Baldur’s Gate 3 is enjoying a successful PC launch, with a massive peak concurrent player count of 395,000 at the time of writing. The day is still young, so there’s still plenty of time for Baldur’s Gate 3 to join the ranks of Fallout 4, whose biggest concurrent player count sits around 500,000, and Cyberpunk 2077, Elden Ring, and New World, all with records around the 1 million mark.
As players stare down the barrel of that ~125GB download, it turns out that the Baldur’s Gate 3’s launch may have broken Steam – players report downloads ranging from 6 hours to 6 months. Our own hardware managing editor Tabitha initially had a download time of over a year… Now that’s what we call making players wait.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is officially here, and so is the launch trailer. As Larian says at the end of the trailer, “it’s party time.” Enjoy this cinematic look at a small slice of the bottomless weird stuff awaiting in this gargantuan RPG, including: a hamster.
If you’ll indulge me slightly, all that waiting around makes for the perfect opportunity to check out our Baldur’s Gate 3 review (linked below). Here’s a snippet from my misadventures:
The socket stares back at me, empty. I found my way to this part of Baldur’s Gate 3 almost by accident, a combination of a fight gone wrong, an ingenious solution to a puzzle, and a couple of disarmed traps leading me to a legendary weapon that’s the perfect fit for my cleric. After all that, I’m not going back empty-handed, but I’ve got no idea what fits in the socket. So, like any sensible D&D player, I try my luck. Figuring that there’s no way the game is about to let me get away with this, I instruct my light-fingered rogue to try and yank the weapon free. In an instant, I’m sealed in a magical cage with sirens blaring and a doomsday device pointed squarely at my head.
For all that misfortune, however, I’ve been very impressed with what I’ve played so far:
For now, suffice to say that Baldur’s Gate 3 feels a little bit like Larian has accomplished the impossible. This is an entire, years-long pen-and-paper roleplaying campaign realized in beautiful fidelity, in a way that brings every tiny detail of your mind’s eye to life. It’s a Witcher-style elevation of its source material, a game that lives and breathes its tabletop origins so deeply that to see it transfer them so completely from the page to the screen almost feels wrong. At a time when Dungeons & Dragons boasts a popularity almost unknown within its five-decade history, Baldur’s Gate 3 feels primed to be held up with the best of the best, with the likes of Critical Role, Curse of Strahd, and the classic D&D CRPGs of the past; Icewind Dale, Neverwinter Nights, and, of course, with the original Baldur’s Gate.
If you, like me, do not have lightning-fast internet, then Baldur’s Gate 3 is likely to take quite a while to install. Sadly, for some, that’s something they’re only just finding out.
2.5 hours to download Baldurs Gate 3. This is why I took tomorrow off instead of today lolAugust 3, 2023
Took a nap and woke up just in time to install Baldurs Gate 3 for the next 3,5 Hours! pic.twitter.com/iYENb5lR6BAugust 3, 2023
baldurs gate 3 downloading 98gb pic.twitter.com/06OURuF8lEAugust 3, 2023
baldurs gate 3 downloading 98gb pic.twitter.com/06OURuF8lEAugust 3, 2023
Looks like it’s been a stressful day for game director Sven Vincke:
But the hard work seems to be done:
That’s 16:00 BST, which means that Baldur’s Gate 3 is officially live. Sadly, it’ll probably take some time to get through that download, but after the three-year early access, that shouldn’t be too bad. Right?
Also, here’s our Baldur’s Gate 3 review, to help you while away at least some of that waiting time…
We’re nearly there, and Larian is celebrating as only Larian can…
We’re so close to the finish line that the final stages of release are starting to take shape. Right now, that’s the Baldur’s Gate 3 achievements, which have shown up on Steam. There’ll be 53 in total, but it looks like Larian is choosing not to tell us how to get all of them, so there’ll be a little bit of sleuthing if you want to truly 100% this one.
We’re nearly there, which means that Baldur’s Gate early access is about to disappear forever. Just another reminder – your saves will not carry over from early access to the main game, and Larian says you should uninstall whatever version you currently have installed to get a fresh install at launch.
With early access reaching its end, players are bidding it farewell, highlighting not only how much fun they’ve had, but the positive way in which the community has shaped the game over the past three years.
Farewell, EA… from r/BaldursGate3
To all my EA homies from r/BaldursGate3
Speaking of musical interludes, the wait seems to be getting a little too much for D&D YouTuber Jacob Budz.
Just 90 minutes to go before the Baldur’s Gate 3 launch, so it seems like the perfect time for a musical interlude.
First up is YouTuber, D&D enthusiast, and musician Ginny Di, who’s vocal talents you may recognise from Tiefling bard Alfira if you’ve played the early access build. In cosplay complete with horns and some gnarly-looking contacts, you can check out Di performing her in-game song below:
But if you’d prefer something a little heavier, you can also take a peep at Jonathan Young playing his original composition, Answer the Call.
By my calculations, that’s at least six minutes that I’ve helped you kill, so that should make the wait a little easier.
We’re approaching the home stretch, so for now, here’s Adam Smith, Baldur’s Gate 3’s lead writer, doing his own launch day prep.
Just over two hours to go!
Today’s the day.We have such sights to show you. pic.twitter.com/zww1X54lD2August 3, 2023
In more ‘wholesome reflection’ news, Samantha Béart, voice actor for party member Karlach, has taken to Twitter to outline her journey to playing the character, who made the jump from NPC to Origin character between early access and full release.
On this Baldur’s Gate 3 Eve I want to send huge love and thanks to @soundswilde for recommending me for Karlach back in 2020, and @Cromwelp for doing so *again* in 2022……and to @larianstudios @PitStopTweets for the opportunity to bring Big K to life. ️”So? How’d I do?” pic.twitter.com/ZC4M7APhTDAugust 2, 2023
An amusing side-effect of today’s launch is some good-natured confusion from long-time fans. As a reminder, Larian’s said that the best course of action is to completely uninstall Baldur’s Gate 3 before reinstalling it after launch.
That’s all well and good, but the early access uninstallation process also came with a questionnaire to provide some valuable feedback. Given Larian’s instructions, some fans are now answering the question “why are you uninstalling Baldur’s Gate 3?” with the response “because you literally told me to.”
What do you mean by Why? You asked me to do it from r/BaldursGate3
Vincke’s not the only one reflecting this morning. The rest of Larian’s team are prepping for a big day, with PR and comms director Molly Carrol and publishing director Michael Douse both looking back and looking forward.
am i just supposed to go to bed like this is a normal evening and not Baldur’s Gate EveAugust 3, 2023
I was 29 when I took up the role of Director of Publishing at the start of Baldur’s Gate 3’s development. That’s nuts. Feels like it’s been most of my adult life.August 3, 2023
Good morning! We’re back, and ready for Baldur’s Gate 3 launch day.
You can find your exact Baldur’s Gate 3 release times towards the beginning of this blog feed, and remember that our Baldur’s Gate 3 review in progress will be dropping at the same time. For now, I leave you with the words of game director Sven Vincke, but I’ll be back shortly with more coverage.
That about wraps up our Baldur’s Gate 3 live pre-launch coverage, but don’t close that tab just yet (or at least bookmark it), as we’ll be back bright and early tomorrow covering the full release.
(Image credit: Larian) 2023-08-02T22:39:48.596Z
In what could be read as a threat, warning, or promise, one Baldur’s Gate 3 writer declared that even after all the reveals and Early Access content, we still have no idea “just how horny this game is.”
“Don’t get me wrong – it’s also affecting, funny, gripping, and worthy of any number of superlatives you can dream up… but also mainstream, big-budget horny in a way I thought went extinct in the mid-90s in movies, and may never have been seen in games of this scale,” said senior writer John Corcoran.
I’m really not sure how to interpret that, because this is after the whole bear sex thing.
The impending launch of Baldur’s Gate 3 has also revived a classic CRPG debate: is it cheating to pickpocket your own money back? Sure, you might have the skills to snatch 200 gold out of the pockets of the merchant you just traded with, but will you be able to sleep at night?
And speaking of classic CRPGs: there have been reports of Xbox Game Pass notifications indicating that the enhanced editions of Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2 will soon be added to Microsoft’s subscription service. This remains unofficial for now, but a fresh release like this would be a great way for fans to catch up on the series. Just be warned: these games definitely play like relics of another era.
For what it’s worth, that bear moment is part of a presentation that helped push Baldur’s Gate firmly into this month’s gaming mainstream. Not long after the most recent Panel From Hell – where Larian outlined that you might get busy with a grizzly if you play your cards right – the game shot to the top of Steam’s charts. All I’m saying is that it it’s not not a coincidence.
That legacy is certainly interesting, however, not least because Baldur’s Gate 3 seems to be leading a full-fledged Moment for CRPGs as a whole. In the last year alone, the number of people who own a CRPG on Steam has risen by three million, and it’s not hard to see which frontrunner might be driving that surge in interest.
Elsewhere, there’ll be people doing their damndest to get their rocks off. Baldur’s Gate 3 Romance is set to be an important part of the game, whether you’re doing the dirty with a druid wild-shaped into a bear, or convincing yourself you can ‘fix’ an evil assassin.
Assuming you stick to those rules, you’ll be settling in for several hundred hours of Baldur’s Gate 3. There are 17,000 permutations of its ending, and it’ll take you anywhere from 75 to 200 hours to get to just one of them. Sadly, I’ve got no way of helping you find those endings out just yet, but I assume some dedicated speedrunners and/or dataminers will be doing their damndest to work things out as soon as possible.
It’s worth pointing out, however, that the best way to play is your own personal favourite way to play, as eloquently outlined in this post from the Baldur’s Gate 3 subreddit last month:
baldursgate3 from r/BaldursGate3
Or, as I put it – I’m eating my way through Baldur’s Gate 3, and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.
As I said, I’m a fan of Astarion’s roguishness, but if I had to pick, I’d opt for Shadowheart of Lae’zel, whose stories seem to be closest to the core narrative of Baldur’s Gate 3. If you deem yourself a true expert, however, you may choose to opt for The Dark Urge, instead. The final addition to the Origin character roster can be any race or class you choose, but their story will remain the same. That story is one of a mysterious thirst for blood, violence, and murder, and it’s likely to substantially derail some parts of the game. With that in mind, Vincke has suggested that you probably don’t want to pick them up for your first playthrough.
(Image credit: Larian) 2023-08-02T17:34:40.605Z
After that first playthrough, you’ve got Larian’s official permission to play an Origin character. There are seven Origin characters in Baldur’s Gate 3, who all have predetermined stories and (mostly) predetermined races and classes:
- Astarion, an mean-spirited elvish Rogue who also happens to be a vampire
- Lae’zel, a short-tempered Githyanki fighter
- Gale, an eloquent human wizard
- Shadowheart, a half-elf Cleric with a dark affinity
- Wyll, a human warlock with a noble past and an unfortunate patron
- Karlach, a tiefling barbarian held captive in hell for a decade
- The Dark Urge, who we’ll come back to shortly
As you approach that first playthrough, an all-important question arises: what are you playing in your first playthrough? It’s a tricky question, although thankfully there’s some official guidance which should help out.
Game director Sven Vincke said that your first Baldur’s Gate 3 playthrough should be with a custom character – one created from scratch, rather than one of the seven Origin characters. What race that character should be is mostly a matter of personal preference, but choosing the best Baldur’s Gate 3 class can be a bit trickier. If you’re familiar with early access, I think the Bard should be your first playthrough character, thanks to its knack for finding novel ways to talk themselves out of a tricky spot. I’m also enjoying having a Rogue in my party for sneaking and lockpicking, but if you’re a less experienced player, a more simple class, such as a Fighter or Wizard, might be a better pick. The developers have their own preferences, however – Vincke likes a Paladin, while lead writer Adam Smith says that the Monk’s speed makes them Baldur’s Gate 3’s true best class.
As for my hands-on with the full release last month, I came away from that blown away by Baldur’s Gate 3’s depth. From a heist gone wrong to evidence of the game’s interweaving narrative strands, I saw how the game’s size and density play out as we reach the titular city. Lead writer Adam Smith outlined how all that creative decision making led to a game more like a Dishonored-style immersive sim than a traditional CRPG, with the consequences of your actions spiraling away from one another off the whims of a single dice roll.
(Image credit: Larian)
As I mentioned earlier, our Baldur’s Gate 3 review in progress will drop on Thursday, August 3, along with the game itself. But we’ve had plenty of time with the game already, both with our initial Baldur’s Gate 3 early access preview from 2020, and hands-on with the full release alongside Larian thanks to our Baldur’s Gate 3 preview. That’s in addition to several hours with the early access build as it’s developed over the past few years (although I personally steered clear until more recently so I could enjoy the full release in all its glory).
Early access has been hugely important for helping Larian playtest the game, with story, characters, classes and far, far more all coming under the magnifying glass over the past few years. It’s a limited slice of the game, but one with a huge amount of depth that’s only served to make what’s coming even more exciting.
Still, whether you’re diving straight into the download or waiting for a console release, you can get prepping. Long-time fans have been busy helping out, making their own character creators, offering crash courses on D&D-style combat, and pointing out the things that early access players might have missed. All that community help should make the wait slightly easier.
Something that won’t be easy, however, is the fact that Baldur’s Gate 3 is about to wipe all your early access saves, and make any mods you’ve got installed incompatible with the game. So you might want to work on that before launch, too.
Also, a reminder that the Baldur’s Gate 3 release date occurring this week is only for PC – a PS5 version is on its way on September 6. Sadly, there’s nothing concrete on an Xbox release just yet – Larian has said it’s working on a port, but it won’t be ready for the other launches.
First things first, logistics. The Baldur’s Gate 3 release times confirm exactly when you’ll be able to start downloading the game – unfortunately, due to the game’s existence in early access, there is no Baldur’s Gate 3 pre-load. That’s bad news for people with slow internet, and… still bad news for people with fast internet, because it means a longer wait.