Baldur’s Gate 3 Review: A Natural 20 In A Sea Of 1’s

A sign of good things to come or is it Lightning in a bottle?

As a Dungeons and Dragons fan and a forever DM it melts my cold heart that we are seeing one of the biggest games in the year be a Turn-Based RPG set in the Forgotten Realms. Baldur’s Gate 3 is soaring high with the hype that triple A developers dream of. And they did all of it without any micro-transactions, season passes or cash shops. A rarity for sure but a welcomed one.

For those who want to have a feature complete game from the start. Where there’s no strings attached then this is the game for you. If you’re not sold on it yet then let me show you how this can easily be one of the games of the year, maybe even the one.

A Natural 20 In A Sea Of 1’s

It’s no secret from the above words I’ve written that I love this game. I’ve played a lot of RPGs in my time, from every Fallout game (Yes, even Brotherhood of Steel) to every Bard’s Tale. I’ve even played games around the genre of Baldur’s Gate 3. I’m talking about Neverwinter Nights, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, and Pathfinder Kingmaker and Wrath of the Righteous.

I’m a big fan of RPGs of all types, from FPS/RPGs to Turn-Based and Real-Time with pause. That might mean that I am biased on my review. That’s why most of the things I’ll point out isn’t inherent to the RPG genre. Instead, I’ll point out the beauty of the game as a whole.

Just A Turn-Based RPG

That might have sounded boring a couple of decades ago but in the gaming landscape today, it’s a blessing. The game offers no micro-transactions, no season pass, no drip-fed content, no lulls to the story, no day 1 DLCs. Just the game from start to finish and you only pay once. It pains me to say that this is one of the game’s biggest selling points. The last time we had something like this was Elden Ring, and hopefully this game.

Baldur's Gate 3 Bard Playing Music

The game has been in Early Access for years now. What did the developers do to the people that bought their game at that point? They upgraded their game to Deluxe edition for free, giving out freebies in game as well some neat digital goodies. They even gave this bonus to players who’ve bought the game days before release. That’s keeping their word with no fine print.

A World Of History And Lore

This might be a shock to some after the games I’ve listed above but I’ve never really played any of the Baldur’s Gate games. I’ve played the first one for a bit but couldn’t finish it. This is because of life circumstances and I should really try again. Even in my foray on Dungeons and Dragons Tabletop games as a DM we often used Homebrew worlds. We rarely used the Forgotten Realms setting.

Still, this game is set in a world that has a lot of history. Many games were made in this setting and countless of books have been written for it as well. We’re not talking about DnD books as well, but actual fiction books set in this universe. When you play this game, you feel like there’s weight to everything.

Baldur's Gate 3 Party Adventure

From how Tieflings are mistreated and looked upon with caution to Githyanki believing every race is beneath them. The latter makes sense since in the lore they literally enslave other races. There’s history in the setting of the game and that’s where one of my first problems come in.

I have no idea what some of the histories are. I know Tieflings are humanoids with horns and tails with fiendish blood in them. What I don’t know is anything about Elturel. Apparently, the entire city was thrown into Avernus, that’s cool, where can I learn more? Your pick, a wiki page or the DnD module. Which I don’t really mind but it’s a missed opportunity.

Baldur's Gate 3 Volo

Many other games like the Pathfinder games had tooltips for these kinds of things. If someone says a name of a city of interest, I can mouse over the city’s name and get a small lore bit on it. I can even click it to read more into it. It’s been used by other games like Pillars of Eternity and Tyranny and adds more immersion to the player. Your character should know these big events, or at least get a history check on most of them. Games like Dragon Age had the Codex so lore nerds like me can spend hours reading and I wish it was in this game too!

Perhaps it’s a way to ease in new players to the setting but for a person that likes to read into the lore I often feel lost sometimes. When characters in the game say something that points to a historical event in the setting that I’m not familiar with, it kicks me out of the immersion. Of course, big names like Volo and Elminster I get, but it wouldn’t hurt to get more lore in the game.

A Great Cast Of Characters

Like many good RPGs the game lets you find a bunch of different companions and all of them have their own personality and back stories. You can even play as most of them as Origin characters, mechanic that was also in Larian Studio’s previous game.

Baldur's Gate 3 Karlach

Each of the companions you can recruit have their whole lore behind them and all of them and each plays a part in the grand story. It really makes you want to play as them and that’s one of the other gripes I have had with Larian Studios since Divinity Original Sin 2.

Custom Characters feel so empty story-wise without any interesting back story to them. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the backstories of Dragon Age Origins or the Class quests of Star Wars: The Old Republic. Those games give the player’s custom character a back story where it can effect the overall story even in small ways. It adds to the uniqueness of a custom character and gives a reason to keep making one in future playthroughs.

In this game I’m only going to make a custom character once, because the origin characters are where most of the story is. For most of the story so far, the only backstory my custom character gets is that he’s some person from Baldur’s Gate.

Baldur's Gate 3 Scratch Dog

I can understand that the character is a blank slate and the choices they make is their story unfolding, I just wished we had a bit more to them.

Still, this small problem is outweighed by the characters this game offers. When playing as them their stories can be quite compelling, especially the Dark Urge. Each companion is memorable and following them through their stories as themselves or as a custom character is amazing. The reveals, the companionship and the banter they give while running around makes them one the best companions in video games.

Player Freedom The Larian Studios Way

I know I said I wouldn’t focus on the RPG aspects of the game. The thing is, Larian Studios themselves since Divinity Original Sin 2 had a certain style in their combat that is unique to them. You can see that clearly even with the DnD paint all over the game. And some people think this is a bad thing.

I don’t think it is, it’s a new developer to the series for sure and they’ll bring their own twist on it. The combat in the game is rewarding, specially when you think outside the box. They really tried their best to cater to player freedom. This can actually make for some interesting ways of playing the game.

Baldur's Gate 3 Minitour

I’ve played the game carrying crates in my inventory like in their previous game and to my surprise I can stack them up. Now I have mobile height advantage in fights, to the annoyance of my co-op friends who asks me to share the load of items. Crates are much more important!

Even from a quest perspective there’s a surprising amount of choice players get. This is to the point that it actually stopped me from save scumming so I can find alternate routes. The first Ruins in the game is an example and without spoiling much here are the ways you can go inside it:

  • Going through the front door.
  • Lockpicking a back door.
  • Making an opening through the ruins with a big rock.
  • Find a cave that leads to the deepest parts of the ruin.

There are probably even more ways of going there but you get the point. Quests have a lot of ways to be solved that can be great for a game with a lot of different builds. A barbarian might not be able to pick the lock of a door but can sure destroy it!

I love it when quests have different ways of tackling them, it’s a breath of fresh air these days. Don’t mistake that as hatred for Linear games, there are some great linear games out there but they’re linear and designed around that idea. I’ve played too many games where it was restricting and linear to the point of removing player agency. You don’t want that, especially in a DnD game.

Final Thoughts

Baldur’s Gate 3 Review

Jon Suan

Head Tadpoles


As of now, I’m nearing the end of the game, and even now I’m already planning other playthroughs. The game offers a lot of replayability and it is a shining bastion of what games used to be, complete. It’s quite a refreshing game and not is a well made one at that. The story hooks you in, the characters are memorable. The combat is one of the best DnD combat in any game and there’s co-op right out of the box.
There are some minor gripes that I have for the game like how lore is presented, and how custom characters don’t get cool backgrounds. Still, the good thing about this game overall surely outweighs them.
There’s a reason why some people are buying this game and not even play it. There are people out there that are just buying this game out of principle, to show the industry what the standard should be. I’m not one of those people since I love the game, but I understand the sentiment. It’s not the perfect game out there, but it’s so close to being one and we haven’t seen that in a long while. This game is easily a 4.5/5 for me.



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