Two new D&D 5e-based CRPGs enter the arena, both looking to catch the attention of dice-rolling tabletop fans.
- Baldur’s Gate 3 looks to bring its heritage back on the map
- Solasta: Crown of the Magister is the newcomer that wants us to remember to roll for initiative
Which one is better given its D&D 5th-edition source of inspiration? Let’s see!
5th-edition D&D ruleset adaptation
CRPGs typically make the same promise to adapt the tabletop Dungeons & Dragons rules to a digital context. There are few games that manage to make good on this promise either for fear of becoming too complicated or because adapting pre-existing rules of a game can be a massive and expensive undertaking. Both Baldur’s Gate 3 and Solasta are clearly making use of the 5e rulebook but it’s the latter that wears these inspirations on its sleeve.
Story and lore
Both Baldur’s Gate 3 and Solasta aim to have deep narratives with lots of characters and dialogue options. When it comes to each game’s setting and lore, though, Baldur’s Gate 3 is right in the think of the D&D universe as the series story has always been rooted in the Forgotten Realms universe. BG3 is also a sequel to an already established story from decades ago.
With Solasta still in Early Access, we don’t know that much about its universe but it does appear to be its own thing. Solasta operates under the Open Gaming License, with the 5e rule set again so it doesn’t include the D&D world and other trademarked creatures. The setting feels dark and heavily inspired by the D&D world but we still have a ways to go before we can make a fair story comparison between the two.
Both games obviously take different approaches in their adaptations. BG3 aims to make the 5th Edition ruleset more player-friendly and easier to digest. Solasta, though, flies the D&D banner for the whole 10 yards. The game operates on a grid. You can see every dice roll as it happens. Where Solasta feels like a stickler for the D&D rules, BG3 seems more like a player who likes to bend them with gusto.
“Gameplay is greater than graphics” is what most CRPG fans will tell you and that’s a good sentiment to stand on. But even a game with low graphical fidelity can still somehow manage to look good with some design trickery. Baldur’s Gate 3 definitely looks like the more refined and polished of the two and that’s no surprise given that its made with a higher budget and by a larger dev team.
Solasta is no slouch in this department either. While it may not have the polish and shine of a big-budget game, the game is well made and already looks like a finished product despite being in really Early Access. The world is particularly engrossing during the night where things become more menacing and your characters more vulnerable. In terms of art style, both games do a great job of capturing the look and feel of a solid CRPG inspired by the D&D universe.
Is there a clear winner?
It depends on what you are looking for. Baldur’s Gate 3 carries decades worth of a legacy and has the lore edge in terms of its D&D roots. Solasta, on the other hand, goes hardcore in its faithfulness to the way pen-and-paper RPGs play. Both games are currently in Early Access so it’s hard to say ultimately which is the better game overall.