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Baldur’s Gate 3 Early Access Review

Baldur’s Gate 3 Early Access is out now on Steam and it’s everything you could want for the series.

Baldur's Gate 3 Early Access Review
Source: Steam

No doubt you have your favourite outlet to read about Baldur’s Gate 3 Early Access. Maybe you already have it? After waiting for an age to download the 80GB file on the third floor of my home where the WiFi comes to visit as if it were in a nursing home, I now have the game in front of me and boy, is this fantastic.

Baldur’s Gate 2: Dark Alliance was one of my favourite RPGs back on the PS2 – perhaps because of the arcade element to it, and not as in-depth if you didn’t want it to be. Nevertheless, it was a massive game and the perfect title for a bachelor. Now that I’m married with two kids and a dog, I’m a little nervous about how to fit this into every possible hour of the day without backlash.

Let’s go back to the golden age of computer games and start with the intro – a lavish FMV teaser of what’s to come. You may have read about the premise; you’re infected with a parasite and need to escape a battle taking place in the skies, but the people who wrote the PR didn’t state how the parasite enters the body… it was pretty horrific.

Baldur’s Gate 3 Early Access Review

As anticipated, as soon as the game shifted to character customisation, I knew that would be the rest of the evening written off. Thanks, Larian Studios. The character modelling is spectacular, with the sway of nature in the breeze and an orchestral piece that makes me want to watch LOTR for the umpteenth time, this was essentially the first quest: race, class and subclass.

Baldur's Gate 3 Early Access Review
Customisation is superb! Source: Screen capture

There appear to be five origins for the full release, but in Early Access, we’re limited to a custom one where you can choose your name and background such as an Entertainer, Folk Hero, Guild Artisan and more. The bottom line is they give you a base proficiency based on your preferred playstyles such as acrobatics and persuasion. Great combo.

Races In Baldur’s Gate 3 include the following, along with subclasses:

  • Elf
    • High Elf
    • Wood Elf
  • Tiefling
    • Asmodeus Tiefling
    • Mephistopheles Tiefling
    • Zariel Tiefling
  • Drow
    • Lolth-Sword Drow
    • Seldarine Drow
  • Human
  • Githyanki
  • Dwarf
    • Gold Dwarf
    • Shield Dwarf
  • Half-Elf
    • High Half-Elf
    • Wood Half-Elf
    • Drow Half-Elf
  • Halfling
    • Lightfoot Halfling
    • Strongheart Halfling

As you can see above, there’s an enormous choice in Baldur’s Gate 3 Early Access from the outset. This isn’t a guide though so I won’t cover their specifics or drag any further other than to say you can change your appearance, class, skills and abilities. 

The only downside was the limited choices on character voices. I’m sure it would have taken an age, considering the tens of thousands of words in the game, but hearing a dwarf sound like a point and click adventurer was mildly disappointing. I wanted a gruff Billy Connolly.

After finally deciding on a Shield Dwarf fighter class, I was surprised to be able to select a character whom I dream of too. Phwoar! Spoilt for choice, I ended up with a High Half-Elf. 

An Adventure Awaits

I played Baldur’s Gate 3 Early Access on my iMac, and apart from a few moments of tearing (we all know Macs aren’t for gaming), it ran beautifully, though I don’t recommend playing with an Apple Mighty Mouse.

Baldur's Gate 3 - Frost
Frost. No spoilers here. Source: Steam

Just a few months ago I was playing the original Baldur’s Gate on the PS4, and while it’s a classic, it’s aged terribly. The complete opposite is what I played here: the visuals are sublime and the UI not so dominating that it gets overwhelming.

The level design is insane, as you click where you want your character to go over vast terrains without a sign of a grid or tile, making the game feel like a title such as Uncharted or Tomb Raider – it’s so incredibly fluid and engaging. If I didn’t have to write this review of sorts, I’d be ultimately under its spell.

Tasks such as jump is a separate command that brings up a ghost to show you the optimal position, and general movement is free-flowing. When it comes to combat, it gets complicated with dice rolling at first, but after the first engagement, it becomes second nature. As a non-D&D player, I find the concept overwhelming, but the tutorials are thorough and similar players need not be put off.

Camera angles can be a bit janky though as you can’t rotate the camera, instead, you can zoom in and out and move back and forth and ‘strafe’, but if something is hidden behind a wall, it’s a little awkward. It took me a while to get used to moving the screen with W, A, S, and D before planning a move, but I eventually got it.

An Epic Story

The opener has you wrapped around its finger from the very start, and in terms of story, Baldur’s Gate 3 doesn’t miss a beat. Once you escape the prologue setpiece, you’re free to engage with NPCs and explore Faerûn, and this is where the game excels.

Baldur's Gate 3 - Cutscene
The story is key. Source: Steam

In some respects, the game feels like an old school gaming experience in that you’re awarded with cutscenes as you advance through the main story and complete the very many side quests. Said scenes are elegantly composed and effortlessly cut into the gameplay.

But while I’m always biased towards an engaging story, which this emits with ease, the turn-based combat, access to a plethora of skills and inventory items that can change the outcome of a battle at any moment, this really is the RPG strategy extravaganza you can expect from the series.

I think I speak for many when I say we could have done with Baldur’s Gate 3 during the lockdown. This is easily one of the best games I’ve played, and have been glued to the screen since the customising my character.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is currently available on Steam Early Access.

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