The great part about this role-playing approach is that Baldur’s Gate 3 is incredibly accommodating and reactive. That tabletop-style back-and-forth between the game and the player is a big part of why the game is resonating with so many people.I’m about 45 hours into Baldur’s Gate 3 and am in its third act, but before that, I put around 25 hours into its Early Access build. I could tell this game would be special from the get-go. While I haven’t seen all its mysteries through to the end, I’ve had a ton of memorable experiences as I explore the world and see just how much Larian Studios will let me get away with, and how reactive the game is to my presence in it.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is an RPG set in the Dungeons & Dragons universe, and that means choice and consequence are baked deep into its systems. Every time you roll a dice to pass a stat check, it’s playing back into a character you’ve built in both skills and backstory. Playing a game like this and keeping consistent with the hero (or villain) you’ve made is all part of the process. But it feels like I’ve spent a lot of this first run figuring out who my Warlock is and how best to approach situations with his skills, while also staying true to the character I’ve written. The great part about this role-playing approach is that Baldur’s Gate 3 is incredibly accommodating and reactive. That tabletop-style back-and-forth between the game and the player is a big part of why the game is resonating with so many people, having just entered Steam’s top ten concurrent player rankings. In pursuit of that, here are a few standout moments from my first playthrough.
I passed through a force field and skipped an entire puzzle
I don’t come from a huge CRPG background, so a lot of my experience with RPGs has trained me to think my abilities are exclusively for battle. The moment it finally clicked and I started rewiring my brain in Baldur’s Gate 3 was when I was in a dungeon and I found a switch in the middle of a room that, if I approached, would knock me back with a forcefield. I spent a lot of time fumbling around the room set with other traps and hazards chipping away at my health as I was already low on supplies to heal.
In an act of frustration, I started looking through my spell scrolls, which would allow me to use abilities I hadn’t spec’d my Warlock character to use. One of them was Gaseous Form, which lets you shapeshift into a ball of gas. It also allowed me to float above ground, including over whatever sensor the forcefield had that kept me from reaching my objective. I flew over the force field, switched back to my human form, and flipped the switch without having to finish the puzzle I never quite figured out. I didn’t have to. I had figured out how to use my abilities to circumvent it entirely. From then on, I finally understood just how much power I had in my disposal, and I ended up applying that logic to things beyond puzzles, as well.
I snuck into a city without a fight
In the final act, I reached a checkpoint where I couldn’t simply walk into a city without being caught by the corrupt authorities for my crimes of saving the world from bad guys. I tried every means of talking my way through it, but the only real options appeared to be fighting my way through or going to jail. Then, it finally dawned on me, I had a spell to turn myself invisible. I ungrouped from my party, turned myself transparent, then walked right past the check point until I found the fast travel portal in the city’s interior. Then I just brought my team through past the armed guard. It ruled.
I had the wildest sex scene a video game has ever given me
Larian Studios, I need to know who is responsible for the romance with Gale, the sassy, arrogant, overly ambitious wizard companion. I need to know their Archive of Our Own account. I need to know what incredible fanfiction that person is writing, because I have been thinking about the buckwild way his sex scene goes down. The druid bear sex scene was a harbinger for the wild, extremely Dungeons & Dragons tabletop way Baldur’s Gate 3 would handle sex, and I’ve only seen one romance thus far. As soon as I’m done I’m loading up a YouTube video of every sex scene. BioWare, take notes.
I failed at polyamory romance
One of the neat aspects of the romantic relationships in Baldur’s Gate 3 is that some of them allow for polyamory with multiple love interests. Some characters like Astarion and Halsin are okay with you having multiple partners, but I decided to test the waters with Gale and Wyll. After all, Wyll was my romance in Early Access, but after he was rewritten for the final release, I found I wasn’t feeling him the same way I once did. But when the opportunity arose, I showed interest in him and checked in with Gale. He wasn’t into it. I reloaded a save and decided to pursue Gale exclusively, but I was surprised to see how complex the situation had become.. It wasn’t just about jealousy or my potential suitors getting catty with each other, there were some nice dialogues about comfort, everyone involved expressing their feelings on the matter and reacting accordingly. Honestly, even if Gale had been okay with it, I don’t think it would have been my canon playthrough, but it was at least interesting to be able to try and it not be a joke.
I let my friend Halsin the druid down
As Larian confirmed before the game launched, your party members can leave you for a multitude of reasons. In my first playthrough, I spent a lot of time in a land overtaken by a shadow curse that not only damaged my party just for standing there, but the dark, disorienting environment was also just not fun to be in if I didn’t have to be. But we were passing through on the way to our ultimate goal, and Halsin, the druid with a connection to nature, was accompanying us because he wanted to lift the curse. But ultimately, I wanted out of there. I had other things to do, and I discovered that I had flubbed the opening of his quest line hours before without a save to go back to. Ultimately, I had to let him down. I failed his quest, and in doing so, I failed him. It was the right decision for my playthrough, but that didn’t make it easy. I am constantly impressed with how much damage Baldur’s Gate 3 lets you inflict. Even on those closest to you.
I served lewks in BG3
One thing to know about me is that when I’m playing an RPG, I’m gonna dress in the sluttiest thing I can find. Ask my Cyberpunk 2077 character, my version of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla’s Eivor. We are traveling the world, kissing boys, and slaying while doing it. Baldur’s Gate 3 has a pretty great spread of fashion so far. As an extension of the character creator’s expression, nothing’s gated by your character’s form or gender, and that means I’m wearing whatever calls to me. Whether that be a crop top armor set or stealing Lae’zel’s leather underwear that looks like a harness worn at a leather bar. Just because you’re playing in a medieval fantasy world doesn’t mean you can’t still be fashion-forward, baby.
I fell in love with a dream man
When you boot up the game, you create your character, but you also create a Guardian character who you’ll meet in your dreams. I won’t get into the truth of their story, but suffice it to say, I had fallen madly in love with my Guardian as soon as I met the buff, daddy Tiefling whose sole motivation in this world seems to be protecting me. Or so he says. Who knows where the Guardian’s story goes? (I do, but we’re keeping spoiler free). In Early Access, this character was a “dream lover” who was presented to you specifically as creating someone you might desire. The final game doesn’t give that framing, but that didn’t stop me from making the hottest man I could make. Thank you Larian for just letting me make a hot man who holds me close in my dreams. I don’t want to wake up.
I lost hours of my life in frustration with Baldur’s Gate
All those nice things being said, Baldur’s Gate 3 is also one of the most frustrating games I’ve ever played sometimes, and the emotional whiplash is so real. Some of it is inherent in its CRPG roots. These games are systemically dense and full of so many complexities that take time to wrap your head around. But goddamn, did the journal have to be so vague? Did it have to feel like the game was constantly throwing me out into the deep end with zero guidance? There have been a handful of points where my objectives were so unclear to me that it felt like I was fumbling in the dark for hours without making meaningful progress. My patience has constantly been tested by Baldur’s Gate 3, but also…
My patience was rewarded by the game
The moments when solutions come together and new understanding is found hit like nothing else. Sometimes it’s by just leaving one quest and finding another, only to realize it contains new information to help you understand something better. I’ve had points where I spend a ton of time working with one party member’s quest line then, by throwing my hands up and walking away to something else, found that a different companion storyline helped me move forward elsewhere. It took me a couple dozen hours to really appreciate that Baldur’s Gate 3’s lack of communication and clarity might make hours of it an absolute nightmare to play, but it helped me learn that if the tools it gave me weren’t helping me forward, I could find the answers I sought on the other side of the map.
I’m nearing the end now, but from the outset, Baldur’s Gate 3 has given me a lot to chew on, and has made it clear that I’ll have to play it multiple times if I want to see everything it has to offer. But as long as it sticks the landing, I’ll be more than happy to start it all over from the beginning.