This is an image of the games title-screen. Baldurs Gate 3 came out on Dec. 7, 2023. Baldurs Gate 3 is a great game for lovers of Dungeons and Dragons and/or Role-Playing Games.
This is an image of the game’s title-screen. “Baldur’s Gate 3” came out on Dec. 7, 2023. “Baldur’s Gate 3” is a great game for lovers of Dungeons and Dragons and/or Role-Playing Games.
Fair use image from Larian Studios

Roll for Initiative: ‘Baldur’s Gate 3’ is worth the gold

Baldur’s Gate 3 is a role-playing game based on Dungeons and Dragons, a classic tabletop game where actions are determined by rolls of the dice. 

Initially released in early fall 2023 for Windows, Playstation and MacOs, Baldur’s Gate 3 was released on Xbox on Dec. 7, 2023. 

Coincidentally, the 2023 Game Awards was held on Dec. 7, where of their eight nominations, Baldur’s Gate 3 took home a whopping six awards, most notably winning “Game of the Year” for the 2023 game season.  

Baldur’s Gate 3 is very deserving of the awards and praise for the game, from the customization to the story and combat. 

Mirror, Mirror

Before entering the world, players must enter the character customization stage. There they create the main character that they will journey with. 

The player chooses their fantasy race, class and spells. Races, such as Elves, Dragon-Borns, Drow and so many more are the Dungeons and Dragons’ equivalent of ethnicity/background. Class(es) (i.e. Bards, Warlocks, Paladins, etc) are the basis of the players’ motivations and will provide extra varying dialogue options, based on the chosen class. Both race and class impact players’ options for spells and cantrips (a specific subgenre of spells- often predetermined for specific races/classes).

The player can alter their character’s body type and shape, hair and eye color, and even small details like tattoos, scars, makeup and freckles. The character’s race typically impacts appearance details, but it is mostly up to the player. 

If ever a need to alter minute appearance details, in the character’s campsite (homebase of sorts) there is a “Magic Mirror” allowing alterations to appearance.

Once upon a Tadpole

The story of Baldur’s Gate 3 begins with a squid-like alien called a Mind Flayer infecting the player with a tadpole and if it is not removed in time, then the player will turn into one themselves. All of the game’s three acts are centered around removing the tadpole and saving the world from a god-like entity called The Absolute that seems to be controlling its own cult throughout the game. The acts of Baldur’s Gate 3 take place throughout four regions of the game world, the Sword Coast, the Underdark, the Shadow-Cursed Lands, and finally the title city of Baldur’s Gate. 

The player’s journey will start on the shores of the Sword Coast after the crash of a mind flayer ship and most likely move into the secret underground world of the Underdark during act one. NPCs and environmental set pieces are nothing to scoff at regarding the depth of this game. For example, in the Underdark players could find a hive-mind colony of fungal organisms called Mycanoids and fight their way up an arcane tower against magically powered constructs. 

From the hauntingly beautiful vistas of the Shadow-Cursed Lands and the Shadowfell in Act 2 to the sprawling city of Baldur’s Gate and the dark dungeons filled with undead beneath in Act 3. This game has so much to see and do, it was difficult not to get lost in its amazingly crafted world for hours at a time.

Decisions, Decisions

Being a role-playing game, Baldur’s Gate 3 offers plenty of options in dialogue for the player to voice their character how they would like. Choices in dialogue were also a big part of the game and the decisions players make in one act or region can bleed over into another act for the better or worse. Skill checks when talking to NPCs can also be beneficial to any playthrough, sometimes allowing one to skip a challenging combat encounter or even the first phase of a boss fight. 

Begin Combat

Combat in Baldur’s Gate 3 takes on a more traditional top-down/point-and-click approach to exploration and combat. Combat is taken in rounds where, before it begins, an initiative dice is rolled to determine turn order with players of the Rogue class mainly taking the first turn because of their class features. The player can then pick from a small assortment of radial wheels to decide between which actions players want their character to take like attacking with ranged or melee weapons and casting spells such as blur or fireball. Almost every attack is also decided by a die rolled off screen that determines whether the player hits their target. 

Failed Skill Checks

Baldur’s Gate 3 has a lot to do and see within its world, however, it does not do a great job of easing you into all the mechanics of the game. Leveling feats and abilities are not explained in simplistic terms so unless players have a friend who understands Dungeons and Dragons, or personally played it, the player may not know exactly what everything does. This can happen as early as the character creation screen when simply picking a race. 

The player can be bombarded with quests as early as Act 1, which can lead to the player becoming lost and confused. Some players might even become stuck in an area with seemingly no way out and become frustrated. The player may also run into a bug where certain NPCs want to talk in the player’s camp, but when approached will not be able to.

Another huge hurdle for this game was the price tag. Baldur’s Gate 3 typically runs the buyer $60-$70 (depending on their game software) just for the base game. For some players, that cost might not initially be justifiable.

However, most recent games run generally around that price range, and the game is worth the cost.  

Passed Performance Check

With very few shortcomings, Baldur’s Gate 3 is a great game for enjoyers of Dungeons and Dragons and people who want a very immersive role-playing experience. The insane amount of things to do and quests to find is so big that a casual player might have put in upwards of one hundred hours by the time they decide to finish the story. A player can get into the game with very little knowledge of Dungeons and Dragons, and walk away almost being an expert on the game if they bear with Baldur’s Gate 3 through the early hours and is a must-play.

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

The Pony Express intends for this area to be used to foster healthy thought-provoking discussion. Comments are expected to adhere to the standards of the Pony Express and to be respectful and constructive. Furthermore, we do not permit any of the following inappropriate content including: Libel or defamatory statements, any copyrighted, trademarked, or intellectual property of others, the use of profanity and foul language or personal attacks. All comments are reviewed and approved by staff to ensure that they meet the standards of this publication. The Pony Express does not allow anonymous comments. We require a name and valid email address submitted. This email address will not be displayed but will be used to confirm your comments. Online comments that are found in violation of these policies will be removed as quickly as possible.
All The Pony Express Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • C

    Cody RaschFeb 6, 2024 at 7:56 am

    Super great article! I think it might be a little difficult for people who have never played a game like Baldur’s Gate or DnD to understand some terms, but you both were clearly passionate about writing this article and it shows! Very fun read.