Baldur’s Gate 3 Act 1 Review

Baldur's Gate 3 is a massive game. The first Act alone takes around 60 hours to complete. So far, it has tactical and creative gameplay to expansive storytelling while emulating the experience of Dungeons and Dragons. This game is the work of Larian Studios and has been another one of their acclaimed successes.

Baldur's Gate 3 Act 1 Review

So once you have your settings set (if you are on PC) and press the new game, the opening cutscene begins. You quickly get introduced to one of the antagonists of Baldur’s Gate 3, the infamous Mind Flayers. They wreak havoc on a random city and (warning for those with ommetaphobia as I do) insert the tadpole into your character’s eye. Once the cutscene is finished, you begin character creation. 

(A little side tip you can also adjust some mature settings, like turning them off for streaming or playing with younger kids)

Baldur’s Gate 3 is available on PC for $59.99.

Character creation

For those unfamiliar with Larian Studios’ previous work, Divinity: Original Sin 2, you may be confused about what the Origin characters are that you see with the character options. In Baldur’s Gate 3 and Divinity: Original Sin 2, you can play as a completely custom character that you create, similar to games like Skyrim.

Baldur's Gate 3 - Release Teaser

Origin VS Custom Character

Origin characters are pre-made and have a backstory, appearance, race, Class, and unique abilities. If you play as an Origin character, you will have those abilities, specific dialogue choices that tie into your Origin character’s past, and personal questlines. Any Origin character you don’t play as will show up in the game as an NPC that can join your party if you find them.

There are seven Origin characters to choose from, and I will explain their story in the minor spoiler section below. For now, I will go over one called The Dark Urge. This Origin is unique. You can still customize the character as if it were a custom one, though you will have a mysterious past and backstory similar to the other Origin characters. Be warned. The Dark Urge isn’t just a neat title.

It’s dangerous to go alone. Take them.

The Dark Urge

In almost every interaction, your character will have the urge to horrible violence. If you try to refuse The Dark Urge, you make a dice check. When you fail, it will force you to do a violent act. If you succeed, it will be harder to refuse next time.

These violent acts are brutal and can happen to innocent animals and children. Those acts can cause significant problems in your story if you are careless, such as losing potential companions or turning allies against you. If you want to play a light-hearted game or don’t want to lose control of your character, I wouldn’t recommend this Origin. It can be fun if you want to play as a villain or a character with a dark side trying to redeem themselves.

When the intrusive thoughts win…

Classes and Magic

If and after you select Custom or The Dark Urge Origin, you can customize your character. You can pick their race, appearance, and Class like most RPGs. As you level up, you can get their subclasses or even Multi-Class.

If you pick a Class with Magic like Wizard, Warlock, Sorcerer, Druid, Bard, Cleric, or Ranger, you must choose some Spells. In D&D 5e and Baldur’s Gate 3, Spells work in a Spell Slot system.

The lowest-level Spells are called Cantrips, and you can cast these without spending a Spell Slot. Next, you have 1st-level Spells. These use 1st-level Spell Slots. Every time you cast a 1st level Spell, you will expend one of your 1st level Spell Slots. If you run out of Spell Slots, you won’t be able to cast anything except Cantrips until you do a Long Rest (I will cover how the rests work down below).

Then there are 2nd through 9th level Spell Slots. You can use a higher level Spell Slot to cast a lower level Spell, but not the reverse.

Depending on your Class, you have a certain number of Spell Slots per level. For example, a Wizard starts with 2, 1st level Spell Slots at level 1. Whereas a Warlock only starts with 1. You will gain more Spell Slots and higher-level spell slots as you level up with each spell-casting Class at different rates.

Be sure to remember which Spells you have prepared after leveling up.

Character Sheet

Next, you have backgrounds. These are not full backstories like the Origin characters. It is flavoring in Baldur’s Gate 3 and gives your character a few bonuses in skill stats. Say you want to play Paladin, who grew up poor and is now a champion of the people pick the Urchin background. You get a bonus for Sleight of Hand and Stealth skills. It also gives you unique dialogue choices when talking to your fellow Urchins. And there are ten more of those to choose from.


After that, you have your stats. You have your typical Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma. These will affect your fighting prowess, how good you are at skills, and your health/defenses. Unless you plan on upgrading stats later, try to make your stats even numbers.


Then you have skills like Stealth for sneaking, Performance for acting or playing music with an instrument, Arcana for your magical lore, and many more. Throughout the game, you will need to make skill checks to see if you pass or fail at performing said skill, and the higher your stat bonus relating to the skill check, the more likely you are to succeed. Based on your Class and background, you can pick skills you want to be proficient in.

After all this, you can finally customize your character’s appearance if you choose the custom character or The Dark Urge Origin. The customization is excellent, with tons of options except for voices. Which is a shame as each gender selection only has two. Strangely, it is limited when your custom character doesn’t get many voiced lines. Perhaps Baldur’s Gate 3 can take an idea from the first two games and let players upload their voice lines for their custom character?

Druids, Clerics, and Rangers cast with Wisdom. Wizards and subclasses of Fighter and Rogue cast with Intelligence. Bards, Warlocks, Sorcerers, and Paladins cast with Charisma.

Tutorial or Lack Thereof

After you finish your character, you begin the tutorial for escaping the Mind Flayer ship. In this department, I would say Baldur’s Gate 3 is lacking. It treats you like you’re already familiar with D&D 5e and doesn’t explain its unique interface well. They give tips in the corner of the screen here and there, but those don’t go into much depth.

Overall the gameplay is incredible, especially for those unfamiliar with Classic RPGs. When traveling, you can roam about the world as you see fit. You may encounter fascinating NPCs, new quests, treasure, traps, or enemies. In these circumstances, you have tons of freedom in how you want to handle them. You may need to do some dice rolling, as explained previously. Or you can bypass many with Magic or combat.

Combat Basics

Combat is a turn-based strategy system just like D&D 5e. You get a Main Action, Bonus Action, Reactions, and Movement speed. A Main Action is basic attacks, hiding, casting a Spell, and other such interactions. Bonus Actions are drinking potions, casting Bonus Action Spells, jumping and shoving enemies off cliffs, and similar interactions. You can do Reactions when it is not your turn, such as attacking an enemy running away, or stopping an enemy spell with Counter Spell.

Movement speed is how far you can move in a turn. By using Main Action to Dash, you can double your movement speed. Each Class has different exceptions or alterations of these rules, like the Rogue’s cunning action.

With a controller, you get an action wheel. Green icons are Main Actions while Orange icons are Bonus Actions. The yellow bar is your movement distance remaining.

Act 1 Proper (Minor Spoilers)

After you escape the ship, you are in Act 1 proper. You land on a beach that leads to a forest and Grove. The Grove is home to Druids, who took in Tiefling refugees. A whole War Camp of Goblins is hunting the refugees. The druids are planning on leaving the refugees behind to save themselves.

Don’t forget you have a Mind Flayer tadpole in your head ready to turn you into a Mind Flayer at any moment unless you can find a healer to get it out. No pressure. The map is big and deep. There are many dungeons and caves to explore and many side quests with well-made stories. Each Quest has many choices, and some you wouldn’t think were possible.

Party Time (Major Spoilers)

Throughout your explorations of Act 1, you will encounter the Origin characters you are not playing as who may join you on your adventures.


Lae’zel is the first companion you meet during the tutorial. She is a Githyanki fighter. That is most of her identity through Act 1. Lae’zel is militant and rude but respects courage, ruthless behavior, and brutal honesty. She would probably fit a Lawful Evil party well. Lae’zel encourages you to help her find another Githyanki to help remove the tadpole and does not believe you should use the powers of the tadpole.

You don’t get many interactions with her in Act 1, though she does get into fights with Shadowheart quite a bit. Hopefully, there will be more in later acts. Her culture and outlook are fascinating. If you check her boxes, she will be quick to start a romance, but in Act 1, it seems to be just a fling for her. Perhaps it can develop further in the game, but in Act 1, there isn’t much.

Dragon riding space Knights? Hard to get any cooler.


Soon after, you meet the next companion Shadowheart. She is a Half-Elf Cleric, with whom you can get a good or bad first impression if you decide to save or leave her on the ship in the tutorial. She’s sharp-tongued but very expressive of her emotions. She tends toward Neutral alignment yet doesn’t mind doing good. So long as it doesn’t put her in danger.

She carries many secrets, including how she is a Cleric of Shar, a well-known evil-aligned goddess. You’ll have to earn her trust for her to open up, and she will be angry with you if you try to read her mind. She appears to keep many secrets from herself as well. Her memory is semi-wiped. She also carries around a mysterious Gith artifact that she doesn’t understand.

After gaining her trust throughout the first Act, she’ll be open to romance that will no doubt continue through the other acts. Out of all the companions, Shadowheart has the most interactivity through Act 1. Distractingly so. Don’t get me wrong. I’m glad there is so much content with her. I wish the other companions got just as much interaction, but hopefully, they will make up for it in the later Acts.

When you are so secretive you don’t even remember the secret you were hiding because you hid the secret from yourself. Secretly.


Close by is Astarion. He is a High Elf Rogue. Astarion is clearly of nobility and privilege and puts no effort into hiding that. He does hide that he is a Vampire Spawn. If you discover this, you will determine how to deal with him. He is fun and quirky but is okay with cruel violence so long as you give him a heads-up. I would put him in the Chaotic/Neutral Evil category.

As a Vampire Spawn, Astarion was a slave to his Vampire Master, Cazador. However, since getting the Tadpole, Astarion has been free from his master’s influence. He can now feel the sun on his skin, walk through running water and be able to enter homes without permission. And Astarion enjoys this and encourages not removing the tadpole but controlling it.

He also wishes to seek revenge on his master and to free himself from Cazador forever, no matter who gets in the way. From what I have seen, there’s a good amount of interaction with him, but his personal story doesn’t get going until after Act 1.

You’ll be able to start a romance with Astarion as well in Act 1, I haven’t seen much of what happens there yet, but I do know from Lariens recent survey release that he is the most failed romanced companion so be careful what you say or do around him.

Just went for a snack. Don’t mind the blood.


You’ll find Gale needing a hand getting through a portal. He is a Human Wizard. Gale claims to have once been powerful and lover to Mystra, the goddess of Magic but lost most of his power in an accident of hubris. He is witty and funny and has a refreshing positivity. He typically wants to help others using clever and guile rather than brute force. I would put him in Neutral Good alignment.

If you like collecting Magic items, be warned. The accident that caused Gale to lose most of his power has forced him to consume Magic items lest he explodes. You can feed him your Magic items and lose them forever throughout your adventure. Or you can send him away.

Gale is fast to romance. I almost started one by accident simply by being nice to him. Of the male companions, he has the most interactions in Act 1 and is a good source of learning about lore. He is also my second favorite companion.

When you are Wizard but made Charisma your highest stat.


You will find Wyll heroically rescuing the refugees from a pack of goblins. After saving them, he goes off to train the children in how to defend themselves. He is a human warlock and is a folk hero to the people in these parts.

For those of Good Alignment, he will leave a positive impression. But even he harbors some dark secrets. His power comes from a pact with a devil who has tasked him to hunt other devils and monsters. Wyll didn’t realize until it was too late that not everyone he hunts is evil. Now he is looking for a way to break out of the pact without losing his soul.

He has limited interactions in Act 1, except for scripted events. You do have a good amount of control over the outcomes of those. For those wanting to romance a dark hero with a heart of gold, you can’t pick anyone better.

Next time read the fine print…


Finally, and my favorite, is Karlach. She’s a Tiefling Barbarian that managed to escape The Hells. Zariel forced an Infernal Engine into Karlach’s heart, making her stronger. After breaking free of the Arch Devil and The Hells, the Infernal Engine burns inside Karlach. She needs to find someone to cool it down before it kills her.

Karlach is refreshing in how, unlike the others, she appears to keep no secrets from you and is honest once you meet her. She has a very foul mouth but is cheerful. After being trapped in The Hells for ten years, she is excited to see the world again and do everything she missed. She also hasn’t let The Hells warp her sense of right and wrong and does what she believes is right as directly as possible, putting her more in the Chaotic Good alignment.

Unfortunately, she has fewer interactions than the rest of your companions in Act 1. It does feel like they are building up to her having more in the later acts, and I am excited to see what unfolds. As for romance, due to her Infernal Engine burning her hot, it will be a slow build-up in Act 1 compared to the others.

You’ll never have to worry about getting the cold shoulder with her.

How Act 1 Can End

You can deal with the Grove and Goblin situation in many ways. You can try to fight all the goblins yourself or kill their leaders to get them to scatter, sabotage them, rally the refugees to fight with you, hire ogres to help you kill them, and many more options. If you want to go an evil route, you can kill the refugees, reveal their location to the Goblins, storm the Grove with them, kill the refugee leader, and so on. If you want the Neutral option, you can help the Druids get the refugees out so they can leave with their ritual, or you can ignore the whole situation together and go straight to Act 2. It’s impressive how much freedom they give you.

Audio and Graphics

The audio mixing is great, every spell and ability has a cool and unique sound effect. Voice acting is top notch. Unfortunately in Act 1 the music isn’t quite as memorable as compared to Larian Studios’ previous game Divinity: Original Sin 2

The game is highly detailed and gorgeous even compared with many triple A games. I was mostly surprised by how well it runs. My computer is over seven years old at this point and Baldur’s Gate 3 runs smoothly on my PC. There are a few graphic glitches here and there, like a door that is opened, but appears closed and some T-posing when you load into a new area. Compared to some other launch releases though I would consider that a small issue.

Baldur’s Gate 3  was reviewed on PC.

Overall I love Baldur's Gate 3. As I said, I put in over 60 hours just in the first Act and can't wait to see how the story and companions expand and play out. The first Act by itself, I would hold up as the new Gold Standard of RPGs. It has fun gameplay, great graphics, an engaging story, and a large and deep world to explore, full of choices. It was a game made for someone just like me.
  • Great tactical RPG gameplay.
  • Exploration and freedom.
  • Fun roleplaying.
  • Interesting and well voice acted characters.
  • Amazing Graphics and Good Performance.
  • Poor tutorial.
  • Some companions get less love then others.
  • Rough learning curve.
  • Music is Lack luster so far.

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