Alright, I booted up BG3 last night for a few hours and I have thoughts and notes I'd like to jot down before going back in for more.
As a quick summary before diving it: The time I spent playing was more frustrating or sigh inducing and those moments are continually getting in front of any feelings of fun or adventure. I didn't have fun and if I wasn't invested in the series the way I am, I wouldn't pick the game back up with how it is today. I realize this is early access but since I have paid money, I'm going to pick nits to the level the price tag and general expectation sets in the hope that by doing so, the product can be made better. Criticism being dismissed by saying 'it's not done yet', defeats the point of having criticism at all. It's important to point out where perceived flaws are to focus
So some background. I've played dnd since the tail end of 2nd edition, and though while I've read through the 5e handbook, I haven't gotten a group together for it and am less familiar with this ruleset. I've played most all the infinity engine games, several dnd based games outside the infinity engine like Temple of Elemental Evil and many more that I'd consider adjacent like Dragon Age:Origins and the Shadowrun games. I've also helped in my own small way on the speedrun routing for Baldurs Gate.
With that out of the way, onto my experience with the game. This will be more in the order of my notes with some thoughts at the end so they will not be in any order of importance.
-Setting up the game, you have windowed, fullscreen, and fake fullscreen? I'm guessing fake fullscreen is is borderless windowed but I've never seen the term and it's unclear what it meant.
-Windows required write access authorization when I clicked on new game which was a jarring transition to get to character creation. I don't know if it's trying to write to a protected area or if it's just a certificate issue but not a good look either way.
This complaint will pop up again, but the UI/UX needs so much work.
Being dropped into the character creator, I was uncertain if I was being given a pregenerated character for the early access since there's a fully detailed character sheet on the left side with a character model starting at me from the center, and 'venture forth' blazing away at the bottom. I was confused then, when on the right side, there's a panel asking for my sex and origin. So naturally, I click on the Custom option, (especially being the only one available), and nothing happens. This is because it's already selected and as I scanned a bit further down, I found the character name entry and background. Great. So I start cycling through the backgrounds, though unless I'm jotting down what each of them are on paper, it's hard to remember what my choices are. A displayed list would be super helpful, both for quickly seeing options but selecting an option instead of the many clicks it takes now.
The next issue, where's the 'next' button? Not at the bottom of the form. Not the right side of the frame. Nope, it's at the top as a pair of innocuous left right arrows disconnected from the form I was working in. You can also click on the individual tabs to jump to a particular section out of order. This would certainly be nice for going back to a section you wanted to modify but the creation wizard should guide you through the process.
The next tab is race which is perfectly normal, but then clicking on some of the races asks for a sub race. Here's the mono selection again, what are my options? The only way to know if by cycling through and familiarizing yourself with each one which slows the creation process. And now we talk about the scroll bar. Why am I having to scroll to view all the race information? Seventy percent of the screen is not being used for character creation, why must there be a scroll bar? As a small aside, you can select your sex on the Origin, race and appearance tabs. It probably doesn't need to be sitting in all those places. When selecting a race like elf, you get a cantrip. The button to customize your selection is larger than the icon. Please make the spell icons larger, they are unhelpfully small and they're not doing their job if I'm pausing to squint. While I'm on this box, it would likewise be helpful to tell me what the spell name is without mousing over for the tooltip. I'll get to the actual customization menu at a later date. Lastly, each race has a unique base movement speed but none of them will say how far that is until you mouse over for the tooltip, it's unnecessary.
Next for some reason is the appearance tab. Kinda breaks the flow, normally attributes would be next and appearance is typically left until last in most games. In part, you can model your character around the pile of stats and the story you've been generating in your head up to this point. As far as the actual tab goes, many of the same general design issues, no one wants to click through 25 hairstyles to get back to the one they like. Though in this case it's not the worst decision since you're likely to cycle through to pick that perfect hairstyle and not moving your mouse from the button to cycle is at least functional. Makes it a bit easier since it's simple visual info and can be processed easily. Would be nice to have the styles named instead of remembering to pick Hair 16 but I assume that's a small polish thing for later. One last oddity, all the other colors are like Red 3 until the makeup section and then you have all the esoteric color names like Taupe.
The Class tab is a bit unclear but a mostly fine layout with only a few new comments. Taking the rogue as a baseline since it's less complex than spell casters; The 'Maximum Hit Points Per Level' is a lie. The hit points listed below is the class hit die plus the constitution modifier. This is the starting hit point value at level 1 but not the hit point gain per level after. (It would be more accurately described as a 1d8 hit die class and for the first level you always take max hit points. For every level thereafter, this game does the simple calculation of half-rounded up so 4.5 goes to 5 hp per level.) We haven't set any ability scores yet so adding the constitution modifier here is misleading to anyone who doesn't know the rules. Since it looks like the default constitution modifier is +2, a person could reasonably assume when picking a class, that a rogue would be gaining 10 hp per level, every level with the way this is worded. Likewise, this is only 2 less than fighter, the obvious tanky front line brawler, and a person could reasonably feel safe lowering their constitution when they get there. That player would end up with a significantly squishier character than they intended to make. Lastly, there's no reason to use two lines of text, just use Max Hit Points per Level: 5 or the like. Maybe use the second line to state the hit points at level one to make more clear the difference.
Class features include a lot of proficiencies and the word proficiency is written many times instead of having headings like saving throw proficiencies and equipment proficiencies to avoid reading the word proficiency so many times. There's also no indication of how many skill proficiencies a particular class gets until the next tab which can be a decision factor in your character.
Actions should probably be relabeled. Something like class actions or unique actions because clearly the character can do more than the handful of actions listed.
Lastly, the spell casters. All the spell choices are at the top of the list with the basic general info to the bottom but if I'm flipping through trying to evaluate between classes, I want to know hp, proficiencies, features and the like first and then I can start scrolling down to do customization on the class.
The skills tab is pretty bare bones but of course I have a couple quick comments on it. The first group is titled Skills With Proficiency which implies it's the list you are proficient with and this is reinforced by the other group titled, Skills Without Proficiency. The wrench in that idea is you can select some number of additional skills and marked by small check boxes. But now, I might assume because I noticed the skill list changes with my class, that the top list I get some small general bonus and I get to specialize further in a few skills. That's not how it actually works so prompting the player to choose which skills to be proficient would be more clear. Also, if you didn't remember which skills you got from your background, you might be confused why some skills cannot be unselected and should probably be denoted as such. Most people who pick this up will not be familiar with dnd 5e so the UI needs to describe what's going on and why. Also also, if I'm going through the effort to create a custom character, please don't automatically fill out my optional class skills. Let me make that decision as I'm creating the character.
One last note, there's nothing to indicate what proficiency in a skill does either in the character sheet or the select skills tab. It's a +2 bonus at first level increasing by +1 every four levels thereafter (5, 9, 13, etc). I would advocate giving players that information to better inform their decisions. Saving it for a throwaway spot at the bottom of the ability points is not where that information should be located.
Last tab is the abilities where you finally set your attribute scores which strongly shape the direction of your character. For example, what skills would you like to take to either be a badass in a few areas by playing to your strengths or using proficiencies to cover for your weaknesses. You can view what skills are tied to what ability scores by clicking the attribute name by accident or the inconspicuous arrow to the left of most of the attributes. I didn't find either as an option until I went through later when I was looking for it. The point buy nature of the stats has never been a favorite and tends to push you to relatively balanced statlines unless you want to really hamstring your main character. Capping the max attribute nominally at 15 feels pretty substandard when the standard has been capping at 18 for decades. Yes, you get attribute increases with later levels but unless you specifically plan for that, in a first playthrough especially, you're going to be setting stats on even number to save on points for use elsewhere.
So we hit venture forth expecting to start the game but nope, you need to create your ideal humanoid which is just one more appearance tab. There's never a character summary before committing to the adventure. The overview on the left of the screen is pretty barebones and misses a lot of the detail you just put into your new character. Instead of using half the screen to have a character model standing around taking up space, I'll advocate using that screen space to have a better flow of information and the character summary slowly build on the right side of the screen. That way you work left to right, there's space for sub menus to be expanded as necessary. When you click the next section button, your eyes are already center/center right ideally and you can see the new information populating your character sheet before switching to the new section. There's many potential implementations but there's so much useless space on the screen now, it won't take much to improve. Not to be that guy, but I'll also point to the original Baldur's Gate games as a perfectly acceptable workflow to start from. Can that system be improved upon, yes, it was made over 20 years ago, I'd hope modern forms/design can improve upon it. The system I see before me today does not.
So, this has turned into quite the wall of text, sorry for that. There's still some things I'd like to dig into but I think if this gets the overhaul it needs, many of those issues will be rendered moot. I'm going to cut it off here for now and I think the best way to keep track is for me to add further walls of text to this thread.
I don't know where to best point these thoughts to, there's no support desk to ticket these more individually and if this or the Steam forums are going to get more visibility. I do want the best for this project and while I know some of this is getting to relatively small stuff, a polished design goes so much further into the weeds that I'm not going to touch it, nor would it be productive at that level or in this format. The most I can do is be pointed with criticism and try to provide enough context to support the point.
While I'm mostly using this to document my thoughts, feel free to comment with additional observations or thoughts of your own. It is a forum after all.