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‘Baldur’s Gate 3’ Release Window, Trailer, Characters, Romance, Gameplay and More

I gotta focus, I'm shifting into Goth Half-Elf mode.

Jaheira, of Baldur's Gate fame.

Bugghghb … bububbbbb … blubbb … sorry, I just can’t believe we finally have a release date for this game. Baldur’s Gate 3 released its early access demo right when I had to evacuate my college due to COVID-19, and I’ve played that demo enough that I consider this game my “COVID game.” After so many letdowns in gaming lately, it just feels so good to finally have an end in sight.

If you haven’t heard the news, haven’t heard of the game at all, or you’re like me and just a fan hungry for any info you can get, here’s everything you need to know about Larian’s upcoming RPG, Baldur’s Gate 3.

Trailer and release window

Official release date window: August 2023.

Blublbublublbulblbu … oh, guys, you don’t know how good this feels. That intro music brought me all the way back to those early days when I had no idea what was going to happen to the world and I had to take my comforts wherever I could. I can already tell that this game is going to be an incredibly special thing, the sort of fantasy RPG we’ve been waiting for.

Yes, Elden Ring good, etc. etc., but I’m here to speak for the fans who miss that Dragon Age-type beat; the ones with memorable companions and potential romances who follow you through rich stories that take fascinating twists and turns.

Speaking of which—

Characters and romances

'Baldur's Gate 3' official companion art.
(Larian)

I have never, ever played an RPG with such nasty little assholes as companions, and I love it. Apparently the roster will expand as we go, and there are data-mined spoilers which I won’t disclose, but for now, these are the most important characters we’ve met (and been shown) thus far:

Established companions

  • Shadowheart: A half-elf cleric of Shar whose unabashed gothness would be funny if she wasn’t also incredibly pretty. Her romance is surprisingly sweet and vulnerable, but you get the sense that she’s holding back because of a darker secret we’ve yet to uncover.
  • Gale: A human wizard who I want to slap around—in more ways than one. He’s cocky and confident, with a secret that’s devastating both literally and figuratively. But you can’t help but want to root for him with his nerdy charm and thick, stupid hair.
  • Astarion: A high-elf vampire who’s become the internet’s blorbo. I don’t know how else to describe him. Astarion is a petty bitch who feels vindicated whenever you do bad things to other people because it validates the pain he’s had to endure in his life. And while that’s not really my romantic cup of tea, I still love the guy.
  • Lae’zel: A Githyanki warrior who has some very choice opinions about who to murder and when. She’s pragmatic and rough, but you can’t help but admire her for how hard she’s fought to get where she is. And also, her romance is spicy!
  • Wyll: A human warlock who fronts as a noble-born hero of the people, but is hiding a massive amount of baggage in the form of a succubus. He’s the most jovial and well-intentioned member of the group, and his romance is painfully tender, although he absolutely has his own agenda.

If it isn’t already clear: Yes, all pf the above are romance-able. Not all of the “scenes” are completed yet, but the implication is that there’s gonna be quite an eyeful for players upon full release—unless you’re romancing Shadowheart, like me. Goth girls gotta stay together.

Along with these companions, there are two additions the trailer has introduced, and who’ve already been featured in past Baldur’s Gate games:

  • Jaheira: A half-elf druid who’s endured great strife, yet always managed to persevere thanks to her tough nature.
  • Minsc & Boo: A human ranger and his space hamster companion. Minsc is the brawn, Boo is the brains. Also, Matt Mercer will be playing Minsc. Oh my god????????????????

Whether these two will be romanceable remains to be seen. The last character who will eventually join the player’s party is:

  • Karlach: A Tiefling barbarian who used the Mind Flayer ship as a ticket out of Avernus. Now, she is hunted—on top of dealing with the tadpole in her head. She’s also hot as hell, so I sincerely hope there is … you know, an option there.

Other notable characters

  • Halsin: Everyone’s favorite buff elven druid whom the community is really jonesing to romance. It’s certainly possible, since Halsin ends up following your party and camping with you. And look, if Bioware let us romance a turian, then there’s no reason we can’t climb this particular tree.
  • Owlbear: A baby owlbear you can rescue and, apparently, deploy in combat. We love and appreciate Owlbear.
  • Scratch: A dog you can rescue after his human tragically dies. A good boy, and someone you can talk to.
  • Raphael: A Cambion who offers to make you a deal to spare you the greater effort of finding a cure.
  • Withers: An undead servant of the dead who can resurrect any party member for a fee.
  • Volo: A jolly bard who will hang around your camp if you save him enough times.
  • Minthara: A Drow who’s the de facto leader of the goblin camp. If you side with her and wipe out the druids, you can initiate a romance with her—where it goes, no one knows, but it’s definitely the most graphic romance scene in the game thus far.
  • Auntie Ethel: A sweet old lady? Or a dangerous crone? Hm …
  • The Dream Lover: A customizable figure who appears in your dreams, meant to compel you toward giving up your free will and succumbing to whatever powers you’ve yet to harness. Players have had a lot of fun creating their own fake partners.

Of course, there’s quite a bit cast of characters, so I couldn’t fit all of them in here. But these ones seem to be the most important thus far, barring the antagonists, who are still vague enigmas at this point.

Gameplay

Minsc getting out in 'Baldur's Gate 3'
(Larian)

By the time the game finishes, you will be able to play as any class available from the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition ruleset. And, as the months go on, Larian has consistently added new classes for players to try out. The latest was the bard, and the next available class will be dropped on December 14, when Patch 9 arrives.

The same can also be said about races (or species, as of late—it remains to be seen whether or not the game will catch up to the ruleset), which many players are hoping will expand beyond simple humanoids. The trailer featured a brief shot of a half-orc, which has been a popular request, but the most recent addition was gnomes.

Character creation is both in-depth and fairly simple. It’s what I call the “Larian Style”: There are many faces to choose from, but you can’t alter them beyond cosmetics, such as tattoos and makeup. I don’t personally mind this, and I’ve already been quite vocal about my appreciation for the diverse array of faces to choose from. The hair is also incredibly well-done, which is unfortunately rare in RPGs.

Gameplay itself is what you’d expect from a turn-based, top-down RPG, but obviously quite polished for modern standards. It’s a lot of fun! A bit simpler than the company’s predecessor, Divinity Original Sin 2, but still fun and creative in its own ways. Your stats are determined by your predetermined histories, your selected talents, and, of course, your class, which can then be whittled further into a subclass upon leveling.

And depending on how carefully you level, the game can either be a breeze or a nightmare. The story takes you into zones that you’re either ready for or not. Luckily, even in this first act of the game, there’s quite a bit of exploration you can do to max yourself out and be as prepared as you can be. Then again, I bring Astarion everywhere I go, and that guy is a stealth-archery powerhouse, so I don’t have to do too much heavy-lifting.

Should you play Baldur’s Gate 3 while it’s in early access?

Gale squaring up with Lae'zel and Astarion in 'Baldur's Gate 3'
(Larian)

That depends entirely on how you play and anticipate games. I’ve had a blast thus far and always find new things to do, but at this point, I’ve been playing early access for nigh on two years—I need a break before I get sick of it. It definitely asks a steep price for an early access game, but Larian is one of the few gaming companies I can actually put a lot of faith in. They’ve proven themselves over and over to be considerate of what fans want and how they can improve their games’ experience, and I can say definitively that they’ve really put in a lot of work to elevate this game beyond what it initially was: A pretty, yet incredibly buggy mess.

So, if you have $60 to spare and are even the least bit curious, I say go for it. It’s a gorgeous game that keeps you coming back for more, and if their last few updates say anything, there’s still quite a bit more to be added before release.

(featured image: Larian Studios)

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Madeline (she/her) is a writer and dog mom. She aims to use her writing to positively represent mixed-race people like herself, and is currently working on a novel. However, when she isn't writing, she's either battling insomnia or taking too many naps. You can read her stuff at https://madelinecwrites.com/