What a day for the founding fathers of the #BelgianGamesIndustry! Larian Studios has unveiled the first live gameplay of Baldur’s Gate 3 to a packed auditorium at PAX East. A highly anticipated sequel to one of the most beloved RPG’s of all time, there was a lot of weight on the shoulders of Swen Vincke and his team for this reveal, but they passed with flying colours.
While much of that was down to the quality of the game, the blazing confidence with which it was presented certainly went a long way. “I don’t know what’s going to happen and also, the save system is broken so I’ll try not to party wipe.”, are not words usually associated with a worldwide AAA game – and let’s not make any mistakes here, Baldur’s Gate 3 is very much a AAA production – reveal. With two successful Kickstarter and early access campaigns under their belt, Larian Studios understands the power of authenticity and knows how to expertly wield it in front of an audience they know better than anyone.
Apart from the stunning intro cinematic that sets the stage for the story, the gameplay presentation isn’t polished or scripted. Chaos is king in Baldur’s Gate 3. A surefire combat blow doesn’t land, party members are accidentally set on fire, and what seemed like a good dialog option turns the conversation sour real fast. The idea that victory or defeat are at the mercy of a clumsy D20 roll, and the turn-based improvisation that follows, is exactly why this feels as close to a Dungeons & Dragons session as anything.
Just like your main character’s brain is impregnated with a tadpole, a wormlike parasite that chews its way into your head through your eye ball and over time will turn you into a monstrous Mind Flayer (or will it?), Larian has injected their own DNA into the Baldur’s Gate universe. They obtained almost complete creative freedom from IP owners Wizards of the Coast and are using it to steer the iconic RPG into the modern age.
Of course, the Forgotten Realms are still populated by fan favourite races, such as the iconic githyanki and you’ll get to play as a range of classic character classes. Next to creating a character from scratch, you can choose to play as a pre-set character complete with their own origin story. If Astarion, a high elf vampire spawn that loves to snack on the blood of his party members and Wyll, a monster hunter that made a pact with the devil and regrets it, are anything to go by, these characters will be chock full of Larian charm and will have their own agenda in the main storyline.
While purists might have a hard time recognising the game they know and love, even they should be confident in the ability of Larian to treat this RPG gem with the respect it deserves, even if they are cutting it differently. The proof of the pudding will be in the eating and the good news is we won’t have to wait extremely long to get a closer look at the game.
Baldur’s Gate 3 will release on Steam Early Access and Google Stadia later this year and we can’t wait to take Larian’s biggest and most impressive looking game ever for a spin.