top of page

GameCrate’s 2023 Game of the Year is Baldur’s Gate 3: A Dungeon Master’s perspective

Insert surprised Kirk (but as Astarion) gif here.

Image: Larian Studios
Image: Larian Studios

Seriously, who’s surprised that GameCrate would choose Baldur’s Gate 3 as our Game of the Year pick? We gave it a perfect 10 when it came out. It won a ton of awards at The Game Awards this year (and was nominated for even more). But, what made Baldur’s Gate 3 so great? As a Dungeon Master for the majority of my life, I feel that it’s got to be the accuracy of Baldur’s Gate 3 to the real Dungeons and Dragons that sets it apart from the rest of the contenders.

I have around 100 hours into this game, personally, so I definitely can see the charm. I originally wanted to write this article in the third person, keep it clean, and give some bullet points on what the original GameCrate reviewer thought of the game back in August. But, then, I considered that I may have a unique thought process about Baldur’s Gate 3, having played a vast number of DnD games in my youth (Who are we kidding? My adulthood as well.) and having run more campaigns at a table than I can count.

So, what can be said that hasn’t been said about this fantastic game already? Baldur’s Gate 3, if you haven’t been paying attention, is a game set in the fantastical world of Dungeons and Dragons. Larian Studios, the folks behind the ever-popular Divinity franchise, were given the opportunity of a lifetime… and they checked every box on the list along the way.

We’ve been seeing a lot of love for the tabletop game in recent years across media, such as being a big part of the hugely popular Stranger Things Netflix show. We even got a well-received Dungeons and Dragons theatrical movie in 2023 that introduced the world of Forgotten Realms and Faerun (the world and continent that most DnD takes place in) easily to the most casual fans. However, with an insane amount of dialogue options, endings, and ways to play the game, there has never been a more Dungeons and Dragons video game than BG3 to date. 

A Dungeon Master's take on Baldur's Gate 3

Image: Larian Studios
Image: Larian Studios

I’m what the DnD community calls a “Forever Dungeon Master”. As a Forever DM, I never really get to turn my brain off, let someone else tell the story, and just enjoy playing. A good DM is a guide, getting others to the story beats, but lets them choose their path to get there. Baldur’s Gate 3, on what appears to be the same hand, never once made me feel like I wasn’t in control of my own destiny, even with a clear intended story focus.

Sure, some things are inevitable in a DnD campaign, if your DM has a planned story set out. But, Baldur’s Gate 3 always lets you get to that plot point any way you see fit. Sometimes, I found myself going straight to the mark (often by accident) and, other times, I took a path of most resistance and found myself across the map doing side quests.

The game feels exactly how Dungeons and Dragons should feel, especially with the bantering between companions, the humor, the violence, and how well things can tie together. When you do anything, you even roll a customizable 20-sided die that can be changed based on various milestones. Anyone who plays Dungeons and Dragons on tabletop will tell you how important your dice are and Larian Studios understood the assignment.

What's not to love about Baldur's Gate 3?

Image: Larian Studios
Image: Larian Studios

It’d be impossible to talk about how good the game is without talking about the community surrounding it. I’ve been a games journalist for over a decade and a half and I’ve never seen a more tight-knit, friendly, welcoming community for a game. While we all may not agree on who the best companion to romance is (it’s Lae’zel), a game community has never felt so warm. This community even won a Game Award this year for cultivating such a fine group of people.

As mentioned, I’ve played a lot of Dungeons and Dragons games growing up. From Eye of the Beholder to Neverwinter Nights to the original Bioware-developed Baldur’s Gate games, most of them were great but lacked a certain freedom that the actual tabletop game offers. A personal favorite, Baldur’s Gate: Dark Alliance, took the Diablo 2 approach to gameplay and made it within the DnD world of Forgotten Realms. But, it was linear as well.

While we prepare for the 50th anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons in 2024, Baldur’s Gate 3 just absolutely hit the spot for both hardcore and casual fans alike. Even after winning the year, they continue to make the game better and give options for more ways to play it. It's no wonder it is everyone's go-to win for 2023. We all hope to see more Larian Studios-run Baldur’s Gate games in the future and they just may be that year’s Game of the Year too.

bottom of page