Recently, Larian Studios streamed a new Baldur’s Gate III event on Twitch and YouTube called “Panel From Hell.” The panel consisted of Swen Vincke (Creative Director for Larian Studios), Geoff Keighley (host of Summer Game Fest), Chris Perkins (Principal Game Designer for Dungeons & Dragons), and Adam Smith (Senior Writer at Larian Studios). The most important reveal was the announcement of the new Early Access release date for Baldur’s Gate III this September!
Swen and Adam in particular had some new insights into gameplay and narrative, including your party’s opinions and attitudes. “For certain characters, [the mind flayer tadpole infection is] actually solving problems they had in life,” Swen elaborated, “And so there’s a rift that appears in the party…” Even though the player character is at risk of being converted into a mind flayer through ceremorphosis, only some party members want to cure you and themselves as soon as possible. Other party members want to study the tadpoles and the psychic powers they confer, or even join up with the mind flayers!
Thrown into this dire situation are the nefarious schemers of the Nine Hells… specifically a devil named Raphael. Raphael wants to make a deal with the player character and their party: stop the ceremorphosis in exchange for their souls. Once ceremorphosis is complete, the player character’s soul will be gone (mind flayers don’t have souls). Raphael reasons that the party has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Chris Perkins offered insight from Forgotten Realms lore as to why that deal with a devil is “such a mistake.” “In the Nine Hells, souls are the [literal] currency of the realm,” Chris elucidated, “For a devil to acquire a soul, that’s great for *them*, because they can trade that soul to essentially rise in power in the infernal hierarchy.”
Once a devil corrupts a person (through seduction or deception), their soul will naturally go to the Nine Hells upon death. A devil can only claim ownership of the soul when that happens, so they are constantly orchestrating events (sometimes planning over the course of centuries) to get people to make evil choices.
The Panel From Hell showed off some gameplay throughout the stream. Revisiting “The Murder of Dror Ragzlin” from the live gameplay session from D&D Live 2020 in June, the viewers in chat were given the ability to choose the player character’s decisions. New gameplay included the player encountering a dangerous intellect devourer and visiting the nest of an equally-dangerous owlbear.
The big reveal today was Baldur’s Gate III: Early Access. Swen went on the record that Early Access would be coming to Steam on September 30, 2020. However, Swen also clarified that those people wanting a finished and polished game should wait. “Early Access is for fans who want to have a quick look,” Swen stated frankly. “Like an early feel of what [the finished game] will look like. And there’s a lot of fun to be had, a lot of stuff to be seen already…”
Swen also stated that Early Access is also for those gamers who want to be part of the development process, citing the first Divinity: Original Sin as an example of how all that feedback leads to more data and new ideas for the final product. “I think [Baldur’s Gate 3 is] already pretty good,” Swen shared, “But I know it can be that much better.”
Baldur’s Gate 3 releases to Steam for early access on September 30, 2020.
Baldur’s Gate III: Panel From Hell
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