Larian Studios announced today that Baldur's Gate 3, which was delayed earlier this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, will go into early access release—if all goes well—on September 30.
"We did Early Access for Original Sin 1 and we liked it a lot because it helped us to make OS1 a better game," Larian creative director Swen Vincke said. We're hoping to get the same out of Early Access for BG3."
The Early Access version of the game will give players a taste of Avernis, Faerun, and the Underdark, and enable them to advance to level 4. Multiplayer support won't be in place at first, but will hopefully be rolled out not too long after. You'll also apparently be able to recruit an owlbear cub to your camp, which is wonderfully cute but might be a handful to manage.
It is awfully cute, though.
The Early Access release will include five Origin characters—Astarion (Elf/Vampire Rogue), Gale (Human Wizard), Lae’zel (Githyanki Warrior), Shadowheart (Half-Elf Cleric), and Wyll (Human Warlock)—as well as custom character creation. More Origin characters will be revealed throughout the Early Access period.
Larian also dropped a few numbers to compare the "depth" of Baldur's Gate 3's Early Access release with its previous game, 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
It's possible that the new Early Access launch could be pushed back a little bit further: Vincke said during today's stream that the process of optimizing the game could lead to unexpected, but hopefully brief, delays. He sounded reasonably confident in it, though, adding later that "We have a really good chance of hitting" the date.
As for how long Larian expects Baldur's Gate 3 to remain in Early Access, Vincke said that "we intend to stay there for awhile," while the updated Steam page predicts that it will last "at least one year."