Starfield vs Baldur's Gate 3: Which game should you play?
Two absolutely huge games are launching on the exact same day this week.
Unlike the Barbenheimer debate, which had movie fans trying to figure out which two-to-three hour movie to watch first, gamers have a much bigger issue this week.
While the debate might be immediately ended depending on which consoles you do or do not have, let us pretend you have both a PS5 and a Xbox Series X|S. If that describes you, then you've got a big decision to make this week, because two of 2023's biggest, most-time-consuming, most-talked-about, and arguably very best games are both arriving on the exact same day.
We're here to tell you which, if any, or both, you should definitely play. First up, we're talking about Baldur's Gate 3.
Baldur's Gate 3 is the long term relationship of games
Initially released on PC a little under a month ago, Baldur's Gate 3 arrived to the third-best review scores for a game... ever. Which is absolutely not to be sniffed at.
For those not in the know, the game is set within the world of Dungeons & Dragons, and it arrives a full 23 years after Baldur's Gate II, so there is no need to worry about not having played the previous entry.
The RPG allows you to create your own character and embark upon the single player story within the game, or you can team up online and join a party with other players and tackle the missions that way. The main campaign itself can take up to 100 hours to complete, and that is without including a large majority of the side missions, so when we say this game is huge, we mean it is HUGE.
The isometric vantage of the game might turn the more casual players off, as will the level of complexity within the system in the game, especially if you're coming at this brand new to the entire Dungeons & Dragons world. There is a lot to learn and the majority of the learning will come via trial and error, which could be daunting to some. We also encountered some tech glitches on the PS5 port that apparently didn't exist on the reportedly perfect PC version.
On the flip-side, those willing to put in the time and work will unravel a richly written and gorgeously realised fantastical world, filled with deep lore and interesting characters. This feels like an old-school RPG given a thorough modern day update, and there is a reason why so many people are calling it a masterpiece and already hailing it game of the year.
But it definitely won't be for everyone, especially casual gamers, as the sheer amount of things to learn and know and remember in order to just play the game correctly can be staggering at times, and is perfectly designed for gamers looking for a new project that they can fully dedicate themselves to and get completely lost in.
Starfield is more like a great friend with benefits situation
Starfield arrives on the back of outrageous expectation and very good but not great early reviews. From the minds behind Skyrim and Fallout, this is their first original IP in nearly 30 years, and fans were psyched.
The closest comparison we can make is to the launch of Cyberpunk 2077, as in, yes, it is riddled with issues, but you'll be having way too much fun to really care. We'll get the problems out of the way first, with the biggest being the learning curve. Much like Baldur's Gate 3, you are dropped in at the deep end in terms of gameplay, but the difference being that Starfield borrows its gameplay mechanics from other RPG video games, whereas BG3 brings over mechanics from the D&D tabletop game, which some gamers may have no previous knowledge of.
There is some messiness around maps, some noticeable loading times, and vast areas of planets and moons seem to be entirely devoid of life or points of interest... yes, that is probably true to real life, but that level of realism isn't exactly conducive to having fun.
Having said that, strictly following the main story will make sure you're never left short of incredible missions to complete, while the side missions themselves aren't just reasons to grind up your skill levels, but are filled with moments of jaw-dropping awe. And this universe feels properly realised and lived-in, helping with the immersive nature of the aesthetically gorgeous gameplay.
On foot, on planet, you can switch between first-person mode, and two variations of third-person mode, while travelling and battling in space can switch from first-person inside the cockpit and third person behind the ship, allowing for every vantage point preference for players in that regard.
As you go through the game, improving your ship, picking up more crew, improving your own skills and stats, tailoring your hero (or space pirate, or whatever you want them to be, really) to your preferred gameplay style, those initial issues do sink away to the background. Nobody wants to hear that dreaded qualifier "It gets good after 10 hours", but the whole point of games is that they should be good and fun from the moment you pick the controller up, Starfield needs to amend that qualifier to "It starts good, but then gets great after 10 hours.
Baldur's Gate 3 is the long term relationship of games, whereas Starfield feels more like a great friend with benefits situation, the latter definitely feeling more easily pick up for an hour to play a singular part of a mission. Both games are incredible, both will end up being two of the best of 2023, if not the decade, but both won't suit all players.
As mentioned, which console you have will probably make this decision for you, but if are in the position to get both, then you can either get yourself fully consumed by Baldur's Gate 3 or enjoy the as-you-like-it nature of Starfield. Either way, there are no bad choices here, as with Barbenheimer, this is a win-win for the consumer.
Baldur's Gate 3 launches on PlayStation 5 and Starfield launches on Xbox Series X|S on Wednesday 6 September.
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