“I haven’t slept for two days because I’m playing.” Why everyone is talking about Baldur’s Gate 3

On August 3, 2023, the new RPG Baldur’s Gate 3 was released: Users are already leaving rave reviews about it, and on Steam, it is breaking records for the simultaneous number of players, beating Valheim and Apex Legends. AIN.Capital recalls the history of this game series and tells why Baldur’s Gate 3 is so famous.

All pictures made by Larian Studios

Game’s history

Baldur’s Gate is among the oldest and most recognizable role-playing computer games. The first game for PC was released back in 1998. It was a classic isometric RPG (i.e., the playfield and characters on the screen are visible in an isometric projection) with turn-based gameplay, a complex story, and no less complex game mechanics.

What the first Baldur’s Gate looked like, which seems to include an HD pack already (screenshot from Steam).

As for the mechanics, everything is straightforward: All the rules for character leveling and combat, as well as the game’s locations and lore (i.e., story), are based on the Forgotten Realms Dungeons & Dragons board game campaign. Thus, for D&D fans, Baldur’s Gate was like a “movie adaptation” of their favorite board game. It was challenging but also exciting to play: In the 90s and early 2000s, there was usually no place to “check” how to get past the next difficult place or which dialog to choose.

By Larian Studios

Along with Neverwinter Nights (based on the same campaign), Planescape: Torment, the Fallout series, ArcanumBaldur’s Gate and the later Dragon Age: Origins, it has become one of the golden classic RPGs. For fans of the genre, it holds the same place as The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly for spaghetti Western fans.

With the rise of Kickstarter, indie game studios have got a chance to develop games for “their souls” and not go bankrupt. At the same time, “old-school” RPGs, like in the good old days, also become demanded. So, for new games like Divinity: Original Sin or Pillars of Eternity, developers raised millions of dollars and fueled interest in the old genre.

Belgian Larian Studios, who developed the successful Divinity: Original Sin 1 and 2, began working on the third chapter of Baldur’s Gate.

Why this hype

There are many reasons for the increased interest in the third Baldur’s Gate.

By Larian Studios
  • The already mentioned developer, Larian Studios, has successfully released several games of this genre that faithfully recreate the feeling of an “old-school RPG” but with modern graphics and animation.
  • There is still a large fanbase for D&D board games, particularly the Forgotten Realms campaign. Mass culture is increasingly turning to the theme of old computer games and board games: The Stranger Things series begins with the characters playing D&D; a movie on Forgotten Realms with A-list stars, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor of Thieves, which grossed $38.5 million in the first weekend in the US; D&D campaign streams on Twitch and YouTube are getting millions of views, and so on.
By Larian Studios
  • The fact that the third part came out almost 23 years after the second.
  • And finally, the game itself, which has 97% of positive reviews on Steam, such as “I haven’t slept for two days because I’m playing,” “What are you reading reviews for, buy it and play it,” or “I’ve never played D&D before, and this game opened my eyes to a new vibe in gaming.”
  • It also receives gold stars in reviews by gaming magazines: “The game’s size and exciting quests will attract both old and new fans” (Gamerant); PC Gamer reviewer calls it “the RPG of your dreams” as if from games like Ultima, Baldur’s Gate, Planescape: Torment, Arcanum: Of Steamworks and Magick Obscura, Pillars of Eternity, Divinity: Original Sin took the best and combined it.
  • Users also emphasize the developers’ tolerance for topics that could be considered indecent: Even on the character creation screen, you can admire how the character will look without any clothes on, and the video with the bear and squirrel did not leave everyone with unambiguous feelings.
  • But most agree that this is a worthy continuation of the classic series.
  • There is also a nice bonus for the Ukrainian players: a Ukrainian localization by SBT. The community has some questions about this translation, but the availability of the Ukrainian language for such a high-profile project on the first day of release is excellent.