Hello everyone! We hope you’ve recovered from the Panel From Hell. We have a huge, bumper community update for you today. We’re going to talk about Early Access at some length, so get a cup of something ready, and maybe a snack. Nestled in? Let’s go.
What is Early Access? What are your expectations? Everyone has a different answer to this, depending on the experience they’re looking for, or their objectives that lead them to shipping a game into Early Access. Regardless how you define it, buying an Early Access game needs to be an informed decision and today we come here to inform.
We’re going to cover a bunch of topics discussed on the 18th’s Panel From Hell, where Geoff, Swen, Adam and Chris talked in some depth about not just Early Access, but also Avernus, first of the nine hells and the setting of the game’s tutorial.
The full Panel From Hell is a pretty lengthy watch, but it’s just below here.
If you made it all the way to the end, you learned we’re aiming to launch Baldur’s Gate 3 into Early Access on September 30. The Steam page has been updated to more accurately describe what we’ll be releasing first. While the content will be limited, there should be enough bells and whistles to make it a fun, engaging experience.
Early Access will feature around 20-25 hours of gameplay in a single play-through, with performance captured dialogues and cut-scenes, voice overs for most dialogs, multiplayer (but no split-screen for now), several translations available (but not all) and an Act 1 story that should feel fulfilling to play through many multiple times, with multiple characters. At the start of Early Access, support for custom characters will consist of 6 classes and 9 races, with several subclasses and subraces included. You won’t be able to play as an origin character yet but you will be able to recruit 5 of them as companions when your journey commences.
Here’s a little about who you’re likely to meet on the road to Baldur’s Gate:
A loyal cleric of Shar, Shadowheart is the sole survivor of a holy mission undertaken for the Mistress of the Night. She alone must deliver a relic of immense power while threatened by foes on all sides, and a strange, untamed magic burgeoning from within.
Noble by birth, Wyll made his name as the heroic 'Blade of Frontiers'. But to become a living legend, he made a bargain with a devil - and he now longs to break free before it consumes him for good.
Lae'zel is a ferocious warrior, mighty even by the standards of a githyanki crèche. Faced with transforming into the very monster she's sworn to destroy, Lae'zel must prove herself worthy of rejoining her people - if they don't execute her first.
Astarion prowled the night as a vampire spawn for centuries, serving a sadistic master until he was snatched away. Now he can walk in the light and has the chance at a new life, but how long can he keep his past buried?
Gale is a Waterdhavian wizard prodigy whose love for a goddess made him attempt something no mortal should. Blighted by the forbidden magic of ancient Netheril, Gale needs to undo the corruption that is overtaking him, a corruption that threatens to destroy the lives of thousands.
We’ll go into the exact available classes, sub-classes, and races a little closer to launch as we iron out some last-minute content planning, but for now I think the easiest way to open your eyes to just how huge BG3's EA content is, we’ll compare that content to our previous game’s Early Access, Divinity: Original Sin 2.
Amount of combats: 22 in DOS2 EA vs 80 in BG3 EA
Amount of dialogue lines in english: 17.600 in DOS2 EA vs. 45.980 in BG3 EA
Amount of characters: 142 in DOS2 EA vs. 596 in BG3 EA
Amount of spells/actions: 69 in DOS2 EA vs. 146 in BG3 EA
These numbers are changing continuously as we're actively developing the game and new content gets introduced daily.
An example of content coming in hot is an Intellect Devourer named 'us'. The story of how 'Us' made it into the game was introduced during the Panel and showcases what’s possible when multiple disciplines at Larian come together. And this is still early footage! It’s only going to get better, and bigger, from here.
You could accurately state that BG3’s EA is 3x larger than DOS2’s EA, but that requires further context. The 3x multiplier essentially translates to density. More permutations. Many more permutations. It’s the deepest game we’ve ever made, and if you’re the type of player who played 100 hours in DOS2, you’ll see entirely different content on your second or third playthrough compared to your first, depending on the decisions you make. We wanted to create real, tangible storylines that permeate throughout happenstance and decision and so if you try out early access, it may be a good idea to try out what happens on an 'evil' playthrough and compare that to a 'good' playthrough.
During the panel we gave a couple of examples of how the depth of Baldur’s Gate 3 made our numbers soar. We showcased the spell “Speak with Dead”. A spell that could (and potentially should) be easily sidelined or “gamified” because of the immense scope, but instead we’ve ensured that Speak with Dead is relevant throughout your adventures with every corpse that had something interesting to say. Can’t interrogate the living? Interrogate the dead!
The same goes for animal Handling, something many of you asked about. The skill can be used to calm down an animal, intuit an animal’s intentions, or potentially help tame it. You’ll find plenty of uses for this skill on the road to Baldur’s Gate but that’s not all. There’s also the spell Speak with Animals. During the panel we hinted that good use of these spells or skills could even lead to recruiting an owlbear companion!
In the stream, we showed another useful spell in the D&D arsenal - Find Familiar. This spell creates a spirit that takes the form of animal of your choice (Cat, Raven, Spider and more) to serve you as a familiar. The familiar becomes a controllable follower, and can be useful for a number of reasons. Thanks to the spell you can see and hear through the animal, so it's perfect to send it ahead of you and explore the region as a scout. While mostly combat ineffective, familiars can be used to spy and gain insight on situations before you can encounter them. Certain familiars also have other interesting abilities like a cat - who can use a skill to distract guards, making it much easier for your rogue to do what they do best.
The Early Access Experience
Early Access gets you all of the content you’ve seen us playing in our previous live-streams, plus everything we’ve still got to show you, and much more we’ve left for you to discover for yourselves (which is, to be fair, almost everything - we’ve tried to show you as little as possible).
However. September 30 isn’t going to offer a polished experience. Which brings us full circle to the introduction of this update. The purpose of Early Access for us at Larian is to make the game better. We want to iterate on the game, hear your feedback, debate internally and debate with our players. We don’t know how long Baldur’s Gate 3 will be in Early Access, but we do know that all your feedback will make the game so much better and ensure that the 1.0 launch will be so much stronger than if we were to do it just on our own.
If you’re in it for the story, and you’re not interested in providing feedback or navigating some bugs, then Early Access may not be for you. However, know that even if you don’t provide direct feedback, you still help us make the game better by just playing a bit!
Because we’re collecting all kinds of data behind the scenes that inform us how players are playing the game. Heat maps are a good example of this.
The above example is taken from the Early Access of Divinity: Original Sin 2 and allows us to see the difficulty spikes. Literally, where people are dying. If it’s red where it’s not supposed to be red, it means the fight may be too tough. So then we can have a debate, and figure out what to do about it. You don’t need to tell us, you just need to die. I mean… or win. That’s cool too. Heat maps like this are also used to analyze loot distribution, exploration, and loads of other stats that help us to understand how you interact with the world.
The more of you playing in Early Access, the more data points we get to make better decisions about what to change. That’s of course on top of the forum discussions and the feedback we get via other channels. It’s a pretty amazing thing that has historically made our games better.
In case it’s not clear, we all really hope you’ll join us on our Early Access journey, but we want to make sure you know the game won’t be ready yet. If you want a full polished experience, wait until we release version 1.0.
You can read the whole Early Access blurb on the Steam page for more information, but to be honest we pretty much covered it all here.
Also - thanks for all the memes from The Panel From Hell, and thanks for the continued support.
OH - there’s one more thing. There won’t be pre-orders for Baldur’s Gate 3 and you do not need to worry about pre ordering to play with everyone else.
You’ll be able to buy it on launch day, and then start playing the content described in this update. There will not be limited quantities of keys.
That’s pretty much everything you need to inform yourself on Early Access. It’s going to be an awesome journey together. We’ll be sharing new content, features, and improvements with you regularly. We’ll be talking directly with you, and hopefully when COVID is done being a total asshole to the world, we’ll meet again at PAX, or EGX, or wherever else! We miss you!
We have more surprises in store for you up to launch. We’ll post a full, extensive breakdown of Early Access Day 1 content closer to launch, but until then stay tuned to our streams and community updates!