Baldurs Gate 3 Early Access: Initial Impressions

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  • #915
    Orion

    In-game screenshot. Credit: Larian

    I finally took the plunge and bought the Baldurs Gate 3 Early Access Edition.

    Usually for a beta version of the game I wouldn’t purchase this, but I had read enough positive reviews, enough commentary about the things people didn’t like, and watched a few Twitch streams of the games (and the enjoyment of the players and the viewers) to know it was something I was interested in.

    One of the barriers as to whether I would get this was a question in my mind whether I could actually get the game to run -> I checked out a few websites to learn that my AMD R9 390 graphics card I bought 5 years ago actually exceeded minimal requirements for the game, so I made the decision to purchase the product via Steam.

    It was a hefty download and space requirement, about 80GB download and 150 GB free space. I actually played this meeting the requirements additively over three different SSD hard drives but I may rearrange the hard drive space so the 150 GB+ is on one drive and the others are more filled up.

    In-game screenshot. Credit: Larian

    I was warned by many reviewers to learn the hot-key for the Quick Save. In-game screenshot. Credit: Larian

    Being an early access game, one thing I was prepared for was regular crashes. In my 1-2 hour play through, the game crashed three times. To Larian’s credit, each time the game crashed there was a very painless bug reporting system with optional reporting from the user as to what went wrong.

    For me the game crashed

    1. After the initial loading screen after I responded to a Steam message from a friend (I had done an exciting NWN persistent world run, and we deferred splitting loot hence the message ?ok to split loot) – I had to Alt-Tab to exit, then when I returned it crashed. I changed the settings from Vulkan to Directx 11 after that.
    2. At the end of the Nautiloid ship sequence, when Microsoft Windows decided it was time to download and install a massive update. One can hardly blame Larian for that one.
    3. One other crash I can’t exactly remember, I believe it was during a cutscene where a bunch of dragons, imps were breathing fire, causing all sorts of damage then it crashed – probably a memory thing on my end with my suboptimal hard disk management.

    So overall it wasn’t too bad, the circumstances of the crashes had factors that could have been mitigated including my hard disk management.

    The graphics and sound were stunning. One thing that surprised me was the game felt the recommended setting for graphics with my dated but high end graphics card, was to have the resolution at 1920×1080 at “Ultra” quality. I might drop these settings down however as it felt a bit choppy at times.

    Lae’zel, the Githyanki warrior who accompanies me during the Nautiloid sequence. Interesting they give me the option to attack her in the bottom left. I didn’t do that, I suspect I might not have won that engagement against a 17 Str Githyanki warrior with a longsword if I had… In-game screenshot. Credit: Larian

    The cutscenes and all were stunning, however if one is reloading it gets tedious. Fortunately I discovered the “Space” key helped with speeding up these sequences. The Space key also assisted with ending a particular characters turn once all actions were completed (rather than the “End turn” button which funnily enough, ended the turns for all my characters – I think? anyway after that one bad experience I switched to the Space key with great happiness).

    Character building

    The character building aspect didn’t disappoint me, with the joy of finally playing a decent game with DnD 5.0 rules it felt both familiar and novel coming from NWN’s 3.0 DnD rules.

    I decided to make a Githyanki male Wizard with 16 Str, 12 Dex, 14 Con, 16 Int, Wis 8, Cha 8 – the typical strength spellsword style build. Except as a Wizard. I gave him white hair, green skin, red face paint, some black tattooes and some white haired side-burns.

    My githyanki ‘spellsword’. Source: Larian

    Githyanki have a special racial bonus in which they can wield longswords, greatswords and equip medium armor without interference with spellcasting abilities – straight away I thought “fabulous, I’m getting Auto-Still III for free, if I’m wearing medium armor” so lets just choose Wizard and chop em up, while buffed up with Mage Armor, Protection versus Good/Evil and spamming out Rays of Frost as my ranged attack, putting enemies to Sleep etc etc.

    One thing I noted in combat is Strength seems more valuable than previously. It determines the distance one “jumps” in combat (these jumps allow tremendous mobility, and avoid attacks of opportunity), and also some other cool mechanics like shoving opponents a certain distance away. My character ended up having a jump spell as well, which lasts 10 rounds, tripling the range he can jump, meaning he has ridiculous mobility around the battlefield, as well as an Abjuration focus, which created a ‘psionic’ force shield of sorts, which would absorb a small amount of damage before he would start to take damage.

    My Strength Wizard Githyanki buffed by the “Jump” spell. He can jump ridiculous distances with it active. At level 3, Githyanki also gets this spell for free, freeing up a spell slot for something else. Source: Larian

    Dexterity also seems very powerful. It affects attack rolls (also making dual wielding quite effective), damage with finessable weapons and armor class, as well as stealth, pickpocketing etc.

    One other feature that is interesting is each weapon has special properties. Wielding a longsword in two hands at least, granted my Githyanki the “Cleave” feat, allowing my character to damage all enemies within a certain radius – the Whirlwind attack for free. Sounded like a great deal!

    Having jumped a massive distance to these two opponents, he then uses a cleave attack the next turn to damage both opponents at once. Source: Larian

    The Early Access version only has six classes – Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Wizard, Warlock. It looks like there will be an additional six other classes added later – Bard, Monk, Paladin, Sorcerer, Druid, Barbarian. I’m hoping one can multi-class later similar to how Baldurs Gate or even NWN implemented it. I wasn’t able to do that with my character so far.

    In a party of 4 – from left to right My Gith Wizard Spellsword, a half-elven cleric to my left, a Tiefling NPC, Lae’zel the Gith Fighter, and a sneaky elven rogue. Source: Larian

    Early impressions

    This was a very enjoyable experience for me, despite the game crashing 3 times, there are things I can do on my end to improve the performance of the play through, and having grown up with NWN and the DnD toolset, I felt quite at home with the 5.0 DND rules, while learning new things about the changes and additions to it.

    I hope you enjoyed reading this post and if I get time or if there is interest I can post some further updates to this thread.

    #919
    Carlo

    Thanks for posting the detailed impressions, they were helpful in understanding where BG3 is currently at. (I tend to be a late adopter rather than pay for the privilege of beta testing, but that’s a personal bias.) Not sure if I could swing a 150 GB install (I’m sure it’ll be more later) on my SSD, in any case.

    #925
    Orion

    Hey Carlo

    Thanks for replying!

    One of the users on BG3 Reddit showed me that tip to use Task Manager to identify bottlenecks. In my case, it was the CPU

    In terms of the hard disc space I created 160gb free and it seems to not fix the problem before I upgraded my CPU.

    So I upgraded it (new CPU and Motherboard) in, and now it works like a dream.

    I shared it with the reddit community for discussion.

    One other thing (with your interest in DMing) I would be keen to advocate for is to have a Dungeon Master Client. Should be a no brainer. It would take only a small amount of effort to implement and would multiply replayability by a huge factor, even if BG3 never has the custom toolset from NWN (I don’t think they want to do this, as they have employed all these voice actors, graphical designers and story writers – they probably want to keep them in a job I assume). They have feedback sessions on Reddit, but if there is anyone else out there who thinks that is a good idea, one can always send feedback directly to them via this link.

    Link for Official Larian Feedback for BG3

    Some people are afraid of their virtual characters dying or being in danger (we all have different fears) – this could be a non-gaming partner or something like that – if they are the dungeon master they obviously can’t die, and this could open up a more enjoyable experience for them without having to challenge that fear.

    #1004
    grom

    Thanks for sharing this Orion.   I’m like Carlo in that I don’t like to buy my games until they are ready.  Question for ya, can you still run a full party of your toons, or are you given set teammates to run with?  I normally don’t like or use the premade toons, they are never how I would build them, and tend to talk way too much for my taste.

    #1007
    Orion

    Unfortunately you do have to use the premade characters if you need teammates, but perhaps that will change as Larian does more work and gets more feedback. Or perhaps not. There is one exception, that is if you start a multiplayer game, each player creates one custom character each, then some of those players disconnect.

    Baldurs Gate 2: Enhanced Edition you can actually fill your party with custom characters which is nice. I think there is a lot Larian can learn from having a look at games like NWN and BG:2, things like the interface etc (like I wish there was WASD key movement like in NWN).

    And spot on with the early access stuff. I largely got it for the opportunity to play and build with DnD 5e rules, and was surprised when I got a lot more, some of the graphical stuff and tactical stuff was incredible. For most people I would recommend waiting for the final product, but for diehard fans it might be worth it.

    There hasn’t been an update for a few months now so I’ve stopped playing this for a while, I assume Larian is very busy working to refine the product further for a big release to revive interest and get more feedback. I’d probably give it another run when there is additional content like extra classes or extra areas to explore.

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