This guide is for beginner Baldur’s Gate 3 players and will explain mechanics, combat, stealth, and more in our 10 Tips I Wish I Knew First!
Tips I Wish I Knew First – Baldur’s Gate 3 Beginner Guide
Baldur’s Gate 3 can be confusing for beginners and players that aren’t familiar with the Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition tabletop game, and there are many things I wish I knew before I started my first playthrough, so I want to share those tips with you. Let’s take a look.
Here are ten essential tips and tricks when you start the new game in Baldur’s Gate 3, we discuss them in detail below:
- Pick the Right Character, class, race, and subclass.
- Understand Leveling and the max level.
- Companions Augment Your Build. Pick the right party combination.
- Understand the Action and Bonus Actions to utilize them to the maximum.
- Character movement and positioning is the key to success in combat.
- How to Save a Downed Player
- Use the Environment to your advantage.
- How to Increase Dialogue Chances and skill checks
- Sent items to camp and use filters to manage your inventory
- Start Combat in Stealth, gain advantage and surprise opponents
1 Pick the Right Character
Creating the right character in Baldur’s Gate is essential, for not only having fun but making sure your character is powerful later in the game. Each race and sub-race get very important bonuses and on full release of the game, you will feature 11 races and 28 sub-races, along with 12 classes and 46 sub-classes.
I’ve spent many hours in early access, only to realize I picked a character, class, or race that looked nice but ended up hitting like a noodle later in the end game. Let me save you my pain and frustration when the game launches by suggesting some builds for newer players.
- Melee: Half-Orc Barbarian is an amazing choice at the launch of the game or Shield Dwarf during early access. Barbarian mechanics will be easy to understand, they have high health, big damage and damage reduction.
- Ranged Casters: Wizard is a good option because they have access to the most spells to experiment with and plenty of spell slots and are the least complex. High Elf remains a strong choice.
- Simplest: Human Fighter is the simplest and easiest because you have access to all weapons, and armor choices with a big health pool, multiple attack actions and little spell casting.
- Interesting: Druids make a very different and interesting build because you can transform and control creatures. The class has a lot of versatility, can be somewhat more complex, but is just different than other RPGs and Wood Elf makes a great race choice.
Larian Studios has confirmed respeccing, or re-rolling some of your character’s initial choices will be in the game. So, experiment with the subclass, but don’t expect to be able to change your class. Choose a character that aligns with your preferred playstyle. Consider their race, class, and abilities to ensure you enjoy your journey through Baldur’s Gate 3.
2 Max Level & Leveling
At the launch of the game, the max level in Baldur’s Gate 3 will be 12. Don’t expect to reach this anytime soon as levels come quickly early, but slow down quickly. You can earn experience in the usual means, questing, main quest, dialogue, combat, and so forth. The tip for leveling up quicker is by forcing combat. Early access, gives you more experience than skipping dialogue or bypassing entirely.
Also, understand the big power jumps in the game come and how to make important decisions. Expect big power increases at levels 4, 5, and 11. Most classes get their subclass by level 3 and at level 4 you will have an important choice to make, do I take a feat (feature) or ability improvement? Ability improvements are generally the simplest and straight forward which it’s hard to screw up. Feats on the other hand can turn your character into a god but are more complex.
An example of this is on a Barbarian build, the Great Weapon Master feat is a game changer: “When a melee attack scores a critical hit or kills a creature, you can make another melee attack as a bonus action. When attacking with Heavy Weapons you are proficient with, attack rolls take a -5 penalty, but their damage increases by 10.”
Actions are the name of the game in Baldur’s Gate 3 just like Divinity Original Sin II before it, and this allows you to get another attack using a bonus action which will be explained later. At level 5 certain classes get multi attack allowing two attacks in one turn or spell casters get access to tier 3 spells. This is when you really can feel a spike in power. Consider your choices carefully when experimenting and respect to see what works best for you.
3 Companions Augment Your Build
Companions are recruited at the outset of the game, and they are used in the story, romance, and optimizing your build and party composition. Here’s what you can expect for companions:
- Lae’zel – Fighter and the strongest companion at the outset of the game. She plays in melee range, has great armor already equipped, and hits very hard. She’s a great choice for any party especially starting out.
- Astarion – Rogue who can steal and pickpocket and does great in combat. Putting him as in the shadow dual-wielding melee character is a great asset to your team. His ability to open locks, pickpocket, steal, and stealth is vital early on.
- Shadowheart – Cleric, which is helpful due to her healing, crowd control, and spell casting. Shadowheart also boosts dialogue and speech checks with spell guidance.
- Gale – Wizard and ranged spell caster. He starts off pretty slow in terms of power, but once he unlocks skills and spells slots, he starts providing heavy area damage that is useful in a single target-focused group.
- Wyll – Warlock who’s pretty limited during the game due to his lack of spells, suboptimal racial choice and generally a weaker companion. His story is begin rewritten from early access to experiment with him on launch.
- Karlach – Barbarian and launch day companion. She will most likely be a strong choice if someone’s main character is ranged or a caster.
Pick up to three other party members to follow. You can also break them off of your group menu by holding their portrait in the upper right and moving it. This keeps them from automatically following you, which can be very useful when traps or sneaking on specific encounters need to be avoided.
Lastly, companions will all have their own unique likes and dislikes. Don’t expect Lae’zel to want to snuggle up or help out the poor villagers. Their approval will fluctuate with your decisions, and you can also dismiss them via your camp where you rest.
4 Use Action and Bonus Actions Right
Combat in Baldur’s Gate 3 is turn-based, not live-action. Thus, each character will take a turn and has limited resources to attack, called action and bonus action. Each character can perform at least one Action and a Bonus action per turn.
- Action: is the primary resource players spend to attack or cast Spells.
- Bonus Action: is a secondary resource used when consuming potions, shoving, hiding, etc.
Some classes have access to multiple actions, multiple bonus actions, and even the ability to cast two spells per turn. You can initiate turn-based combat on the bottom right of your User Interface to experiment. You will then be in the turn-taking mode with a UI at the top showing character portraits with turn order.
The best tip is to take feats, subclasses, or even potions that give you additional actions, bonus actions or use bonus actions for attacking. Astarion companion is a great example. Early on in the game, he has multiple bonus actions and one action. In one turn he can do the following:
- Attack with a melee weapon consuming his action point.
- Use his bonus action to attack with an off-handed weapon consuming one bonus action.
- Use his second bonus action to disengage and run away from the enemy.
Rarely should you leave any actions or bonus actions unspent. Even hiding, shoving, or consuming a potion to make sure you use every resource will improve your combat experience.
5 Understanding Combat Movement
Next up is understanding combat movement, specifically in turn base mode. This will show you a direction arrow with a lot of information that is hard to decipher initially.
- White arrow: using movement
- Blue arrow: something on the ground
- Yellow arrow: negative ground effect
- Red arrow: out of the movement
- Red Sword: counterattack if you move away from the enemy
Remember you get a preview of the action, percentages, and choices you make. Don’t rush ahead when you slip on grease, which is marked yellow. Avoid some of this by using a jump. You can also see that when you move away from an enemy if they will hit you with a red sword. You can use the disengage action to avoid retaliation which is called “Opportunity Attacks.”
Lastly, don’t be afraid to use your Dash if you’re unable to launch an attack, especially if you’re playing a melee character. Ideally, you want to park your character behind something to avoid needless damage until it returns to you.
6 How to Save a Downed Player
In our guide, saving companions is another important tip I wish I knew in Baldur’s Gate 3 as a Beginner. When someone reaches zero hit points, they aren’t exactly dead. Your character can be revived mid-fight to one health using the action “Help.” This is an action, so you need to use it sparingly in combat. The User Interface has a meter showing the downed character. Essentially, they only have so many turns, and dice rolls to prevent their death where they cannot be resurrected in combat with Help.
You encounter an NPC early on that will allow you to resurrect completely dead companions back at camp so this isn’t usually an issue. When someone dies in combat, you need to weigh the pros and cons of spending action to revive them. Typically, unless they have a turn or another ally who can heal, it’s easier to leave them dead and spend your action on an attack or defensive spell. However, a clutch resurrection, followed by a heal, or the player’s turn can get them back in the fight at only the expense of action.
7 Use the Environment
The environment is alive in Baldur’s Gate 3 and can be manipulated in and out of combat. The first tip is that characters with high strength can move heavy objects like barrels and crates. Simply click and drag these options, which can be helpful at certain times.
Secondly, you can combine areas that affect spells and environments to do big damage. Take the spell Grease, which is useful to have enemies slip and follow and miss a turn in the prone position. You can cast that area and then following a turn, another player can ignite the area with fire causing a big explosion and fire damage. This tactic applies to lighting, water, and many others, especially acid which is helpful for reducing armor.
Another trip is using the “Dip” bonus action in fire, acid, or at least just outside of it. You can actually carry a candle and drop it, then Dip your bow and have a flaming arrow to shoot. This is an easy way to get extra damage prior to a tough engagement. Always look around your environment for a barrel to explode, a rope to shoot to drop a stone, and so forth. Larian Studios littered the area with things for players to explore.
8 How to Increase Dialogue Chances
Dialogue plays a massive role in your story along with quest progression. This system can be annoying when you just want to get the idea speech check passed. Multiple character creation factors like background and skills affect this along with your ability. Charisma is typically the ability that influences dialogue, but not always. The best tip for increasing dialogue chances is to use the proper character for the situation.
The character who initiates the conversation is the primary dice roller. If you’re playing a Barbarian, but have a Bard in the group, most likely you will have much better success. You also need to look for skills that scale off your primary ability. Take that Barbarian with low intelligence but high strength. Strength and Dexterity have very few skills and it may be rough for dialogue. Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma characters can help when engaging in a tough conversation.
You can drastically improve your chances to pass via the Guidance spell which can be cast prior to a conversation. To that end, Shadowheart companion provides this and it last 10 turns. She makes a great companion to bring to conversations to get the massive bonus.
9 Managing Inventory
Inventory management can be a pain for any game, and Baldur’s Gate 3 is no exception. The best tip for managing your inventory is to send items to camp. You can load up your storage at your camp, then move your character just outside a trader. Open the map, click Camp (no need for rest), and load up on your gear you want to sell. Even if you’re encumbered (slow moving), you can just exit the camp fully loaded and sell everything at once.
Another issue with inventory management is sorting through four characters all with unique gear, equipment, and consumables. Hitting the “tab” key on the PC brings up a group inventory menu. This can be helpful to see who specifically has what, armor, and weapons and you can freely move around equipment on one screen.
Individually, you can open your inventory with the I key. From here, you can click the “show party inventory” and expand the inventory to get a quick glance at everyone’s equipment. There’s also a helpful search key, which will be useful when looking for a useful potion or item. Right-clicking allows you to send to a player, your camp, or examine. Examine can be helpful because it gives an expanded look at the item, specifically if you’re proficient and can make use of it.
You can also drag and drop items from your inventory to your User Interface hot bar. Theirs all sorts of customization with this bar and primarily, you’ll use it for potions, acid arrows, and scrolls. Don’t sleep on powerful potions like speed because it gives increased movement and actions which will make the difference in a tough fight. And avoid your max weight and being encumbered by swapping gear with other players with high strength and extra bag space.
10 Start Combat in Stealth
Stealth is vital to not only getting an edge in combat but allowing you to pickpocket and steal! To get into stealth, hit the C key and you will crouch down. A red grid will appear where NPC attention is drawn and if you enter this area, you have a chance to be detected. A blue octagon will go over your head for a dice roll to stay hidden or not. Don’t risk it! Move around if you can, including jumping to avoid the dice roll.
You can often time cheese fights and encounters by having your entire party go into stealth with control + C. Staying back from the red grid, you can use an archer with massive range and preferably stealth proficiency and pick off a target or two. In fact, in one of the hardest encounters in the game, I was able to destroy the entire enemy group undetected with a high position and longbow. Use stealth to your advantage to gain a high vertical position. This sometimes improves your hit chance and is very helpful when facing melee opponents.
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