February 20, 2024

Do You Need To Play Baldur’s Gate 1 & 2 Before Baldur’s Gate 3?

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Summary

  • The events of Baldur’s Gate 3 take place over 120 years after Baldur’s Gate 2, featuring different characters and stories, but still includes some connections and references.
  • The city of Baldur’s Gate has evolved over the years, so even longtime fans of the series will see changes.
  • The game incorporates elements from Dungeons & Dragons, including spells and themes familiar to D&D players.


After a long stretch of being in early access development, Baldur’s Gate 3 is finally releasing its full version, but that leaves some prospective players wondering whether they should play the first two Baldur’s Gate games before they can enjoy this new title. The Baldur’s Gate franchise is set in the world of Dungeons & Dragons with much of those elements applied to a narrative-heavy RPG that can be played solo or multiplayer. The first entry in the series made its groundbreaking debut in December 1998 and quickly became one of the quintessential games of its genre.

Baldur’s Gate 3 will be released on August 3, 2023, for PC and then the PS5 version will follow on September 6. This is almost a full 23 years since the last entry in the series, Baldur’s Gate 2, made its debut and so there are many in the gaming community who have never experienced the first two titles. The first games for Baldur’s Gate were each incredible works of art that have many reasons that they should be seen and played, and naturally, they provided heavy inspiration for this latest game. This should not be something that discourages people from trying out Baldur’s Gate 3 though.

Related: Baldur’s Gate 3 Difficulty Modes & Setting Differences Explained


Baldur’s Gate 3 Can Be Played Without Playing The First Two

Baldur’s Gate 3 is not a direct sequel and can be played without knowledge of the events from the first two. Understanding the origins of the games will undoubtedly enhance the experience that a player could get from the game, but the story of Baldur’s Gate 3 is not directly connected to them in a way that would be confusing for newcomers. There are some returning characters, Easter eggs, and references, but nothing that should prevent someone from trying the game.

Baldur’s Gate 3 Is Over 120 Years After The Events Of Baldur’s Gate 2

Players use the minimap to take a short rest in Baldur's Gate 3

Baldur’s Gate 1 and 2 essentially form a completed story arc that focuses on one main protagonist over a massive adventure that spans the two games. Baldur’s Gate 3 actually takes place over 120 years on the same timeline, following the events of the second game and features different characters and stories. It takes place in the same location and there are historical references and some things that will be recognizable to people who played the original games. However, Baldur’s Gate 3 is designed as a standalone title, mostly separate from the first two, and includes explanations where necessary.

Because of the lifespans of some races in the world of Dungeons and Dragons, there could be some characters from the original games that appear in Baldur’s Gate 3 as well. The story will be connected in some meaningful ways, but not to the extent that someone should avoid playing this latest game because of not having tried the first or second in the series. There will simply be some things that could be more impactful for those who have experienced the rest of the story in the history of Baldur’s Gate.

Even The City Of Baldur’s Gate Has Changed

Baldurs Gate 3 city as shown in trailer

Players who have not seen the first two games don’t need to fear not knowing the city or understanding the environment, for the large city of Baldur’s Gate has evolved over the 120 years since the events of Baldur’s Gate 2 enough that even the longtime fans will see a change. Legendary locations will still remain, but there are new mysteries and quests to tackle throughout the city. Everyone is preparing for war at this time and the Steel Watch patrols the streets while a new printing press shares the news of the day.

Dungeons & Dragons Players Will Recognize A Lot In Baldur’s Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3 - Minsc

Every game in the Baldur’s Gate series is based on the Dungeons & Dragons tabletop RPG system and includes a lot of the rules and recognizable themes and objects from the tabletop game. Baldur’s Gate 3 developers have said that the game includes around 600 spells and actions taken from the 5th Edition rules for DnD. The setting for the series also takes place within the fantasy world of the Forgotten Realms where many of the campaigns for DnD take place, and many adventuring parties may have even experienced visiting the city of Baldur’s Gate in their tabletop journeys.

Related: D&D Is Missing Out On A Big Baldur’s Gate 3 Opportunity

Particularly for DnD players who have played the campaign Descent into Avernus, the timeline and story of Baldur’s Gate 3 is set directly after those events happened. The campaign module for Descent into Avernus was designed specifically to be a prequel to the video game This does not follow that someone who is not an avid TTRPG player will not appreciate the game, but those who are familiar with DnD will see a lot that will be familiar to them in this video game.

Baldur’s Gate 1 And 2 Are Genre-Defining Games, Worthy Of Being Played

Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance 2, characters being attacked by goblins on wolves

Although Baldur’s Gate 3 is not directly connected to the first and second games in the series in any way that would deem it necessary to play them first, that isn’t to say they shouldn’t be played. Baldur’s Gate and Baldur’s Gate 2 are often considered genre-defining games that are iconic RPG titles exploring the themes of DnD. Playing them before experiencing the new game will help provide a deeper understanding of the inspirations in the game and are wonderful games to explore. However, the UI and many game mechanics in them are not nearly as smooth and well crafted as in Baldur’s Gate 3 and other modern games.

Ultimately, the decision of whether to go back and play the first two Baldur’s Gate games is up to each individual player. They provide a glimpse into the history of not only the fantasy world of the Forgotten Realms but of the evolution of video games. If someone does not wish to play these two older games and would rather dive straight into Baldur’s Gate 3, they should be just fine and not have the confusion that can sometimes occur with sequels.

Source: Larian Studios/YouTube

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