Smoke, blood and ash: we couldn't start our Baldur's Gate III preview any differently. A new story begins where it ended, while an eternal past, sad and tumultuous, come back to knock on the ancestral doors of a magical world far from time, which makes up the magnificent world of Dungeons and Dragons, the famous role-playing game created by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson back in 1974, in which a die could change the fate of a protagonist and the dungeon master, between intrigues and traps, it made him go through a very bad quarter of an hour.
After so much time since then, however, a lot of time has passed, and fantasy video games, as we all know, we have seen a lot go by. Dragon Age, Skyrim, Bound by Flame, The Witcher and many other productions, and each of them interfaced with John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's favorite genre in a unique way, between wonderful nuances and memories of a wonderful and touching past. Because among those yellowed pages, one way or another, a story was told that came from the childish imagination of anyone willing to dream.
A past full of successes
Baldur's Gate is one of the most famous and well-known series in the entire gaming landscape, one of the rare and memorable pearls of a wonderful period for the fantasy genre and for anyone who loves role-playing. The best stories, on the other hand, are those that are written by the protagonists. For those who have never heard of it, Baldur's Gate has distant origins, precisely in 1998, the year of the publication of the first chapter of the franchise, which had an extraordinary success in sales and reception, and was awarded by specialized critics with very high marks.
You set out on your adventure as an orphan from the library city of Candlekeep, raised by Gorion, his adoptive father. It was an incredibly classic beginning for a fantasy, and considering the releases from other media, it wasn't even very original, yet it was what came after that that really counted. With Baldur's Gate II: Shadows of Amn, on the other hand, the adventure resumed a few months after the incredibly conclusions of the previous publication, taking the player away from the Sword Coast and from the lush forests of the place, of which I remember with pleasure the waterfalls and the groves covered of coniferous trees, shrubs and brambles. The imaginative world of The Forgotten Realms has seen writers like Ed Greenwood create incredible, unique and heartwarming stories. Books, lyrics, songs and even movies. There is not only an immense gaming world on the story of Baldur's Gate, but a mode of entertainment completely invaded by just as many media. And that's not a bad thing at all.
In recent days we had the opportunity to take a more complete and in-depth look at the trailer of Baldur's Gate III, whose official publication, after the period in Early Access, is set for August 2023, a date actually much closer than some might wish. It is excellent news for anyone, especially for the incurable enthusiasts who, for some time, have been following the events narrated in the magical world of Faerûn, for which I feel a great affection. Furthermore, 2023 could be the year of publication of the work also on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X / S, there is no shortage of consoles as well.
Baldur's Gate III, during these two years in its still not definitive version, has been replenished with exciting and fun content, capable of entertaining fans and approaching new players in the series in a positive way. This meant, therefore, greater sharing and further participation by those who adore the Larian Studios production, which in recent years has had a lot to do with the Divinity series. The Belgian team, challenging Obsidian Entertainment, managed to place itself in front of the works of the American team, which in the meantime worked on works such as Pentiment and The Outer Worlds.
By choosing to revive and give new life to the Baldur's Gate brand, the studio led by Sven Vincke quintupled its energies, winning the favor of the public above all thanks to its enviable history of productions. And Baldur's Gate III could only have been born like this, after all: from a dream that then turned into reality, and from polygons that now tell the stories of a fantasy world at its maximum expansion. Ash covers everything, even hope, but only a company of adventurers can destroy evil and its ambitions. A story is not written only with ink, but also with blood and sacrifice.
A city, a huge world and new heroes
The trailer that I previewed, as it was being presented by the team, was quite telling, pbecause it introduces the game world in a clear and concise way, communicating amazement, wonder and so much to discover. The magic, when it returns, is always beautiful, but that of Baldur's Gate III, which is now in its second year of Early Access, is now taking a clearer and better developed form. The sky is menaced by dark clouds, while the wind whips the cloak of the various characters that I have recognized in passing, and the scenario, which opens up in all its magnificence, shows a peculiar care for the environments and the context out of the ordinary. I certainly couldn't have expected anything better from Larian Studios, even though what I've seen I already know well thanks to the many tests made on the production in these two years. Despite this, Baldur's Gate III storyline offers a new story with never-before-seen characters, and some well-known names such as Minsc and Jaheira, who return after twenty years in all their glory. The world is the same, of course, and it is essential to clarify this for those who expect an indissoluble bond with the past. Magic is everywhere, especially the evil one, and by now no one seems ready to want to challenge it for real, because the seemingly lasting peace is actually more fragile than anyone expects.
Few know what is really happening in Faerûn, and continuing one's lives is the only alternative not to think about the darkness ready to appear once again, ready to make its way into a peace achieved with difficulty but never properly preserved. The trailer opened with a beastly fight: it was a magical fight between a demon and a wizard, which reminded me of the fight between Gandalf the Gray and the Balrog in Lord of the Rings, however realistic. There was lightning and bolts and blood, and there was someone running away, safe, as he tried to slip away from all that brutal death. A castle, hidden by the shadows, was then revealed in all its magnificence: there were torn and worn banners, a symbol of a past that is not ashamed of its wrongdoings. An obscene creature, half man, half octopus, sits on a throne of bones, while from heaven a fallen angel prepares to do battle. A basket of snakes, symbol of death and war, is the deadliest message: there is no more peace, there is no more hope and there is nothing a hero can do to stop evil from rising once again.
The unfortunate wakes up with difficulty on a skyship called Mind Flayer, and is a prisoner along with many others. The direction is unknown, they don't know what could happen to them and they don't remember the last night they slept. They are lashed with whips day and night, while the chains grow tighter and tighter, as if the jailer feared they might escape at any moment. The trailer, evocative and touching, presents just such a situation, while the sky, in perpetual tumultleaves no room for further interpretation: the doom of the world is near. And who will fight it? Later, a vast city looms on the horizon, with a port where ships are anchored waiting to leave.
The watchtowers soar, caressing the clouds and blue sky, while the walls protect not only its citizens, but its secrets. It is Baldur's Gate, the city that many were waiting to see again after several years, as wonderful as ever and as cheerful as then, proud testimony of how the past is always useful to preserve it. I don't hide that I got excited, experiencing different sensations that I still can't explain. It exists, it is real and tangible: it can be visited far and wide, discovering its secrets and facets, interfacing with the realities of the city, between choices and consequences that I can't wait to explore properly in due course.
A prosperous city, happy and far from the perils of the wild lands, which on the contrary hide creatures and beasts of all sorts ready to make their appearance in the vast world of Faerûn. I saw a clearing and a creature in it, then small rivers and a large lake; later, in the middle of a vast grassy meadow there was a tree with green leaves. A goblin moves awkwardly, interested only in moving forward and not looking back, perhaps ready to reach his coveted loot, fantasizing about what he could find in the earth or in the treasures stolen during a raid. As I continued to view the trailer, noting every element that came my way, I noticed a long and steep staircase, a cliff and a strange and singular presence that did not intend to leave. And how could it be otherwise? The trailer then continued with the presentation of another area, this time illuminated by the sun's rays, which reflected on the wet ground, shining on some ruined statues. I don't know whose they belong, but for sure they could even be connected with the past of the series, which I have had the opportunity to explore on other occasions.
The decidedly interesting and intriguing context is certainly one of the most relevant elements of the entire production, which is absolutely well implemented and spot on. In fact, it will be necessary to understand how the story will manage to blend definitively with the atmospheres and settings presented. In addition, a short gameplay video and some dialogue with the protagonists was shown. Baldur's Gate III, just like other works of the genre, presents the possibility of responding as you wish to your interlocutor, with choices and consequences included that could change the outcome of the entire story.
As I progressed in the vision, I noticed a particular care for the representation of the various creatures within the game, and the trailer also presented some very rapid moments of gameplay, which could be of interest to those who are approaching the series for the first time ever. And like any self-respecting fantasy work, there is a fire-breathing dragon ready to do anything to prevent our hero and his company from continuing the adventure. Divided between the past and the future, therefore, Baldur's Gate III looks to the present and its undeniable strengths, finally showing itself after years of waiting in its definitive formula, demonstrating attention to detail and further added values that could drive you crazy lovers. After all, how could such a world not do it? The presentation, concluding in the best way, then showed the already pre-orderable Collector's Edition of the production. Yes, you got it right: Larian Studios spares no expense and exaggerates, bringing highly prestigious content to anyone who wants to take the experience well beyond the screen. A comeback with flakes, isn't it?
What to expect from Baldur's Gate III?
Having come to this, I have to ask: have these The Games Awards finally made it? If you already think of the production by Larian Studios, the answer is a resounding yes: the production is proposed in a moment of absolute advantage for the Belgian team, which can deliver the fatal blow and arrive where it has been dreaming for some time now.
It's a dream, after all. Baldur's Gate II could be nothing else for the team and the players. Its full version promises to be unmissable for anyone who considers themselves a fan of the genre, even if the real downside could be the deletion of the save data on the occasion of the publication of the work in its original version. Something that, net of dragons and the fantasy genre, represents a wicked choice. Baldur's Gate III, however, is truly back and in great shape. The magic, However, it is something we cannot do without, and Baldur's Gate is a successful series that finally returns to a landscape that badly needs it.