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What the Baldur's Gate 3 Livestream Says About the Depth of Gameplay

What the Baldur's Gate 3 Livestream Says About the Depth of Gameplay Image
  • Posted on 12th Nov, 2022 08:20 AM

Last month's livestream of Baldur's Gate 3 gives deep insight into the level of interaction between the player and the world.

p>Larian Studios hosted a Baldur's Gate 3 livestream in late June to show off the game and show fans what to expect in the final product. The host, Swen Vincke, was more than enthused to show off a portion of Baldur's Gate 3 that could showcase everything from combat to dialogue. Larian Studios is also responsible for developing Divinity: Original Sin 2 back in 2017 and its obvious that the same game engine is being used for Baldur's Gate 3.

Baldur's Gate 3 is the third game in the series coming after Baldur's Gate 2: Shadows of Amn made in 2001 by Bioware. Baldur's Gate 2: Enhanced Edition was then released in 2013 by Beamdog as a compatibility upgrade of the original for current operating systems. Seeing as it has been almost 19 years since the last original Baldur's Gate video game, Larian Studios will have a lot to live up to when developing the new installment of Baldur's Gate.

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What is Baldur's Gate?

The history of the Baldur's Gate series started when developers at Bioware wanted to make a video game adaptation of a Dungeons and Dragons 2nd edition campaign staged in the Forgotten Realms setting. Wizards of the Coast, the current owner of the Dungeons & Dragons IP, has given the series its blessing and has even created a Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition campaign book called Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus as a prequel to Baldur's Gate 3. Many Dungeons and Dragons mechanics were showcased in the Larian Studios demo of Baldur's Gate 3 which gives DnD players hope that the game will be true to its roots.

At first glance, the UI of Baldur's Gate 3 is remarkably similar to that of Divinity: Original Sin 2. This was to be expected, yet there are a few new additions to the user interface system that jump out during the livestream. The first of which is the bar that keeps track of all the actions each character can take. In Divinity: Orignal Sin 2, this bar was one very long row that stretched the length of the screen and could be outfitted by the player to hotkey specific abilities and items while playing. Taking a look at the action bar in Baldur's Gate 3, there are more than just spells and items fixed to the bar. The player can even choose from a selection of athletic actions such as jumping, dashing, throwing, and hiding. This allows for more precise control of the character in and out of combat. If only this system could be used by the player to control their character in Divinity: Original Sin 2.

What are Actions?

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These basic actions may appear innocuous at first, but they introduce a whole new dimension to gameplay in Baldur's Gate 3. Because of the nebulous nature of the rules governing Dungeons and Dragons, players in a campaign can use their imagination to come up with unique actions to pitch to the GM. It would be logical to assume that any humanoid character would be capable of movement that result in shoving objects, jumping across gaps, or knocking out an opponent with a surprise attack. Now it is finally possible to take these actions without having to gain access to certain skill spells in Divinity: Original Sin 2 like Haste and Teleport to simulate the actions of jumping over gaps or sprinting.

Keeping in line with the Dungeons and Dragons rules, Baldur's Gate 3 uses a turn-based combat system with an action economy. Characters get one movement action that is limited to their movement speed, one bonus action for abilities that use bonus actions, one reaction which is set passively during the turn, and one standard action. Standard actions include attacking with an equipped weapon, any of the basic actions previously mentioned like dashing, and abilities that use a standard action. This is known as the action economy and based on what class or race is being played, there are ways to interact the action economy. For example, the Baldur's Gate 3 livestream featured a fighter class character using their action surge bonus action to be able to both dash and attack with their sword in the same turn. This demonstrates that Larian will not make changes to the Dungeons and Dragons 5e rules to suit the game.

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The Basic Actions

Going back to the basic actions previously mentioned, there are 8 basic actions that all characters have access to in Baldur's Gate 3. These actions appear in order from left to right starting at the top: Jump, Throw, Knock Unconscious, Help, Dip, Hide, Dash, and Shove. The success and potency of each of these actions is determined by their ability score and its modifier. For example: characters with high strength can throw objects further than those with lower strength. These actions increase the number of avenues of play because they are innate abilities that the player knows they'll have access to at any time.

As demonstrated in the Baldur's Gate 3 gameplay video, Jump allows the player to bridge gaps or jump down from high places in and out of combat. Just like DnD, jumping from heights will make the player roll a saving throw to mitigate damage. Throw allows the player to toss any object in their inventory or on the ground a distance relative to their strength. Failure to throw can occur if the object is too heavy. Knock Unconscious causes the character to use their equipped weapon to render a foe unconscious until they take damage. This ability always works if the enemy is not aware of the character when they do it. The Help action gives whoever the target is advantage on their next action or roll.

The Dip action is used to coat a weapon in a substance in an inventory or on the ground. Hiding can be used to enter stealth in Baldur's Gate 3, but it can also be used to gain cover from ranged attacks. High dexterity builds will be able to stop combat early by hiding. The Dash ability allows the player to move their character double the distance their movement speed allows for that turn. This can be used to run away and close in on high priority targets. Finally, Shove pits the character's strength against their target's dexterity or strength in an attempt to push them back 4 m. Shove can be especially effective in combat if the player manages to shove an enemy off a high place which would deal extraordinary amounts of damage from the fall. Shove never fails if the target is unaware of the character shoving them.

All of these abilities give the player more immersion in Baldur's Gate 3 than any other isometric RPG. Hopefully, Larian developers will reveal more news about Baldur's Gate 3 to demonstrate the full depth of control that the player has.

Baldur's Gate 3 releases in August 2020 on PC and Google Stadia.

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