With Baldur's Gate 3, the Divinity: Original Sin devs at Larian resurrect the classic Forgotten Realms RPG series, emerging from early access for a full release this summer.
Baldur's Gate 3 tips (opens in new tab): Start smart
Baldur's Gate 3 classes (opens in new tab): Find your perfect profession
Baldur's Gate 3 races (opens in new tab): Pick your favorite face
Baldur's Gate 3 companions (opens in new tab): Learn who's who
Baldur's Gate 3 builds (opens in new tab): Optimise your class
It's been a long road, but it's time to sharpen your swords and brush up on your book of spells one last time. After three years in early access, we finally know when we're making our full return to Baldur's Gate—with all the intricate roleplaying opportunities you'd expect, in a new turn-based flavor.
We've been gathering all the necessary intel about Baldur's Gate 3's classes, characters, and mechanics. Now that we've got a confirmed date, you'll be equipped to hit the ground running in August, armed with everything you'll need when it's time to face the mind flayer. Here's everything we know about Baldur's Gate 3.
Baldur's Gate 3 release date
What's the Baldur's Gate 3 release date?
Baldur’s Gate 3 will leave Early Access for a full release on August 31, 2023. It got a definitive August release window announced at The Game Awards 2022, after which Larian founder Swen Vincke said he's "reasonably confident" about the timeframe. In February, Larian slapped the official date on the launch as well.
Despite hopes for release in 2022, Larian had been setting expectations for a longer wait. An early access retrospective video from a D&D Direct event confirmed a 2023 launch window, asking fans to "come along in 2023 when the game releases."
The finished version of Baldur's Gate 3 will be on GOG (opens in new tab) as well as Steam (opens in new tab).
Here's the latest Baldur's Gate 3 release date trailer
Larian brought this latest reveal trailer to Sony's February 2023 State of Play. Before gracing us with an actual date for BG3's release, the trailer serves as a high-fantasy highlight reel, playing all the notes you'd hope for from the setting. We've got dwarven character creation; we got ominous mind flayers; we even got a moody necromancer general who's sealed a dark pact in pursuit of vengeance. All that D&D goodness is stitched between gameplay clips of combat and co-op. Watch in delight as a tiefling throws someone off a roof in splitscreen. Adventure!
Here's the latest Baldur's Gate 3 trailer from The Game Awards
Baldur's 3 gameplay
How does Baldur's Gate 3 play?
For a longer read, check out our Baldur's Gate 3 early access review (opens in new tab).
True to the series, it's Baldur's Gate 3 is a party-based RPG, in which you gather and manage a party of fantasy heroes with their own histories. Like in Larian's Divinity Original Sin 2, your primary character will start the game as either an "origin character," developer-authored characters with unique backgrounds and special story and dialogue hooks, or make your own character fully from scratch.
The game is heavily systems-driven, with a combat system Larian has based off the D&D 5e ruleset. "We'll stay true to our roots," says Larian founder Sven Vincke, "so we'll give players lots of systems and lots of agency to use these systems and try to accomplish what you need to on your personal adventure and your party's adventure."
We definitely found that to be the case in our early access review. "Almost every object can be turned into a weapon in a pinch—one of my first kills was with a skull that I picked up and tossed at a monster," Fraser says. "This is a side of D&D that was previously missing from Baldur's Gate—the creative, messy sandbox. Every confrontation is an opportunity to push your luck and stretch the game's systems like you're negotiating with a DM."
"Baldur's Gate 3 is always rolling dice and making passive skill checks to determine if you're going to notice that sliding bookcase right in front of you. These happen automatically, accompanied by the comforting rattle of dice, but dialogue and active skill checks actually replicate some of the tactile delight of real tabletop roleplaying by making you manually roll a digital D20."
While out-of-combat gameplay is typically in real-time, you can enable turn-based mode by hand, providing some additional precision when you're enacting schemes or sneaking about. In multiplayer, you can blend real-time and turn-based modes between players; your mate could be shopping while you're fighting.
An option added in patch 4 allows you to turn on Karmic Dice, which Larian says, "helps smooth out the extremes of the bell curve [but] retains the core elements of RNG, ensuring a player can no longer be unlucky or super lucky with several dice rolls in a row."
How far can you play in Early Access?
The first act includes a chunk of the Forgotten Realms' Sword Coast, the Underdark beneath it, an ancient fortress called Grymforge, and a brief jaunt through Hell. Sadly, the city of Baldur's Gate doesn't itself feature in the Early Access portion, but there's still plenty to play, with well over 20 hours' worth of adventuring in. Unsurprisingly, the Early Access version has a level cap, too: after an increase in December 2022, your characters can only progress up to level 5.
Obviously, your playtime for the first act will vary based on how many fights you get into and how thoroughly you explore. Sticking to the main quest will take you all across the world map, but there's plenty to find off the beaten track. If you're in a rush, a speedrunner has finished it in seven minutes because of course they have.
Compared to Divinity: Original Sin 2's run in Early Access, Baldur's Gate 3's Early Access is a denser experience. BG3 launched with considerably more combat encounters, characters, spells and lines of dialogue, which as only been added to over time.
Which Dungeons & Dragons edition is Baldur's Gate 3 based on?
Baldur's Gate 3 is a modified interpretation of the 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons ruleset, with some original Larian modifications. CEO Swen Vincke explained that some rules and systems don't fully translate from tabletop to digital game, so Larian has worked to create an original game system heavily inspired by 5th Edition rules that both plays well as a digital game and feels true to D&D.
Baldur's Gate 3 classes and characters
What classes and races are available?
A host of D&D race options are currently playable in early access, including humans, halflings, dwarves, elves, half-elves, drow, gnomes, tieflings, and githyanki. Half-orcs and dragonborn will also be playable with the game's full release. Here's all the specifics about the Baldur's Gate 3 races (opens in new tab) that are playable so far.
On the class front, 11 classes are playable: cleric, fighter, ranger, rogue, warlock, wizard, druid, sorcerer, barbarian, bard, and the most recently added paladin.
"The stories are very much tied to class at times," senior writer Adam Smith told us in our first look at Baldur's Gate 3 (opens in new tab). "Class is such a part of identity in D&D, in a way that it wasn't in DOS2." Larian says that in the full release of BG3 we'll be able to play as any class from the Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition ruleset.
In Early Access, the fully-bespoke origin characters aren't available for primary character selection, but you can recruit five of them into your party:
- Astarion - High Elf Rogue
- Gale - Human Wizard
- Lae'zel - Githyanki Fighter
- Shadowheart - Half-elf Cleric
- Wyll - Human Warlock
How do custom characters work in Baldur's Gate 3?
Like in Divinity: Original Sin 2, if you aren't feeling one of Baldur's Gate 3's preset options, you can make an entirely custom character from scratch. While Divinity OS2's main characters were pretty widely considered the better option as they had more personalized dialogue and a connection to the story, Larian said in an AMA on Reddit that in BG3, "custom characters have a much stronger connection to the world and the main arc of the story. … We’re confident that you won’t feel short-changed in terms of narrative breadth and depth if you choose to play as a custom character."
Apparently, Larian's making an effort to ensure there are plenty of dialogue and quest hooks that'll reflect the choices you've made for your custom character. "When we say there are serious consequences to your choices, we really mean it," Larian said. "As you move through your adventure, you’ll discover quest-lines and stories that relate directly to the character you’re roleplaying, and the things that you’ve done."
Are there companion romance options?
Larian dished some details on Baldur's Gate 3 character relationships and let's just say the game is definitely rated "M" by the ESRB for a reason. Your party members will have opinions about all sort of decisions that you make as the player character, including which factions you choose to support and who you choose to kill. You can debrief about everything back at the party camp, which is also where you can engage in more intimate activities. If you've managed to find your way into a romantic relationship with one of your party members, you'll definitely be able to act on the physical side of it. Yup, you can have sex in Baldur's Gate 3.
"We are trying to make these relationships feel real and feel like the relationships you have in the real world," lead writer Sarah Baylus explained. "You will meet some people who you have nothing in common with, some will be useful to work together, but that is going to be the extent of it. But there could be situations where you get on really well, you share similar goals and you love travelling together."
So far in Early Access, the most romanced character is Gale the wizard, but folks also aren't shy about being evil to get some action either. "They're all horny," Vincke says of early players.
Baldur's gate 3 story and setting
What's the story and setting for Baldur's Gate 3?
Baldur's Gate 3 tells a new story set in the current era of the Forgotten Realms. The mind flayers—psychic, squid-faced alien tyrants—have found a way to once again travel between worlds. Surprise: it's for an invasion.
The player-character and main companions are all infected with a parasitic tadpole that should turn them into mind flayers, but for some reason the process isn't working like it normally does. One of the key quests is to find out more information about the tadpoles and get them removed.
Though the party doesn't appear to be transforming into mind flayers right away, the tadpole still has an effect. You can link minds with other people with tadpoles and get some other benefits, but the more you use your power, the easier you'll be to control when you happen across another mind flayer.
The mind flayers are an ancient and terrifying force in the Dungeons & Dragons universe. They have powerful psionic abilities, can mind control other sentient beings, and like to feed on their brains for sustenance. They frequently keep slaves to do their bidding and serve as a convenient snack should they feel a bit peckish.
Mind flayers have plenty of enemies though, and at the start of Baldur's Gate 3 we see a battle between mind flayers, demons, and githyanki, all taking place in and around a ship that's rapidly falling apart. The githyanki in particular feature prominently in Baldur's Gate 3, since one of your first companions is a githyanki fighter who was captured by mind flayers.
The city of Baldur's Gate will feature of course, but the whole city won't be available to the player, only relevant sections. It's still a bit of a mystery, as we've only seen it briefly in trailers and cutscenes. In the early access version, you won't reach the city, though you will see it from a distance during a dream.
How does it connect to the previous games?
Though it's set years after the events of Baldur's Gate 2: Throne of Bhaal and stars different characters, there will be a connection to the original games. In a Reddit AMA (opens in new tab), Vincke said, "We really don't want to spoil anything but we wouldn't call it Baldur’s Gate 3 if there wouldn't be a link. Let me just say that we touch upon the story of BG 1 & 2 in meaningful ways, there are returning characters and what happened in BG 1/2/tob leads to what happens into BG3. You won't necessarily see that at the start of the adventure but you will quickly understand once you get further into the game."
The Game Awards' trailer revealed the return of two popular characters: Jaheira and Minsc, voiced respectively by voice work veteran Tracy Wiles and the inescapable Matt Mercer.
Baldur's Gate 3 trailers
What other trailers and gameplay for Baldur's Gate 3 are out there?
You can check out the original cinematic cinematic announcement trailer (opens in new tab) for Baldur's Gate 3 with all its body horror glory.
For lots more, you can also watch over an hour of alpha gameplay (opens in new tab) , streamed during PAX East 2020. Vincke shows off a detailed look at combat, both when it goes right and when it goes wrong in proper Larian fashion. Note that some changes have been made to combat since this video.
Aa live playthrough of the Grymforge region (opens in new tab) highlighted the sorcerer class, and the chaos possible in multiplayer. Other trailers shed light on the barbarian class and tweaks to combat (opens in new tab), as well as bards and gnomes (opens in new tab). Most recently, the Game Awards trailer (opens in new tab) gave us a glimpse of Minsc and a release window.
Other Baldur's Gate 3 info
What are the best Baldur's Gate 3 mods?
Just like the previous Baldur's Gate games, the latest entry in the series is moddable. Over 100 mods are already available, some of them adding features of D&D that aren't present in the current early access version for players too impatient to wait for Larian to add them officially. These are a few of the best Baldur's Gate 3 mods so far.
- ImprovedUI (opens in new tab): Mods for additional classes rely on ImprovedUI, plus it adds an option to drop the interface completely so you can take sweet screenshots.
- LVLUp (opens in new tab): Raise the level cap to 20, and cast new spells like the classic fireball.
- Paladin (opens in new tab), Monk (opens in new tab): More playable classes.
- Sorcerer subclasses (opens in new tab): Adds the Aberrant Mind, Clockwork Soul, Divine Soul, Shadow Magic, and Storm Sorcery subclasses.
- Enhanced Gear Progression (opens in new tab): There are some items in the game files that can't be found in-game. Unless you install this mod.
- Tav's Hair Salon (opens in new tab): More hairstyles for ladies.
- Basket Full of Equipment (opens in new tab): Over 150 additional items of clothing and armor, some of them NSFW. There's a SFW version too (opens in new tab).
- 5e Spells: (opens in new tab) Adds some of the D&D spells not yet implemented in BG3, like Lightning Lure, Toll the Dead, and Blink.
Baldur's Gate 3 system requirements
Baldur's Gate 3 system requirements are surprisingly gentle for such a pretty game. Be aware, though, that Larian has amended storage requirements slightly. The game used to require only 70GB, but has now more than doubled to 150GB.
The Act 1 content releasing in early access will only take up 80GB, so the rest of that space is reserved for updates down the line.
- OS: Windows 7 SP1 64-bit
- Processor: Intel i5-4690 / AMD FX 4350
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: Nvidia GTX 780 / AMD Radeon R9 280X
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 150 GB available space
- OS: Windows 10 64-bit
- Processor: Intel i7 4770k / AMD Ryzen 5 1500X
- Memory: 16 GB RAM
- Graphics: Nvidia GTX 1060 6GB / AMD RX580
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 150 GB available space
Cross-saves are supported
Fans of Divinity: OS2 will remember that Larian added cross-save compatibility between the Switch and Steam versions. Larian is pulling a similar trick in Baldur's Gate 3. Instead of running cross-saves through Steam's propriety system, player saves are tied to a dedicated Larian account. That account will be accessible on every platform that Baldur's Gate 3 eventually releases on.
How is Wizards of the Coast involved?
As custodians of Dungeons & Dragons, Wizards of the Coast are involved in clearing storylines and keeping the D&D lore consistent. The quality of Divinity: Original Sin 2 convinced Wizards of the Coast to greenlight Baldur's Gate 3.
If you caught any of the recent D&D OGL controversy, don't worry about any potential Baldur's Gate 3 impacts: Larian confirmed to VG247 (opens in new tab) that the dispute wouldn't affect the game.