Baldur's Gate 3 is going to be a very big game—in the neighborhood of 122GB, according to Larian—and it brings me no pleasure to inform you that you will not be able to preload any of it in advance of the August 3 release date.
There's been quite a bit of speculation and confusion about Baldur's Gate 3's preload situation, and Larian hasn't been forthcoming on that front. In an interview just last week with itmeJP, Larian boss Swen Vincke said he actually didn't know how preloading would be handled.
"I imagine that they're going to do something, but I actually don't know," Vincke said. "It's very large, so it would be cool. Obviously the game has changed tremendously versus early access, versus what's out there now ... so we will see."
Unfortunately, the final answer to that question is a very simple "no."
"Baldur’s Gate 3 will launch on August 3rd at 5pm Gent time, or your non-Belgian timezone equivalent as shown [below]," Larian said today on Steam. "There will be no pre-loading of the game before then.
"The full release of the game weighs in at approximately 122 GB. Please note that your early access save games will not be compatible at launch; however, so much has changed that it’s really worth it to start afresh."
Vincke said essentially the same thing in the itmeJP interview, warning that there's no point in getting into the early access version of Baldur's Gate 3 now because you're effectively going to have to start over from scratch in a few days anyway. "There might be a few bytes that are the same but basically it's going to be a full reinstall," he said.
Being unable to preload a game of this size is not great, especially for people (like me) with slow or unreliable internet connections. But the problem appears to be a limitation of Steam. Simply put, preloading a game downloads the files but keeps them encrypted until go time, but because Baldur's Gate 3 has already been out for nearly three years in early access, Steam can't do that—thus, no preload.
Larian confirmed on Twitter that this is in fact why preloading isn't an option:
As for GOG, a rep said the same principle applies, and that Larian also wants to "maintain parity" between the two platforms.
The lack of a preload option sucks—122GB is a big download—but while there are a few unhappy responses to be seen, for the most part people fans don't seem too bothered by it. Maybe they're all too excited by the prospect of cramming more illithid tadpoles up their noses to care.
Baldur's Gate 3 unlocks in full at 8 am PT/11 am ET/4 pm BST on August 3.