Larian Studios have announced the Early Access release date for western RPG Baldur’s Gate III, during their Panel From Hell livestream.
The story will focus on invading Mind Flayers (also known as Illithids) across the Forgotten Realms, with gameplay inspired by Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition rules. During the livestream it was revealed (though perhaps obvious given the stream’s name) that players will start in Hell.
In the Dungeons & Dragons universe, Hell is divided into nine layers. Players crash-land on Avernus after a Mind Flayer Nautaloid teleports. This is the highest level of hell, where devils and demons fight in the endless Blood War. The Blood War also promises to spill out onto Elturel, plunging all of the land of Faerûn into a cataclysmic event. Players will also enter the Underdark.
Players are also infected by a Mind Flayer, and will soon transform into one if they cannot be rid of the “tadpole” in them. However, the player slowly gains psyonic powers; with characters deciding who to side with, and how to user their abilities.
The devil Raphael will also offer the player a deal to remove the tadpole, in exchange for their soul (which they would lose thanks to the Mind Flayer tadpole anyway). In multiplayer, each player can choose differently.
During the livestream it was revealed that during development, a piece of scenery had grown into an interactive object, and eventually became a companion.
Developed over two weeks (and a lot of support from the development team), the Intellect Devourer “Us” can become your companion, an infected walking and telepathic brain that works for the Mind Flayers. However, it can be “crippled” to make it work for you.
Intellect Devourers have psychic powers much like Mind Flayers. Their preferred method of attack is to bombard humanoids with psychic power until the brain is mush, then teleport into the skull and puppet the body of the person. Other monsters coming to the game include Bulettes- also known as Land Sharks. These creatures burrow through the ground, rising up to bite unsuspecting play.
Gameplay moments were also shown, emphasizing how events can play out differently; with the chat voting on what to do and encouraged to vote differently to the last gameplay demonstration.
Regarding Early Access, players will be able to play up to level 4, with over 80 combat encounters, 596 characters, and tens of thousands of lines of dialogue (including talking to animals and the dead). The developer’s goal is to have a world be as reactive as a real tabletop game run by a real dungeon master.
During Early Access, players will also have access to the companions Will (Human Warlock) Shadow Heart (a Dark Cleric), Estarian (Half Elf Vampire Spawn), Lizel (Githyanki Warrior), and Gail (Human Wizard) [Editor’s Note: Spelling of names unconfirmed].
Players can also bring back animals to their camp, such as owl bear cubs, depending on events. However, much like companions, different animals will interact in different ways; and some may hate each other.
Players will not be able to play as a companion in Early Access, but it will support multiplayer with a party of up to four. The game will support local LAN and online play, with split-screen coming later. Players can also control their familiars directly (if they have one) with no limitation of how far they can go (except through doors).
Discussing development, it was revealed that the last dialogue would be recorded this month. While they stated there was issues with the coronavirus pandemic, the developers admitted that the game’s scale and how varied a situation can turn out (and when it happens in the game) grew the game’s size.
You can find the Panel From Hell livestream below.