Dungeons & Dragons, Swen Vincke, Larian Studios, PAX East Baldur's Gate III

Baldur’s Gate III Showcases One Hour of Turn-Based Gameplay, New Details

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After announcing the event earlier this month, Larian Studios has revealed an extended look at gameplay in Baldur’s Gate III. During a livestream presentation at PAX East 2020 and before showing off what the team has been working on, studio CEO Swen Vincke revealed that the game will be coming to early access “in a couple of months.”

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The event, which you can watch in its entirety below, started with Baldur’s Gate III’s opening cinematic and then quickly moved through its character creation menu. Only a few character and class options were shown off, but more are promised to come in early access and by the time the game releases.

Baldur’s Gate III seems to have no serious connection to the previous two games, seeing as it takes place long after those titles. While speaking to Kotaku, writer Adam Smith spoke on how this newest entry fits into the series: “It’s 100 years later, but that’s not a very long time for some species. There are a lot of people who remember (the Bhaalspawn from the original games), things who remember this. There are factions and places that were deeply affected.” In Baldur’s Gate III, though, your character has been infected by a mind flayer parasite and must find a cure within seven days.

Considering the game was announced nearly one year ago with few updates since, it was appreciated to see around an hour of honest, uncut gameplay. Today, Larian showed off Astarion, a high elf and vampire spawn, and one of five origin stories that will be available in early access. If you’ve played the developer’s previous game, Divinity: Original Sin 2, you’ll recognize this origin system from that game.

A lot Baldur’s Gate III sounds to be voice acted, with every conversation and optional dialogue tree so far having unique and interesting audio to back it up. The expected depth of player choice in the narrative will accompany that.

In true Dungeons & Dragons fashion, yet unlike in previous Baldur’s Gate titles, Baldur’s Gate III will exclusively feature turn-based combat that allows for strategic team gameplay. When not in combat, players have the freedom to roam around the world freely or, optionally, in a turn-based traversal mode. Larian has gone out of its way to make sure Baldur’s Gate III isn’t as limiting as you’d first think with turn-based gameplay in mind, as players have plenty of freedom to traverse environments and engage in battle just as they would in Dungeons & Dragons.

For example, Vincke used a number of unique actions in the game, such as shoving and jumping, to gain the upper hand on his enemies. Though unsuccessful, the studio CEO attempted to escape a trap-laden room by jumping on a nearby box for a height advantage. Shoving enemies off of a cliff also seems to be a possibility for players to take advantage of in the right situations.

Baldur’s Gate III can seemingly be brutally difficult for the unlucky gamer. Vincke himself suffered a particularly hard time just playing through the demo thanks to poor chance with his dice rolls. At the least, the game certainly feels dynamic. The experience showcased today was freeing just to watch, let alone what it must feel like to play.

Naturally, Larian has brought the series into 2020 with stunning visuals on all fronts. We got a taste of what Baldur’s Gate III will look like in some screenshots that leaked earlier today, but the game’s environments look great in motion, too. It’s worth mentioning that a laundry list of bugs and glitches cropped up in the hour of gameplay, but that’s to be expected of a title at this point in development.

Ultimately, even as a clear work in progress, the studio seems to be succeeding in creating the ultimate, modern-day Baldur’s Gate experience. And to sweeten the deal — there will be a multiplayer mode in the game that enables up to four players online to embark on adventure together.

Still hungry for more on Baldur’s Gate III? Make sure to watch The Escapist’s interview with Vincke and Dungeons & Dragons creative director Mike Mearls from E3 2019.

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Michael Cripe
Michael joined The Escapist team in 2019 but has been covering games, movies, TV, and music since 2015. When he’s not writing, Michael is probably playing Super Mario Sunshine, Dead Space, The Binding of Isaac, or Doom Eternal. You can follow his news coverage and reviews at The Escapist, but his work has appeared on other sites like OnlySP, Gameranx, and Kansas City’s The Pitch, too. If you’d like to connect and talk about the latest pop-culture news, you can follow Michael on Twitter (@MikeCripe), Instagram (mike_cripe), or LinkedIn if that’s your thing.