It's real. One of the best RPGs ever is getting a sequel made by one of today's finest RPG developers (and the creators of PC Gamer's 2017 game of the year).
Baldur's Gate 3 was officially announced at a Google Stadia pre-E3 event. It's being developed by Divinity: Original Sin's Larian Studios. We don't know when it's out, and so far Larian and Wizards of the Coast, which owns D&D, are being tight-lipped about the details. But we do know some of the basics, the D&D ruleset that Larian is adapting, and some hints on series characters that may make an appearance.
Larian has staffed up to take on the Baldur's Gate series and it seems that the studio may have its head deep in development for a while. Until Larian is ready to share more, here's everything we know so far about Baldur's Gate 3:
What's the Baldur's Gate 3 release date?
Unfortunately we have no idea yet. It sounds as though the game isn't close to release, and all we've seen so far is a pre-rendered trailer.
At the PC Gaming show during E3 2019, Larian CEO Swen Vincke gave us Larian's spin on the classic "when it's ready" response to release date questions, saying, "We want to make sure it's really, really good. When that's the case, then we'll release it."
Is there a trailer?
Yep, and it has some excellent body horror. Note, though, that it's a cinematic announcement trailer, so we still don't have a good idea of what Baldur's Gate 3 will look like.
What's the setting for Baldur's Gate 3?
The city of Baldur's Gate will feature of course, but the whole city won't be available to the player, only relevant sections. According to Swen Vincke, the player will start outside of the city of Baldur's Gate but will head into the city walls as seen in the game's premier trailer.
The game follows a new story set in the current era of the Forgotten Realms. The mind flayers have found a way to make ships that allow them to travel between worlds, and now they are invading. Larian has hinted that the story may visit other planes or even the Underdark.
Which Dungeons & Dragons edition will Baldur's Gate 3 be based on?
Baldur's Gate 3 is based on Larian's interpretation of the 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons ruleset. CEO Swen Vincke explained that some rules and systems don't translate well directly from tabletop to digital game, so Larian has worked to create an interpretation of 5th Edition rules that works well as a digital game but still feels true to D&D.
Who are the bad guys?
The mind flayers are an ancient and terrifying force in the Dungeons and Dragons universe. They live in the Underdark and have powerful psionic abilities. They are able to 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.
"The mind flayers have rediscovered the secret of nautiloids," Larian founder Swen Vincke tells PC Gamer. "Those are big problems! If you know D&D lore, especially Volo's Guide, you'll know they used to rule the Astral Plane, but they lost it all and had to flee to the Underdark or they'd be exterminated by the githyanki. They want to restore their empire, so we see the mind flayers invading a city, with a nautaloid, so you can imagine what might happen. But it's not what you'll expect!"
How will it play?
True to the series, it's an RPG in which you control a party of heroes with their own backgrounds and motivations. It's possible that there will be an origin stories system inspired by Divinity: Original Sin 2. In BG3 these may act as a videogame equivalent of a D&D character sheet. "I thought the origin stories were a really good addition to the RPG genre," says Vincke. "like we did them, and it would be strange if we went back on that."
Vincke suggests the game will be heavily systems-driven and Larian will be creating its own D&D-inspired ruleset. "We'll stay true to our roots, 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. That's not going to change; that's the core of what we're doing. But then there will be an interpretation of D&D, because if you port the core rules—we tried it!—to a videogame, it doesn't work."
Larian is teching up and staffing up to try and do justice to the Baldur's Gate legacy. "We've invested heavily in tech on this," says Vincke. "We're building it ourselves, we're not licensing Unreal or whatever. It's heavily upgraded. This is our biggest game—we've got around 200 people working internally on it, and we've got about 100 people externally."
Where are Minsc and Boo?
They might just show up in Baldur's Gate 3! Larian CEO Swen Vincke told VG247 that it's a real possibility, saying: "If you look at what the Fifth Edition has done, characters like Boo and Minsc are still alive," Vincke said. "Bhaal and maybe a couple of other guys are still around. What’s gonna happen with that? You’re gonna discover when you play BG3."
Vincke wouldn't drop that kind of hint without following through, right? Surely there will be some "Butt-kicking! For goodness!"
How is Wizards of the Coast involved?
As custodians of Dungeons and 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.
"I went to them [Wizards of the Coast] after Divinity: Original Sin and I tried to convince them back then," says Vincke. "But they said we were a bit too green. They got back in touch during Divinity: Original Sin 2—they saw what we were doing and asked if we were still interested. That got the ball rolling. During DOS2 we had to submit the design for it, but it was annoying because we were about to release DOS2. So we sat in a hotel for a weekend the month before release, me and a couple of writers and designers, and we made the initial design document. It wasn't very good, but it had the core ideas and they did like it, so they asked us to make another version, and we did that and they loved it."