Review : Baldur’s Gate 3 : Natural 20s

In an ideal world, I would have had this review out weeks ago. Unfortunately, Larian Studios just has to go ahead and make the best role-playing game I have ever played since Mass Effect. I hope that if anyone from that insanely talented studio sees this, that they fully understand the effects of their actions: how my life has spiraled out of control and made my wife fall in love with a digital vampire man with perfect hair who lives in her computer while I neglected my daily routine and wonder why Shadowheart won’t just give me a chance. In all seriousness, what Larian has accomplished with Baldur’s Gate 3 is nothing short of a masterpiece. If I could, I would end this review right here, give it a 10/10, and play my 8th character. Alas, I cannot. I must churn out more words to tell you exactly how passionate I am about this game and how Larian nailed it. Welcome to my madness.

Extracted from the world’s most famous Tabletop Role Playing Game (TTRPG), Baldur’s Gate 3 is based entirely on the Dungeons and Dragons (D&D) 5e system. This includes all the basic rules that have had me looking back at the physical Player’s Handbook to double check if I was even playing the TTRPG component correctly. I came to the conclusion that I have occasionally misunderstood a 300 page book several times over. It also features all the races and a mass majority of classes and subclasses that are worth giving a go in this virtual format. 

The question remains: does Baldur’s Gate 3 perform up to the standards and properly translate from the world of pen and paper to a digital format? Does Larian act like the wonderful, non-problematic Dungeon Master of our dreams? Grab your character sheet, your lucky dice, and 25-page background, and let’s dive into what makes Baldur’s Gate 3 not just my Game of the Year, but the best game I have played in the last five years.

From the Page to the Screen

There are two types of players that will jump into this game: those who know D&D and those who do not. For seasoned players such as myself who loves TTRPGs and has been playing D&D 5e for years now, I adjusted to the system, and then it fully engrossed me within its unique play style. Those who fall on the other side of this proverbial fence who have no idea what is going on may find themselves quite agitated as the game doesn’t really explain itself. 

Baldur’s Gate 3 relies on exploration, not just environmentally but also within the litany of menus, spells, actions, proficiencies, and the varying effects your character can gain. It has a learning curve which can be quite intimidating and tough for those unfamiliar, which is something I discussed in my “review in progress.” Nevertheless, the experience is truly unique and rewarding, especially when you start to understand how it works. 

Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition is a malleable construct of a system that provides you with a litany of tools and doesn’t care how you use them, either on their own or in conjunction with other abilities. While it does try to prevent you from stepping outside of your experience or teach you a lesson through malicious cruelty, it does its best to at least push you in a direction that makes sense. Tough boss battles could be easily won if you take the time to explore your options, environment, and what you have in your bag. If you are ill equipped to deal with the matter, well, you’ll know.

The sense of agency within the game practically begs you to use everything at your disposal. There are multiple ways to solve situations and resolve combat, turning Baldur’s Gate 3 into the most “water cooler friendly” game I have ever played. My wife, who is not a D&D fan, comes to me with scenarios that I never experienced, and the same goes for my coworkers who I have convinced to buy and play the game. This type of camaraderie is something I haven’t really experienced before with any other game. 

The Duplicity of RPGs

I constantly challenge myself to prepare good TTRPG adventures for my players at the table. In an attempt to deliver something fresh and exciting, I am always left beside myself wondering if the story is actually interesting. Then the slew of questions come forth, wondering if I am making something fun or if the story is just a tedious mess of events held together by a single thin string. Have I established the elements needed to engross my players into my carefully crafted worlds? Often times I am wondering if I am giving my players enough agency to follow their own actions, something that is quite difficult to convey in a video game, and yet Larian did it. 

Player agency is what really impresses me with Baldur’s Gate 3. In other titles, story takes a majority of the attention, sometimes hogging the spotlight more than it should by utilizing long, dragged out conversations that could have been greatly reduced without compromising the immersion. Here, Larian developed a ton of dialog options so you can craft your own experience the way you want. If you love talking to characters and learning about your party, you’ll be rewarded with an abundance of lore and history as well as a deep connection with each character. 

There are two main components that make up Baldur’s Gate 3: roleplaying and combat. Roleplaying is pretty self-explanatory, though this system can be as difficult as the battles themselves. In the heat of the moment, I was easily lost within the tension of the scene. The stakes weren’t just the world, they also included the characters I have spent hours upon hours with. I learned their ticks, their inner secrets, hopes, and aspirations. Losing one of them wouldn’t spell the end of a storyline, it would end their function within this grand plot that Larian crafted. Not seeing the conclusions to their adventure mattered just as much as my own.

On the other hand, there is combat, and it can be quite challenging, especially if you don’t explore your options. Whether they be items in abundance or the treasured trinkets in your pocket that you have collected in anticipation for the final boss, it is always better to use them in the heat of the moment since a single potion could easily turn the battle in your favor. Every aspect of combat requires a base level of understanding as well as luck thanks to the D20 system. No hit is a guarantee, especially if you do anything with Shadowheart that isn’t healing (I’m so sorry, don’t disapprove of that). 

Roleplaying is more than just talking to characters in order to seduce them. Yes, you read that correctly, and you already know that is a thing, let’s not pretend here. We both know that the bear sex scene got you interested; I’m not judging, but I digress. Roleplaying also revolves around your impact on the world around you. It brings consequences for your actions, some of which you will not see the aftermath of ’til you are much further into the story. 

In a way, Baldur’s Gate 3 properly trains you for the third act which not just includes much heavier and meatier story elements, but makes them incredibly complex to navigate. You slowly ween yourself off the “save the Tieflings or leave them to die” moral choices and become involved with elements that are much more demanding and sometimes too complex. The only reason why I outlined this review way ahead of time was because I didn’t want to choose between two different outcomes since I honestly didn’t know which one would be better for the outcome of the story. It is also why this review took so long to release. I just couldn’t decide on which choice to make. The alternative of either choice was to run around the lower city and jump into Starfield, totally ignoring my choices just like we all do in real life.

Now, on the other side of this experience is the combat, and, surprisingly, Baldur’s Gate 3 ensures both of these aspects are properly balanced. While the roleplaying is fun and the combat is equally rewarding, the game still provides you with the agency needed to compliment your personal style. You can easily tilt the game in one way or another. Halfway through most conversations you can just take a swing at someone. It might not end well, but the option is there. Other times, you can actually have one character distract the NPC while another pushes them off the cliff, ending annoying boss battles in an instant. Yes, I did this maybe twice. 

While Baldur’s Gate 3 is absolutely amazing, there are a few weak areas. There’s nothing too detrimental to the overall experience, but, rather, there are little nit-picky qualms that I have. Inventory management is perhaps the weakest part of the game. Items clutter your bags constantly, but, due to Larian’s ability to mesh the elements of this game with the real world, I noticed that there is only a slight difference between my character’s inventory and that of a pen and paper character. Wumbo, in both the TTRPG form and Baldur’s Gate 3 form, are hoarders beyond reason. I’ll collect a thousand potions and never use them despite their utility in battle. I know I have a problem, and I am trying to be better about it.

There is the added bonus of experiencing the same existential dread with the multiplayer component as the game might be fun with others, but you still need to organize and set aside some time if you wish to play together. Yes, it is hard enough to plan a D&D night in person or digitally though Foundry and Roll20, so Larian must recreate that sense of planning within their video game. Sure, you can still play your game without your friend and shove them into the literal closet when you don’t want them in your party, but playing an adventure like this with your friends is such a rewarding experience in its own right that it becomes very easy to have multiple characters with their own unique journey.

The only other caveat that I can say is that if you plan on playing strictly alone, you cannot fully explore the world of mods. Yes, with Nexus Mods you can make a litany of changes to the game with a bunch of addons that can add more immersive details to the game. Personally, some of my favorites allow me to show my shield on my back, help auto-organize my bags, and so on. There are some mods that adjust experience gained, but those I will save for another time. If you attempt to jump into a multiplayer game with mods equipped, you get a rather huge error that involves you resetting your game back to the core, vanilla experience.


Finally, the biggest concern I have about Baldur’s Gate 3 is the performance. For the most part, the game ran perfectly fine on my PC. But on my wife’s PC, there were some issues when she tried to play during the third act while streaming her experience (specs provided later). It is also a fully validated game on the Steam Deck, and, as of this writing, the game is also Mac compatible. And, yes, it runs quite well on my 2022 13” MacBook Pro with the M2 chip. I haven’t played the PlayStation 5 version, but from what I gathered from others so far, it runs fine.

PC 1 

PC 2


AMD Ryzen 7 5700G

Intel Core i5 12600K


32GB DDR4 3200 MHz

16GB DDR4 3200 MHz


NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti

NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060


2TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 4.0 SSD

1TB M.2 NVMe PCIe 3.0 SSD

Motherboard Chipset



Display Resolution / Hz

1440p 21:9 UW @ 165 Hz

1080p 16:9 @ 144 Hz

Act III is where some of the more glaring performance issues come. When you approach a certain city and more occupied areas, the game starts to chug a bit. For the opening two acts of the game, my system with a 2060 was able to handle the game easily, for the most part. When entering the city and meandering around the streets while also streaming live to an audience, my wife experienced major performance hiccups. The game managed to run fine without streaming. 

The NVIDIA 2060 really chugs with only 6GB of VRAM available and a smaller bitrate and bus width. Using ReBar with NVIDIA products on a desktop computer is highly suggested for better performance. While the 2060 can handle a decent chunk of what you throw at it, especially with 1080p performance, Baldur’s Gate 3 is really giving the card a run for its money. I can’t say the same, however, for the 3070 Ti where non-streaming elements run perfectly fine with max settings at 1440p without issues.

When streaming I notice a few hiccups, but there’s nothing too detrimental to the experience. Here, the bottleneck is clearly my processor (AMD Ryzen 7 5700G). While that processor is amazing for most gaming scenarios, when trying to stream, the PCIe 3.0 interface is just not fast enough to handle the communications between what the game wants and what the 3070 Ti is trying to put out. PCIe 4.0 doubles the performance in most cases and is highly suggested if you are looking for the best performance out of this game while streaming it. And this is even more so if you happen to be running a higher resolution display. It is also incredibly important to note that you should enable the highest available level of anti-aliasing to make the armor, hair, and finer details look as smooth as possible. By default, this was turned completely off. 

As for memory bandwidth, this is where I have come to the conclusion that 16GB of RAM is just not good enough if you happen to be big into multitasking. Sure, if you overclock and make some adjustments to the performance profile by leveraging XMP 2.0/3.0 then you can squeeze a bit more out of it, but I like to keep my systems as stock as possible since overclocking could lead to other issues down the line. Either way, this is one of the few games where most of the 16GB (15GB of it) is dedicated towards the game, and I can say that 32GB should be the new minimum if you happen to play a lot of games while also capturing footage in one way or another. 

For Mac players, just to be safe and sound I would say make sure you have an M2 chip at the very least. Still, M1 chips can handle the game without issue with lower specs. If you happen to be a MacBook user, I wouldn’t even come close to considering the MacBook Air as a gaming device. This is a heavy game, and the components put off so much heat. Even as I type this, my 13” 2022 M2 MacBook Pro with built in fans, 512GB SSD, and16GB RAM is heating up beyond reason. The internal fans are working overtime to exhaust the air, and it makes the aluminum chassis incredibly hot. So no, I wouldn’t suggest playing this on the MacBook series systems, even if Apple says you can. If anything, a configured Mac mini or Mac Studio would be where you want to play this if you don’t have a Windows PC available.

If you are a Steam Deck user, I have had a great experience with the title. It runs well in handheld mode, and when attached to the TV it still plays amazingly well. The issue is regarding the graphical capabilities as some compromises need to be made. For instance, Astarion’s hair looks like a dollop of whipped cream as opposed to its glorious mane that we have all come to love. So your milage may vary, especially with Steam Deck update 3.5 just around the corner.

In Conclusion

Baldur’s Gate 3 is such a huge game that I adore greatly, to the point where everyone I know has been sending me memes and asking if they would like this experience. Honestly, I can’t gush over this more. My passion for what Larian created has now exploded over four pages, now, and I am on the verge of hitting my fifth. I could have gone on for longer about all the things I enjoy about Baldur’s Gate 3.

While I greatly appreciate this game, what I love is hearing what other people think. My experience with the story is going to be vastly different than yours. How I venture through the open act, what I explore, and how I solved difficult situations can be the total opposite of how you do it, and that underlies the pure beauty of Baldur’s Gate 3: it is a glorious adventure filled with amazing rising actions, subterfuge, and lots of ambiguity, ensuring that you come back for additional playthroughs. In my three years at Seasoned Gaming, this is the first game I feel confident giving a 10. 

You can find Seasoned Gaming’s review policy here

By Steve Esposito

Steve Esposito is a dedicated content creator with a focus on his love for technology, video games, and the very industry that oversees it all. He also takes part in organizing the Long Island Retro and Tabletop Gaming Expo as well as a Dungeons and Dragons podcast: Copper Piece. You can find him on twitter @AgitatedStove


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