Baldur's Gate III was recently announced during the first Google Stadia Connect event. A trailer showing the city of Baldur's Gate living beneath the shadow of a monstrous squid as the citizens were transformed into mind flayers was shown, which was certainly intriguing, but offered little information as to the plot of the game.
The last canonical Baldur's Gate game was released in 2001, and the Forgotten Realms setting has changed a lot since then. The fans are now left with the question of whether Baldur's Gate III will be a sequel to the events of the original games, or if it will be a brand new tale in a familiar setting.
Baldur's Gate III: The Sequel
The Baldur's Gate series is beloved by many gamers and it's a huge boon to have its name attached to a new game, but it also sits in the shadow of another big name: Dungeons & Dragons.
Larian Studios could easily have purchased the rights to make a Dungeons & Dragons game, which would have had a more recognizable name to the mainstream gaming public, but they chose to pursue the Baldur's Gate name. Larian Studios CEO, Swen Vincke, talked about how much of a passion project Baldur's Gate III is during the Google Stadia Connect event, and it seems unlikely that the developers would want to abandon the storyline that they fought so hard to continue.
There is also the case of Dungeons & Dragons establishing that some of the characters from the Baldur's Gate series are still alive, even though the lore has moved forward by over a hundred years. The Dungeons & Dragons comics have confirmed that Minsc (the most popular character from Baldur's Gate) is still alive, as he was transformed into a statue and was later freed. There were also several prominent party members from the demihuman races who could easily have survived into the current age, including Aerie, Jaheira, Viconia, Jan Jansen, and Korgan Bloodaxe.
The upcoming Baldur's Gate: Descent Into Avernus adventure has an alternate cover that features the symbol of Bhaal, which suggests that he is returning to prominence in the storyline of the Forgotten Realms, with his schemes involving the city of Baldur's Gate.
A New Story In Baldur's Gate
The main problem with Baldur's Gate III being a direct sequel is that the lore of the Forgotten Realms setting has moved forward by over a hundred years. The events of the original Baldur's Gate began in 1368 DR, which is the year in which the Bhaalspawn crisis kicks off. One of the most recent Dungeons & Dragons adventures is Waterdeep: Dragon Heist, which takes place in 1489 DR.
The time jump and all of the changes that have happened to the lore in the meantime will make it a lot more difficult for Baldur's Gate III to be a direct sequel, as many of the major players will have perished.
There is also the issue of the main conflict of the series having been resolved. Baldur's Gate: Throne of Bhaal ended with the player either rejecting their heritage or embracing it and becoming the new god of murder. Dungeons & Dragons lore has retconned both of these endings and Bhaal has returned as a god, which means that the Bhaalspawn crisis has long since ended.
It's possible that Bhaal is now the villain of the series and that he is somehow responsible for the mind flayer invasion, but it would be hard to tie these events into those of the original games.
Wait And See
The story of the Bhaalspawn crisis was resolved in a satisfactory way in Baldur's Gate: Throne of Bhaal and the lore of the series has moved on to other things. It wouldn't make sense to rehash the story of Bhaal's return, but enough elements of the original game need to remain in order to justify the name. It remains to be seen whether Baldur's Gate III will be a true sequel to the events of the original games, or whether it's just a famous name slapped on a different game.
Baldur's Gate III is currently in development for Google Stadia and PC.