After a twenty year hiatus, Baldur's Gate 3 has proven well worth the wait. As hoped, BG3 seems by all accounts and impressions to deliver on the promise of its early access tenure, offering a return to the Forgotten Realms that's true to the series spirit, even in its new turn-based form. Who knew being infected with a magical parasite could bring everyone this much joy?
Baldur's Gate 3's 1.0 release capped a successful three-year early access stint, which earned the long-awaited sequel plenty of early accolades. Thanks to heavy inspiration from D&D 5E, Larian's trademark density of tactical interactions and roleplaying opportunities found a natural fit in the Forgotten Realms setting. Baldur's Gate 3 isn't just one of the best portrayals Faerun has ever had—it's good enough to set a new standard for RPG's as a whole. Of course, even new genre standards have some hiccups: We've seen some Baldur's Gate 3 hotfix issues as Larian sorts out post-release bugs.
From early access to full release, we maintained our very own Baldur's Gate 3 compendium about what to expect from the revivified RPG. If you had questions about Baldur's Gate 3 classes, characters, and mechanics, we've got all our collected answers below, so that nothing would hold back any new adventurers—aside from the hordes of cultists, at least. Here's everything we knew about Baldur's Gate 3 before launch.
Baldur's Gate 3 release date
What's the Baldur's Gate 3 release date?
Baldur’s Gate 3 left Early Access for a full release on August 3, 2023. Baldur's Gate 3's original release date had been set for the end of the month, but Larian pushed the timetable forward for one big reason: Starfield. Of course, we don't know if that's the official story, but with Bethesda's space RPG lined up to eclipse everything else in its release window, it seems like a reasonable explanation.
Baldur's Gate 3 got a firm-ish August release window at The Game Awards 2022, after which Larian founder Swen Vincke said he's "reasonably confident" about the timeframe. In February 2023, Larian solidified those plans by confirming an official date.
Earlier, there were hopes for a 2022 release, but Larian had been signaling that there was a longer wait in store. The studio eventually confirmed a 2023 launch window by asking fans to "come along in 2023" in dev video retrospective.
Here's the Baldur's Gate 3 launch trailer
Baldur's 3 gameplay
Read our Baldur's Gate 3 review
As you'll read in our Baldur's Gate 3 review, there's plenty to love in Baldur's Gate 3—enough to earn it one of the highest review scores that PC Gamer has ever given. It's a sprawling masterwork of storytelling, sandbox interactions, and combat strategy. In the words of Fraser Brown: "After spending 160 hours unravelling conspiracies, setting fire to monsters and finding increasingly fancy hats for my Bard, I can now confidently say that Baldur's Gate 3 is the greatest RPG I've ever played."
How does Baldur's Gate 3 play?
True to the series, Baldur's Gate 3 is the classic party-based RPG affair: You'll gather and manage a squad of archetypal fantasy heroes, exploring their histories as you chase down your own main quest. Like in Larian's Divinity Original Sin 2, your primary character will start the game as either an "origin character"—developer-authored characters with unique backgrounds and special story and dialogue hooks—or make your own fully-custom character from scratch.
The game is heavily systems-driven, with a combat system Larian has based off the D&D 5e ruleset. "We'll stay true to our roots," says Larian founder Sven Vincke, "so we'll give players lots of systems and lots of agency to use these systems and try to accomplish what you need to on your personal adventure and your party's adventure."
We definitely found that to be the case in our Baldur's Gate 3 review. "Spells, skills and physical manipulation of the world around you opens up so many doors, literally and metaphorically. You can make a fight against a trio of ogres go your way by smashing the rickety pillars holding up the building they're hanging out in, turn into a gas to sneak your way through tiny cracks, or use magic to persuade animals to turn on their masters," Fraser says.
"This is a game where something as innocuous as an empty box can become the linchpin in your strategy as you move it around to reach places above you, neutralise poison-spewing vents or just drop it on top of an unsuspecting enemy. Everywhere you look there are opportunities to feel like the smartest person in the room. "
While out-of-combat gameplay is typically in real-time, you can act out more detailed schemes by switching to turn-based gameplay outside of combat as well. It's particularly useful for doing some good old sneaking and stealing, or navigating a nasty room of traps without your following party members bumbling into every landmine. In multiplayer, you can blend real-time and turn-based modes between players; your mate could be shopping while you're fighting.
You can also turn on Karmic Dice, which Larian says, "helps smooth out the extremes of the bell curve [but] retains the core elements of RNG, ensuring a player can no longer be unlucky or super lucky with several dice rolls in a row."
Which Dungeons & Dragons edition is Baldur's Gate 3 based on?
Baldur's Gate 3 is heavily inspired by the Dungeons & Dragons 5th edition ruleset, reconfigured to fit a virtual space by the wizards at Larian. CEO Swen Vincke explained that some rules and systems don't fully translate from tabletop to digital game, so the studio has worked to create an original game system that's satisfying to play as a digital game while staying true to the D&D spirit.
Baldur's Gate 3 classes and characters
What classes and races are available?
Larian comitted to offering every D&D 5e playable race into Baldur's Gate 3, including their many subraces. For example, while creating an Elf character, you can choose between the High Elf and Wood Elf subraces, while a Dwarf character can be a Hill Dwarf, Mountain Dwarf, or a Duergar. Dragonborn characters have a full 10 subraces, one for each draconic ancestry, to choose from. Here's all the specifics about the Baldur's Gate 3 races that are playable at launch.
The same goes for classes: pick any you like, including subclasses. You can be a cleric, fighter, ranger, rogue, warlock, wizard, druid, sorcerer, barbarian, bard, paladin, or monk. Get a full breakdown on which you should pick to fit your playstyle in our guide to Baldur's Gate 3 classes.
Expect your class to influence your role-playing off the battlefield as well as in combat. "The stories are very much tied to class at times," senior writer Adam Smith told us in our first look at Baldur's Gate 3. "Class is such a part of identity in D&D, in a way that it wasn't in DOS2."
What's the level cap in Baldur's Gate 3?
The level cap was initially planned to be level 10, but a June 2023 Baldur's Gate 3 community update revealed that the cap would be increased to level 12. From the sounds of it, the cap increase was mostly so players can access a D&D 5E's set of 6th level spells. Compared to 5th level spells, 6th level magic can get pretty wild—like Planar Ally, which lets you conjure an otherworldly being to get yourself a new, holy (or unholy) combat companion.
How do custom characters work in Baldur's Gate 3?
Like in Divinity: Original Sin 2, when deciding your player character, you have two options: you can choose an "Origin character"—a bespoke character with its own fully-authored story from Larian—or you can make an entirely custom character from scratch. While more personalized dialogue choices and story hooks made Divinity OS2's studio-made main characters the better option, Larian said in an AMA on Reddit that in BG3, "custom characters have a much stronger connection to the world and the main arc of the story. … We’re confident that you won’t feel short-changed in terms of narrative breadth and depth if you choose to play as a custom character."
Larian's made an effort to ensure there are plenty of dialogue and quest hooks that'll reflect the choices you've made for your custom character. "When we say there are serious consequences to your choices, we really mean it," Larian said. "As you move through your adventure, you’ll discover quest-lines and stories that relate directly to the character you’re roleplaying, and the things that you’ve done."
Larian founder Swen Vincke's advice? Save the Origin characters for a follow-up playthrough. "They work better if you've played the game already once because then you see it through their eyes," Vincke said in a Dropped Frames interview. "What was Shadowheart thinking the first time she saw you? And now you know when you're in their head."
What choices are there for Origin characters?
As mentioned above, you can choose an Origin character as your player character: a character with their own handcrafted Larian story. If you'd rather make a character that's fully your own, Origin characters will be available as companions.
Baldur's Gate 3 has six origin characters:
- Astarion - High Elf Rogue
- Gale - Human Wizard
- Lae'zel - Githyanki Fighter
- Shadowheart - Half-elf Cleric
- Wyll - Human Warlock
- Karlach - Tiefling Barbarian
Are there companion romance options?
Your party members will have opinions about all sort of decisions that you make as the player character, including which factions you choose to support and who you choose to kill. You can debrief about everything back at the party camp, which is also where you can engage in more intimate activities. And yes, there are Baldur's Gate 3 romance options.
Larian dished some details on Baldur's Gate 3 character relationships and let's just say the game is definitely rated "M" by the ESRB for a reason. If you've managed to find your way into a romantic relationship with one of your party members, you'll definitely be able to act on the physical side of it.
According to a BBC interview with two BG3 cast members, Jennifer English and Devora Wilde—who play companions Shadowheart and Laez'el, respectively—Larian used professional intimacy coordinators for the game's sex scenes. Hopefully, if you end up getting intimate with your companion paramour, it won't be as skin-crawlingly awkward as games have historically managed.
"We are trying to make these relationships feel real and feel like the relationships you have in the real world," lead writer Sarah Baylus explained. "You will meet some people who you have nothing in common with, some will be useful to work together, but that is going to be the extent of it. But there could be situations where you get on really well, you share similar goals and you love travelling together."
Baldur's gate 3 story and setting
What's the story and setting for Baldur's Gate 3?
Baldur's Gate 3 tells a new story set in the current era of the Forgotten Realms. The mind flayers—psychic, squid-faced alien tyrants—have found a way to once again travel between worlds. Surprise: it's to do tyranny.
The player-character and main companions are all infected with a parasitic tadpole that should turn them into mind flayers, but for some reason the process isn't working like it normally does. One of the key quests is to find out more information about the tadpoles and get them removed.
Though the party doesn't appear to be transforming into mind flayers right away, the tadpole still has an effect. You can link minds with other people with tadpoles and get some other benefits, but the more you use your power, the easier you'll be to control when you happen across another mind flayer.
The mind flayers are a bad guy mainstay in the Dungeons & Dragons universe. They have powerful psionic abilities, meaning they can control the minds of other sentient beings. Oh, and they eat brains. They frequently keep slaves to do their bidding and serve as a convenient snack should they feel a bit peckish.
Unsurprisingly, the interdimensional brain-eating menace has earned itself some enemies over the millennia. At the start of Baldur's Gate 3 we see a battle between mind flayers, demons, and githyanki, all taking place in and around a ship that's rapidly falling apart. The githyanki in particular feature prominently in Baldur's Gate 3, since one of your first companions is a githyanki fighter who was captured by mind flayers. The city of Baldur's Gate will feature of course, as a sprawling open city that Larian showed off not long before launch.
Baldur's Gate 3 has a metric ton of cinematic story content
In Larian's June 2023 Baldur's Gate 3 community update, the studio put some numbers on just how much story we can expect. The numbers are very big. "Baldur’s Gate 3 has more cinematic dialogue than three times all three Lord of the Rings novels combined," Larian says. "It has 174 hours of cinematics, making it more than twice the length of every season of Game of Thrones combined."
Of course, you almost certainly won't see all of that in a single playthrough. Big chunks of that mass of dialogue and cinematics you'll only see after making specific choices in your playthrough. You'll need to play through again to see everything—or do a lot of save scumming.
How does it connect to the previous games?
While Baldur's Gate 3 follows a new host of characters years after the events of Baldur's Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal, there are still some connections to the earlier games. In a Reddit AMA, Vincke said, "We really don't want to spoil anything but we wouldn't call it Baldur’s Gate 3 if there wouldn't be a link. Let me just say that we touch upon the story of BG 1 & 2 in meaningful ways, there are returning characters and what happened in BG 1/2/tob leads to what happens into BG3."
The Game Awards' trailer revealed the return of two popular characters: Jaheira and Minsc, voiced respectively by voice work veteran Tracy Wiles and the inescapable Matt Mercer.
Other Baldur's Gate 3 info
Baldur's Gate 3 system requirements
Baldur's Gate 3 system requirements are relatively doable for such a pretty game. Be aware, though, that Larian has amended storage requirements since early access. The game used to require only 70GB, but has now more than doubled to 150GB. It also now recommends slightly newer GPUs and requires an SSD.
- OS: Windows 10 64-bit
- Processor: Intel I5 4690 / AMD FX 8350
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: Nvidia GTX 970 / RX 480 (4GB+ of VRAM)
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 150 GB available space
- Additional Notes: SSD required
- OS: Windows 10 64-bit
- Processor: Intel i7 8700K / AMD r5 3600
- Memory: 16 GB RAM
- Graphics: Nvidia 2060 Super / RX 5700 XT (8GB+ of VRAM)
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 150 GB available space
- Additional Notes: SSD required
Cross-saves are supported
Fans of Divinity: OS2 will remember that Larian added cross-save compatibility between the Switch and Steam versions. Larian is pulling a similar trick in Baldur's Gate 3. Instead of running cross-saves through Steam's propriety system, player saves are tied to your Larian account. That account will be accessible on every platform that Baldur's Gate 3 eventually releases on.
How is Wizards of the Coast involved?
As custodians of Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast are involved in clearing storylines and keeping the D&D lore consistent. The quality of Divinity: Original Sin 2 convinced Wizards of the Coast to greenlight Baldur's Gate 3.