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With Baldur’s Gate 3 heading to PS5, could it be a bigger deal than Starfield?

Larian’s most high-profile project to date could be its Witcher 3 moment.

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Could Baldur's Gate 3 be bigger than Starfield? It seems like an absurd proposition. Bethesda, after all, are giants of the RPG world. Skyrim is probably, arguably, the most successful role-playing video game to date, and Starfield promises to be Skyrim in Space. Word of a release date is, naturally, awaited with bated breath. There probably won’t be a more significant release this year. Assuming it’s still coming this year: the radio silence on that front has been deafening, although there are rumours that a Starfield focused showcase is imminent.

But consider: there was a time when the idea that CD Projekt RED could challenge the might of Bioware and Bethesda in terms of cultural impact or Business Done would have seemed daft. But The Witcher 3 is probably on a par with Skyrim in terms of critical, cultural, and financial success. It catapulted a niche series of Polish fantasy novels – popular in their home country but fairly unknown elsewhere – to huge international success, with a Netflix series and everything.

Believe it or not, this chinless git is Geralt of Rivia. Took a while to get his looks.

Significantly more people have played the third Witcher game than either of the first two. It’s difficult to determine the reasons for this. I mean, an obvious one is that it’s better. But aside from the leap in quality, what is it that made the third game go stratospheric, when the previous two enjoyed a certain cult status, but were only really a thing among the hardcore gaming audience?

It could have been the timing. When The Witcher 3 released early in the PS4’s life, big, triple-A, open world adventures were a bit thin on the ground. It could have been simply that CDPR had procured a huge injection of investor cash and had a beefy war chest to spend on lavish marketing. It could just be that the first two games were good enough to build some word of mouth recognition and by the time the third game came round, the property was ready to explode into the mainstream.

Baldur's Gate 3 will scratch the adventuring itch for a lot of PS5 owners who won't have access to Starfield.

Whatever the X-factor was in The Witcher 3’s case, Baldur’s Gate 3 doesn’t necessarily enjoy any of the same favourable conditions. But it is a 9th gen exclusive arriving at a time when the PS5’s user base is starting to rapidly grow as the supply shortages that marred its early years have become a thing of the past. For PS5 owners looking for that Next Big RPG, Baldur’s Gate 3 could be an enticing prospect: it’ll make good use of their £450 leisure box, with its hyper-detailed game world and beautiful character models, and it’s a game they can really sink some hours into, making it well worth the investment, even if it does retail at the £70 end.

And, crucially, it’ll actually be heading to their console, unlike Starfield. Larian have made it clear that it’ll be on Xbox as well as long as they can get the co-op working properly on Series S (and there’s little doubt that they will, but optimisation is a tricky thing). I also heavily suspect that it will be officially supported on Steam Deck too, as Divinity: Original Sin 2 is. The studio has made no secret of its fondness for the platform, and considering that controller support on PC will no doubt occur as a natural result of the console ports, it seems like a slam-dunk.

If they nail controller support, this will be amazing on Steam Deck.

Whatever happens, Baldur’s Gate 3 looks likely to be Larian’s biggest (and best) game to date. They’ve built a loyal following over the years with the Divinity series, and are generally seen as a very solid choice to steward the Baldur’s Gate license. But I think it’ll go one better, and challenge the big boys in terms of active users. It’s got the name recognition, the pedigree, and the quality to succeed, plus the timing seems favourable as the trickle of genuine 9th gen experiences is on the cusp of becoming a downpour, and hobbyist tabletop gaming itself is enjoying a huge renaissance in the era of video conferencing and online fandom.

I don’t know for sure. But my gut tells me it’s going to be huge.

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