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Baldur’s Gate III: Everything We Know So Far (Gameplay & Mechanics)

We were invited to check out Baldur’s Gate III in New York City by Larian earlier this week, and we were able to watch an almost 3 hour long presentation by Sven Vincke, the head of Larian Studios. During that presentation and the subsequent interview with Matt Holland, who works on the game’s combat mechanics, we learned a ton about the game. In this Article we’ll cover EVERYTHING we found out, and what you can expect from Baldur’s Gate 3!

Make sure to also check out our Gameplay Impressions Video!

Baldur’s Gate III: Everything We Know So Far (Gameplay & Mechanics)

The presentation began with the opening cinematic, which you can see on our channel, that sets the premise for the game. You are captured by a Mind Flayer and implanted with a parasite that will change you into one if you don’t hurry and have it removed. You subsequently escape when the Mind Flayer’s ship is attacked, and must seek out a cure. You also receive powers from this implant that allow you to do things that normal everyday people cannot, and you must choose whether or not to embrace or reject these powers in a would be “good” and “evil” struggle.

Baldur’s Gate III Companions & Origins

You are not alone in your quest, however, as there were others infected as well. These characters can become your Companions, as you work together to find a cure to your impending doom. They also exist as Origin Stories, much like Divinity: Original Sin II, and are selectable during Character Creation if you wish to play specifically from their point of view. Playing as one of the 5 Origins will present you with new Dialogue options that are unique only to them, and you will experience the game in unique ways that are not available to Custom Characters. The Origins/Companions are as follows:

  • Astarion: Astarion is a High Elf Rogue that is bound to a Vampire Lord. As a Vampire Spawn he is seeking the means to escape his eternal servitude, and the parasite might just be that for him. It allows him to walk in the sunlight, among other things, but he will still need to feed from time to time, even if upon his Companions. He likely to be a “Chaotic Neutral” character.
  • Shadowheart: Shadowheart is a Half-Elf Cleric who is headstrong and does not suffer fools easily. She is wise enough to accept help in her quest to remove the parasite, but does not trust readily. It is no small thing to gain her loyalty, but once accomplished you will have a friend for life, and is likely to be a “Lawful Neutral” character.
  • Gale: Gale is a Human Wizard who has a dark sense of humor, and a quick wit. He reminds me a lot of Ifan from Divinity: Original Sin 2, and if you’re looking for amusing Dialogue then you’ll definitely want to bring him along. He is probably the closest Companion to “Chaotic Good” there is.
  • Lae’zel: Lae’zel is a Githyanki Fighter who always seems to be in a bad mood, but is not especially happy with the parasite being inside her. She will stop at nothing to have it removed, even to the detriment of those around her. She has a fight first, ask questions later mentality, and is likely to be a “Neutral Evil” character.
  • Wyll: Wyll is a Human Warlock that we didn’t see much about in the presentation. He’s made a pact with a devil and will do anything to be rid of it. Nothing is currently known about his temperament or alignment.

You will be able to these characters while on your adventures, but when you rest you will create a Camp that allows you to further progress your Dialogues. Your Camp will develop as the game advances, and you will see this visually as well as in things like Vendors, etc. You can even hire Camp NPCs to work for you here, to further enhance it.

Baldur’s Gate III Classes & Character Creation

Baldur’s Gate III currently features 8 of the 12 Classes available in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition, and these are: Fighter, Rogue, Cleric, Warlock, Wizard, and a few others. The other 4 are slated to be added as the game develops, and you will get to choose from these during Character Creation. No word yet on Prestige Classes, but I assume these will also make it in before launch.

From what we’ve been told Classes should remain nearly identical to the 5th Edition table top rule set, and if you have a character you are currently playing in 5e, then you should be able to recreate that character within Baldur’s Gate III and it should play more or less exactly as you would expect. Larian stated they are trying to remain as true to 5th Edition as possible, and even if they have to change some damaging values for balancing, they will still keep the spirit of spells and Talents.

You will also get to select your Race and Sub-race, as well as your Background and starting Abilities. If you were not aware, Attributes in 5th Edition are called Abilities, so that is what I’m referring to in this case. There is not as much customization as Divinity: Original Sin 2, but that’s only because of the way Classes work in Dungeons & Dragons, but Character Creation is not lacking one bit.

Combat & The Environment

Once the game begins you will go through a tutorial and then you’ll begin your adventure. The Environment plays an even larger role in Baldur’s Gate III then it did in DOS II because now players can Jump, Dash, Shove, Dip, Throw and a host of other actions that allow for an ever growing variety of possibilities. All of these Actions, called Bonus Actions are available in combat, allowing players even greater creativity. For example, you can throw your Boots at an enemy, hitting them for damage if you have no other way of reaching them. Or, you can shove enemies off high ledges, dealing damage to them and causing them to lose the Advantage they once possessed when attacking targets below them.

There is less of a focus on elemental interaction, but more of a focus on environmental interaction. This was done mainly to prevent everything from ending up covered in fire, which was something that happened quite often in DOS II. There is much more freedom in BG3, just in different ways, and verticality plays a huge role in this. For instance, players can stack boxes and make stairs to then jump up to areas they might not otherwise be able to reach.

Combat in BG3

Combat in Baldur’s Gate III is 100% Turn-Based and there is no Real Time With Pause option. However, it does differentiate from DOS II in that players will get to use all of their characters on their turn, and the enemy will get to use all of its characters on its turn. This plays out sort of like X-COM, allowing the player to jump between characters at will, deducing what would be the best course of action. In Multiplayer, this will allow each player to take their action at the same time as others, speeding up the pace and making for some chaotic fun.

Each character will have 1 Action Point to take an Action, 1 Bonus Action point to take a Bonus Action and one Reaction Point, which can be used for an attack of opportunity. Each character also has a certain amount of movement that they can do each round, which can be taken before or after their Actions, or before and after. For instance, you can as a Fighter walk up to an enemy, attack them with your weapon and then shove them backward on the same turn. And if you should miss the Shove for some reason, and they move away from you during their turn you will attack them with an Attack of Opportunity.

During Combat you will see a Hit chance that is displayed when mousing over your target, much like Divinity: Original Sin 2. However, in BG 3 this also applies to spells. This Hit Chance is the mathematical percentage being calculated of your Attack Roll or spell DC versus the target’s Armor Class or Saving Throw value. This is all done behind the scenes for you, giving you an idea what the odds are you will connect with your attack or spell. This means you don’t need to know anything about D&D to succeed in combat, but for those interested, you can see the details in the infobox in the bottom right corner. If you’d like more information on how this works, please see our video series about these mechanics.

When combat begins the team that goes first is the team that wins the Initiative roll. This is accomplished by each character rolling a D20 and then adding any Initiative modifiers to that roll, which is usually Dexterity and then taking the highest value from that team and comparing it to the highest value from the other team. Whichever is higher determines which team goes first.

Death is handled a bit differently than DOS II, and characters that run out of Health will be “downed”. This mean that they cannot take any actions but make 1 Saving Throw each round, and if they succeed 3 Saving Throws before they lose 3 they will revive with 1 HP. But if they fail 3 before succeeding 3 then they will die. Other characters can help the character up using a Bonus Action if they are nearby, at which point they will revive with 1 HP. Additionally, enemies will continue to attack downed characters, which makes them instantly fail a Saving Throw, and speeds up the process of them dying. It does sound like there will be Resurrection Scrolls in the game to revive dead characters, but they will be extremely rare if there are, and won’t be something you’ll have access to often.

Miscellaneous Information

Turn-Based can actually now be initiated outside of combat, allowing the character to move 6 seconds worth without other characters moving. Once this is done, then the game moves forward 6 seconds, alternating between your 6 seconds and the game’s characters. This allows for Stealth scenarios to be approached more easily and in a more methodical manner, hopefully saving players many reloads due to misclicks and unfortunate timings.

Stealth is handled by how obscure the player is, and positioning and daylight play a large roll in this. For instance, characters in tall grass or bushes are harder to see, and are even harder to see at night. This means players will need to use their environments, and chose wisely about when to use Stealth in order to have the most success possible, as well as decide when to activate the Turn-Based feature.

There are passive skill checks in Baldur’s Gate III that allows characters to reveal hidden objects or things they can interact with. Exploration and finding these things is a huge part of BG III and players are encouraged to traverse the map and find these. If you are not familiar with how passive Skill checks work, please see our D&D video which explains the basics of how this happens.

Players will need to rest in order to restore Spells and Health if they have no healing spells or potions, and this will take players to their Camp. There they can interact with their Companions and use the features of their Camp, which they will unlock as the game progresses, and may remind players a bit of Dragon Age: Origins.

One interesting thing in the game is that you will gain an amulet that allows you to speak with the dead, further adding ways in which you can solve quests. For example, if a character cannot be persuaded to give you the information you want, perhaps you can kill him and then speak with him after he is dead and coerce it from him. This opens up a slew of new options for players, and should make for some even more interesting scenarios.

The Loot of BG 3 will be much more static than DOS II, and players can expect the vast majority to be in the same place every game. There are small exceptions, but if you know where some great Unique Bow is that you want from an earlier play through, you can head there and get it ASAP. This is good news, and should help a lot of players plan where they want to go, and what decisions to make, especially once we get that information on the Wiki.

The game does feature a fast travel function that works similarly to DOS II, allowing players to teleport to Waypoints. I don’t have much more specifics than that at the moment, but I speculate you will simply unlock them the same way you do in DOS II, by going near them and using them.

Lastly, there are a couple things that differ from 5th Edition and that is that some creatures will have or not have some spells they normally possess for balancing purposes, and normally your Reaction Point can be used for things other than Attacks of Opportunity. But in BG3, in order to prevent the player from having to click off a box to react every time an enemy takes a turn, this has been simplified into only an Attack of Opportunity.

Be sure to check out our Impressions video, and our videos on the basics of 5th Edition (with more to come over the next few months), as we inch closer to Early Access. Early Access is expected some time this year, and although I didn’t get an exact time frame, I think it may be a lot closer than some people think. Early Access will be available to anyone who pre-orders the game.

For all the latest info be sure to swing by the Baldur’s Gate 3 Wiki.

If you enjoyed reading about BG3 be sure to catch more in Baldur’s Gate III Prep: 5th Edition D&D – Proficiency, Skills & Advantage/Disadvantage and Baldur’s Gate III Prep: 5th Edition D&D – Abilities & The D20.

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