Baldur's Gate III - GBAtemp First Impressions

gbatemp_first_imp_banner_baldurs_gate_3.jpg
Baldur’s Gate 3 is finally here in its full glory, and unless you’ve been living entirely off grid for the last three years (if so, thanks for making this article one of the first things you read upon return), there’s been no escaping the hype train on this game. Highly anticipated, oft-referenced across many a gaming website (including GBAtemp), and a rare case of a game actually being pushed forward in release date, the continuation that Baldur’s Gate fans have been waiting as many as 23 years for has definitely made its presence known since dropping on August 3rd. I had the honor of reviewing Baldur’s Gate 3 back in October of 2020, when early access first started, in which my personal enjoyment of the game wasn’t enough to combat my disappointment at the sheer audacity of Larian Studios charging $60 for an unfinished product. Now that the full game is out, though? I’m thrilled and eager to take another look at this jaunt into Faerûn, and see how the finished product differs from the many early access versions.

20230804001622_1.jpg

20230803220143_1.jpg 20230804133738_1.jpg 20230806001543_1.jpg

Now, before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s make sure one thing’s absolutely clear out the gate; this is not my full and comprehensive review of Baldur’s Gate 3. This is a game that I’ve been following well since its early development, and tracked on a near religious level from day one of the early access period. While I may not have as many hours logged as some other fanatics, this is a game I’ve found myself enamored with for quite some time, and thus I want to give it the review it deserves. As such, my goal is to have the full review done sometime in early September; partially to give myself more time to dig into this beast of a game, but also so that I can test out the PS5 version (which may or may not be the reason I finally bought a the console, but don’t tell my wife that) on performance and cross-compatibility play, to make it as full of a review as possible. As such, what you’re about to read are my initial thoughts after spending launch weekend playing the game, and some of the immediate changes I noticed from the early access versions. With that out of the way, let’s dive in.

Upon starting up the full version of the game for the first time, I was immediately struck by just how beautiful the game was looking; for a game that I already thought looked pretty good during the early access period, the additional levels of graphical polish that are apparent from even the first cutscene just immediately made me excited for what’s to come. In 4K, this game is beyond stunning, and at its weakest moments looks just as good as any other game currently out. And at its best, it’s a striking visual feast for the eyes. Even in 1080p, the game's just as gorgeous, and often had me double checking if I dropped my settings or not with just how good the "lower" quality looked. These graphical enhancements are especially noticeable in another new addition to the game, that being updated and new cutscenes and cinematics that weren't available in the early access period. The cinematics do wonders in terms of getting you introduced to the companion characters, their personality quirks, and their general abilities, requiring a lot less trial and error on learning the characters whether you’re brand new to the game, or you’ve been playing since the initial launch. There’s also some shakeups to the characters personal stories, so some of the goals and plotlines that were important to specific characters during early access may not necessarily be the same in this full game; which I definitely count as a positive, offering another layer of replayability and new content for those who’ve already spent an amount of time in the game pre-launch.

20230804215452_1.jpg


20230804212209_1.jpg 20230803231130_1.jpg 20230804143406_1.jpg

When it came time to create my first full version character, that’s when the full gravity of how much Larian added to this game from early access. Immediately I was presented with all of the new character options, from the teased option to play as one of the five primary party members that I’ve gotten to know over the early access period, take on the role of an NPC-turned-party option, or take on one of the two custom character opportunities. The former two options lock you in on your class, race, backstory and stats, both of the custom options (Dark Urge and Custom) allow you to change your race from the default Dragonborn, pick your class, and distribute your stats as you see fit. There’s also the wholly new Monk class to give a whirl, for those looking for even more new toys to play with. Even for companions who some of you’ve likely played to death by now, the added subclass options give you a new spin on these characters that can shake up how you make use of them. Beyond this, there’s plenty of new companion options for those who get far enough into the game to find them. Beyond character class options, there’s also the aforementioned newly added Dragonborn race and all of the customization options that come with it, as well as new options for scaring, body type, gender identity, and genitals across all characters. While I wouldn’t say that these updates were necessarily unexpected, or even going above and beyond what was expected, I think it’s a perfect way to show at a glance just how far this game’s come since the early access launch, and a prime example of one of the many ways Baldur’s Gate 3 will offer ample opportunities for replayability.

20230806150000_1.jpg

20230806145930_1.jpg 20230806145752_1.jpg 20230806145659_1.jpg

On the gameplay front, there isn’t a ton here to be talked about; at its core, this is still the same game that was playable from the early access period. The exploration is still done primarily in point-and-click style for the overworld, conversations with characters are still done via dialogue trees with the occasional skill/ability check via virtual d20 dice to determine the outcome, and combat is still turn-based with plenty of environmental strategy involved. One major update Larian brought to the full version is controller support, for those who don't like mouse and keyboard or just want to play on the Steam Deck - which, combined with the upcoming PS5 release, makes this a sensible update to add. I think one of the better things that came out of the early access updates were the major upgrades to the UI, and further clarity on what abilities can be utilized when, as well as the effects of using your environment in combat. All of the UI upgrades from the early access period are here, and even include a few more options for determining your success probability at a glance to help get combat moving just a bit quicker. This was already one of the stronger points in the early access release, so to see Larian both maintain and upgrade all of the progress here just thrills me.

20230805115251_1.jpg


20230804131705_1.jpg 20230804151045_1.jpg 20230805115015_1.jpg

Ultimately, while I still feel that I’m far too early in my full Baldur’s Gate 3 experience, it’s already easy to tell that this is the game I was waiting for back in 2020. Larian Studios succeeded in creating a game that not only managed to generate tremendous hype, but has so far shown only signs of living up to it. The UI, gameplay, and cinematic changes alone showcase just how far this game has come, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to finally be on this adventure.

20230803222528_1.jpg
 

Scarlet

Onion Soup
Editorial Team
GBAtemp Patron
Joined
Jan 7, 2015
Messages
5,300
Trophies
2
Location
Middleish South-Left
Website
scarlet.works
XP
15,782
Country
United Kingdom
Seeing you talk about it got me stoked enough to drop £50 on a genre I've played basically none of before, and being like an hour in, I think I'm hooked. Looking forward to seeing your full review!
 

Bladexdsl

fanboys triggered 9k+
Member
Joined
Nov 17, 2008
Messages
21,377
Trophies
2
Location
Queensland
XP
12,778
Country
Australia
i tried 1 and 2 of baldurs gate and I've just never gotten into these type of d&d/top down rpg and this sounds just like more of the same but with better graphics. i just rather prefer the rpgs like dragon quest and rune factory they are just way more fun to me.
 
Last edited by Bladexdsl,

diggeloid

Alex
Member
Joined
Apr 29, 2019
Messages
476
Trophies
1
Age
34
Location
gbatemp.net
XP
2,482
Country
United States
i tried 1 and 2 of baldurs gate and I've just never gotten into these type of d&d/top down rpg and this sounds just like more of the same but with better graphics. i just rather prefer the rpgs like dragon quest and rune factory they are just way more fun to me.
BG1/2 gameplay is very different from this one. The older BG games used "real time with pause", whereas this uses the Divinity Original Sin 2's turn-based mechanics for the combat.

I love this game just like I loved Divinity because of the insane amount of freedom it gives you. In my first Divinity playthrough with my brother, we encountered a troll that was way too strong for us to kill, but we had a telekinesis spell which enables us to move heavy objects. So, we found a crate, loaded it up with the heaviest shit we could find, then used the spell to "throw" the crate at the troll, effectively nuking his ass. It wasn't a scripted "throw" option in the combat menu, it was just the regular non-combat mechanic of moving objects around in the world, which you can use to solve puzzles or organize things. By moving an object through a character, they take damage proportional to the weight of the item, making it possible to hijack it for combat.

That kind of emergent gameplay is everywhere in these Larian RPGs. All of the mechanics (and there are many) complement each other in surprising ways. I'm not even a fan of DnD nor Baldur's Gate, but bought and am currently playing the hell out of this one :D
 
  • Like
Reactions: CoolMe and RyRyIV

Xzi

Go touch grace
Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2013
Messages
17,973
Trophies
3
Location
The Lands Between
Website
gbatemp.net
XP
9,248
Country
United States
this game will get 10 out 10 everywhere but here...

here it will be 6.9
Don't compare this to ToTK, the performance and graphics of BG3 feel three generations ahead of it. Also doesn't have ToTK's gameplay QoL issues.
 

Scarlet

Onion Soup
Editorial Team
GBAtemp Patron
Joined
Jan 7, 2015
Messages
5,300
Trophies
2
Location
Middleish South-Left
Website
scarlet.works
XP
15,782
Country
United Kingdom
Don't compare this to ToTK, the performance and graphics of BG3 feel three generations ahead of it. Also doesn't have ToTK's gameplay QoL issues.
I will say in TotK’s defence here, BG3 is also designed for hardware like three generations ahead of TotK lol

It’s comparing apples and oranges really. I think both are great games in their own right. I would love to see something like TotK developed for hardware like the PS5 though. I’d like to think we’d see that improved performance, and that they’d use that power to experiment more… but this is Nintendo, so we’ll never know.
 

Noctosphere

Nova's Guardian
Member
Joined
Dec 30, 2013
Messages
6,846
Trophies
3
Age
30
Location
Biblically accurate Hell
XP
20,007
Country
Canada
I will say in TotK’s defence here, BG3 is also designed for hardware like three generations ahead of TotK lol

It’s comparing apples and oranges really. I think both are great games in their own right. I would love to see something like TotK developed for hardware like the PS5 though. I’d like to think we’d see that improved performance, and that they’d use that power to experiment more… but this is Nintendo, so we’ll never know.
Comparing apple and orange? More like apple and dragonfruit, right?
 

Xzi

Go touch grace
Member
Joined
Dec 26, 2013
Messages
17,973
Trophies
3
Location
The Lands Between
Website
gbatemp.net
XP
9,248
Country
United States
I will say in TotK’s defence here, BG3 is also designed for hardware like three generations ahead of TotK lol

It’s comparing apples and oranges really. I think both are great games in their own right. I would love to see something like TotK developed for hardware like the PS5 though. I’d like to think we’d see that improved performance, and that they’d use that power to experiment more… but this is Nintendo, so we’ll never know.
Sure, but ToTK's many issues make it a 7 or 8 out of 10 for me, "good" but not "great." Even when playing it on an emulator to remedy the performance problems, it's still just too needlessly grindy and has some other gameplay design issues. ToTK is the game that made it clear reviewers give Nintendo a free 1-2 point bump just for being Nintendo.

Baldur's Gate 3, OTOH, can be judged with the most critical pair of eyes and still come out a 9.5 at a minimum. It's all of the best RPGs of the last decade rolled into one, and then some, with a cherry on top. Gonna be hard for me to pick any other game over it for GOTY, and that says a whole lot in the same year SF6, RE4R, Hi-Fi Rush, and AC6 release(d).
 
  • Like
Reactions: SonyUSA

64bitmodels

Amateur Nintendo Apathetic
Member
Joined
Aug 1, 2019
Messages
1,465
Trophies
1
Age
18
XP
2,923
Country
United States
818K concurrent players on launch weekend for Steam alone. Over 100K reviews at 92% positive and climbing. Absolutely nutty by CRPG standards.
this technically gives it the 2nd highest peak playercount of any Steam game behind the obvious CS:GO. It's fucking nutty alright.

I'll play Baldur's Gate 2 instead though because the money for BG3 I spent on Sifu and Noita. Still not sure if i'm enough of a CRPG guy to drop a whole 60 bucks on a genre I'm unsure about.
 
Last edited by 64bitmodels,
  • Like
Reactions: Xzi

Site & Scene News

Popular threads in this forum

General chit-chat
Help Users
  • K3Nv2 @ K3Nv2:
    Shame they don't photoshop that with trumps face
  • Veho @ Veho:
    His face fits Majin Buu best.
  • K3Nv2 @ K3Nv2:
    But buus only really friend is one white guy
  • Veho @ Veho:
    He even has diapers.
  • Veho @ Veho:
    Perfect.
  • Veho @ Veho:
    Found Biden too:
  • K3Nv2 @ K3Nv2:
    Chocolate?
  • Veho @ Veho:
    CHOCOLATE?!?!
  • K3Nv2 @ K3Nv2:
    Biden: I love chocolate! votes
  • K3Nv2 @ K3Nv2:
    Tried the berry frosty from Wendy's today they messed up and gave us extra fries and Frosties wasn't bad
  • Veho @ Veho:
    Almost makes up for their shitty marketing.
  • Veho @ Veho:
    There's a boba tea/coffee place in town I want to check out.
  • K3Nv2 @ K3Nv2:
    $20 with a $5 coupon already applied for two meals
  • Veho @ Veho:
    Drinks are €6 butt fuck it, we ball.
  • K3Nv2 @ K3Nv2:
    Arteries only clog once
  • Veho @ Veho:
    I didn't buy any fake Lego or cheap handheld this month, time to splurge.
  • Veho @ Veho:
    Ignore the €600 car repair.
  • Veho @ Veho:
    That doesn't count as "spending".
  • K3Nv2 @ K3Nv2:
    I gotta do my oil eventually $60 not horrible but just paid car tags also $70
  • Veho @ Veho:
    You getting the fancy oil or what?
  • K3Nv2 @ K3Nv2:
    Normal rates $40 for the cheap shit may as well do synthetic
  • Veho @ Veho:
    My oil change was €55 last time, itemized bill: 5 liters of fancy oil at €10/l, €5 labor.
    Veho @ Veho: My oil change was €55 last time, itemized bill: 5 liters of fancy oil at €10/l, €5 labor.