In a year filled with huge releases, the inevitable victory of Baldur’s Gate 3 as the Game of the Year at the TechRadar Choice Awards 2023, sponsored by Norton, is more remarkable because of its humble origins. It’s the scion of the acclaimed Bioware roleplaying game series Baldur’s Gate, sure, but those games came out in the ’90s and no one could have predicted a year where a massively anticipated Bethesda RPG would come out in the form of Starfield, but everyone would be too busy rolling digital dice in Baldur’s Gate 3 instead.
That Baldur’s Gate 3 is not just the best game released this year but also the most compelling is a testament to the quality of what’s on offer here. There’s turn-based tactical combat on par with the best in the genre, a storyline that feels all-enveloping while also simultaneously letting even your smallest actions have huge changes on the world around you. Then some well-written and surprisingly nuanced character work that means you can and will hate random strangers who think that not-so-secret Vampire Asterion is their bae as opposed to the obviously-better-in-all-ways Shadowheart.
This is coupled with some top-quality world building, with Larian Studios’ team of writers layering their own stuff on top of decades of well-established Dungeons & Dragons lore. The world of Baldur’s Gate 3 feels real, even if you only ever show up somewhere when it’s on the brink of calamity.
It could have won the award solely because it’s taught decades of Dungeons & Dragons players what a bonus action is for the first time, but in addition to being the most faithful recreation of fifth edition Dungeons and Dragons ever committed to a video game, Larian has also sprinkled its own magic in here, with things like the Illithid corruption system meaning that you can sacrifice your humanity and infest yourself with mindflayer parasites in exchange for cool abilities like being able to fly, telekinetically toss enemies, and even talk to people.
Add this to the fact you’ll really feel like you’re developing a unique character: whether your vibe is berserker with two axes, teleporting spellcaster, or man that can turn into a large bear. Each of these options feels complete, and it’s hard to imagine one playthrough of this RPG – which could clock in at 60-70 hours if you’re trying to go fast – ever being enough. Still, when there’s always something interesting to see or another shiny magic sword to find, why would you ever want to go fast?
Simply put, Baldur’s Gate 3 is the best game of 2023 because it’s the most ambitious RPG I’ve ever played, and our entire team has lost significant hours tooling around in the fantasy playground Larian has put together. At times loud and brash, others quiet and thoughtful, Baldur’s Gate 3 is the video game embodiment of the “get you a man who can do both” meme, and we’ll be talking about it for the next decade.
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Jake Tucker is the editor in chief of TechRadar Gaming and has worked at sites like NME, MCV, Trusted Reviews and many more. He collects vinyl, likes first-person shooters and turn-based tactics titles, but hates writing bios. Jake currently lives in London, and is bouncing around the city trying to eat at all of the nice restaurants.