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Karlach smolders on a sunny day in Baldur’s Gate 3. Image: Larian Studios via Polygon

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Baldur’s Gate 3 on PS5 is a great excuse to restart Baldur’s Gate 3

Or play for the first time, of course

Once upon a time, the dream of a role-playing game like Baldur’s Gate 3 on consoles was exactly that: a dream. Really meaty games like, well, Baldur’s Gate 2 were effectively in a genre defined by their incompatibility with consoles, the so-called CRPG, or computer role-playing game. Those days are gone. We now bask in the glow of a new era full of former CRPG expats migrating to consoles, and the PlayStation 5 version of Baldur’s Gate 3 is the latest and greatest of them. Finally, you can flirt your way across Faerûn from your living room.

Baldur’s Gate 3 converts wonderfully to the PS5. To some, this won’t be terribly surprising. Larian Studios is quite good at this, as the developer has shown with console ports of Divinity: Original Sin and its sequel. Baldur’s Gate 3 does a similarly fantastic job of translating the complex workings of a CRPG to a gamepad. The experience is effectively the same as it is when you connect a gamepad to the Windows PC version — hotbars are swapped for radial menus, and a few new features, like the ability to search multiple objects at once when you hold down the X button, provide even more convenience.

Players who started Baldur’s Gate 3 on PC can pick up their game on PS5 if they sign up for a Larian account and link their PlayStation and PC credentials, and once I did that minor clerical work, every save I made afterward synced automatically. The service doesn’t sync all your saves — just the ones you make after turning on the feature in the game menu. This is a little bit more fiddly than you might expect, but it’s ultimately fine; you just might have to do a bit of save file spelunking, depending on how much you want to carry over when you get started. Afterward, though? Going back and forth between my PS5 and Steam Deck is a dream, an ad-hoc version of the Nintendo Switch experience.

The character sheet for a blue Tiefling Bard named Mezcal in Baldur’s Gate 3.
My new favorite child, Mezcal.
Image: Larian Studios via Polygon

It’s very possible that you might not want to carry your game over — Baldur’s Gate 3 is a rich game where events can shake out in totally different ways on subsequent playthroughs, and a new platform is a perfect excuse to run at the game again as a different character, making different choices and fleshing out a different build. I rolled a new character in addition to importing my PC save, and frankly, I’m having a hard time deciding between finally advancing to Act 2 in my old game or just running headlong back into the first act with my new Tiefling bard, Mezcal.

There are some technical problems on PS5 that I didn’t run into in the PC version — voice lines dropped out; graphical hiccups would cause textures to disappear; and in one conversation, the game didn’t register that one character was there, as it was immediately followed by a scene where she told me to bring her along next time. For the way that I’m playing Baldur’s Gate 3 (slowly, patiently), these issues weren’t that big of a problem, rarely earning more than an eyebrow raise or a brief quicksave reload. Some of these problems may even be addressed in a patch that went live at launch. Frankly, Baldur’s Gate 3 is such a big and complex game, I marvel that it even works at all — and bugs can register as features, depending on your perspective.

The oddest thing about playing Baldur’s Gate 3 on a console and a large TV is the way it can throw the game’s scale out of whack. The camera is controlled the same way as in the PC version, but when you’re playing on a big screen, your priorities for that camera can shift. Exploring with the camera zoomed in, for an impromptu third-person experience, can work surprisingly well but occasionally feels impractical. It can be difficult, for instance, to maintain a viewing angle that’s close to your characters but also wide enough to give you all the information you need, or catch everything unfolding in the world around you.

A party featuring my character, the drow Tav, Astarion, Shadowheart, and Lae’zel in front of a broken bridge.
Still lovely, but strangely cramped.
Image: Larian Studios via Polygon

For example, in Act 1, it’s possible to stumble across a dragon in flight that may terrify your party members — but because I had my camera too close to my party, I only noticed that they were pissing their pants at something off screen, and missed out on the sight of said dragon swooping down with menace. I’d get a good view of it in a cutscene moments later, but the ironic trade-off here is missing out on some of the world in an attempt to become more immersed in it. Players who maintain the classic bird’s-eye RPG view likely won’t be bothered, but if the console experience is one where you’re inclined to want things big, maybe resist that impulse here.

This is all pretty nitpicky, but Baldur’s Gate 3 is a game that encourages you to observe it closely. It’s as permissive as a role-playing game without an actual Dungeon Master overseeing things can be, full of vibrant characters wrapped up in dilemmas of varying weight. Play it recklessly or carefully, and the game will do its best to be equally generous to you, sometimes straining itself in the effort. This is as true in the console version of the game as it is on PC. Its technical problems only underline its ambition, and are rarely disruptive, even though room for improvement remains.

I suspect that work will never be finished. Baldur’s Gate 3 is too bespoke a game to lack some friction, and those waiting for the perfect version or time to jump in would be better served by playing the game wherever they’re most comfortable getting lost in it. It just matters that you give it a shot, on whatever platform you can.

Baldur’s Gate 3 was released Sept. 6 on PlayStation 5, and Aug. 3 on Windows PC. The game was reviewed on PS5 using a pre-release download code provided by Larian Studios. Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. You can find additional information about Polygon’s ethics policy here.

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