Baldur’s Gate 3 Is The First Real Dungeons & Dragons Game In Over A Decade
Baldur’s Gate 3 has seen an incredible amount of interest on Steam, which has a lot to do with the fact that it’s the first real Dungeons & Dragons video game in over a decade.
A lot of early video games attempted to replicate the tabletop gaming experience, but the first series that truly nailed it was Baldur’s Gate. The first Baldur’s Gate title was released in ’98, during the era of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, when the rules were way more complicated than they are today. Despite being shackled to AD&D, Baldur’s Gate and its sequel provided some of the best RPG experiences of their era, while offering a glimpse at the storytelling possibilities of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. The earlier Baldur’s Gate games have been remastered for modern systems and they still hold up today.
Related: Baldur’s Gate 3 — Best Builds For Each Class
The third edition era of D&D brought a ruleset that was easy to pick up, which paved the way for the next great tabletop/gaming hybrid experience in 2002: Neverwinter Nights. The original Neverwinter Nights game (plus its expansions) was designed with creativity in mind, with its toolset making it easy for people to design their own adventures and sharing them online. Like Baldur’s Gate, the original Neverwinter Nights has been remastered for modern systems.
Neverwinter Nights was followed by a sequel in ’06, which received a number of high-quality expansions until ’09. It turned out that Neverwinter Nights 2 would be the last attempt at emulating the D&D experience for over a decade. Since the release of the last Neverwinter Nights 2 expansion, the only D&D games have been action RPGs (Daggerdale, Sword Coast Legends), MMOs (Neverwinter), and the remasters of the Black Isle games & Neverwinter Nights for modern systems.
So, why did companies stop making D&D games? The fourth edition of D&D was often accused of using a video game-style combat system and it would have fit that format perfectly, yet it never received an adaption. The fact is that developers decided they could make their own RPGs in the style of games like Baldur’s Gate, but use their own systems that are similar to, but legally distinct from D&D. Pillars of Eternity is a great example of this. A company could make a game that cashed in on the nostalgia of Baldur’s Gate without needing to pay a dime to Wizards of the Coast.
This brings us to Baldur’s Gate 3, which uses the rules from the current edition of D&D. Baldur’s Gate 3 has some differences from D&D, but it’s recognizable as the same system. The people at Larian Studios have talked about how Baldur’s Gate 3 is a passion project for them, and how they petitioned Wizards of the Coast for the chance to revive the series. In recent years, Wizards of the Coast has made a push to turn Dungeons & Dragons into a multimedia franchise, and video games are a big part of that. Baldur’s Gate 3 is just the first big-name attempt at adapting D&D for a long time. Fans now have a chance to try the Early Access version of Baldur’s Gate 3 and see for themselves whether the game was worth the wait.
If Larian/Wizards of the Coast weren’t convinced about the hunger for D&D games before, then they are now. Larian is reporting that the Early Access build of Baldur’s Gate 3 is selling insanely well on Steam. This is despite the previews pointing out that the game is a bug-riddled mess. The glitches aren’t a problem for people looking for a fresh D&D video game experience. The tabletop version of D&D has never been more popular, and now is the time for the Baldur’s Gate series to help spearhead a new era of D&D games, despite the franchise slumbering for over a decade.
Next: Baldur’s Gate 3: Githyanki, Explained
The Early Access version of Baldur’s Gate 3 is available now for Google Stadia and PC.
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Scott has been writing for The Gamer since it launched in 2017 and also regularly contributes to Screen Rant. He has previously written gaming articles for websites like Cracked, Dorkly, Topless Robot, and TopTenz. He has been gaming since the days of the ZX Spectrum, when it used to take 40 minutes to load a game from a tape cassette player to a black and white TV set.
Scott thinks Chrono Trigger is the best video game of all time, followed closely by Final Fantasy Tactics and Baldur’s Gate 2. He pretends that sorcerer is his favorite Dungeons & Dragons class in public but he secretly loves bards.
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