Baldur's Gate 3 (opens in new tab) is launching in Early Access this year, Larian Studios has confirmed. The news first appeared in an investor presentation (opens in new tab) from Wizards of the Coast's parent company, Hasbro, but until now the developer has been keeping quiet.
It doesn't come as a surprise, given that both Original Sin games launched in Early Access first. They're big, elaborate RPGs with lots of complex, interlocking systems, so the additional testing is handy. This is just as true for Baldur's Gate 3.
"We went very far to implement as much as we could from the [D&D] player handbook," Larian CEO Swen Vincke told me during a hands-off demo. "So that means that there's a lot of stuff that you can do to fool around with and test it. I've been test running this like 50 times and it's always different. I always have to do different things to be able to survive."
As well as getting feedback from players on bugs and problem areas, Larian will hoover up data to help polish it up for the proper launch. And it's not just stuff from the player handbook that it's implementing; Larian's developed a bunch of new systems and features, including simultaneous turn-based combat. It's also got to figure out how much damage random objects, such as a tossed shoe, do in combat—it seems like everything is fair game.
"If you look at Divinity: Original Sin 2 when it went into Early Access and when it came out of Early Access, it never would have been as good," said Vincke. "So we want to give this one the same treatment."
The Early Access version will launch with the in-development first act and five characters with special origins, who you might recognise from the demo. Here's who you'll be able to play as and recruit:
- Wyll - Human Warlock
- Shadowheart - Half-elf Cleric
- Lae'zel - Githyanki Fighter
- Gale - Human Wizard
- Astarion - Elven vampire spawn, Rogue
Origin characters have set classes and backgrounds, but you'll also be able to make your own custom character. Here are the classes and archetypes available in Early Access:
- Fighter - Battle Master, Eldritch Knight
- Wizard - Evocation, Abjuration
- Rogue - Arcane Trickster, Thief
- Ranger - Hunter, Beast Master
- Cleric - Life, Light, Trickery
- Warlock - Fiend, Great One
The races range from the classics, including elves, dwarves, humans and so on, to the more exotic, like githyanki, drow, tieflings and even vampire spawn. They've all got unique hooks, like the vampire spawn's ability to feed on sleeping companions, and even in just the two hours of gameplay I've watched there seemed to be a lot of roleplaying opportunities tied to your choice of race.
Hasbro said Baldur's Gate 3 would launch in Early Access this year, but Larian's yet to confirm anything regarding the date. The demo was a bit rough around the edges, explaining why it was hands-off, but it looked on track to be Early Access-ready in 2020.
For more details on what to expect when it does appear, check out my Baldur's Gate 3 preview (opens in new tab).