Let’s face it, Baldur’s Gate 3 is an amazing game. BG3 does so many things right, and many people can feel the passion that went into building such an experience. However, it isn’t perfect, no game is. So, when there are issues in such a product of quality they tend to stick out more. With that said, let’s explore 5 Things Baldur’s Gate 3 Gets Right (and 5 Things it Doesn’t) together!
5 Things Baldur’s Gate 3 Absolutely Nails
Beautiful To Behold
I could gush for dozens of seconds about how gorgeous Baldur’s Gate 3 is. The Divinity 4.0 engine that powers BG3 effectively pushes the lighting, textures, draw-distance, and post processing. But what delighted me the most was the game’s use of shadow and environmental clutter. You walk into a room lit with candles and torches and it feels very lived in, cluttered, and realistically lit.
Additionally, the detail on the characters during the cinematics (which we’ll cover later) is another high point. Lastly, the sound effects blow me away more than even more the visuals if I’m being honest. The booming dynamic sound effects of skills and spells coupled with how barbarians shout as they rage will never fail to compel me to crank the volume.
You Never Know What You’re Gonna Find
Dungeons & Dragons has always been synonymous with exploration, and Baldur’s Gate 3 utilizes that notion to the fullest extent it can. This expansive RPG has been designed in such a way that there will always be something for you to discover. Whether you’re treading off the beaten path or simply walking into a building, it’s safe to expect to stumble upon some kind of event.
Additionally, there are so many places to explore that a single thorough playthrough will easily take someone between 75 and 100 hours or more. Larian Studios even did us the solid of giving us many fast travel options to make sure you’re rarely having to backtrack.
Each Cinematic Scene is Captivating
The other part of the presentation package that BG3 delivers on is the dozens upon dozens of hours of cinematic dialogue. Not only do they generally look great with dynamic camera angles when appropriate but are voice acted to near perfection. Which also benefits from the mocap animation performances by each of the voice actors.
Even more wild are the NPCs that have little more than a single line to deliver, since they are also performed in the same cinematic way. Just don’t skip them, instead, sit back, relax and enjoy the show.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is Most Definitely an RPG
There are many layers to the RPG onion that is Baldur’s Gate 3 and every one of them adds to the experience. Attributes power skill checks that nearly every in-game action utilizes. Additionally, Feats help flesh out player builds by either buffing attributes or augmenting combat. Finally, the many spells and skills at your disposal allows you to interact with the game’s sandbox in meaningful ways.
I very much enjoy how character build choices feel tangible in Baldur’s Gate 3. Especially when almost every dialogue has an option that utilizes the Attribute-based skill check system.
The Satisfying, Tactical Turn-Based Combat
Not every good RPG has turn-based combat, but every good RPG does sport a challenge if desired. Baldur’s Gate 3 has both of those things in spades. Now, what really makes BG3’s combat excel is the artificial intelligence. I can’t tell you how many times the enemy has capitalized on my poor placement by knowing when and where to shove me off a ledge.
Likewise, the A.I. seems quite adept at also utilizing buffs and spells in logical ways at the cost of my rising blood pressure. The difficulty early on feels quite appropriate with how limited your builds are. However, by late game unless you’re on Tactician difficulty, fights might become a little too easy depending on how well your party is geared and built.
5 Things Baldur’s Gate 3 Could’ve Done Better
Later Acts Run Poorly
Baldur’s Gate 3 had the advantage of a long Early Access period, giving the game the time it needed to Iron out Act 1. This allowed for a fairly smooth frame rate much like my favorite peanut butter. Unfortunately, as players progressed into Act 2 and 3, things became bumpier, rougher, and chock full of peanuts.
What was a buttery smooth 60fps in Act 1 would dip into the 40s or even 30s during the later acts, and especially in Baldur’s Gate proper. Recent patches have begun to alleviate the performance, but BG3 may need another year or so of patches for the later acts to fully catch up.
Baldur’s Gate 3 Has Some Bed Bugs
Alongside the game’s performance issues came a wide variety of bugs. While less common in earlier acts, later ones were rife with issues, with some bugs even blocking progress and forcing a relaunch of the save. Now, the only things worse than bugs in a single player RPG, is bugs in an online RPG.
Thankfully, playing with friends as you watch a giant ball of fiery death sink into the floor and out of existence due in part to the way you misplaced an Ice Wall spell is amazing. Sadly, the majority of the game’s bugs are not nearly as entertaining, like one of your friends crashing during mid-combat.
Serviceable Music That Could Be Better
This may seem a hot take, but one aspect that some feel was lacking in Baldur’s Gate 3 was the original soundtrack. While effects and voice work were top notch, a lot of the tunes that accompanied our journey were simply forgettable more than they should have been. Case in point, when you hear a song from Morrowind or Oblivion, its uniquely distinct—a manifestation of an incredible composition.
That’s not to say BG3’s music is flat out bad, far from it, but we can’t recall many tunes that prompted us to immediately hum along with how good it was. And maybe that’s on us, but even I don’t know what I’ll do if I hear “down down down by the river” one more time.
Loot Could Be More Interesting as a Whole
I can’t tell you how many times my party explored an area off the beaten path, met or fought something interesting, and got only unenchanted gear, gold, arrows, or spell scrolls for the trouble. While none of those things are bad, it would have been very exciting to know that the next chest I open or cabinet I search could have something mind-blowing in it.
And I don’t mean something that’s +1 that comes with a spell you already have that can be cast once per long rest. Instead, why not have something a bit more random and specialized on a mechanical level? Why not generate a heavy crossbow that spawns a temporary skeletal companion every time you successfully make a stealth attack? Or a dagger that comes with two spells where the second stronger spell only works once the first is actively being concentrated on?
This is another case of what’s there in BG3 isn’t strictly bad. It could just be a tad better, a bit more interesting, and slightly more fleshed out.
Not Enough D&D Elements
Before any talk of doom and gloom, I have to say Larian Studios really did everything they could to incorporate the mechanics that make BG3 like D&D 5e. Unfortunately, some rules had to be bent to fit into this stunning downloadable experience, and other rules had to be scrapped or reworked.
For example, there’s no rolling for ability scores or health on level up. Rolling a natural 1 or 20 has no extra effects, nor do modifiers alter the outcome even if you’re still over the DC threshold. Additionally, language isn’t implemented in the game, nor is the entire mechanic around cover. Beyond that, the level cap is 12 instead of 20, and a magic attunement system doesn’t exist.
There are many, many more changes Larian Studios made to the 5e system to make it all fit within a video game, and that’s understandable. The question though remains if future DLC will increase the level cap. Doing so would likely require even more changes as spells beyond the 6th level have far-reaching effects beyond the scope of what BG3’s engine would allow.
Shortcomings aside, Baldur’s Gate 3 does more right than it does wrong and will only improve with future patches and DLC content. The future is bright!
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