Ever since “Baldur’s Gate 3,” an open-world fantasy role-playing video game, was released in early August, it has had an otherworldly grip on my heart, mind and soul. Having logged over 200 hours into the game after only a month of playing it, it is fair to say that I have been obsessed—and rightfully so. “Baldur’s Gate 3” gives the player a massive world to explore, full of a variety of environments with surprises at every turn, dynamic characters with rich, heart-wrenching stories and a main questline that grabs the player’s attention right from the beginning and refuses to let go.
In my experience, open-world games have a habit of creating a large space for the player to explore but with absolutely nothing to engage with. “Baldur’s Gate 3” has mastered the open-world format, providing a bounty of moments to engage with the world, whether it be a hidden treasure chest, a secret trap-door or a stray dog you can potentially take with you on your adventures. After spending nearly 40 hours in the first of the three acts of the game in my first playthrough, there are still several interactions and secrets I overlooked, which tells you just how much there is to do in this marvelous game.
Every interaction with the vast cast of characters, whether they are a main companion or a side-character only briefly featured, feels so important. The main cast of companions each have their own unique quests that impact the world and main story depending on the player’s choices. Not only is the dialogue naturally and beautifully written, but the voice actors perform spectacularly in their efforts to bring these characters to life.
While I personally do not let a game’s graphics impact my enjoyment of the game, the graphics of “Baldur’s Gate 3” are truly breathtaking. Every blade of grass, every pore on a character’s face, every little detail is rendered with such care that it really makes the player feel like they are one with the world as they play. Each spell that can be casted by the magic-wielding characters has its own unique animation, which really adds to the world-building experience of the game. Even after spending so many hours in this game, I am still in awe of the graphics and visual effects.
One of my favorite aspects of this game is the replayability. With a story filled with so many world-altering choices, there are so many different paths for the player to take. Choosing between being a hero with a heart of gold, a villain looking to rule the world or anything in between, there are several routes for the player’s story to take. Even having beaten the game once, I still find myself dedicating more time to “Baldur’s Gate 3” to explore every option.
While the game is rich in its story-telling, world-building and characterization, one of the main focuses of the game is strategic combat. In a turn-based combat style, the player has several options for different play styles, also called “classes,” they can choose from. From the brute-force barbarian to the clever wizard, there are twelve different classes to choose from for different abilities in combat. In addition to the player’s character, the companion characters each have their own distinct class, and the player is encouraged to strategically swap out companions for different combat challenges.
I can go on singing praise for this game, but there are a few flaws that should be addressed. One of my biggest disappointments with this game is that the ending felt rushed. After being in development for six years, I would have hoped that the creators would have taken more time to tie up any loose ends and really make the ending feel complete and satisfying. While it ties up the main plot points, there are still several questions left unanswered, souring my experience upon completing my first playthrough. I am hopeful that these open-ended endings are resolved in future updates to the game, but I cannot say for certain if that will be the case.
Overall, my experience with “Baldur’s Gate 3” has been immaculate, and I do not see myself stepping away from this game until I exhaust every possible outcome.