What’s left to say about Baldur’s Gate 3 at this point? The RPG has taken the world by storm ever since it’s debut on PC back in August, whilst the PlayStation 5 release has been equally impressive for console gamers. You’ve probably seen plenty of screenshots, videos, and memes about the game on social media at this point, and, if I’m being honest, I don’t think they’ll be going away any time soon – especially with the Xbox version due to release before the end of the year.
It has been nothing short of a phenomenon for the talented team at Larian Studios, with Baldur’s Gate 3 not just one of the best releases this year, but arguably one of the best games of all time. Our review is a little late so I’m not going to go into quite as much depth when covering the game, but know this: it’s a masterpiece and the easiest 10/10 that I’ve rewarded.
Check out some screenshots down below:
It’s hard to put the tale of Baldur’s Gate 3 into a nutshell, because there’s simply so much going on in the world and so many different ways for your adventure to pan out. You could play through the game a multitude of times and witness a different narrative each time, and whilst there is an overarching plot built around a corruptive power that grows inside you thanks to a menacing Mind Flayer, the stories that are interwoven through it often feel more significant than the main questline. Just know that it’s expertly written, features some of the most memorable characters I’ve seen in any RPG, and that the scenarios you find yourself in are exhilarating, chaotic, bizarre, emotional, and at times utterly ridiculous, with plenty of twists-and-turns to be found as you embark on your wondrous journey across the Sword Coast.
This is RPG writing done to perfection, but it’s made all the more fascinating given that players can shape the story in so many different ways. There’ll be an abundance of moments throughout your adventure where you’ll be able to choose the action to take in a scenario or decide what to say in a conversation, with the result of your decision not only influencing how events pan out in that moment, but also often having a greater effect that won’t be felt until further down the line. Furthermore, the success of the decisions can often be determined by the roll of a dice, so whilst you might CHOOSE to make a specific choice, it might not always pan out as you plan. It’s bold and unpredictable, but also one of the best aspects of the experience, with Baldur’s Gate 3 really allowing the player to go all out with their roleplaying and shape the story with the many successful (or unsuccessful) decisions they make on the journey.
The narrative is further strengthened by the fact that Baldur’s Gate 3 is absolutely MASSIVE. There’s so much to see and do across the world, with countless locales to scour through and quests to embark on – the companions that join you have their own needs to be met too, so you’ll find yourself in varied circumstances determined by who is on the journey with you. There’s an emphasis placed on their viewpoints of the world and if you agree with them, and with different companions often at odds with one another when it comes to the actions you can take, you’ll often have to choose who you want to side with. It’s actually a little stressful, but not in a bad way… instead, it’s more of a ‘I JUST WANT TO KEEP EVERYONE HAPPY’ kind of way. But with everything in Baldur’s Gate 3 being unpredictable in design, there’s no way that you won’t suffer the ire of some of your companions during the journey. It’s all part of the fun though, and with the characters of the game some of the best seen in any RPG, simply seeing how they react to your choices is tantalising – especially when it involves one of their questlines where the personal stakes are even higher, or when they REALLY don’t like something you do…
“Baldur’s Gate 3 excels with its storytelling, character building, world design, and combat, and yet it STILL manages to keep introducing intriguing new ideas and stories that have kept me enthralled as I soar past the fifty-hour mark.”
I’ll be honest, even at close to fifty hours of playtime, I still haven’t beaten Baldur’s Gate 3. I’ve been so wrapped up in exploring every area I find and completing every quest that I’ve come across that I still feel like I’ve got loads more to discover, so I don’t think I’ll be completing it anytime soon either. If you want an adventure that’ll keep you absorbed for easily over a hundred hours, you’ll get that with Baldur’s Gate 3. More importantly, though? You won’t grow bored or tire of the formula in that time, with the game still feeling as thrilling to play now as it did during my first ten hours. If anything, it gets even BETTER as the hours go by, with the world and your character becoming more fleshed out with every step of progress you make.
The sense of depth offered in the narrative, world design, and quests is found in the gameplay too, with the character builder alone offering a rich sense of creative freedom that could see players easily taking over an hour to build their hero (there are some pre-made ones too if you’re a little intimidated by that). The sheer range of classes to play as is ridiculous, with twelve different base classes to choose between that play completely differently, whilst the forty-six subclasses on offer that are attached to these all help differentiate them in a variety of ways to perfectly suit your playstyle. You can even multi-class as you progress (provided you aren’t playing on the easiest difficulty), meaning you’ll continually evolve your skillset. The world of Baldur’s Gate 3 feels like it’s built around shaping your character’s story, but the finesse offered when defining their playstyle ensures that the way they feel to play is equally important.
Then you have the combat, which offers deep and strategic showdowns where you’ll have to use every trick up your sleeve (as well as the environment) in order to survive. The turn-based encounters are built around the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition ruleset, so if you’re familiar with it, you’ll go in with some understanding. Admittedly, it was a little overwhelming when I started playing, but the game’s tutorials give enough of a helping hand to ensure that it didn’t take me long to learn the ins-and-outs of how to play and understand the different mechanics. I mean, at its core, you’ll have a basic idea as to what to do if you’ve played similar release in the RPG genre, but there’s still a lot to take in that does give combat a bit of a learning curve – especially since the skillset of your party is so diverse and can be utilised in a multitude of ways.
Check out some screenshots down below:
When everything does click, though? It feels amazing, with battles often intense tactical showdowns that offer TONS of satisfying moments as you outwit your opponents and use your abilities in strategically destructive ways. And if you do struggle? Turn down the difficulty or do a lot of quick saving and quick loading as you get to grips with things, with Baldur’s Gate 3 a newbie-friendly experience when it comes to experimenting. There are so many different ways to succeed (or fail) in combat that sometimes you’ll just want to play around to figure things out, so do that. Sure, ‘save scumming’ might break the immersion a little to begin with, but as a way to learn how best to utilise your party’s abilities and to further understand the combat mechanics of the game, it’s a strategy I’d recommend.
Everything is complemented by a control scheme that works wonderfully on the PlayStation 5 controller, with the button-mapping and player movement perfectly realised in the shift from mouse and keyboard. Obviously, there are a few sacrifices made in the transition, but every important action is easily found with a quick button press, whilst navigating menus or targeting objects is intuitively implemented. Don’t get me wrong, there will be a few clumsy moments here and there, but for the most part Larian Studios have done a fantastic job of making the game feel great to play on a controller.
I could write thousands of words about what makes Baldur’s Gate 3 so good, and even now, at over 1400-words, I still feel like I haven’t been able to cover EVERYTHING I want to say about the game. It offers one of the most immersive, deep, and creative adventures I’ve had in gaming, and to shape it through my own choices has been the cherry on top. Baldur’s Gate 3 excels with its storytelling, character building, world design, and combat, and yet it STILL manages to keep introducing intriguing new ideas and stories that have kept me enthralled as I soar past the fifty-hour mark. I haven’t even mentioned the co-op, which offers both split-screen and online options – I haven’t tried them yet, but the idea of going through the game with a friend is just so exciting. It’s just a really, really, REALLY amazing game, and one that never slows down with its wonderful surprises.
Baldur's Gate 3 Review
Baldur’s Gate 3 is one of the best games ever made… do I need to say anything else? Its storytelling is amazing, the combat is enthralling, and the world is one I love being a part of. It plays wonderfully on the PlayStation 5, both from a technical perspective and with its controls, whilst the sheer amount of content here will easily keep players hooked in for a long, long time. 2023 has already been a wonderful year for gaming, but Baldur’s Gate 3 really is the crème de la crème. Don’t be surprised to see it rule over the ‘Game of the Year’ lists this year…
Developer: Larian Studios
Publisher: Larian Studios
Platform(s): PlayStation 5 (Reviewed), Xbox Series X|S, PC