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Baldur’s Gate 3 review: A masterclass in RPG storytelling

baldurs gate 3 header featuring shadowheart laezel and astarion

There’s something pure about a traditional fantasy role-playing game experience. Maybe it’s because the fantasy tropes of Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons have inspired so many games that we adore. Our review of Baldur’s Gate 3 finds it to be just such a game.

The freedom to create your character and set out on an adventure where your choices matter. The wonder of discovering new lands and besting powerful villains with allies at your side. When done right, it’s a formula that works like few others. Baldur’s Gate 3 reminds us why we love RPGs like this. Developer Larian Studios accomplished something great in translating the D&D tabletop experience into video game form.

From its epic story to its wildly creative gameplay, Baldur’s Gate 3 captures the spirit of what makes RPGs so memorable. 

The Good:

  • An epic story with well-written characters inhabiting a truly dynamic world.
  • Deep gameplay that encourages players to experiment in fun and imaginative ways.

The Bad:

  • Performance issues and bugs, especially late in the game, may affect the experience.

Review Details:

  • Platforms available: PC, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5
  • Reviewed on: PC
  • Official release date: August 3, 2023

If you can think it, Baldur’s Gate 3 wants you to do it

What really sets Baldur’s Gate 3 apart is that it gives players total freedom to do what they want within the broad boundaries of the game’s mechanics. While Baldur’s Gate 3 isn’t a true open-world game, it does allow for many of the same shenanigans prevalent in those titles while also providing a superior narrative experience.

dammon baldur's gate 3

For example, say you want to steal a sweet roll off a table, but there are too many witnesses wandering about. You could get a party member to start a commotion off to the side that makes every NPC shift their attention to the ensuing chaos. Now you can steal that delicious dessert off the table without the city guard watching over it. And if you’re feeling dangerous, you can then chuck it the guard, just to see what happens.

Another example: Perhaps you’re too weak to take on an evil monster, but want to save the helpless citizens it has captured. A cursory look at the surroundings might reveal an open pit conveniently set beside said monster. With a few stealth checks passed, you can bypass an entire boss fight by simply shoving the monster down into that pit. 

That’s not something you can find in many games, and it’s moments like these that make Baldur’s Gate 3 feel truly special. 

The living world of BG3

BG3 accomplishes something that even many AAA open-world games struggle to capture. The world feels alive in a way that many other games can only dream of. You can find something worth investigating in almost every nook or cranny, and can strike up conversation with pretty much anyone you see. 

You might be the main character of your story, but Baldur’s Gate 3 emphasizes that you’re just one among countless other denizens of its world and adventurers on its roads. Members of your party have their own quests to resolve and their own reasons for going on an adventure with you. You can even play directly as one of them instead of as a custom character. It all adds up to an impressive level of depth that you wouldn’t see if those characters were just your typical NPCs. 

The game also looks and sounds great, though its main draws are clearly its storytelling and emergent gameplay. BG3’s ambition does sometimes falls behind its technical capabilities. If too many of the game’s carefully-rendered characters are present on screen, stuttering issues may occur. There’s also the rare but notable possibility of the game just crashing in the middle of an exciting quest. 

We were fortunate enough to avoid most of these issues during the course of our review of Baldur’s Gate 3, and Larian is promising long-term support to iron out those bugs.

karlach baldur's gate 3

Baldur’s Gate 3 has a somewhat typical central story of “great big evil threatens to end the world.” It isn’t exactly groundbreaking in that regard. But the execution of its classic tropes makes it feel like so much more than just another fantasy rehash. Baldur’s Gate 3 has deep cast of memorable characters, it allows players to make decisions that truly matter, and the game feels truly alive. That’s all we can really ask for from a modern, narrative-driven RPG experience.

gameland.gg’s bottom line: Baldur’s Gate 3 is a must-play title if you enjoy role-playing games at all, and perhaps even if you don’t.

Score: 10/10 

Author image

Written by Gab Hernandez

Gab Hernandez has a particular love for video games that give players control over the narrative direction, such as Divinity: Original Sin 2 and Disco Elysium. Gab spends just as much time playing games as they do gushing about them online to anyone who will listen. Their work has also been seen on TheGamer, Gfinity, and Wargamer, and you can follow them on Twitter / X at @HardlyWorkinGab.

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