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Resist, and turn darkness against itself. Or embrace corruption, and become ultimate evil. note 

"Consider your predicament. One skull, two tenants and no solution in sight. I could fix it all, like that. Try to cure yourself, shop around, beg, borrow, and steal. Exhaust every possibility until none are left, and then, when hope has whittled down to the very marrow of despair. That's when you'll come knocking on my door."
Raphael
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Baldur's Gate III is a Role-Playing Game in the High Fantasy Baldur's Gate franchise, set in the Forgotten Realms. It is developed by Larian Studios, best known for the acclaimed Divinity: Original Sin duology, for the PC and Google Stadia. The game features Turn-Based Combat (a first for the series), adapting the 5th Edition ruleset of Dungeons & Dragons. The game entered Early Access on October 6, 2020, and is set to fully release in 2021.

In preparation for the game's formal announcement, a 5th Edition Module was announced titled Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus, which takes place one hundred years after Baldur's Gate II, and acts as a prologue of sorts for the game. It was released in September 2019 and helps bridge some of the gap between the two games.

Set close to a century after the events of the previous game, the story follows the events of an Illithid invasion into Toril. The Player Character is one of the unlucky souls captured by the mind flayers, and is implanted with an Illithid tadpole that will slowly turn them into a mind flayer unless it is removed. After escaping from their imprisonment and crashing the nautiloid ship they were being transported on, they team up with several other nautiloid survivors to search for a way to remove the parasite before the ceremorphosis is complete.

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The game provides examples of:

  • Alien Abduction: Or the closest fantasy equivalent, anyway — the ilithid that captures you in the intro has Combat Tentacles on its nautiloid that teleport people they strike into tanks on the ship for later infestation with larvae.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: The controlled character can only have as many as three party members traveling with them at a time.
  • The Assimilator:
    • Mind flayers reproduce by implanting their tadpole-like larvae into a humanoid body, which transforms, agonizingly, into another mind flayer over the course of about a week. The ship shown in the opening is full of pods which show that the mind flayers have not only managed to speed up the process, but are intent on weaponizing it.
    • On a lesser note, gnolls are shown here to be born of natural hyenas cursed by the demon lord of hunger, Yeenoghu, worshipped by gnolls as their god in keeping with Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition's new canon.
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  • Artificial Stupidity: The game being in early access, the enemies sometimes display questionable tactics - such as casting multiple spells requiring concentration in a row, cancelling the previous one every time.
  • Bad Powers, Good People: There is nothing stopping you from being a warlock, or a cleric of an evil god, but still acting in a heroic manner.
  • Body Horror: The ceremorphosis process is shown in its full, gory glory in the reveal trailer, with a guard's body contorting in horrific agony before transforming into an illithid.
  • Boring, but Practical:
    • As Swen Vincke demonstrated during a gameplay demo, when all else fails, you can throw a shoe at an enemy to deal minor damage.
    • In the early access, warlock is amongst the most effective classes — while they don't have the sheer number of spell slots of a wizard, they do have a spammable and very potent Hand Blast.
    • One of the simplest abilities a character can do is push enemies. It doesn't really do damage, but with the right planning and environment, pushing an enemy can buy you time to regroup, or even push enemies off of heights to deal extra damage.
  • But Thou Must!: You can't actually make a deal with Raphael. Despite offering to remove the tadpole in exchange for your soul he never does so even if you agree and gives the same lines as when the player rejects him. The only difference is he acts somewhat disappointed at how easy it was to get you to agree and that he wanted more of a fight.
  • Character Class System: There's a huge variety of class and race combos, including each of the 12 base classes from 5th edition (though there are currently no plans to include the 13th class, Artificer). Out of these, half are available as part of the early access.
  • Character Customization: Much like Larian's previous game, players have the option of creating a Featureless Protagonist from scratch, or choosing from several pre-made origin stories.
  • Circles of Hell: D&D's Nine Hells are made up of nine descending layers, ruled by nine archdevils in ascending order of rank. The prologue sees your Player Character awakening aboard the nautiloid shortly after the ship transports to Avernus, the topmost layer, a barren Fire and Brimstone Hell that serves as an eternal battleground in the Blood War.
  • Con Man: At the druid conclave, a young tiefling boy will try a con on the PC, also doing a sleight of hand trick. If the PC is a rogue, you can identify all of the boy's tricks by name, and then proceed to show the boy there's Always a Bigger Fish. If the PC doesn't rip the kid off and just tells him "yeah, good luck with that kid", he'll laugh and tell the rogue he'll focus on the real pigeons.
  • Continuity Nod: Among the possessions of druid leader Kagha is a book of Shadow Druid philosophy written by Faldorn, which goes some way to explaining Kagha's hostility toward outsiders and eagerness to seal away the natural splendor of Silvanus' Grove from encroaching civilization — including abandoning the tiefling refugees to the goblin horde.
  • Cool Airship: Not very cool being held captive aboard one, but the mind flayer nautiloid is a huge, flying Living Ship that jumps between dimensions, with Combat Tentacles that can teleport those they touch into one of the countless assimilation pods stowed in its hold.note 
  • Cool vs. Awesome: The opening cutscene depicts githyanki knights mounted on red dragons pursuing a mind flayer nautiloid Cool Starship across multiple dimensions.
  • The Corruption: The illithid tadpole in the brain of your party members gives them the mind flayer Psychic Powers, but using it stirs more of its sentience to the surface and it will eventually absorb their brains and transmute their bodies into adult Illithids.
  • Cthulhumanoid: The octopus-like mind flayers, known as illithids in their own language, play a major role in the story, starting by infesting you and your potential companions with a larva that will eventually turn you all into mind flayers, as seen in the gameplay demo's intro.
  • Cutting Off the Branches: The extended introduction cinematic, as well as conversations with certain NPCs confirm that, at least canonically to the game, the outcome of Baldur's Gate: Descent into Avernus was with Elturel being returned to the Material Plane. Also during the nautiloid section of the game, one of the devils attacking the ship refers to Zariel as being their leader, which more or less confirms that Zariel was neither redeemed nor killed by the adventurers that saved Elturel.
  • Darker and Edgier:
    • This is one of the rare times a Dungeons & Dragons game (usually acceptable by teenagers) got a Mature rating thanks to Body Horror and being both Bloodier and Gorier and Hotter and Sexier.
    • The Bhaalspawn's circle of companions had its share of possible evil companions such as Viconia or Edwin, but it was balanced by neutral and good companions like Jaheira and Keldorn. By contrast, the available companions for the Early Access all are some manner of morally ambiguous, including a Vampire Spawn, a githyanki, and a cleric to an evil god. Gale, without any malicious intent, harbors an ancient, uncontrollable magic which, if not fed, will detonate and wipe out a significant portion of the Sword Coast. Even the heroic Wyll is a Fiend Pact warlock, albeit a repentant one.
  • Deal with the Devil: The inhabitants of the Nine Hells play a major role in the plot and several characters have made various bargains with a number of devils.
    • Fiend pact warlocks such as Wyll have forged one in exchange for their arcane powers. Wyll in particular regrets the bargain he made and is looking for a way to break it.
    • The cambion Raphael appears to the party in visions and offers to remove your parasite in exchange for your soul. Several party members point out that he seems a little too eager to make this deal, suggesting that he might be desperate enough for the tadpole itself that he might accept a lesser payment.
    • The various devilkin tieflings are descendants of those who struck a bargain with Asmodeus, Zariel, Mephistopheles, or some other archdevil in exchange for infernal power. Though these later tieflings have made no such promises themselves, their horns, barbed tails, reddish skin, and Hellish Pupils brand them in the eyes of others, and they are subject of substantial Fantastic Racism. The party encounters a large group of refugees early in the game, cast out of Elturel and on the verge of being driven out of a druid sanctuary.
    • And of course there are player warlocks, particularly those of the Fiend sub-class.
  • Developers' Foresight:
    • There are a lot of race-specific dialogue changes, especially for drow and githyanki, as the former are only just losing some of their hated reputation and the latter are outsiders with a history of combat against the mind flayers central to the plot.
    • If you use the tadpole, then after your second dream involving it, Shadowheart will suggest that you stop using its powers as it seems to be gaining stronger influence on you. If you agree, then use an illithid power anyway, your companions will call you out on it after the next dream. But if someone besides the protagonist used their illithid power instead, they'll be the one called out. Shadowheart in particular will get put on blast for being a hypocrite if she's the one who does it.
    • After Astarion is revealed as a vampire spawn, you can tell him not to feed on "anything we can have a conversation with" - if you have the Speak With Animals spell, Astarion will point out how severely this limits his options.
      YouTube comment: Wait until he finds out a druid can talk to plants.
    • If you take either Volo or Auntie Ethel up on their offers of assistance in trying to remove the tadpole, the other one will refuse, as by that point you'll only have one working eye left.
    • During the tutorial level on the nautiloid, it's possible to shove Lae'Zel off the edge of the ship and to her death. If you do, her body spawns on the beach of act 1, allowing you to bring her back to life with the aid of the Hooded Skeleton.
    • In several dialogues with Astarion, you can choose to Leave wordlessly, which will actually prompt parting comments from him.
    • If you somehow meet Gandrel with only Astarion in your party, but not as the main character, it triggers a scenario where Astarion automatically attacks him.
    • There are some camp events and cutscene aftermaths where all of your companions have something to say. The game will actually track who you talk to, when—so speaking with someone first yields a slightly longer conversation than if you'd spoken to them second, while your latter picks may comment about apparently being lower on the priority list.
  • Didn't See That Coming: The player can straight up tell Raphael they're willing to give him anything - soul included — in exchange for removing the tadpole. He's surprised and sort of disappointed at how easy it is... but doesn't actually offer a deal and continues as if the player rejected him anyway.
  • Dimensional Traveler: Several characters come from other planes. Devils and gith in particular are noted for traveling back and forth between multiple worlds and their home dimensions, the Nine Hells and the Astral Plane, respectively.
  • Dragon Rider: The githyanki, ancient foes of the mind flayers who once enslaved them, ride on the backs of young red dragons, gifted to them as part of an age-old pact between the githyanki's immortal queen Vlaakith and the goddess Tiamat, patron of evil dragons. Massive and terrifying as the nautiloid is to the ordinary folk of the Material Plane, it proves almost defenseless against the dragons' assault and spends the entire prologue fleeing across multiple planar jumps before crashing into a beach back on Toril.
  • Dump Stat: Every class has a recommended one, and based on the recommended stats distribution, for most it's strength. Interestingly, in early access patch 3, the rogue class actually switched the recommended dump stat from intelligence to strength due to how the arcane trickster archetype relies on intelligence.
  • Evil vs. Evil: A multi-evil pileup. The plane-hopping raiders of the githyanki attack a mind flayer ship full of abductees implanted with their parasitic spawn at the very beginning of the opening cutscene. When the ship teleports into Avernus, it's then also attacked by imps and later the mind flayer is attacked by a greater Devil (what looks like to be a Horned Devil) and fights it while you get to the controls. Meanwhile, demonic and devil armies war in the background. Heck, your own party consists of mostly morally ambiguous characters, and the game allows you to carry out reprehensible actions like helping goblins slaughter a bunch of innocent people if you so desire, yet you are ultimately still opposed to the mind flayers for obvious reasons.
  • Exploding Barrels: It's a Larian game, so this is to be expected. There are various flammable and explosive barrels littered throughout enemy settlements like the goblin fortress, placed either to make combat easier or traps more deadly, such as explosive barrels placed next to a treasure chest designed to explode when opened.
  • Eye Scream: As seen in the intro cinematic, the mind flayer infects its victims by inserting parasitic tadpoles through the victims' eyes. In the game proper both Volo and Auntie Ethel will offer to try and remove the parasite from your head. Doing this gets you nothing but a permanent stat debuff and the loss of being able to make critical hits.
  • Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: As in canon, this us how illithids reproduce; they insert their tadpole form into the brains of sentient hosts, whereupon the larva absorbs the brain and metamorphosizes the host's body into a new adult mind flayer.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Tieflings are on the receiving end of this in the druid grove, where they're on the verge of being kicked out into the wilderness by the archdruid Kagha, who accuses them of being thieves and parasites and plans to erect a wall of thorns to segregate the grove from the outsiders. Subverted, when it turns out she actually has a different motive.
    • Drow, traditionally Always Chaotic Evil in the setting, are still hated and feared throughout most of the surface world, though this reaction is softening and many characters are aware of the civil war that has seen some drow break from the traditional worship of the evil spider goddess Lolth. Inverted in the goblin camp, where other races are mocked and threatened, but most goblins assume the player drow is part of the Absolute's leadership and bow and scrape before you (while still mocking you behind your back).
  • From Bad to Worse: At the end of the extended introduction cinematic, the player character gets free from their prison and goes to the hole in the hull to see where they have ended up. Only to find out they are in Avernus, the first layer of the Nine Hells. And to make things even worse, the nautiloid is about to come under attack by a horde of imps.
  • Game Master: Of the Author kind, with elements of the Director. The narrator acts in the manner a Dungeon Master would, describing events in terms of how they appear or occur in order to present what the character sees, feels, or is thinking. For example, early on the player finds an illithid tadpole and wants to kill it, but the narrator describes how the tadpole in your head makes you feel about it, resulting in your character having to resist it to kill it if they wish.
  • Geo Effects:
    • Early in Early Access, in a departure from how the tabletop works, spells, including cantrip, cause areas of elemental effects on the ground under their targets. Ray of Frost, for example, causes a sheet of ice to appear under its target, and is almost guaranteed to knock people prone. Firebolt is basically a different spell entirely than in the tabletop, with reduced initial damage, but now igniting the target for damage over time and igniting the ground. It can potentially splash and ignite two enemies if close enough. This was toned down in a later patch. Similarly thrown weapons like alchemist's fire leave an area of elemental damage behind them. Also like in Divinity: Original Sin, elements can interact. Dousing flames with water will cause steam which can be used for stealth, for example. Oil slicks can be ignited, etc...
    • Height now gives a bonus to attack, much like it does in the Divinity Original Sin games. Enemies attacking targets on the higher ground take a penalty.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: There's no Alignment system, which results in this.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: An intellect devourer who goes by the name "Us" is able to join you in the mind flayer ship at the beginning of the game, if you don't kill it. However, Us is unavailable after the mindflayer ship crashes.
  • Implacable Man: Illithids are beyond stoic. In the opening cutscene, the reaction by the lead illithid to finding the corpse of a crewmate is to widen its eyes and register it for future reference. It goes hand-in-hand with the species' Blue-and-Orange Morality.
  • Interdimensional Travel Device: The mind flayer ship comes equipped with one on its main bridge, referred to as a transponder, activated by connecting a pair of tentacles and pulling on the resulting bond.
  • Interface Spoiler:
    • It's a well known fact that when playing D&D: make your players roll Perception, and even if they all fail, they'll know there's something there they're missing. If you see the little Perception dice roll over your character's head and it comes up a failure, it does much the same thing. Amusingly, given how closely Larian Studios stuck to the 5e rules when making the game, this makes it even more like traditional D&D.
    • Want to find that invisible enemy near you during combat? Pull up the move option and watch for where your projected path bends around what seems to be nothing.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: You can discover a bugbear and an ogre having sex behind a locked door. They don’t appreciate your intrusion and will attack you if you open the door.
  • It's the Only Way to Be Sure: The assistant druid healer, upon hearing you have a mind flayer tadpole in you, will try to Mercy Kill you — forcibly if necessary — because the lead healer isn't around and they believe you can turn at any moment. She'd already killed and dissected a drow for the same reason.
  • Killer Game Master: More than a few players have commented that encounters are massively stacked against the player, and that the game feels like it's being run with a DM who really wants the party to die at nearly every fight.
  • Living Ship: The mind flayer nautiloid, true to its name, resembles some deep-sea Mix And Match Creature, all jagged shells and tentacles and mucus membranes.
  • Logo Joke: On the website, the initial announcement for the game was simply the Roman numeral III... with tentacles suddenly bursting out and wrapping themselves around the digits. In all promotional videos for BG3, the Larian Studios logo turns into an illithid.
  • Losing Your Head: Well, in the case of an Intellect Devourer, losing your brain, as it's just a brain with legs.
  • Massive Race Selection: The early access game includes each of the base races of 5th edition, with the exception of dragonborn, gnome and half-orc, and with the addition of githyanki. You can also go even further by playing as a high elf vampire spawn in the form of Astarion.
  • Meaningful Look: When you run into Gandrel and get him to tell you that he's hunting Astarion, if Astarion himself is in your party he will shoot you a "back me up here!" look.
  • Mercy Kill Arrangement: Lae'Zel wants this of the player, and at one point demands the player slit her throat. They can oblige, and have her Killed Off for Real.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: You can meet Owlbears.
  • My Rules Are Not Your Rules: The spell animate dead is, in D&D 5th Edition, a 3rd level spell whose base effect is to raise a single corpse to act on the caster's behalf; you can raise more, but it takes higher level spell slots to do so. The level 5 duergar Gekh Coal, should you pick a fight with him, will cast it and raise FOUR undead to fight for him, something that should require a 5th level spell slot, which other characters can't access until 9th level at the earliest.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The prologue offers several chances to accidentally kill various thralls and transform one of them into a mind flayer. Granted, they were likely doomed anyway, but there's still a marked difference between a Mercy Kill and getting them killed simply because you were curious.
  • Nominal Importance: Played with. No matter how inconsequential they are or number of lines they speak, all sapient creatures have a name in the game.
  • No Ontological Inertia: The easiest way to deal with the beastmaster type of enemies is to kill the master to make the pet disappear. Justified in the case of spellcasters as summoning a creature to fight for you requires maintaining control over either it or its ability to remain summoned, without that the summoned creature cannot remain on the material plane.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: Thanks to his illithid tadpole, vampire spawn Astarion can walk in the daylight again and enter homes without invitation, but cannot cross running water without taking damage and is still bound to the curse's hunger for blood.
  • Power Floats: Standard for illithids, as the reveal trailer depict them floating ominously in the sky. And in the PAX East 2020 trailer showed, sure, they can walk — but why walk when you can float?
  • Puppeteer Parasite: The illithid tadpole in your brain is already sentient, and will try to influence you into doing things beneficial to the mind flayers.
  • Psychic Link: As shown by the first official gameplay/story presentations, those who have a mind flayer tadpole implanted in them develop a telepathic connection to those who also have one. This is demonstrated in the preview by the player characters' emotions being shared with the first companion they meet, and the reverse happens too. This seems to be an outgrowth of the mind flayers' Hive Mind, but co-opted to some unknown end by the same force halting your transformation into a mind flayer.
  • Random Number God: The game prays at the altar of the Random Number God. For example, if you want to sneak Sezza out of the druid enclave, you have to do a difficult skill check for every single guard you encounter.
  • Reality Ensues: One of the boss battles can see you grant Wicked Witch Auntie Ethel a Disney Villain Death by shoving them into a Bottomless Pit almost as soon as the fight begins. Of course, you also can't loot a corpse that's at the bottom of a cliff, so this method does have an inherent downside.
  • Separated by a Common Language: A common point of confusion in fantasy works, in D&D "Enchantment" is the name of a specific school of magic which revolves around monkeying with people's minds, while "enchantments" are the various traits and effects that may be infused into a magical item. The process of creating a magical item, not governed by any specific school, is simply referred to as Crafting.
  • Servant Race: Deconstructed by a biography written by a tiefling called The Devil You Know, because they're still referred to as "devilkin", despite not following Asmodeus anymore.
    By what method can we redeem ourselves? I would drive a blade into every warlock that aided Asmodeus' damned ritual, but personal vengeance cannot undo the will of a god, much less one as slippery as the Lord of Lies.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • The announcement video went deep into ceremorphosis, the process by which the mind flayer parasite transforms its host's body into another mind flayer.
    • The dragons in the trailer are also a close match for the Monster Manual illustration.
  • Title Drop: When the nautiloid shifts into the middle of a Blood War battle in the introductory cutscene, it's greeted by three floating towers/ships, the same sharp, sweeping shape as the III in Baldur's Gate III. They're apparently a kind of troop carrier for the devils, as swarms of imps pour out and attack the new arrival.
  • Turn-Based Combat: The game adopts such system, a first for the franchise, though not unfamiliar for Larian Studios, who used turn-based combat for Divinity: Original Sin and its sequel. It's also closer to the tabletop D&D experience than the Real-Time with Pause gameplay seen in previous Baldur's Gate games.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: A lighthearted and humorous example. If you destroy the goblin leadership all of the tieflings are extremely grateful... except for one kid who says he hates you cause now it means he doesn't have to train in swordfighting anymore.
  • The Unreveal: Asterion revealing he's a vampire is sort of undercut by the fact he has obvious vampiric fangs that show every time he opens his mouth from the moment you meet him, not to mention extremely pale skin and blood-red eyes. (To be fair to the characters, daywalking vampires aren't really a thing in D&D, so while the players can easily see that he's a vampire who's somehow sunproof, in-universe that idea is a lot further out there.)
  • Unusual User Interface: Much of the more complex workings of the mind flayer ship are seemingly psionic, but the ship's Interdimensional Travel Device is a nest of writhing tentacles; connecting any two of them seems to set a course, and 'strumming' them activates the shift between planes.
  • Vampire Procreation Limit: Astarion explains that being non-fatally bitten by a vampire turns you into a "vampire spawn"; they have some of the abilities and traits of a full vampire, but are nowhere near as powerful and are under the thrall of their creator. If they were to drink the blood of their creator they would become a full vampire themselves, but as Astarion points out most vampires are competitive and power-hungry, so there's not much motive for them to willingly elevate a thrall into a potential rival.
  • Vocal Dissonance: For whatever reason, you can equip a male voice on a female character or vice versa when customizing the protagonist.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: If you help the Absolute's army overrun the druids and destroy Silvanus's Grove, even some of your more evil companions won't be overjoyed.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The second of command of the druid enclave becomes responsible for the death of a child, calling the little girl a parasite, unless a difficult skill check is rolled. Also implied for Lae'zel since she disapproves of saving the girl and telling said second in command for threatening to/actually killing her.
  • You Can't Thwart Stage One: You can't get rid of the parasite during Chapter One, despite meeting several people who should be able to fix you. Instead, you discover that your parasite has been altered by a powerful outside force, which is why you haven't turned, but also why nobody can get it out. The best you can do is acquire a Ring of Mind Shielding to somewhat mitigate its influence.
  • Your Days Are Numbered: The protagonist and companions have been infected with the illithid tadpoles, meaning they are on the road to becoming illithid themselves unless something is done to stop the process. However, after the illithid ship and leader were destroyed, the tadpoles seem to have gone dormant. It's implied that some outside force is slowing the process, possibly in the form of a new god calling itself the Absolute. There's also the matter of a mysterious vision of desire which appears to the player character in dreams, crafted by the player during character creation. This figure tempts the player emotionally and physically, while showing that it can offer you all the power of the transformation with (supposedly) none of the downsides.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: When one of the githyanki's dragon rips off the nautiloid's tentacle, the mind flayer at the helm grasps his arm, suggesting it felt that. The psionic illithids presumably control the ship mostly through their Psychic Powers.

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