Baldur’s Gate 3 Gameplay, First Look at Races and Classes

Baldur's Gate 3 Character Creation Screen

Baldur’s Gate revitalized the RPG genre, and Baldur’s Gate 2 was even bigger and better. Since 2000, gamers have been hoping for Baldur’s Gate 3. Over the years, rumours that the game was in development were always proven false. Until 2019, when Larian Studios announced it was developing Baldur’s Gate 3.

On February 27 we got our first glimpse of the gameplay in Baldur’s Gate 3. Larian played a demo at PAX East 2020. I’ve chosen one of the shorter videos from Gamespot that shows the first 20 minutes of a gameplay session. Scroll down to the end for the full gameplay video.

My Reaction, Including Details about Classes, Races, and More

At 0:04: This sort of reminds me of the Skyrim announcement way back, when we saw what turned out to be Alduin’s Wall. The colour/texture is similar.

0:12: Someone in captivity.

0:50: Needs a manicure.

1:20: Ew. Taking a page from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. The mind flayer inserts some type of bug into the captive’s eye.

1:32: Mind flayers – definitely a theme in Baldur’s Gate 3.

1:47: I get the feeling I’ll be squirming a lot when playing the game.

1:57: Character creation – I can tell that this is built on the same engine as the Divinity: Original Sin games. Similar look and feel. I wonder if there will be prebuilt characters with origin stories, like there were in the second Original Sin game.

Oh, good. You can play as a female, which always gets points from me. Not surprising, because you can play as a female in all Larian games, but I’ve mentioned it in case anyone is wondering.

2:11: Swen Vincke!  (founder of Larian Studios and all around entertaining guy in Larian videos)

2:28: Playable races are Tiefling, Drow, Human, Githyanki, Dwarf, Elf, Half-Elf, Half-Drow, and Halfling. Swen says there are more, but these are the ones available in the demo and the ones that will be going into early access.

2:53: Six classes will be available in early access – Wizard, Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, and Warlock.

3:13: You also select your ability points and skills.

3:18: Yes, there are origin stories! So this is the same character setup as in Divinity: Original Sin 2 (D:OS2). You can play a character with an origin story, or create a custom character. There will be five origin stories in early access. The five characters are:

  • Lae’zel – Githyanki – female
  • Gale – Human – Wizard – Gale’s problem is that he’s going to explode – male
  • Shadowheart – Dark Cleric – female
  • Wyll – a monster hunter who made a pact with the devil and regrets it – male
  • Astarion – High Elf –a noble and vampire spawn – not a vampire, but he’s a slave to a vampire – male

Okay, a good mix there. Three males and two females. Hopefully they’ll have 50% male, 50% female in this one for the origin stories. In Original Sin 2, where there were 4 males and 2 females. It’s 2020, people.

4:10 – Okay, character creation is complete, and now there’s a cut scene with mind flayers and some big ass sea monster looking thing, a city (Baldur’s Gate?), a guard in a watchtower seeing something that makes him drop his spear and run for it.

Okay, the sea monster thingie is flying, so it’s not a sea monster. It’s being controlled by the mind flayer. Not-sea-monster-thingie flicks one of it’s numerous tentacles and down goes a tower. Monster is somehow disintegrating people, and it looks like their essence is being sucked into captives where the mind flayer is?

Ooh, a portal has opened and dragons with riders (!) emerge from it. Ah, they’re attacking the mind flayer’s monster. Who are these guys? I’m intrigued. Okay, one of the dragons just tore off one the monster’s tentacles. This is cool. Monster fights back and knocks a rider off his dragon. The guy plunges into water.

Now one of the dragons breaks through into the place where the mind flayer is (?) and breathes fire into a tunnel. The mind flayer opens a portal. The monster flies through the portal, with the dragons and their riders in hot pursuit. We’re now in a gloomier land.

The person we saw in the introduction at the beginning of the video (a Githyanki, it turns out) is struggling to free herself from captivity.

The pursuit continues, and now we see the Baldur’s Gate 3 logo.

Okay, I loved the intro and I want to know more about what’s going on and who everyone is. This definitely drew me into the game.

*audience applause*

7:32: A loading screen that looks very similar to that in Divinity: Original Sin 2 in look and feel, so we’re definitely on the same engine (which may have been modified for Baldur’s Gate 3).

7:44: Swen speaks while the game is loading. The tutorial isn’t ready, so he tells us that during the tutorial, the mind flayer is captured along with the Githyanki. The mind flayer is teleported to Faerun, on the Sword Coast, 200 miles east of Baldur’s Gate.

8:04:  Swen says the city we saw in the intro sequence isn’t Baldur’s Gate.

8:13: The character we’re playing wakes up on a beach. The look and feel of the environment is totally similar to Divinity: Original Sin 2, which is a good thing IMO. No need to reinvent the wheel or change a successful formula.

8:25: We’re playing Astarion, the vampire spawn, who can’t be in sunlight or walk through running water. But when he wakes up, he’s in sunlight, so Swen says that’s something to fix.

8:38: Swen demonstrates controlling the camera. If you’ve played D: OS2, you’ll be familiar with it all.

8:40: Character runs and explores his environment. He speaks his thoughts aloud – fully voiced. The map is the same as in D:OS2 (at least the on-screen mini-map is – Swen hasn’t opened the full map).

9:17: We search a dead body and see the inventory screen. Yep, this is pretty much the same as D:OS2. Like I said, I don’t mind this at all. But I’ll be curious to see if combat has the same emphasis on environmental effects, because some gamers (including me) felt it was overdone in D:OS2. A bit is fine. In just about every combat grows tedious.

9:41: We encounter an NPC banging on a door, and we enter conversation mode, which means we zoom in to the NPC a bit. The conversation is fully-voiced – both our character and the NPC.

10:20: They both have that bug-thing (Swen calls it something but I can’t make out what he’s saying) in their minds, so they can telepathically sense each other’s emotions and such. I believe this is more than an NPC. It’s one of the other origin characters (Shadowheart), so a potential party member.

11:00: Ah, the bug thingie is called a tadpole. Frankly, I would have called it something else, because tadpole doesn’t sound all that ominous given what they are in real life. According to Shadowheart, the tadpole will consume them from the inside and turn them into mind flayers. They need a healer.

12:00: Astarion and Shadowheart join forces and introduce themselves. With Astarion, you can choose whether or not to tell her you’re a vampire spawn.

12:45: Turns out Astarion is a rogue, so he offers to lockpick the door, but he doesn’t have a lockpick, so we start searching for one in the environment.

13:10: COMBAT! It’s turn-based (not turn-based with pause) because Dragons & Dungeons is turn-based. Swen seeks the high ground with Astarion because in D&D, having an advantage lets you roll twice. Astarion has a bow, so high ground is an advantage.

Dice rolls are translated into percentages so players don’t have to do the math themselves. We see that he has a 90% chance of hitting an enemy, and so we shoot. And miss. Laughter from the audience. We’ve all been there LOL.

At one point during combat, Astarion summons a mage hand and slaps an enemy away. Great reaction from the audience.

Swen manages to finish off the first enemy by throwing the character’s boots at it. Audience loves it.

Oh dear, Shadowheart goes down. Swen explains that she’s not dead and there’s something called a death roll that might help. Also, the enemies will still attack her and if she goes into negative HP territory, she will be dead.

Oh no, a critical miss at a critical moment. And bam! Astorion is killed. Game over. Ouch.

And that’s the end of the shorter demo. Swen restarts so he can demo more, but the rest isn’t in the shorter video.

Overall Impressions

So…the combat interface is pretty much the same as in D:OS2. And in this first combat, there wasn’t any sign of environmental effects, but it was only the first combat.

Overall, I like what I saw, but I enjoyed Divinity: Original Sin 2. If you didn’t like D:OS2, you might not be happy. Based on the gameplay demo, some gamers are calling the game Divinity: Original Sin 3. I see where they’re coming from because it’s the same engine, same look and feel.

But even though the combat looks the same, it’s different because there’s a different ruleset behind it. It’s based on the 5th edition of the Dungeons & Dragons ruleset (with tweaks that were required to make the rules work in a video game).

There are also origin stories again. I liked those in D:OS2.

There’s a longer gameplay video (see below). I watched some parts of it, including another combat encounter. There were no environmental effects, so hopefully that’s a sign that they won’t be overdone in this game. Also, there are persuasion options in dialogue.

More Gameplay and Reaction

Here’s the full gameplay video (the first 21 minutes are the same as in the shorter video above):

The outdoor locations could be right out of D:OS2. If you’ve played D:OS2, and you came across the gameplay video and didn’t know it was for Baldur’s Gate 3, you’d think you were watching a D:OS2 video, albeit with characters you don’t recognize. Again, whether this is a good or bad thing will depend on where you stand on D:OS2.

From what I saw, Baldur’s Gate 3 is very similar to D:OS2, but with a different ruleset (which means combat will play differently, even though the interface is similar), and a different story, characters, and setting. I don’t mind the similarities at all.

One thing to keep in mind is that there’s still lots of work to be done on the game, so the look and feel could evolve and the game might not resemble D:OS2 as much when it’s released. I guess we’ll see.

Overall, I think it was a good demo and I’m looking forward to the game.

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