The Next Baldur’s Gate 3 Update Could Quietly Become One Of 2021’s Best Games

Baldur’s Gate 3 has had a rather unusual rollout. The announcement that it was launching in Early Access surprised people right from the get-go, which meant the ensuing delay appeared to come from even further out in left field. Its eventual debut suffered from dozens of bugs and stability issues – I personally fell through the map near the end of a gruelling 40-minute boss fight on more than one occasion.

But Baldur’s Gate 3 was and will be worth the wait. The important thing to remember about bugs is that they can be fixed – I’d be far more concerned if the game had poor dialogue, or rubbish mission design. Its character creator is phenomenal, the sheer versatility its class system offers is outstanding, and everything about the world itself is enrapturing, from its gorgeously lush environments to the fascinating characters who inhabit them. We may have only played through the introductory chapters in the first part of Early Access so far, but I’m already a huge fan of Baldur’s Gate 3’s ragtag cast of lovable misfits. I can’t wait to meet even more of them.

That paragraph might seem like high praise, but I think it’s also worth dissecting the nature of what I’m talking about. What I’ve described above is basically an old BioWare game – a Knights of the Old Republic or an early Mass Effect. It’s a Dragon Age: Origins but with Larian’s D&D-derived penchant for sheer absurdity – sure, you can chain fire spells with oil in order to trigger super-cerebral magic that sets the surrounding environment alight, but you can also shove little goblins off ledges and chuckle as they slowly plummet to their untimely demise. It’s very obvious that this is the studio who made Divinity, to the extent that the fact they’re genuinely having fun while working with such an established and beloved IP is omnipresent any time you play it. It’s also worth mentioning that BioWare was the studio behind Baldur’s Gate 2, so the fact that Larian has managed to capture that same magic and mix it with its own unique blend of wizardry is a victory that supersedes any number of minor bugs that won’t even be in the finished game.

This is why I’m so excited for the future of Baldur’s Gate 3. Dismissing the first part of an Early Access game because it has a few bugs is pretty naive. Hades had very little content near the beginning, but has since gone on to become one of the best games in recent memory. Temtem, while not as popular as it should be, has fostered a dedicated community who have collectively played millions of hours – and just in case you forgot, the servers weren’t even operable at launch. Valheim is a standout hit that’s been at the top of the Steam charts for six weeks straight. It honestly seems as if Iron Gate is selling copies of everyone’s favourite Viking survival sim for fun at this point.

This extends outside of Early Access, too. For example, it was pretty much impossible to find a single match in GTA Online back when it originally came out. We all know what happened with Cyberpunk 2077, and the same thing happened to a much lesser extent with The Witcher 3 before it. To reiterate what I said above, bugs aren’t a massive issue so long as they’re going to be fixed, especially when a studio is openly admitting that the current version of the game is nowhere near the quality of the one intended for 1.0. Early Access is the perfect means of saying, “Our game is rough right now, but that’s because we’re showing it to you before it’s ready.” Loads of people reckoned that Cyberpunk needed another year of dev time, and it evidently did – launching in Early Access probably would have been a smart move, except for the fact that it would alienate console players (who were obviously even more displeased with what they ended up receiving).

Baldur’s Gate 3 is due another content drop in the coming months, which will likely feature stability fixes, new content, and, naturally, loads more bugs. The other side of The Underdark is a new area being released as part of an Early Access roadmap – of course it’s going to have performance issues and weird stability errors. That’s the beauty of it – Larian isn’t attempting to hide this and it never will. Instead, it will continue to refine the game while simultaneously working on new areas. With this in mind, if the quality of the stuff that actually matters – writing, quests, characters, combat – is even half as good as it was in the first few chapters of Baldur’s Gate 3, then the new expansion is easily going to carve itself out a place as one of the best games of the year. I’m just hoping that Larian adds the bard class soon so I can be a cheeky little Tiefling who does nothing but play medieval folk tunes and lie to everyone. Amazing.

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Cian Maher is the Lead Features Editor at TheGamer. He’s also had work published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Verge, Vice, Wired, and more. You can find him on Twitter @cianmaher0.

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