Larian Studios said today that Baldur’s Gate III could hit Steam Early Access in August. The company made this announcement as part of the Guerrilla Collective indie game presentation, an all-digital event that developed after the cancellation of the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo game industry trade show.
Larian is a big believer in the Early Access development model: It released both Divinity: Original Sin and its sequel that way, giving players a chance to not only get a taste of the game but provide feedback as well. The developers then use that feedback to fix bugs and other issues, adjust unbalanced systems, tighten up narratives, and more. Smaller developers also use this model to help fund their projects.
Baldur’s Gate III is a turned-based role-playing game set in the Dungeons & Dragons Forgotten Realms setting. The series’ first two games are some of the best RPGs ever made, establishing BioWare as a premier creator in the genre. This game, at least so far, includes the city of Baldur’s Gate, but the main story has the player character trying to stop their transformation into an Illithid (aka Mind Flayer), one of D&D‘s most powerful and nasty evils, before it’s too late. We don’t know how the previous storylines of being a Child of Bhaal (the Realms’ god of murder) come into play. The god is alive and stabby in the 5th Edition of D&D, after all (and in the adventure that takes place ahead of Baldur’s Gate III — Descent into Avernus).
Larian has made some changes since we last saw the game. Studio boss Sven Winke said they changed how they’re working on the narration and noted a number of visual and gameplay improvements. He also said he’d be playing it live during next week’s D&D Live on June 18, giving viewers the choice between him killing a nasty hobgoblin or descending into the Underdark, the magical, dangerous realm of caverns and horrors underneath Faerûn (the Forgotten Realms world).
With the Divinity: Original Sin series, Larian (like BioWare before it) has also established itself as a premier RPG studio. Both games have sold more than 1 million copies.
Update, 10:11 a.m. Pacific: When I posted, Winke hadn’t said that the plan to hit Early Access in August could be delayed by COVID-19. I’ve updated to reflect this.