Baldur’s Gate III seems to have come out of nowhere.
Fans have been clamouring for a sequel to the cult BioWare games for years and it seems it’s finally arriving, courtesy of Belgium’s Larian Studios. As the developers behind the smash hit Divinity: Original Sin series, they have a pedigree perfect for telling a new Baldur’s Gate tale.
But what do we really know about the game so far? Here’s everything we’ve seen to date and what we can expect from the game.
Baldur’s Gate 3: Release Date
Baldur’s Gate 3 is a turn-based role-playing game and prequel to the classic Baldur’s Gate franchise. It’ll be set 100 years before the original games and feature an all-new story set in the world of Dungeons & Dragons.
While Baldur’s Gate 3 was targeting an early access release in August 2020, this date has now been pushed back. Developers Larian Studios promise the release is still ‘just around the corner’ and fans can expects to hear more during a ‘launch date reveal’ taking place at 3:00 a.m. AEST on August 19.
Good news and bad news. BG3 won’t hit August, but it’s just around the corner. We’ll be announcing the release date, as well as big news on the Panel From Hell alongside @geoffkeighley, @LarAtLarian and the Larian crew. Tune in Aug 18th. https://t.co/S1RlVpJ8yw pic.twitter.com/NCkrnHHpH0
— Larian Studios (@larianstudios) August 4, 2020
The game will launch in early access on Steam for PC and Google Stadia in countries where it’s available. After its early access release, the Larian Studios team will continue working on the game.
Larian Studios won a highly-sought-after contract to create the game
The rights to create Dungeons & Dragons properties are fiercely protected by Wizards of the Coast. As a decades-old IP with hoards of lore and a passionate fanbase, the franchise is a complex one and requires incredibly skilled hands.
For years, games companies have begged Wizards of the Coast for the rights to the Baldur’s Gate video game franchise, but the company refused several bidders before agreeing to work with Larian Studios. This included a former Interplay developer and members of Obsidian Entertainment (responsible for titles like Fallout: New Vegas and Pillars of Eternity).
Larian Studios was initially shot down by Wizards of the Coast when they asked to created Baldur’s Gate III over a perceived lack of experience with AAA games. At the time, the studio had just released Divinity: Original Sin but were still considered an indie developer. The success of the sequel put them back on Wizards of the Coast’s radar and they were ultimately granted the contract to make the game.
“They saw what we were doing and asked if we were still interested,” Larian Studios CEO Swen Vincke told PC Gamer in 2019. “That got the ball rolling.”
After the team’s core ideas and vision were given sign off by Wizards of the Coast, Baldur’s Gate III began development.
You can play the game’s prequel now
Baldur’s Gate III‘s story prequel takes the form of a traditional tabletop roleplaying adventure called Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus. This story takes place an additional 100 years before Baldur’s Gate III. While it isn’t necessary to play it through to understand the video game’s story, it does explore the important pre-history of Baldur’s Gate as well as the arrival of evil in its world.
Descent into Avernus sees players descending into the first layer of the Nine Hells to prevent the corruption of Baldur’s Gate and its surrounds. It also explores the fabled Blood Wars and pits players against the mythical frost giants.
The TTRPG chapter is available from most games stores or online now.
Mind flayers play a central role in the story
Mind flayers are octopus-like monster with glimmering tendrils and psionic abilities. At the start of the game, your character will be infected by one of these creatures and told you must find a cure to your ailment or risk turning into a mind flayer yourself.
Despite this dire warning, it appears your character isn’t impacted by this change, and the mystery of why will play out of the course of the game.
With such a strong opening, it’s likely the mind flayers will play a central part in your adventure.
Combat will be turn-based
RPGs have evolved since the days of the original Baldur’s Gate games. Customisability and smooth controls are essential for modern players, but innovating on an old formula does mean changing features some may love.
Baldur’s Gate III is introducing turn-based combat to the game, forgoing the original games’ stop-and-plan real-time strategy. The new system is based on mechanics found in the Divinity: Original Sin series, focusing positioning, environment and alternating your party’s moves.
Alongside refreshed combat, Baldur’s Gate III also offers bonus abilities to change up combat like shoving, jumping and pushing. These let you plan out more strategic methods of enemy assault and help you hold your ground.
A new era of games calls for some major refreshes, and combat isn’t the only thing that’s looking different in Baldur’s Gate III.
The game will be far more intimate
Another major change to Baldur’s Gate III is its approach to dialogue and character. These interactions will take centre stage in your adventure with an emphasis placed on your relationships with your companions and how you interact with NPCs.
Rather than the usual top-down approach, the game features an intimate first-person camera for interactions. It lets you get up close and personal with characters and really get to know them, added some warmer personality to the game.
While your protagonist remains silence, all characters and narration in the game will be voiced. Baldur’s Gate III will be a character-driven tale, and these interactions will guide your adventure and character growth.
Your choices matter
Choice is a core feature in Baldur’s Gate III, in dialogue and in gameplay. While you can lead conversations and change how others perceive you, the story will also change dramatically based on your choices.
“If Baldur’s Gate 3 is a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, the whole of Larian is your DM,” explained writer Adam Smith in a recent gameplay showcase. “We get all these people with all these different ideas, and we try to be reactive as we can. That’s a lot of building memory of the game—it remembers what you’ve done.”
The game will be personal and reactive, meaning you’ll need to choose your character and path wisely. Decisions you make early on will have an impact on later parts of the story, so you should always plan ahead carefully.
In a game as large and ambitious as Baldur’s Gate III, you don’t want to lose your head.