Need to know
What is it? A D&D romp through the Forgotten Realms.
Release date August 3, 2023
Expect to pay £50/$60
Developer Larian Studios
Publisher Larian Studios
Reviewed on RTX 4090, Intel i9-13900k, 32GB RAM
Steam Deck Verified
Link Official site
After spending 160 hours unravelling conspiracies, setting fire to monsters and finding increasingly fancy hats for my Bard, I can now confidently say that Baldur’s Gate 3 is the greatest RPG I’ve ever played. If I wasn’t writing this review, I’d be rolling a brand new character and jumping in for another hundred hours. I’ve got it bad.
It’s my dream game: the best parts of Ultima, Baldur’s Gate, Planescape: Torment, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura and Divinity: Original Sin. But it also does so much more than tap into the RPG Greatest Hits, finding a way to unite disparate philosophies like cinematic storytelling, unhinged sandbox mayhem and tabletop-style roleplaying. Yes, it says, you can have your cake and eat it too.
And boy is it absolutely massive, as deep as it is wide. Each of the three acts could be their own epic RPG, jam-packed with elaborate dungeons, strikingly memorable quests and unique stakes, supported by systems that offer a truly intimidating amount of player freedom. It is a game overflowing with crossroads, with every step conjuring up yet more paths trying to seduce you off the beaten track.
(Image credit: Larian Studios)
Embarking on this adventure can be pretty daunting, granted. D&D can be impenetrable for the uninitiated, and Baldur’s Gate 3 is not an easy-going introduction to its rules and quirks. Even as a Baldur’s Gate vet who also plays tabletop RPGs, I found it quite intimidating, and a lot of folk at PCG ended up starting the game again after 20 hours. It demands a lot of patience, then, and you might have to spend a lot of those early hours just figuring things out and muddling through. Once you’ve figured out D&D’s eccentricities, though, you’ll have a much better time.
Keeping track of characters and quests can also be a real challenge, even with the quest journal helping. Sometimes the passage of time will lock you out of certain quests, but on other occasions it won’t. I spent hours trying to access a location before moving onto the second act because of a pop-up implying that I was reaching a point of no return, only to discover that the location was in a different act, and that I could still return anyway, at least until an entirely different point of no return. It gets confusing! The best way to avoid getting caught out is by saving way more than you think you’ll need to—just in case.
Embarking on this adventure can be pretty daunting.
Given the scope and complexity, though, I honestly expected to encounter more issues. I noticed a few minor bugs and one crash, but no problems since Larian started releasing hotfixes. Performance has been similarly smooth, though with an RTX 4090 and an i9 13900K, I’d be worried if it wasn’t. On Steam Deck things were more iffy, but I’ll happily deal with 20-30 fps if it means I can play in bed.
After reviewing a game this ridiculously large, there’s usually a sense of relief when I’m done. But not here. To be honest, I could have easily reached the game’s climax days earlier, but I just couldn’t bring myself to call it. I felt compelled to see as much as humanly possible in one playthrough because it’s all just so bloody incredible. Whenever I found a new quest to distract me, I was overjoyed. Another reason to keep playing! More of the best-in-class writing, more of these gripping fights that have seen me duking it out well into the small hours of the morning, more magical artefacts to cram into my beautiful mess of an inventory. I’m genuinely gutted that it’s over. So I guess there’s only one solution: start all over again. I’m buzzing with excitement.