Why Baldur’s Gate 3 on Xbox Will be a Great Way to Close off the Year for Microsoft

Not that long ago, it did seem that Xbox players would have to wait until 2024 before diving into Baldur’s Gate 3, but the solution conjured by the developer and Spencer means Xbox players will be exploring the game before the end of the year.

Posted By | On 07th, Dec. 2023

Why Baldur’s Gate 3 on Xbox Will be a Great Way to Close off the Year for Microsoft

One of the best RPGs of 2023 is finally coming to Xbox. Those playing exclusively on Microsoft’s home console have endured an agonising wait, seeing PlayStation and PC players enraptured by the developer’s towering Dungeons & Dragons rendition whilst they sit twiddling their thumbs (or playing Starfield). For those not in the know, the developer faced difficulties in optimising split-screen co-op for the Xbox Series X|S, hence the delay. Now Xbox boss Phil Spencer has stepped in, and Baldur’s Gate 3 on Xbox is a go albeit without the split-screen feature on Series S. And for the avoidance of doubt, the Series X version is unaffected.

Exactly when in December Baldur’s Gate 3 releases for Xbox is unclear at this time; expect a full announcement and release date to be revealed at The Game Awards on 7th December. Xbox has experienced an uneven year in terms of platform exclusives. Redfall released towards the beginning of the year and is the most notable of Microsoft’s 2023 first-party exclusives, although the less said about it the better. Redfall has been a disappointment, to put it mildly. Most recently, Bethesda finally launched their 25 years in the making sci-fi opus Starfield, and whilst it has garnered plenty of plaudits from reviewers and fans alike it’s absence at The Game Awards will likely have hurt Microsoft. Starfield was supposed to be their magnum opus, but it seems there hasn’t been much appetite for it beyond Xbox players themselves. Remember, Bethesda have stated repeatedly how integral Starfield is to Microsoft’s strategy of making the game a console seller, but with recent sales figures indicating PlayStation’s strengthening dominance in the global home console market Starfield’s hope to sell consoles by the bucketload is evidently flailing.

Why is this relevant to Baldur’s Gate 3 though? Well, Xbox was in danger of ending the year on a downer, but with Baldur’s Gate 3 on the horizon there might be an upwards trajectory for the console before the year’s out. It’s unfair to say that Baldur’s Gate 3 will be one of Xbox’s biggest games of the year simply be default though. Sure, other games on the platform might have underwhelmed this year, but Baldur’s Gate 3 is a rip-roaring success in its own right, and it’d likely do well on Xbox regardless of the reception of other games on the console.

The success of the title has caught the developer off guard though. It’s player count on Steam has been nothing short of astronomical, peaking at 814,666, making Baldur’s Gate 3 ninth in Steam’s all-time concurrent player ranking. Furthermore, Baldur’s Gate 3 sits alongside Cyberpunk 2077, Elden Ring, and Hogwarts Legacy as one of four paid-for single player games in Steam’s all-time most played. Its PC version was brought forward a month so as not to clash with Starfield’s release, with the PlayStation version pushed back so that it intentionally released on the same date as Bethesda’s space exploration RPG. Shrewd manoeuvres on developer’s part, sure, but even with these strategic decisions intended to give Baldur’s Gate 3 the best fighting chance of selling well the developer’s earnest attempt at a faithful digital reproduction of the famous tabletop role player was never expected to be such a hit.

Dungeons & Dragons is still a niche pastime; impenetrable to the casual observer. However, with the developer syphoning gameplay ideals from D&D’s fifth edition ruleset for their adventure, does this make sense to everyone? Is everyone who gives Baldur’s Gate 3 a go fluent in D&D’s myriad character classes and subclasses? Is every player familiar with the concept of a Dungeon Master? It is doubtful the answer to these questions is a resounding yes. Instead, what the developer have done is translate something largely impenetrable in the real-world into something inviting in a digital form, and it isn’t just because Baldur’s Gate 3 is a stunning game to gawp at.

Baldur's Gate 3 - Dragonborn

There’s a basic structure at play which anyone who’s played an RPG will be familiar with: exploring huge biomes, chance encounters, fighting, looting, facing challenges, turn-based combat, but in addition to this Baldur’s Gate 3 is an enveloping experience, one with unfathomably head spinning variation on offer. There’s the hugely entertaining main questline and side missions, but the real champion here is the sheer amount of individual setting threads to be unravelled for party members. The world of Baldur’s Gate 3 feels alive with great experiences, and it’s supported extremely well with insanely creative script writing and exceptional voice acting.

Every morsel of the game’s thousand-or-so lines of dialogue per character feels intentional, as if handcrafted personally for the player. There are so many spells, so many unexpected turns, narrative twists, surprising deaths – which, of course, is to be expected when success or failure rests on the roll of a dice – with the developer writing and recording dialogue for every conceivable eventuality. The fact the vast majority of dialogue will go largely unheard by every player isn’t a shame. It speaks to the determination by the developers to craft something nuanced, something so highly detailed that it can feel overwhelming.

Will Baldur’s Gate 3 replace those memorable nights many have experienced sat around the table plotting a plan to attack a wounded cyber dragon? No. Human moderation is as integral an aspect to any real-life Dungeons & Dragons experience – the adaption to player wants and behaviours or the ‘accidental’ fumbling of a dice roll, for instance. Cold, hard computer code can’t replace that. But in its breadth of its setting, its detailed world building, and it’s phenomenal voice acting, Baldur’s Gate 3 can still deliver an expansive, unforgettable – and, most importantly – a uniquely tailored experience. With the game reacting to player actions, their responses to dialogue, every choice they make and interaction they have with the world no matter how small, there’s a sense that the setting delivers, that its mechanics continues to tick over whether you’re playing within it or not, and that is a feat not many games have achieved.

baldur's gate 3

There’s no doubt Baldur’s Gate 3 will do well on Xbox. There’s no shortage of excellent RPGs on Xbox, but Baldur’s Gate 3 might just steal the top step of the podium. It’s a masterpiece in its gameplay mechanics, and the best video game adaption of D&D’s tabletop mechanics there’s ever been. As a bonus to those who’ve already dived in on Steam, cross-save is enabled, so you can switch from PC to console with ease should you opt to buy again.

Note: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, GamingBolt as an organization.


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