The Verdict (so far): Baldur’s Gate III Early Access

Baldur’s Gate III is a lot of things, but it ain’t Baldur’s Gate

Lae’zel, the githyanki warrior who has featured heavily in marketing.

Competing Expectations

Therein lies the first major problem with Baldur’s Gate III. Baldur’s Gate fans want Baldur’s Gate. D&D fans want a faithful adaptation of D&D. Divinity fans want more Divinity. From the outset, it appears as if Larian is trying to please everyone, and the result is a design ethos that is messy, unfocused and inconsistent.

Scenes like this are frustratingly common.

But it’s still Early Access, right?

Yes, it is. There are plenty of bugs and it is very obvious that Larian has a long way to go. They stated that the early access period will take about 12 months. There’s nothing wrong with that, and while I hate when large studios use the early access model, I think it’s a great way for smaller developers to get feedback and bug-testing at scale while funding development at the same time. Nobody was expecting a bug-free game from Baldur’s Gate III early access, and the community has been very generous to Larian, and very actively involved in providing feedback. It’s beautiful to watch, and a great example of what early access can look like when everyone plays their part.

There’s…a few bugs.

The Good Bits

Issues aside, Baldur’s Gate III will definitely appeal to some — particularly Original Sin fans. The game looks beautiful, even at this early stage. Game assets are exquisitely modelled, animations look great thanks to extensive motion capture work, and the lighting has a really broad range — darkness is deep and black, light is startlingly bright.

One of the rare instances in which Shadowheart approaches something resembling a smile.
Character design and detail is an absolute highlight.

Should you play it?

Chances are, if you’re the sort of player that this game will appeal to, you’ve already played it. Original Sin fans will enjoy it, and fans of other RPGs may well enjoy the game too, even if it is quite unbalanced in its current state. If you’re really set on seeing every stage of how this game evolves throughout early access and you’re keen to provide Larian some feedback, then you can probably get your money’s worth while also giving back to the developer.

At some point in about 1989 I played my first videogames on a Sinclair ZX Spectrum. This was the beginning of a lifetime obsession with games...

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