Baldur’s Gate 3 – PC First Impressions

Baldur’s Gate 3 – PC First Impressions

Alas, it’s been twenty-two years since the release of Baldur’s Gate II: Throne of Bhaal. And seven years since the unexpected Baldur’s Gate Expansion, Siege of Dragonspear. Needless to say, the Baldur’s Gate franchise has quite the legacy to uphold from old-school Bioware & Black Isle Studios’ masterpieces. What feels like a lifetime later, Baldur’s gate 3 promises to deliver a CRPG experience that lives up to the colossal expectations set by its predecessor – now both developed and published by Larian Studios with droves of passion. While it is still in early access – currently slated for release in August 2023 – we’re anxious to give you our first impressions. Here are our thoughts in review of Baldur’s Gate 3.

How one derives fun from a product tends to be highly subjective. Therefore ALL forms of review are opinionated and should be taken with a grain of salt (this included). So let’s analyze Baldur’s Gate 3 through the lens of more objective metrics such as; graphical fidelity, characters/story, content/length, controls & gameplay, then finally, sound design & cinematics. This product was played on both a 3080 10GB, 32GB Ram, with an i9-11900KF 3.5GHz and a 1050Ti 4Gb, 8GB Ram, with an i5-7300HQ. For full transparency: this content was tested using a copy of the game graciously provided by the developer.

Graphical Fidelity

Overall, while the game engine’s functionality had been janky initially, it has definitely improved over time to achieve a much more stable state. Players have the choice between Direct X 11 and Vulkan programming interface (API). But fear not for those not in the know. The game runs well either way. However, for those who really want to drip out every drop of performance, you can see which is better optimized for your rig. (Usually using AMD or Nvidia is a deciding factor).

Additionally, while the UI has changed over time, it has landed in a visually pleasing, yet practical format.

Baldur’s Gate 3 runs on a revamped version of the Original Sin 2 engine”


Generally speaking, while it has been a bit of a journey – from broken animations and models to well-synced lip movements and facial expressions, it looks quite polished now. BG3 is a damn fine-looking game, and while performance may still be occasionally hiccupy, I never had any flat-out game-breaking experiences with it.

So, it looks good and performs well (now). But what else might we want from a game – especially a Baldur’s Gate? Solid narrative! Let’s talk about it.

Characters & Story

Arguably the most important core components of a narratively driven RPG should be its plot and the characters that drive it. This is not a dynamic in which I found myself disappointed. Not only does each character feel multifaceted in their own right, but each layer players strip away also reveals exciting backstories rich with depth and complexity. And these aren’t just one-off boring dialogue bits, but rather, defining moments and quests for further characterization. Think Mass Effect’s effects companion quests for comparison.

We will avoid spoilers here as discovering and getting to know each of the companions is a treat in itself. But what I will say is that everything ties into its setting seamlessly, with character motivations feeling natural and compelling. Players may find themselves genuinely intrigued by a character or their backstory, wanting to know more: and the game provides. Who are they? What drives them? Oftentimes I found the answers raising further questions more intriguing than the initial curiosity.

Overall, the plot has a simple premise that BG3 takes and runs with. Players have been infected by a Mind Flayer and desperately need help. How players find that help, in true RPG fashion is definitively up to the player. Following in step with previous BioWare iterations, I feel that BG3 delivers on having players make meaningful choices with impactful consequences. There is an abundance of ways to approach each situation, and it was fun to speak with other players about how our Act I differed. So, the content is highly veritable, but how much is there?

Content & Length

Between its characters and its vast amount of content, Baldur’s Gate 3 should stand the test of time – and it’s not even complete yet. That in itself is quite the statement, but taking into account both its build variety and its replayability I don’t believe it to be an exaggeration. As such, each playthrough of Act 1 can run players 30+ hours, varying depending on how completionist the playthrough is. That being said there is a tonne to see in this game. Be it, lorebooks to read, people to talk to, quests to complete, or secrets to find – BG3 will keep players occupied for hours on end.

Honestly, there’s just a lot of game here. From raw amounts of dialogue and things to read/soak up, to items and places to explore – BG3 is simply big. That being said, while there is a fair amount of ground to cover, players looking for pure landmass may be disappointed in what is currently available before being stonewalled before Act II. However, that’s not to downplay how large the playable area is. It will take players dozens of hours to explore every nook and cranny, and in all likelihood, they will either overlook or be locked out of some areas on specific builds. Missed a perception roll or don’t have lockpick access? Maybe you miss a secret door this playthrough.

Long story short though, lots of content that is calibrated in such a way as to be both highly replayable and veritable in future playthroughs. Especially considering the immense build variety that will surely encourage second or even third playthroughs.

Controls & Gameplay

Baldur’s Gate 3 handles as a Baldur’s Gate should. Point and click tactical top-down CRPG goodness. There are, however, some massive adjustments to the core formula. Baldur’s Gate 3 flexes a familiar, yet modified real-time gameplay loop that also manages to be simultaneously turn-based. I won’t explain everything, but the gist is as follows; Characters have actions, bonus actions, and spell slots in varying levels. Certain actions are single-use or on charge until the next short rest or camp. (Oh, the nostalgia!) Characters have limited movement per turn but can spend actions before or after in various combinations for some extraordinarily creative and clever plays.

At first, it’s merely “shoving” enemies off ledges, then quickly turns to abusing multiple-turn abilities and stunlocks to feel like a dungeon-mastering god. Baldur’s Gate 3 gives players a massive toolset, and just says “go”. Want to literally throw a greatsword? ‘Kay. Pick up a giant chest full of loot and put it in your magical pocket? Sure, sounds D&D enough. Characters and abilities can interact with their environment as well in inventive ways. Lighting explosive gasses, or creating environmental hazards are possible, as well as a newfound inclusion of much more verticle gameplay.

For a good five-eight hours, I felt the vertically integrated potential for the gameplay was underutilized, but then… later map design proved me so wrong. The use of depth in different towers, caverns and buildings caught me off-guard at times, stripping back to reveal layers of complexity where it might surprise.

Keeping a crisp pace on this, balance feels fair. With min-max numbers games such as these, there will always be players who find and utilize monstrous builds that maximize the effectiveness of certain playstyles and break the balance. That the game allows this is a testament to the possible RPG power fantasy, though the average player will likely face some occasionally stern difficulty. While this isn’t exactly Xcom with its constant loss mitigation, BG3 is an intensely tactical game with RNG built into its foundation. If you don’t like leaving things to chance, this game may not be your cup of tea.

Sound Design & Cinematics

Baldur’s Gate 3 hits you right off the bat with a gripping cinematic that efficiently establishes the initial setting and plot. This feels like a near Blizzard creation in all the best ways. While there may not be tonnes of cinematics in the game, BG3 is cinematic in nature. It doesn’t need to pull players out with a cutscene because it can all be done in-engine. Granted, sometimes animations aren’t perfect, but when can it be with a game of this scale and size?

That being said: can every game I ever play from now on have exceptional narration? Next to Disco Elysium, Amelia Tyler’s deliveries stand tall in the uppermost echelons of vocal performances (alongside Jennifer Hale, Nolan North, etc.) And it doesn’t end there, oh no-no. Each character is brilliantly acted in their own rights, as previously touched on, each with their own nuances and backstories – and talented castings to back them up.

Rounding this section out is the music and effects. Critical elements to player engagement, especially in slower-paced games – BG3 enhances the experience with dramatic yet not overwhelming melodies. From orchestral over-the-top compositions to eerie and sombre tunes, this OST really does have extraordinary range while remaining consistent with its D&D source material. I swear, there were times I had to make sure I wasn’t in a scrap with Godrick. (If you know, you know)


As far as closing thoughts go, I would strongly recommend Baldur’s Gate 3 to those who enjoy turn-based tactical RPGs, or strong fans of the Baldur’s Gate franchise. Because even if the gameplay changes from the original don’t jive with you, the glorious return to this particular D&D offspring in the 2020s is mighty satisfying. The worldbuilding is extensive, and the choices feel real. It’s highly replayable, and fairly meaty – while only waiting to get bigger. While it still has a clear way to go, Baldur’s Gate 3 is fun. And that’s what matters most.

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Well that’s a wrap on our first impressions, what do you think of Baldur’s gate 3‘s Act I so far? Let us know in the comments, we’d be glad to hear from you! And if you enjoyed this content, check out our Oakenfold Review! Thanks for reading.

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