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Game preview 27 February 2020, 22:00

author: Matthew Araszkiewicz

Baldur's Gate 3 Preview – Just Let Me Gather the Party!

Do you still remember the classic Baldur's Gate? Whether you're a veteran or an RPG neophyte, Larian's latest production is a game you cannot miss.

Slated for release: August 2023.

"It's me who will roll the dice, shoot the lightning, and then tell him to kiss right in the...”

As Swen Vincke said: "If something makes sense, it can be done." This is, of course, a somewhat exaggerated statement, because who are we to decide what does and what doesn't make sense. However, this doesn't mean that Vincke did not have evidence to support this bold statement. Of course, exploration will play a vital role in Baldur's Gate 3. And to show us how it looks, Vincke entered some empty tomb. And in the tomb, lived skeletons, as skeletons do. This time, however, they laid peacefully on the ground. Therefore, the hero proceeded to loot their armors and weapons.

But some things don't change. If a skeleton is lying on the ground in a tomb, it will not stay that way for long. Usually such a trigger for revitalizing them is the opening of an ancient sarcophagus. It was identical in this case. You can only imagine their surprise... when they realized that they had neither swords nor pants. The game promises to often allow us to solve combat situations in this way – the stealth system is very comprehensive, and also allows to uncover traps.

This was the stage at which the Vincke demonstrated a few spells. Of course, those who are familiar with Dungeons & Dragons return, but some in a slightly modified form. For example, the Mage's Hand spell is used not only to attack, but also to move and throw various items, and magic bullets can target multiple opponents at once. By the end, I could see Melf's Acid Arrow, which poisons the enemy, but also forms a patch of green slime on the surface. Thus, it seems that the spells and their functioning were adapted to systems that Larian had already rehearsed well.

The world itself will be seamless, except for descending into the underworld. This way, we won't get a map of the world with closed hubs and locations. Research will be more organic, and when we find some interesting secret, a small icon of a bone appears above the hero, which will symbolize the perception roll. If the throw fails, the secrets of the place will remain hidden from us until we return stronger. If the roll turns out to be favorable, we will find hidden treasures or even entire additional, previously inaccessible locations. And at the end of these places, of course, there will be loot waiting.

There's also a death roll if you lose all HP. Of course, as an adaptation of a table-top RPG, virtual dice rolls will matter not only during combat and exploration, but also during conversations. Some questions will have an attribute that you will need to ask them. A K20 dice will appear above the figure, along with the needed number.

When I spoke to Swen Vincke at last year's E3, he said that when creating Baldur's Gate 3, they aim to capture the spirit of an RPG session with friends. And indeed, the dice symbols that appear during tests is one thing, but the most striking example of that was the fact that dialog lines read as if they were uttered to a game master. The protagonist speaks normally, but the dialog choices usually begin with a phrase like "I'm telling him," "I notice that" etc. Such presentation of the dialogs brings Baldur's Gate 3 even closer to a session of D&D.

Before venturing forth, and so on...

The story itself should take about 40 hours to complete, and if you want to really explore the world and solve side quests, I think we should reach 100. I haven't seen many side quests. Pretty much only one that included a dead shaman of the goblins. We could save her from a crossbow bolt, but her death had a higher purpose – to show us that in Baldur's Gate 3, we can use a special skill to talk to the dead. At this point, a promise was made that we will be able to talk to any corpse. Of course, not all of them will have something interesting to tell us. However, we will often have to decide about the life and death of some characters. Each such choice should influence the plot.

At one point, we were able to follow the course of a major fight involving allied NPCs. One of these allies was very important to the story, but if he would die during this encounter, the story would have gone down other paths. Be that as it may, the Baldur's Gate series was a bit linear (the first part in particular). This game should have many branches of history both on the micro and macro scale.

Each of our comrades will have their own sub-story. We can also kill all of them if we chose so. Sometime after the beginning of the adventure, the team, consisting of three heroes, faced a conflict between two potential comrades. The choice was up to us.

Since the main character was a vampire, from time to time he would feel a blood hunger. In the course of the gameplay fragment presented to us, this unfortunate situation occurred in the camp (yes, the game has a camp mechanic that works in much the same way as in the first Dragon Age). Our vampire faced a choice – either taste the blood of one of his comrades, or to feed on some animal. Of course, since this was a spoiled aristocrat, he opted for Shadowheart, the cleric. Here, the player can make a choice – either "drink her up" entirely, which will lead to her permanent death, or only partially. Thanks to this, she will survive, but will expectedly receive negative modifiers for defensive rolls. We may survive these adventures and difficult decisions ourselves... or with friends. Baldur's Gate 3, like the Divinity series, will have a cooperative mode. Is the game master mode also returning? It is not known, but its absence would be an unbearable loss.

We haven't been shown how character development works yet. However, it should be based on the fifth edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, so unlike the Infinity Engine games, teammates will score levels along with the protagonist. From what I was able to get out of the creators, we will earn levels slowly, but each of them will be a very big event. There will also be multiclass system.

Baldur's Gate 3 will not be so much a successor to the previous parts, as a new beginning. It won't flood us with references to previous installments, but rather build new ones. And that's awesome. In my opinion, the time of nostalgic expeditions is slowly coming to an end. The first Baldur's Gate spurred a completely new trend in the RPG genre. It was original and paved new paths. I hope this game will also be like that. This does not mean that it will be completely disconnected from its roots. One of the characters familiar from Dungeon & Dragons was the wizard Volothamp Geddarm. It seems to me that this character will act in the same way as Elminster, that is, as a kind of commentator on our actions, which from time to time jumps out of the blue. Will other famous characters make a return? We don't know. I suspect so. However, I wouldn't count on Minsc. The action of this game takes place about 100 years after the events from the Throne of Baal, so this worthy hunter and his hamster have probably long since moved to the Astral Plane. I also asked about Peter, but the creators didn't know what I'm talking about.


The expenses of travel and accommodation were covered by the game's publisher.

Matthew Araszkiewicz | Gamepressure.com

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