Baldur’s Gate 3 was on show at PAX East from Larian Studios Founder and Game Director Swen Vincke. It was an astronomically good time as he showed off a pre-alpha version of the game live. Even the bugs ended up being in good fun, but more importantly, a lot of new details were on display. We gathered all of it together in one place for your convenience. Here are the major details, reveals, and announcements from the Baldur’s Gate 3 PAX East 2020 gameplay and Q&A reveal.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is coming to early access
Larian Studios still isn’t ready to commit to a final launch date for Baldur’s Gate 3, but they are ready to give players a taste in 2020. Baldur’s Gate 3 will be coming to early access, and that means that players that are interested in taking the journey to turn this Baldur’s Gate into the best RPG possible will be able to be a part of the process as Larian Studios perfects the game. There is no confirmed date of early access launch yet, but it is coming in 2020, which is more than we can say we know for the final launch of the game.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is based off of the latest D&D 5e rules
Larian paid close attention to the source material for Baldur’s Gate and Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition informs their game both on the surface and in most every technical aspect. Nearly every chance of fate is controlled by a dice roll, and though these dice rolls can be manipulated by different things such as initiative and (dis)advantageous position, a good roll can mean success, a bad roll can mean failure, a great roll can mean fortune, and a terrible roll can mean tragedy. We also saw environmental interaction, skill checks, and plenty more facets of the D&D 5e rulebook at play. If you know it, you’ll find yourself right at home. If you don’t, Baldur’s Gate 3 is going to teach you, likely through your own exploration of its sheer versatility.
Baldur’s Gate 3 currently has 15 races/subraces and 8 classes, with more to come
You can be any number of D&D beings in Baldur’s Gate 3, and take up a number of classes to show for it. Apparently the game will include 15 races, 8 classes, and more are coming. From the gameplay reveal, we saw Humans, Elves, Half-Elves, Drow, Tieflings, Halflings, Vampire Spawn, and Dwarves, just to name a few. And the different jobs included your standard set of Clerics, Mages, Rogues, Warriors, and more. What’s more, during our time with the developers, they told us that more are on the way. Vincke further confirmed this detail in saying that what was on display during the gameplay reveal is simply what will be offered when the game enters early access.
Your race, background, and class inform your available decisions in dialogue and combat
As should be expected of any RPG, who you are informs much of the available options you have in Baldur’s Gate 3, but it goes far beyond what attacks you have and if you have a high enough intelligence score to pass a check. Vincke chose a Vampire Spawn Rogue for his playthrough. Sure, there was the obvious bits of deceiving foes, picking locks, and sneaking, but Vincke’s character also always had a concern for thirst in his dialogue choices, i.e. feeding on living hosts. At nearly every dialogue option, giving into his character’s blood hunger was a route, even to the point of perhaps taking a nibble off of party mates in their sleep. We’ve seen games where class and race inform character decisions, but Baldur’s Gate 3 seems to interweave character race and background into every bit of the combat and narration.
Party members of both online and offline games are mind-melded and will share thoughts
At the very beginning of Baldur’s Gate 3, you are a captive of the terrifying Mind Flayers. They do… things to you and some unfortunate others, but you find yourself set free soon. Even so, the effects of what they did linger with you and it turns out you can hear and communicate your thoughts with fellow affected companions. In our time with the game in our Baldur’s Gate 3 preview, we learned that this will extend somehow to co-op play. Which is to say, sometimes you can communicate thoughts whether you want to or not to your companions. Did you take a drink off of them in their sleep? They might know from your connection and there may be consequences.
Turn-Based Mode can be used inside and outside combat
Turn-Based Mode is an interesting way of interacting with the world both inside and outside of combat. Basically, what it means is that when you activate it, your character will have 6 seconds to interact with a frozen world. Then the world will get 6 seconds to move around you in response. During the gameplay reveal, Vincke showed us that it can be used inside and outside combat. At one point he uses Turn-Based Mode to move in on a boar to try to interact with it. It then runs away after his turn is spent. Later on. Vincke used Turn-Based Mode in a trapped room to navigate choices of escape, using his six seconds to situate a route out of a greasy room before six seconds of fireball spewing cannons would go off. There is, of course, the applications in combat too where you’ll be able to use six seconds of actions before the enemies get to respond. Turn-Based Mode looks to be an extremely versatile way to engage with the game.
You can stab your party members to death by accident inside and outside combat
Yes, as Swen Vincke demonstrated to hilarious effect, you can attack your party members in Baldur’s Gate 3. Fortunately for him, the reactions to you attacking your teammates isn’t quite up to snuff yet, but Vincke promised that when the feature is polished, your party members will respond appropriately if you suddenly decide to betray them. That said, the bottom line is clear: You can betray your party members and murder them, or blunder and kill them by accident, you evil psychopath/questionable buffoon, you.
Baldur’s Gate 3 features a solo thought system and introspection
One of the more interesting aspects of Baldur’s Gate 3 is that the roleplay isn’t confined to interacting with the world and characters in it. The gameplay reveal showed us that there are times where you’ll be alone and have dialogue choices that organize your thoughts. You can even take on skill checks for certain thoughts that can benefit you or harm you, such as getting a good night’s rest or having a troubled sleep. It was a demonstration that reminded us heavily of the thoughts system in another great RPG, Disco Elysium, and we can’t help but wonder if Larian learned a thing or two to inform their thought and introspection system from the folks at ZA/UM.
Verticality matters in Baldur’s Gate 3
Who knew that if you jumped off a three story castle, you’d die (unless you have the Feather Fall skill)? Larian knows, and that matters in Baldur’s Gate 3. It matters in your interactions with enemies and friends, but especially enemies. If you have the high ground in Baldur’s Gate 3, you get advantageous positioning, and it provides you with extra dice rolls to score your successes. Moreover, you’ll have skills which can affect others in combat. During the gameplay reveal, we watched Vincke position his rogue behind an unknowing Halfing shooting arrows from a balcony. We then watched the rogue shove the Halfling archer off the balcony where they plummeted to the ground below heavily injured and left in the prone position (requiring movement time to get up). There are also decisions about verticality regarding the environment. Is there a chest down in a crevice beyond a dangerous fall? You can test your skill to get down there, but if you fail, you could end up dead. The environment in Baldur’s Gate 3 is looking like a huge factor in decision-making inside and outside of the fight.
Characters seem to remain perma dead, but you can "do something about it later?"
Death is a major factor in Baldur’s Gate 3. If your characters fall in battle, they won’t be coming back. However, Vincke seemed to imply that we might be able to do something about it later? We saw a character fall in combat during the gameplay reveal and he was forced to leave them and move on, but it would make sense that there might be something you could do about it. After all, the Resurrection spell exists in D&D 5e for certain classes. Even so, it’s also extremely noteworthy that if your characters fall in combat, you might have to leave them behind until you have the resources to do something about it.
“You will never see all of the secrets in one playthrough. It's impossible.”
Fans of Baldur’s Gate 3 and multiple playthroughs will be happy to know that there is a ton of replayability to it. It’s not just about trying different classes and approaching the story in different ways. Swen Vincke stated rather plainly during the gameplay reveal that, “you will never see all of the secrets in one playthrough. It’s impossible.” That is likely to say that no matter how you play Baldur’s Gate 3, some of your choices on race, background, class, narrative decisions, party members, and likely more will cut you off from one facet of the game or another. You’ll need to play through Baldur’s Gate 3 multiple times if you want to see it all.
There are alignments in Baldur’s Gate 3, but no way to change them as you play yet
One of the last things we learned from the Baldur’s Gate 3 gameplay reveal came in the Q&A session of the game. Alignment is a factor everyone should be familiar with in Dungeons & Dragons. Lawful Good to Chaotic Evil, this is a factor in Baldur’s Gate 3 that we confirmed in our preview. It informs some of your available dialogue options. That said, unfortunately, the alignment that you choose at the beginning of Baldur’s Gate 3 is a locked in choice. Swen Vincke was asked whether or not we could make choices that would change our alignment as we played through the game and unfortunately, it seems there is no system to change alignment as you play for the time being.
And that’s everything! Baldur’s Gate 3 is looking like an absolute wildly extensive RPG, easily the most vast that Larian has ever built. As we await the game’s launch, and its closer upcoming arrival in early access this year, there’s definitely enough that came out of the PAX East reveal to keep us salivating as we await further details. Want more? Check out our interview with the developers in the video above.
TJ Denzer posted a new article, Baldur's Gate 3 PAX East gameplay and Q&A wrap-up - details and announcements
Great article and breakdown. Thank you. That was a long demo and I am salivating the arrival of early access.
so do we know if this has D:OS2 style multiplayer? because goddamn that was an awesome way to play
Few details on multiplayer form yet. We do however know that there will be two player offline and four player online support.
Oh really? Do you have a link handy? I know he mentioned mutiplayer a few times yesterday but this is the first I’ve heard it definitely has offline (split-screen) mp. That’s crucial for me and my wife and I looooved playing div 1 and 2 split screen. I’ve assumed it’s probably happening but haven’t seen it confirmed yet.
Nevermind, looked it up myself - awesome!
They said that because your can move all your characters at once (instead to individual initiative per character) when four players are each controlling one character, they can all move in combat simultaneously!