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Baldur's Gate 3 -- 5 Takeaways from the Gameplay Reveal Panel

From flaming arrows to boots of godly might, here are 5 of Scott's takeaways from the PAX East gameplay reveal for Baldur's Gate 3.

March 4, 2020

Larian Studios has finally peeled back the curtain on the gameplay of their upcoming opus, Baldur’s Gate 3Hosting a panel at PAX East, fans slowly shuffled into the large room, anxiously waiting to sink their teeth into the newest entry of this fabled franchise. Over an hour later, I left that panel, and damn it, I need this game now. Now that I’ve had a little time to sit and think about what I saw, here are five of my main takeaways.

1) The interest in Baldur’s Gate 3 spans generations of players

I had a couple of hours to kill waiting in line to enter the panel. Looking around, I was surprised to see just how wide of range the attendee’s ages were! Baldur’s Gate first released back in 1998; it is Bioware’s first game using the Infinity Engine, a platform that would become synonymous with isometric D&D-inspired games for years to come.

As such, the people that were waiting in line ranged from young to older middle-aged players. It was great to see these two groups talking and sharing stories of their own unique adventures. Folks, Dungeons & Dragons is one of the few things Gen X, Y, Z, and Millenial players can all talk about and relate to.

2) The game is very much in a pre-alpha state

As much as I want this game to be out tomorrow, where the state the game was during in the demo, that release day is still a long way out. The vertical slice of gameplay saw was taken from a very early part of the game. Early on, we were informed that even the save system wasn’t functional yet. If he died, the demo would have to start over; a scenario we got to witness first hand after, well, he died.

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The reveal actually ended with the game glitching out. I couldn’t quite tell if it was an infinite loop of the characters taking turns back and forth, or entering and exiting combat. Either way, it made for a lovely booming sound on the speakers.

All this being said, I’m perfectly 100% fine with it. This game never promised to be out soon. The crowd was still jovial and ate up all the silly occurrences we were witnessing. Reveals like this are great peeks behind the curtain of game development that we don’t get to see all that often. Larian knows how to make quality games; I believe in them and you should too. We just need to have patience and we will be rewarded handsomely!

3) The lighting and visuals are beautiful

Hooooo-boy does this game look pretty. As I sat in my chair, I couldn’t help but be blown away with the visuals. The lighting of a particular note was impressive. Most of the demo took place around a landscape dotted with trees and mountains ruins. Sunbeams shine through the trees and shadows were cast all over. The shadows cast around the environment aren’t just for looks either, as they play into how successful your sneaking can be.

Cool as that is, a very mundane moment left an especially strong imprint on me. While exploring some ruins, the main character came across a tome. Upon opening it, a trap sprung, spewing slippery oil all over the area and activating flaming arrow turrets hidden in the walls. As each of the six or so arrows shot from within their secret enclosures, they cast light as they went from one side of the room to the other. Each arrow’s flame was reflecting on the greasy floor, along the stone pillars near you, and the objects that are strewn around the room.

While the fire arrows on their own are impressive looking, it makes me more excited to see how well reflections are used. In a game that will no doubt be full of impressive large-scale magic spells, I can only imagine bolts of crackling lighting illuminating dark caves as they strike their targets. That thought makes me giddy with excitement.

Baldur’s Gate 3 was clearly going to look better than the previous title. I just wasn’t expecting it would look as good as it does. Also, as mentioned in the previous point, it could look even better since we are still a long way out from the games actual release.

4) Baldur’s Gate 3 is a melding of Divinity and Dungeon & Dragons mechanics

To be completely open with you fine readers, I have not yet played either of the Divinity: Original Sin titles yet. I own them, I just haven’t had time to play them. However, I do play in a bi-weekly D&D campaign.

Watching gameplay, there was a lot that pulled directly from the tabletop. Skills, spells, stats, races, and classes are straight out of the books. The flow of combat turns, and bonus actions during gameplay are much more Larian-style. It seems to work well, and nothing about what I saw gave me pause or worried me that it was diverging too far from the Baldur’s Gate style fans love. I believe introducing longtime Baldur’s Gate players with Larian’s style and quality of games will only grow both communities.

5) Boots are OP

One of the fun features they flaunted was the fact that you are able to the hurl most items from your inventory. You can hurl them straight at an enemy’s face, killing them.

During an especially harrowing encounter, our hero’s bow continued to miss. Shot after shot, each one, which supposedly had a 90% chance to hit, missed. What didn’t miss, however, was trusty Boots. Yes, a mythic pair of generic brown boots flew through the air. Carried on the wings of an angel, straight and true, directly hit the head of the menacing bug in the distance crushing its skull, and sending it to the afterlife.

It was unfortunate that there were more bugs and our hero was fresh out of boots. The bugs proceeded to kill the party, which caused the demo to restart. The crowd got a kick out of it though, and that’s what matters.  I can’t wait to see “Boots Only” speedruns of this game when it comes out.

Most likely, we are still far off from even finding out when we will get the final release of Baldur’s Gate 3. We do know that players will be able to try out an early-access build later this summer. But if Fortnite has taught us anything, early access can last a long time.

Personally, I almost wish Larian would forgo the early access release altogether. I would rather play it when it’s all done, polished, and right where they want it. Larian has proven that they are damn good makers of RPGs. We don’t need an early access build. I say this knowing full well I will get it and play the crap out of it because DAMN I want this game bad.

Regardless, seeing the gameplay reveal with a room packed with fans was a treat. I went in excited for Baldur’s Gate 3 and left with a rabid hunger for it. I’m anxious to see what new reveals we get next, but I sure hope it involves skills devoted to boot-throwing.

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