Baldur’s Gate 3: First Impressions

I want to preface this in saying that this is a good game regardless of what you think of the hype surrounding it. It’s a wonderful CRPG for the most part. Also, I tried so hard and so long to like this game, and I finally decided to just give-up on trying to force myself to enjoy it.

I’m giving it a bad review because the flaws outweigh the positives by miles and in ways that I didn’t quite expect. This game is less a narrative experience and more like a very long dungeon crawler of CRPG elements. I didn’t expect the setting to be as much of an utter let down as it was. Every town you go to is a destroyed town with nothing interesting or noteworthy to look at. Most of the lore that you learn is either from books or your characters giving you details involving their personal lives. There’s no real downtime in these settings where you can just enjoy exploration, or learn about a culture in terms of worldbuilding, or getting yourself lost in a fantasy world. It’s just shattered areas with mostly rubble after rubble, random NPCs suddenly becoming optional boss fights because you disagree with how they handle something, and constantly running to a high-ground position to gain advantage and kill the enemy in a battle. No place to really relax or have anything meaningful to learn more about the world from NPCs. The cities are just less dangerous dungeons. Yet, nothing is given insofar as details about each city, its dangers, or how to prepare yourself. For example, if you’re able to recruit Halsin, he makes a very big deal out of the shadow curse and he is extensively familiar with it, but he doesn’t give you any information on how to ward it off at all. It reads like a failure of critical thinking and lack of foresight on the developers’ part. Every encounter feels like a boss battle where you have to mini-max the correct spells and correct stats instead of playing how you want. And even then, the mini-maxing may not work because much of the dungeons require random items like putting pots atop of poisonous gas chambers to get past the gas or using specific items with teleport abilities to move your characters. Even then, the gameplay is not really “challenging” in some respects, since the main point of it seems to be getting to a high-ground position, reigning attacks down from above, and hitting enemies with status effects. If you’re in the below-ground position, your attacks are reduced to random chance of between 30 – 45 % hitting the enemies or not. The game constantly forces “out of the box” thinking for every dungeon, but doesn’t allow any meaningful pre-planning for the main story related material. It’s just asinine after a while. It expects “out of the box” thinking by having it conducted on the spot without any preparation and then makes dice rolls of random chance for every strike at an enemy. At a certain point, it felt like the game was dumping filler enemy boss battles to constantly have the player stay active without any meaningful reason for it.

The driving motivation of the story for the entirety of Act 1 into Act 2, is to get the tadpole stuck in your head out, but few leads and details ever emerge and by the time you’re led to the Act 2 location, it seems like the game forgot the original reason to force you to fight this “Absolute One” villain. Yet, no discussion by the party on this change in directive or the reasons behind it. The details seem purposefully vague so that the plot forces the characters into an “adventure” that is just random dungeon crawling. Of the few characters I recruited, while having good enough development (Wyll and Shadowheart), the other guy I recruited (Gale) seemed to be the most generic and boring character of them all. Also, some of the relationships are better than others, whereas with Shadowheart, they try to build it up meaningfully with sharing a drink in private and having a cute kissing scene; the characters like Gale just seem ready for sex almost immediately without any shyness or desire to build a relationship just because you agree to help him with his problem. Also, it feels like it defies his character because of certain information regarding a person in his background history that I can’t go into more details without spoiling. I feel as if some characters were purposefully given more attention than others for that reason. Shadowheart feels like a real person and Gale seems to follow video game checkpoints for a fantasy setting, if that makes sense. The main reason being is that we learn small details about Shadowheart’s likes and dislikes, whereas Gale is just wrapped up in their backstory tragedy with no information on who he is outside of it. Nothing about his likes, dislikes, hobbies, or what motivated him to be fascinated with the things that led to the tragedy of his current predicament.

This game is good, but I felt it under-delivered and that it is a disappointment in terms of worldbuilding and exploration. The music is either forgettable or terrible for me. It seems to try to make-up for lack of any meaningful exploration and worldbuilding by constantly barraging players with battle after battle that all feel like boss battles that constantly require “out of the box” thinking with no concern by Larian Studios on setting any type of “standard” since if everything is out of the box thinking, then there is no standard at all. The game also cheats you at two specific points that I know of. The journal summarizing quest information actually lies about an ancient temple that is part of a character quest, since it’s not located in the second major town in Act I at all. Second, the game has a dwarf-like character get to a location as a hiding spot and it makes no real sense how they got there, and if you “fail” the dialogue, they run off so fast that you can’t shoot them and that part was so baffling at how it didn’t make any sense at all to me. This game also suffers from glitches every 1 in 3 quests that I’ve had. For example, I kicked out Astarion from my party, and the party had a discussion on it, but then when I meet some random guy looking for him and tell the guy to go to my camp, the party acts surprise at my “betrayal” of Astarion despite my having already kicked him out a long time ago from the point in which I met this NPC. When “saving” a specific story character from rubble that I blasted, the story character had controlled an enemy at one point via brainwashing, and after beating all the other enemies, a cut scene unlocked with this story character. However, the cut scene was quickly cut off when the controlled enemy regained their senses again to begin attacking the allied NPCs and then had to be killed off like the other enemies. Upon trying to speak to unlock the cut-off cut scene, the story significant NPC simply told me to leave with no details about anything. This is just an absolute failure of game design and a very obvious glitch that Larian studios didn’t think of with respect to how the game treats the mind-controlled enemy NPCs. For all those reasons and more, I cannot recommend this game at all. No nonsense, no agenda; these are just my honest thoughts. If you prefer to ignore them, feel free.

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