Today Larian Studios revealed the eagerly awaited early access release date for the upcoming RPG Baldur’s Gate 3. During the “Panel From Hell” livestream, the studio announced they’re aiming for Sept. 30, 2020, as the date Steam PC and Stadia players will be able to jump into the first act of the game’s early access content. The panel also went in-depth about Baldur’s Gate 3’s early access content, as well as the journey Larian is soon embarking on with players.
The final part of the game’s now roughly six-minute CGI introduction revealed that players begin their journey in Avernus, the first layer of the Nine Hells. Avernus featured heavily in the recently released D&D adventure module Descent Into Avernus, which saw the entire city of Elturel dragged into hell. The city was saved, but the aftermath of that cataclysmic event casts a shadow over the events of Baldur’s Gate 3. Players won’t just see the aftermath, however; captive aboard a nautiloid, they’ll take part in a daring escape as the ship jumps between planes of existence and is caught in the fury of the eternal, apocalyptic Blood War that rages across the hellscape. Avernus will be featured throughout the game, alongside many other locations to be announced later.
A highlight of the Panel From Hell was the “lobotomy scene,” a new gameplay snippet shown during the stream. As players attempt to seize control of the nautiloid, they find a corpse with its brain exposed. The brain itself seems to address the player, asking them to free it. At this point, players can decide to get their hands dirty, extracting the brain from the skull, which leads to the discovery that it’s not a brain at all, but rather a trapped Intellect Devourer. These creatures feed on the intelligence of sentient beings, taking over their victims’ bodies on behalf of their Mind Flayer masters.
Swen Vincke, Creative Director of Larian Studios, also showcased the scope of early access, giving details on how the size of Baldur’s Gate 3’s first act compares to Larian’s previous release, Divinity: Original Sin 2, when it launched in early access. Here are a few numbers that will emphasize the depth of Baldur’s Gate 3 in comparison to Divinity: Original Sin 2:
● Number of combat encounters: 22 in DOS2 EA vs. 80 in BG3 EA
● Number of English dialogue lines: 17,600 in DOS2 EA vs. 45,980 in BG3 EA
● Number of characters: 142 in DOS2 EA vs. 596 in BG3 EA
● Number of spells/actions: 69 in DOS2 EA vs. 146 in BG3 EA
Classes and races will be announced closer to September 30, but Larian today confirmed that Baldur’s Gate 3’s early access will include five Origin characters (as well as player-customized characters), with more to be announced throughout early access. The five launch characters are: Astarion (Elf/Vampire Rogue), Gale (Human Wizard), Lae’zel (Githyanki Warrior), Shadowheart (Half-Elf Cleric), Wyll (Human Warlock).
Through gameplay footage, and audience interaction, Vincke demonstrated how the game allows players to discover different permutations in encounters and dialogue depending on the characters they play and the choices they make. This depth of reactivity means that even in early access, multiple playthroughs will lead to different outcomes and developments not only for players and their companions, but for the many NPCs they meet and the world around them, too. In simple terms, playing “good” and “evil” will offer wholly different experiences with many twists and turns (all performance-captured) that other players may never see, depending on their choices.
While the studio is working towards the September 30 release date, there is still plenty that needs doing before players can dive into the world of Baldur’s Gate 3 early access on PC via Steam and Google’s Stadia. For more information about the early access philosophy covered today in Larian’s stream, we recommend keeping up to date with the community updates. Today’s will cover heat maps and the topic of how player input is parsed into functional data to improve the game. Heavy stuff!