Dungeon master not needed: “Baldur’s Gate 3” review

by | Aug 9, 2023 | Opinion

When it comes to gaming sequels, this summer has been hotter than Link without his heat-resistant tunic in Hell. “Diablo” and “Legend of Zelda” have already had their turn to release sequels to their beloved franchises, and now a once-forgotten franchise will have its turn. 

“Baldur’s Gate 3” releases from the dungeon 23 years after the last entry in the series. The game is a CRPG (computer role-playing game) using the 5E “Dungeons & Dragons” system of classes, spells and races. It’s the closest thing you get to a single-player D&D session without the human dungeon master. Or if you have a few friends, there is also a co-op mode.

The developer and publisher, Larian Studios, released a limited game version in early access on Steam in 2020. I played it, and while it was buggy, it was less buggy than some of the fully released games in the last few years. During the early access, Larian Studios kept adding and improving features based on players’ feedback. I had already earned my money’s worth in the early access, but with 24 hours of gameplay in the first 96 hours of me owning the full version, it was definitely a good purchase. The story alone kept me wanting to know what would happen next. 

One of the coolest features in this game is that your actions matter. In one area, I had to rescue an elf trapped in a cave-in with poisonous gas while gnome slaves tried to clear the rubble. He would die if I didn’t free him soon. I released him, and then he defeated my party. I reloaded a save and slept a night at camp to regain health and spell slots. I went back to the cave-in and expected a cutscene and a fight. When I arrived, I found no one, but the cave was cleared, the elf was dead from poison and no gnomes in sight. Sleeping a night in the game meant that waiting eight hours would have consequences for me. I avoided the fight, but I couldn’t free the gnome slaves.  

I look forward to replaying it with a new character and new choices.

The game’s biggest flaw is that it can run a bit slow in an area with many NPCs, such as the streets of the capital city . I may not have a top-tier gaming computer, but it’s better than the average home computer. I know this is not due to any internet connectivity issue as this game can be played entirely offline, a refreshing mana potion to this always online curse many games are doing today.

Occasionally the game will crash, but other than that, I have noticed a few bugs that most triple AAA games come packed with—thankfully there’s no gaming-breaking bugs such as being unable to complete a quest. In fact, you can’t fail quests in this game; you can only creatively complete them. This game rewards creative problem-solving and allows you to defeat foes with a steel sword or a silver tongue.

The most positive thing about this game is the studio released the game four weeks early. Now my studies will not suffer come September when the Fall term starts, as I might be putting in 100 hours of gameplay before my first Ethics class.

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