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The role playing game (RPG) genre has traditionally thrived, yet it has evolved towards a more streamlined, action-oriented direction in recent decades. Simplifying core mechanics attracts larger audiences but sacrifices some of the depth and intricacy found in older games.

However, there’s been a resurgence of ‘computer’ or cRPGs lately, with franchises like Wasteland, Dragon Age, and Divinity: Original Sin gaining traction.

Over the last number of months, we’ve witnessed the highly anticipated return of one of the most renowned classic turn-based RPG series. Baldur’s Gate 3, crafted by seasoned developers at Larian Studios, not only marks the arrival of a superb game but also stands as one of the finest examples of a cRPG in years. Here’s our review of Baldur’s Gate 3.

Baldur's Gate 3 Review (Xbox Series X) | TheEffect.NetStory

Baldur’s Gate 3 boasts one of the most captivating and finely-crafted narratives I’ve encountered in gaming for quite some time. It’s not a typical tale of vengeance or redemption. Instead, you share a collective struggle with your party, delving into their personal battles through sub-stories I’ll discuss later.

The game kicks off aboard a mind flayer ship, introducing your character and companions infected with a parasite threatening to transform you into mind flayers. Thus, your journey commences, aiming to rid yourselves of this threat. Yet, appearances are deceiving.

As you progress, the parasite grants you the ability to delve into people’s minds, glimpsing their thoughts, foreseeing actions, and sensing desires. This uncovers more about your companions and the orchestrated nature of your gathering. There’s an inexplicable alignment of paths, hinting at a climactic conclusion that I’ll refrain from spoiling in this review.

Baldur's Gate 3 Review (Xbox Series X) | TheEffect.NetGameplay

For those familiar with the Baldur’s Gate series, the game retains its turn-based combat—a feature some RPGs, like Final Fantasy, are abandoning for a more contemporary approach. Baldur’s Gate 3 retains the strategic planning of attacks during your turn. Initially concerned about its console adaptation, I found Larian Studios’ management of this impressive.

Using the left and right bumpers for an action wheel, navigation involves tapping buttons to switch pages and the left thumbstick to select actions, spells, or items, confirmed by pressing A—an intuitive and user-friendly system. The same thumbstick aids in cursor movement across the battlefield, selecting foes to assess their health and your next moves.

Like traditional RPGs, actions consume action points. Defaulting at 1, levelling up and item enhancements can bolster these, providing a tactical edge. When your actions are all used up, turns pass to the next character or enemy. Conditions met or death signals the end of combat—a system easily accessible for RPG novices.

Baldur's Gate 3 Review (Xbox Series X) | TheEffect.NetEvery choice in Baldur’s Gate 3 holds significance. While it might not immediately impact you or your party, it can alter the world, its inhabitants, or your quests. Examining dialogue history, referencing your journal, and contemplating the relationships you wish to foster or break becomes crucial.

Hasty decisions can lead to adverse consequences, affecting your life down the line. Not all choices oppose your morals; seemingly bleak decisions now might yield positive long-term effects, prompting apologies or understanding from parties judging you prematurely.

The characters in Baldur’s Gate 3 feel remarkably lifelike, remembering even the smallest of details. They respond to being proven wrong or chastising hasty judgments. Decisions might not instantly impact the team but can accumulate over time, influencing party members’ approval or disapproval. Repeated bad choices can prompt their departure, affecting battle stats and potential alliances. Future allies might also shun you based on past actions—a testament to the game’s depth and consequences.

Visuals & Audio

Baldur’s Gate 3 features a diverse world ripe for exploration, offering varied landscapes from the Shadow Mire swamps to Baldur’s Gate’s bustling streets. Each area presents its own challenges, inhabitants, and ambiance, be it treacherous dungeons or expansive open spaces, all packed with quests and hidden treasures.

What distinguishes these locales isn’t just their appearance but also how they immerse players in their atmosphere. Whether it’s the eerie whispers of the Underdark or the vibrant hubbub of a city tavern, these environments profoundly affect gameplay and interactions.

The audio quality in Baldur’s Gate 3 is also exceptional. The attention to audio detail for distant noises is finely tuned, rendering rivers flowing, birds chirping, and tavern bards singing with authentic precision, seamlessly blending into the game world’s soundscape.

The music complements the scenes really well as well, combat sequences are accompanied by orchestral compositions featuring cellos, drums, violins, and harps, evoking an epic atmosphere. Shifts in tone during tragic moments also capturing the sombre mood flawlessly. Each audio element contributes to an immersive gaming experience, making every aspect of the sound extremely impressive and enhancing the overall engagement of the game.

Conclusion

In 2023, we all know a remarkable amount of fantastic games were released, yet none match the vastness and grandeur of Baldur’s Gate 3. This game stands out for its unparalleled attention to detail in every aspect. The world brims with life, each NPC offering captivating dialogue. Its mechanics are polished, seamlessly intertwining with exceptional storytelling—a hallmark of contemporary gaming.

Baldur’s Gate 3 cleverly mixes character development with the nuanced DND turn-based combat, captivating players from the onset. Your decisions hold weight, resonating across the game’s landscape, generating countless possibilities and outcomes. The impact of your choices echoes throughout Baldur’s Gate 3, offering an unparalleled gaming experience.

Baldur’s Gate 3 Pricing & Availability

Baldur’s Gate 3 is available on Xbox Series X|S, PS5 and PC, starting at €59.99 on Steam.

Baldur's Gate 3 Review (Xbox Series X) | TheEffect.Net

REVIEW: Baldur's Gate 3 (Xbox Series X)
  • Story
  • Gameplay
  • Visuals & Audio
4.8

Summary

Baldur’s Gate 3 cleverly mixes character development with the nuanced DND turn-based combat, captivating players from the onset. Your decisions hold weight, resonating across the game’s landscape, generating countless possibilities and outcomes. The impact of your choices echoes throughout Baldur’s Gate 3, offering an unparalleled gaming experience.

John Reilly

John is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of TheEffect.Net. His favourite gaming series is Uncharted and his favourite film is Interstellar. He is also known to quote 'Father Ted' and Keith Lemon more than is normal. John@theeffect.net