baldur's gate 3 review

Baldur’s Gate 3 Review (PC/PS5) – An Achievement of Monumental Proportions

A roleplaying masterpiece.

While big-budget CRPGs are few and far between these days, you can always rely on Larian Studios to deliver grand roleplaying experiences unlike any other. They’ve proven time and time again that they’re capable of delivering sprawling games that are simultaneously overwhelming and awe-inspiring. It only feels right, then, that they helm the next entry into the legendary Baldur’s Gate franchise. Like the Divinity series before it, Baldur’s Gate 3 is an achievement so grand in scale and mechanical density that it’s almost unfathomable in its totality.

Baldur’s Gate as a series is set within a Dungeons & Dragons campaign setting, and adopting the immensely popular 5E ruleset, Baldur’s Gate 3 is a stunning recreation of sitting around a table with friends in game form, complete with all the trims and trappings you could want. That isn’t to say Baldur’s Gate 3 is predictable – far from it in fact. Even the most seasoned Dungeons and Dragons veterans can glean immense value from the world and story this entry has to offer.


While decisions made throughout your journey in Baldur’s Gate 3 will catalyse wild differences in narrative beats, the opening always stays the same. After creating your character and choosing your class, you’ll find yourself waking on a Mindflayer’s ship. While the prologue serves as an introduction to combat and some gameplay systems, it also introduces you to some of the core cast and grim nature of your situation.

The Mindflayers have infected you by means of a parasitic Mindflayer Tadpole. A small worm-like creature that will ultimately turn you into a subservient Mindflayer yourself. Upon making landfall, you quickly discover that this ailment is more widespread than usual, and set out to find a cure. It’s this premise that lays the foundation for Baldur’s Gate 3’s dynamic and evolving narrative.

baldur's gate 3 review

It’s also the primary reason so many others join your cause. Baldur’s Gate 3’s companion characters suffer from the very same ailment as you, making for an unlikely alliance between people from all walks of life. Though it’s hard to get invested in everyone’s plights equally given a total party size of four, each one boasts engaging writing that hooks you into their situations, incentivising you to see how things can change outside of the main story.

Each of these characters has inherent flaws and problems that they work through in dedicated questlines. A particular highlight during my solo playthrough was Karlach; a Tiefling Barbarian on the run after being forced to fight in the Blood War. She also has an Infernal Engine eternally ticking in place of her heart, working as a time-bomb of sorts if it can’t be kept in check with attention from talented blacksmiths.

baldur's gate 3 review

Her fun and high-energy nature runs in stark contrast against the situation she finds herself in. Though she’s quick to anger, she also serves as a beacon of hope amongst some of the group’s more subdued members. My affinity for Karlach also led me to Wyll, a Warlock who struck a bargain with the Devil and hunts down Karlach on his tormentor’s behalf.

That isn’t to say other characters aren’t just as engaging for reasons both good and bad. Shadowheart is an outwardly bigoted Cleric tasked with delivering a strange relic for reasons she can’t remember. Her disposition towards the other races of the Forgotten Realms means she regularly butts heads with the authoritative and demanding Githyanki Fighter Lae’zel. Astarion is an unapologetically evil Elven vampire who’s sarcasm is only rivalled by his lust for blood. The top-notch writing and motion capture only serves to bolster the countless conversations and cutscenes that unfold in any given playthrough.

baldur's gate 3 coop

There’s also a lot to unpack with the main story itself, and while no two runs are going to be the same, I’m positive that the quality will always be consistent. The three acts all differ in tone, and the adversaries you face ooze as much charisma and complexity as your own party. There’s some truly difficult choices to make towards the tail end of the campaign that had me stewing over my options for some time. Side quest writing is just as fantastic, constantly putting difficult decisions into the hands of the player while always looping back to the happenings of the core narrative.

It’s choice that lies at the heart of Baldur’s Gate 3. Everything you do has implications – actions in combat, dialogue choices with NPCs, romance options, your approach to conflict. It’s a game so dense with interlocking systems and player flexibility that it can be overwhelming and front-loaded with information for newcomers. Its bottomless depth is intimidating and hard to wrestle with at first, but that intimidation ultimately gives way to unprecedented freedom in its roleplaying potential.


While it’s almost impossible for a game to fully replicate the D&D experience in full, Baldur’s Gate 3 comes astonishingly close. The sheer amount of options presented at the player, both obvious and hidden under the surface is truly unmatched. After realizing just how open-ended player choice can be, Baldur’s Gate 3 would rise up to every challenge I threw at it, no matter how unconventional.

From skill checks in conversation based on your proficiencies, making smart use of objects in the environment, employing stealth, and so much more, Baldur’s Gate 3 always impresses both inside and outside of combat. It’s roleplaying in the truest sense, perfectly capturing the emergent situations that can come to fruition through gameplay systems like these.

baldur's gate 3 review

Much of your time in Baldur’s Gate 3 is spent exploring. Much like the best open world settings, the Forgotten Realms is positively brimming with meaningful and worthwhile content for you to engage with. Despite how much there is to see and do in your journeys, you always feel compelled to see what lies around the next corner. Not because Baldur’s Gate 3 pressures you to, but because you want to see what the game comes up with next.

It helps that exploration is always worthwhile from a progression and gameplay stance. You’ll often find rare and build-altering items that feel like real growth in power as opposed to arbitrary numbers going up. It means that every time you stumble on an underground cavern or derelict town, you want to explore it and see what might lie in wait.

baldur's gate 3 coop

Combat is where your tactical chops are tested the most. Smart use of resources, strategic use of actions, and exploiting class synergies is of paramount importance when it comes to succeeding in Baldur’s Gate 3’s nail-biting combat encounters. Much like the 5E ruleset, combat turns are comprised of Movement, Actions, and Bonus Actions. What each of these entail depends on class choice, race, subclass, and much more.

Choice in combat is just as flexible as it is in exploration. You can use items to grease surfaces or coat them in flammable oil, hit enemies with standard attacks or powerful spells, push foes off cliffs to a swift demise, and countless other options. The balance struck within combat makes it so that each turn feels immensely valuable in the grander tapestry of a conflict. It’s a real treat to work yourself out of a sticky situation when all the odds are stacked against you.

baldur's gate 3 coop

Larian Studios constantly find new ways to test you and keep you on your toes. Whether it be due to the arena design or the enemy types you can encounter, you can never rely on a single strategy in Baldur’s Gate 3. The highlight is undoubtedly the many boss fights you’ll experience, each of which pushes you to your tactical limits and forces you to find new ways to exploit weaknesses and make the most of every single turn.

It all goes hand-in-hand with character and class progression. Despite having a max level of 12, Baldur’s Gate 3 always makes the process feel like a real milestone in growth. Unlocking new passive and active skills, new feats, improving proficiencies always feels like a marked improvement in the capabilities of your party. Shared experience and level ups also means you can be flexible with who’s in your party whenever you feel like it.

baldur's gate 3 review

What’s more, is that the entirety of this experience is playable in four player coop. While playing solo is worthwhile for complete control over decisions, coop play is chaotic bliss in the best way, and is absolutely worth looking into if you’ve got friends wanting to jump in on the adventure. It gets incredibly close to the Dungeons & Dragons experience in a much more approachable and easily-organised format.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is just as impressive from a presentation standpoint. The previously mentioned motion capture and voice performances bring the Forgotten Realms to life in incredible fashion. The quality is especially mindboggling when you realize just how much of this stuff there is in the game. Countless hours of recorded dialogue and cinematics that you couldn’t possibly hope to see in a single playthrough goes to show just how varied Baldur’s Gate 3 can get in its main story and side quests.

baldur's gate 3 coop

The game is also jaw-dropping to look at. The Forgotten Realms are truly stunning in visual design and variety, from the untamed wilds of Act 1 to the bustling streets of Baldur’s Gate in Act 2. The dungeons are dripping with atmosphere and creative designs, and eldritch horrors are brought to life in grotesque detail. Performance is also remarkably smooth given how much Baldur’s Gate 3 tests my rig in its most visually intense scenarios.

A special mention should go to the character models. There’s an immaculate attention to detail in facial structure, hair, scarring, jewelry, and more. This isn’t limited to the main cast, with side characters and NPCs you’ll interact with once sporting the same level of care across the board. It does so much to build out the diversity of the numerous races that inhabit the Forgotten Realms, and creates a tangible sense of place no matter where you go.

baldur's gate 3 review

No game this big is without bugs, but Baldur’s Gate 3’s are mostly inconsequential. A vast majority of frustrating bugs have been patched since launch, though there are a few disparate issues that can interrupt the overall flow. Occasional awkward pauses in conversation and combat when AI controlled characters take their turn, visual bugs, and a finnicky camera in claustrophobic environments. It never became frustrating enough to put the game down, but occur often enough to be worth mentioning.

The Baldur’s Gate 3 PS5 Experience

Kieron: While I haven’t quite played through the game in its glorious entirety yet like Harry and so many of my friends and acquaintances that’ve been lucky enough to spend the last few weeks playing Baldur’s Gate 3 on PC, I’ve been able to squeeze a bunch of time in on the PS5 version thanks to the early access launch period and so far it’s been a hugely positive experience.

While what I’ve seen so far has definitely not been quite the high-fidelity smorgasbord that I’ve witness being pumped out on some high-powered PC rigs out there, especially when it comes to the overall resolution and sharpness, I’m genuinely impressed by what Larian is putting out here, especially with the option for an upscaled 60FPS Performance mode. Given the turn-based nature of things I’ve mostly opted for the 1440p/30FPS Quality option and aside from some hitches here and there when moving through larger areas it’s been pretty solid. If you decide to check out split-screen coop, you’ll be limited to 30FPS which is a pretty fair trade-off for having the option, I think. No matter whether you pick the Performance or Quality option on PS5, you’re unfortunately going to get the same drop in performance in Act 3’s bustling and dense locales that PC players have suffered, but hopefully it’s something Larian can address soon enough.

Control-wise, this was also going to be a tricky one. With a game as mechanically dense and PC-centric as Baldur’s Gate 3 there are naturally some hurdles, and I can imagine that anyone who’s already played with a mouse and keyboard and switches to a DualSense might be put off. I’ve gone in on PS5 from the jump though, so it’s what I’ve become accustomed to and for the most part it’s been fine.

You’d be amazed what can be done with radial menus and sequential bindings and quickly become second-nature, although trying to select objects or characters in packed environments can be a right hassle. The worst offense Baldur’s Gate 3 commits with controller play is really just that some things take longer to do than they would for those with the luxury of pointing and clicking or executing quickfire keyboard commands.

Overall, if all you’ve got to play Baldur’s Gate 3 on is a PS5 console you’re absolutely still getting the same stunning, rich experience as PC players with just a couple of minor drawbacks. It still plays fantastically when kicking back on a couch in front of a big telly, if that’s your preference over sitting at a desk, which is all I can really ask for.

baldur's gate 3 review
Baldur's Gate 3 is a landmark achievement for CRPGs and gaming at large. The only thing more staggering than its immense scope and density of systems is the quality in which it's all presented. Its unwavering flexibility and accommodation for player choice is intoxicating, and the replay value on offer here will no doubt cement Baldur's Gate 3 as a timeless and regularly revisited masterpiece. For a game as rich and complex as this, it also works surprisingly well on console.
Incredible adaptation of D&D to a video game format
Fantastic writing across the board
Unrivalled player choice
Meaningful character progression
The Forgotten Realms is stunningly realised
Can be initally overwhelming in depth and mechanical complexity
Disparate bugs occasionally interrupt the experience