Over the last couple of weeks, I've been poking away at the Early Access of Baldur's Gate 3. It's still slim at the moment: I can't romance any companions, or progress past the first Act. But what I can do is shove everyone and everything I can find off the nearest precipice.
Larian Studios' entry in the Baldur's Gate series feels like a blend of BioWare's companion-centric interactions with Larian's modern RPG systems, all smashed together over a Dungeons & Dragons foundation. One of the big things Larian brought over in the combat system, used in games like Divinity: Original Sin 2, is its penchant for physics. Manipulating different surfaces and elemental interactions in Divinity: Original Sin 2 was a blast, and that holds true in Baldur's Gate 3.
Where things really shine is the Shove mechanic. Alongside a few other choices, Shove is an action you can take pretty freely on most turns. It's helpful for trying to get an enemy out of your face, but it's also great for getting an enemy onto a certain spot; that spot being a small pond of spilled oil, a dangerous environmental hazard, or the vast bottomless pit of video game doom. Maybe even just the ground, but about 50 to 75 feet lower than where they're currently standing.
Gravity is the ultimate weapon in Baldur's Gate 3, even from the outset. The introduction of the game has you flying through the air on a nautiloid, fighting various evil creatures as you try to reach the helm. At several points, you have the option to push thralls of the evil mind-flayers, potentially off the ship. Am I just not going to do that? Never.
As players have come to realize, the Shove is the great equalizer. It doesn't require finesse, or studied knowledge in the arcane or forbidden arts. Just bull-headed determination and the confidence that no matter how strong your enemy is, gravity is stronger.
The physics fun doesn't stop there, though. The ability to manipulate barrels, filled with explosives or flammable material, has led to spectacular chain reactions, all from careful placement. And now, they're advancing even further. In a post from today, one Reddit user says that "Barrelmancy" is dead. Welcome to Hoardermancy, where a single Thunderwave and a solid chuckwagon-full of loot sends even imposing dragons to their doom.
The Early Access of Baldur's Gate 3, as it is right now, is still a work-in-progress. Besides not being the full game content-wise, it's also still pretty buggy on occasion. As my colleague Mike Williams wrote in his own impressions though, the game lets you be creative and just try things, even if their success seems improbable at best. Want to fool someone, when you're the least charismatic rogue in the world? Try it anyways. Think you can shove that enemy off a ladder, then continue to shove him back down to the cold, uncaring earth below everytime he tries to climb back up? Yes, please, go ahead.
I'm still making an effort to engage with the more "proper" portions of Baldur's Gate 3's combat. Despite never playing D&D myself, I now know the difference between a cantrip and a spell, and I've gambled on a few saving throws. That isn't going to stop Barge, my glorious Githyanki fighter with a heart of gold and six-cylinder biceps of steel, from flinging whatever and whoever he can off the nearest elevated surface. There are many things to like about Baldur's Gate 3's Early Access, but I truly love the Shove.