Dragons experience. Dragons on table. The systems here allow me to do exactly the kinds of clever but ridiculous things I would ask a human dungeon master if I can do. Rather than the simple ‘no’ you’d get from most RPGs when you ask if you can skip an entire quest by climbing up the back of a mountain and sneaking into the Villains’ Den, Baldur’s Gate 3 will tell you to roll for it. It’s an impressive start, but it’s certainly a very early Early Access game. There are just enough frustrating bugs and exposed areas of missing polish that a lot of people better wait until the end before getting started. The flexible interactions between character abilities and the world allow each class to shine like they normally don’t. My elven wizard had always prepared a spell that tripled a target’s jump distance. While this is a very situational ability in most games, not really worth spending a spell slot, in BG3 it can allow you to reach for hidden treasure, gain a point of view to make it rain. destruction with advantage, or even bypass obstacles entirely by taking over roofs. I ended up having to remember to pick up a few combat spells because I was so excited about all the interesting ways I could use utility spells in combination. I like to play my wizards like some sort of mystical Swiss army knife on the table, not the glass artillery pieces that they are in most digital RPGs, and I’m so glad I can do that here. . Larian treats level design and environmental interaction as part of how you win battles and solve puzzles, and it works wonderfully in their view of Faerûn. And that’s a beautiful sight to that. The environments and characters are amazing, rendered in a saturated yet realistic style that is definitely reminiscent of the 5th Edition D&D books. It made me think of what Dragon Age might have looked like today if it had stayed a bit more grounded as Origins instead of bringing the more stylized and graphic look of Dragon Age 2 and Inquisition. The outdoor spaces are full of life, details and little stories to discover. Dungeons are deservedly dark and filled with death traps and other surprises, although most of the ones you’ll explore in Early Access were a bit too short for my liking. Roll for Initiative Turn-based combat is also well done, though. He feels true to the rules of D&D 5th Edition, but also knows when to deviate to avoid being slavishly specific to a foul. Many classic D&D-based games, including the first two Baldur’s Gates, have done themselves a disservice by trying to force the square peg of real-time combat into the round hole that is the d20 system: combat over. D&D table has always been turn-based, and that is how it should be. Initiative rolls to determine who really starts count. It is much more comfortable to take stock of the situation and mobilize your resources while thinking about mastering the environment. Sure, real-time combat can work, especially in games where you primarily control a character, but this type of game works so much better and feels a lot more true to its tabletop inspiration with turns. For the moment, nothing prevents you from returning to the camp to rest after each fight. “Since the Early Access version is limited to the first four or five character levels, it also highlights some of the issues with the system it borrows from, though. Low-level characters have such small point pools. life and unimpressive saving throws that even relatively low stakes fights can turn deadly in a hurry if you ride poorly. Casters can only use their powers a few times before needing to take a long nap, and melee characters don’t have much to do in most turns other than swinging a sword. You really don’t get anything of interest to do with your bonus action once per turn until later, so it looks like a wasted resource. All of these problems would require rethinking some D&D basics to resolve, and tend to go away on their own at higher levels. But especially by replaying this version again. rs times they definitely pissed me off. There’s also nothing I can find to keep me from returning to camp and resting after each fight, causing the scales to tip too far in the opposite direction. If I can fully heal and regain all of my spells whenever I want, Baldur’s Gate 3 loses the sense of being on a long and dangerous adventure where you have to think carefully about your limited resources, which are a staple of D&D. Similar games like Pillars of Eternity have solved this problem by allowing you to carry a limited number of camping supplies that you must return to a large city to restock. And the story here seems to present a reason why you should be in a hurry. But even when I actively tried to waste time to see if anything bad happened, I was never punished. Maybe it will be different in the full version. But for now, that makes it all way too easy. Company of Heroes Having said that, Baldur’s Gate 3 did an amazing job of getting my attention from the very beginning. One problem I have had with Larian’s Divinity: Original Sin games (especially the first one) is that they start out really slow and wind around before picking up speed. This adventure, on the other hand, is mesmerizing from the first minute and is so rich in exciting characters, locations, and plot developments along the way that I have never been bored. The cast is dynamic and complex, with excellent voice acting and dialogue writing, even for underage players. Each of my companions was memorable, if not endearing. One in particular crossed a line that I didn’t want to forgive, so I set them on fire. You are absolutely allowed to do this, and life will go on, which is cool. From dashing Blade Master Wyll to arrogant mage Gale, they each feature the beginning of many compelling personal stories that I’m delighted to see until the end one day. Except for that moron. They just ended up like more lighting on my campfire. Not sorry. One of my companions crossed a line that I couldn’t forgive, so I set them on fire. “On the other hand, I was quite disappointed that there are currently only six courses available in the Early Access version of Baldur’s Gate 3, and they (understandably enough) the most ‘basic’: Fighter, Wizard, Cleric, Rogue, Ranger and Warlock. My favorite core D&D classes – Barbarian, Druid, Sorcerer, and Paladin – can’t be found. I imagine more will be added as we get closer to the full version, but at the moment the options are quite limited. To make up for this, however, the list of playable races is quite long. Three different types of tiefling? Half-drow? Larian has gone beyond the obvious here, especially since NPCs around the world will absolutely react to your character’s background. Baldur’s Gate 3 – Character Creation Screenshots And unfortunately Baldur’s Gate 3 is technically a bit messy at times. There are a lot of bugs, ranging from hilarious AI glitches to frustrating progress blockers that make entire quests impossible to complete. Without spoiling a major story, at one point I killed a major character who was bothering me and their followers standing right outside the door never seemed to react to that fact. A character I met later swore to kill the deceased personally, and I couldn’t even tell them, “No worries, I’ve dealt with it already.” Some cutscenes still seem unfinished, with spell effects reserved and lip sync missing. Tabbing during a loading screen, even in windowed borderless mode, most often caused a soft lock or desktop crash. And leaving Baldur’s Gate 3 in the background for an extended period of time caused my whole system to boot. At the moment, he’s in a playable but pretty rough form.