Cyberpunk 2077 may have been delayed a second time, but that doesn’t mean RPG fans have nothing to look forward to over the next few months. Baldur’s Gate 3 is set to launch into Steam Early Access this August, and it seems like it just might fill the void left by Cyberpunk 2077’s postponement (and then some).
To help you decide for sure, Baldur’s Gate 3 developer Larian Studios has released a second hour-long gameplay demonstration for the D&D-themed RPG, which you can watch above. As before, Larian CEO Swen Vincke was in charge of this demo, playing it live and making decisions in real-time, some of which were based on audience input.
The demo was well over an hour in total, and it showcased a fairly meaty chunk of one of Baldur’s Gate 3’s earlier sections.
First, a brief recap for those who aren’t familiar with Baldur’s Gate 3: it’s a party-based RPG and the long-awaited sequel to the legendary Baldur’s Gate 2. Baldur’s Gate 3 attempts to adapt Dungeons & Dragons’ 5th Edition ruleset as faithfully as possible. That means the success of most actions in the game — everything from sneaking to persuasion — will be dictated by your character’s skills and the luck of the die.
Today’s demo began with Swen’s character, a high elf wizard, exploring his party’s encampment to chat with his companions. Swen is accompanied by a standoffish Githyanki fighter named Lae’zel, a wise-cracking fellow (human) wizard named Gale, and a cold elven Cleric named Shadowheart.
The first thing you’re likely to notice about the demo is just how good it looks. The interface and graphics (mostly the lighting) have been enhanced compared to the previous demo. Several animations have also been smoothed out, though there are still a few motion capture bugs and glitches (which Swen promises will be fixed before release).
The spell effects in Baldur’s Gate 3 are similarly gorgeous: everything from healing magic to firebolts is rendered and animated beautifully. These wonderful aesthetics make each spell feel impactful, without being over-the-top (as they arguably were in Divinity: Original Sin 2).
Another notable difference between the two demos is the updated initiative system. Previously, Baldur’s Gate 3 featured party-based initiative, where each “side” of a given conflict would act out their turns all at once. This system, while interesting, was met with some resistance by fans. As such, Larian decided to scrap it in favor of a more traditional, 5E-like alternative, where each character’s initiative roll determines where they fall on the turn tracker.
However, Larian did keep some of the original system intact: when two characters are next to each other on the turn order, the player can switch between them at any time, combining their skillsets for maximum tactical effectiveness.
Throughout the demo, we also see just how unforgiving D&D can sometimes be. Swen failed quite a few of his rolls (mostly persuasion/intimidation), which often put his party members in tough situations. Indeed, during the first major conflict of the demo, Swen’s main character was unceremoniously knocked out.
Fortunately, Swen came to the rescue with Gale, who covered his downed companion in a cloud of fog, making it difficult for the enemy to see — much less hit — anyone in the area.
Regardless, a few mistakes and hiccups aside, Swen covered plenty of ground in the demo (too much for us to write about here). We got to see a glimpse of the Underdark, a sprawling goblin camp (with plenty of verticality — a first for Larian), environmental manipulation (such as stacking boxes manually to jump out of a room), NPC and companion interactions, a bit of heroism, and much more.
We even saw Lae’zel intimidate a goblin leader into kissing her feet, which was quite amusing.
Overall, Baldur’s Gate 3 looks better than ever, and we can’t wait to get our hands on it in a couple of months (provided it isn’t delayed). If you have any thoughts on the game so far.