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Baldur’s Gate 3 Is Richly Complex & Radically Inclusive Masterpiece

​‘Baldur’s Gate 3’ Is Richly Complex & Radically Inclusive Masterpiece​

Baldur's Gate 3
Courtesy of Larian Studio

The most complex RPG is made accessible in this stunning achievement of a game.


Baldur's Gate 3 is nothing if not massive. It took me roughly 83 hours to beat, and I know I missed some things. But that's okay because Baldurs Gate 3 is not only a contender for game of the year but quite possibly game of the generation.

The story of Baldurs Gate 3 follows our player-made character, or several set characters in the world, being infected by a slug-like tadpole creature that will eventually turn your character and companions into mind flayers. Otherwise known as Illithids, there is a story of corruption, apocalyptical endings, and heart all wrapped around what is probably the best rendition of Dungeons and Dragons brought to a video game.

While the main plot of the game is spectacular, it's the side plots and the subplots to those side plots that bring out something truly magical. Never before have I experienced such an intricate story where get out exactly how much you put in. You could easily start and finish this game in 20 hours, but your overall experience will be diminished. But, if you give the side stories and companions the time they deserve, yes, your playtime will balloon, but you will also be up late at night thinking about both Ariston and Karlach and wishing they were real as well. Not to mention the fact that there are something like 17,000 ending variations depending on every minuscule decision.

But let’s talk about one of the other things that make the game so incredible: Its queerness. Almost immediately, you can get a sense of how well thought out things are in Baldurs Gate 3 and how inclusive the developers are. Within the character creator is a vast set of tools for you to create your perfect inhabitant of Faerun. With a multitude of options from race to class, there are also extensive options for hair, skin, and body. Want to customize your genitalia? Good news, there's a portion of character creation for that. It is easy to spend hours with the creator alone, ensuring everything is just how you want it. It reflects both the world as it is, and how we wish it could be.

But beyond just the appearance of your character, you can craft and mold many aspects of the gameplay from the creator as well. People with a history with Dungeons and Dragons, particularly 5th edition, will have an advantage out of the gate. This is because spells, skills, and traits are inherently confusing but make more sense as time passes and you grow more at ease with the toolset you have given yourself. Thankfully, if you create a character but give yourself the wrong toolset, there is an in-fiction NPC that can respec not only your skills but your class. Unfortunately, there is no way to change your character's appearance once you start unless you want to restart. This will pose an issue to those who craft what their character looks like to fit their class.

The gameplay mechanics in Baldurs Gate 3 are complex and thoughtfully developed. Your understanding of the skills presented to you will change throughout the game's runtime. This again is where having some experience in the Dungeons and Dragons landscape will benefit you the most. Knowing the capability of those skills will not only set you on the right path to creating your character, but you will also be able to unleash your full creativity into the world of Baldurs Gate 3.

For those not versed in tabletop gaming, thankfully there are systems to help you out. Not only can you respec your character entirely, but you will also have many companions that act as great counterparts to your character. But they are not just random NPCs around the world. They are incredibly fleshed-out characters. The emotional journey you will go on with Shadowheart or Astraion is unlike any I have experienced. I care so much for these characters that the world of Faerun could end, and as long as I had them by my side, I knew I would be okay.

The combat in Baldurs Gate 3 is done in a turn-based system, where you can see the turn order at the top of the screen. From there, your options are nearly endless. Want to go for a primary combat style, trying to kill your enemies, and thats it? Easy. Want to kill some enemies and then raise their corpses to fight alongside you? Easy. Want to get your charisma high enough that you can talk an incredibly hard boss fight into committing suicide? That can be done.

The endless possibility should be the Baldurs Gate 3’s tagline. At one point, I was just testing the waters, so to speak, and found an NPC who was giving me guff, so I had Karlach, my barbarian, pick them up and throw them in a river. Entertaining stuff. That is what the game will ask of you: to pull out all the stops and get your creatively churning. That is also what makes Baldur’s Gate 3 so hard to talk about because what I see as gameplay and mechanics might not be something anyone else experiences and vice versa.

We need to talk about the soundtrack as well. The subtle background environmental sound to the full-blown orchestral themes. It's outstanding. There is a battle track that plays during some pivotal battles that would spoil a lot that has some vocals, and it hits so incredibly hard. Larian Studios has something special and unique here, and I can't wait for everyone to experience it.

Overall, Baldurs Gate 3 is a masterpiece. A game like this comes along rarely, and this year is full of them. Between emotional storytelling, solid gameplay, and the freedom to play around with the mechanics, make it a game you need to play. Not to mention the inclusiveness without the core companion group, it is easy to lose yourself to Baldurs Gate 3.

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Justin Wood