Larian Studios has pulled off something rather amazing with Baldur’s Gate 3: bringing back a legendary series and totally revamping it while also ensuring it remains faithful. Now available on PS5 as well as PC, equally as impressive is the fact that there are effectively zero compromises for playing on console.
Baldur’s Gate 3 opens with a sequence that can only be described as epic. A strange, tentacled craft soars through the skies, piloted by a grotesque-looking Mind Flayer. Its purpose? To scoop people up and hold them captive in pods. You’re one of these people, and what happens next is horrifying. What can only be described as a giant tadpole is positioned to enter your head via your eye. Nice. It’s essentially a death sentence – that little creature will eventually turn you into a Mind Flayer yourself unless you do something about it. Thankfully, an attack on the craft by dragons, and more, presents a chance for you to escape. You even have the opportunity to pick up some friends along the way.
This whole sequence acts an efficient introduction to the basic systems of Baldur’s gate 3. You learn how to move, interact with points of interest, converse with people you meet, and hold your own in combat. There’s a lot to take in yet you never feel overwhelmed. In fact, you might have a more stressful time creating your own custom character if you don’t choose one of the presets available. With a myriad of options available beyond how they look, chances are you’ll find yourself agonising over your choices, especially when you don’t know their wider impact in the game.
Of course, Baldur’s Gate 3 truly begins once you’ve escaped the craft on which you were violated. Finding yourself in an unknown but rather picturesque location, your real adventure lies ahead. First on your agenda? Finding someone that can help you with the creature that’s in your head. You don’t want to become a Mind Flayer, after all. The question is, who, exactly, can help you? Your situation isn’t all that commonplace, and so finding a healer or someone else who can help is likely to prove to be a task. Needless to say, other complications crop up, too.
The joy of Baldur’s Gate 3 is immersing yourself in its world, which offers up a vast number of opportunities. Straight off the bat, you’re granted a great degree of freedom, allowing you to find your feet and make your adventure your own. You’ll quickly meet a number of characters, all in the same predicament as you. It’s up to you whether to travel with them or not, but one thing is for certain: there’s safety in numbers. They won’t follow you blindly, however; each character here has their own machinations, and your actions might just rub them up the wrong way.
At times, playing Baldur’s Gate 3 while keeping your companions happy can feel a lot like trying to keep multiple plates spinning. Some might not like it if you insert yourself into other people’s problems, feeling like you’re wasting time. Others might expect things from you that you’re not entirely sure about. And there are some that have prejudices that result in animosity between your party. Thanks to all this, you get the sense that you’re part of a world rather then the centre of it. Each character here is their own being, and just like in real life, you can’t please everyone. The only thing that betrays this somewhat is that everyone appears to be overly horny; your companions throw themselves at you left, right and centre.
As well as party politics, it’s the wealth of opportunities available in the world that is likely to keep you glued to Baldur’s Gate 3 and how you deal with them. Spotting some unknown characters up ahead, for example, do you approach and attempt to engage them in conversation, or do you presume they’re hostile and set up a pre-emptive attack? Whether hostile or not, many encounters can be resolved with words rather than actions, although with dice in play there’s also an element of luck. It pays to think outside the box, too. Why risk the hides of your team if you can simply make use of a object in the environment to quickly and effectively eradicate a threat. This is a game in which it pays to keep your eyes and ears open. To sit back and think before going in with a gung-ho attitude.
For those worried about how Baldur’s Gate 3 would perform on PS5, there’s no need. Or at least we haven’t encountered any causes for concern so far during Act 1. Both Performance and Quality modes are available, the former targeting 60fps and the latter 30fps at a native 1440p. We’ve been playing using Performance mode, and we haven’t notice any major deviations from its 60fps target, making for a smooth and responsive experience. It looks great, too, considering the type of game this is. Character models are wonderfully detailed, and they’re further brought to life fantastic writing and quality voice acting.
Beyond initially loading into the game which can take 30 seconds or so, transitions between areas are much, much quicker. In any case, there aren’t all that many of them due to the game’s open nature. Effective use of the DualSense controller has been implemented too, with both haptic feedback and adaptive triggers employed to further immerse. In fact, only those planning on playing Baldur’s Gate 3 in local co-op via split-screen on PS5 may find themselves a little disappointed. Performance mode isn’t available here unfortunately, leaving only Quality mode as an options which feels comparatively sluggish.
We’ve still got some way to go with Baldur’s Gate 3 on PS5 before we can pass our final judgement, but we’ve very much enjoyed our time with it so far. This is an expansive RPG that offers players an unprecedented amount of choice, and as such, it’s a game that you can easily lose yourself in. From trying to keep your party members happy to dealing with those you meet on your travels, the freedom which you’re provided is refreshing. Along with its engaging combat system, this is an RPG like no other, genuinely pushing the genre forward into exciting territory.
This is a review in progress of Baldur’s Gate 3, and we’ll update with our final verdict and a score in due course. It’s based on the PS5 version of the game, via a code provided by the publisher.