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Before starting Baldur’s Gate 3, you’ll need to know these Dungeons & Dragons basics

If you’re looking to dive into Baldur’s Gate 3, but don’t have any knowledge of the series, don’t worry. The new CRPG tells a standalone story that doesn’t require that you have any knowledge of the series’ first two games. You might, however, want to be a little familiar with Dungeons & Dragons.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is the most comprehensive adaptation of the tabletop game ever made, heavily drawing from D&D’s 5th edition ruleset to build its own RPG systems. And while everything is explained in the game through tooltips, the mass of systems can be overwhelming if they’re totally new to you. You’ll have to learn a wealth of tabletop gameplay knowledge in a short time to start killing owlbears and charming your way through conversations.

If you don’t have time to read an entire rulebook, don’t worry. A lot of the gameplay systems seem scary at first, but are easy to explain. Here’s some basic information about Dungeons & Dragons that’ll demystify Baldur’s Gate 3’s opening hours.

Character sheets

A dragon with a flaming spell in their hand.
Larian Entertainment

Every Dungeons & Dragons campaign begins with a character sheet. Each player needs to build out their hero, choosing everything down to their starting items. Baldur’s Gate 3 replicates that experience in the context of a standard video game character creator, but there are a lot of details you’ll want to focus on. For one, the race and class you choose matter. Both of these will determine what kind of skills you can get and your starting stat spread. If you want to play a persuasive character who can talk their way out of a paper bag, for instance, you might want to play a bard. If you’re more of a stealth assassin, rogue might be for you.

Don’t stress about this too much, though. You will eventually have the option to change your class and respec your character later. Feel free to experiment early on and find a playstyle that best suits you.

Skill checks

Perhaps the most important thing you’ll want to know about is skill checks. In D&D, just about everything is determined by the roll of a dice. When a player wants to do something, the dungeon master running the game will set a number that they need to beat to succeed. Want to lie your way out of a situation? Roll a 20-sided die and hope it works out. Baldur’s Gate 3 adapts this quite literally, as you’ll actually roll a D20 on-screen to check your success. This idea is baked into a lot of video games, with “dice rolling” that’s invisible to the player. Here, you actually get to see the math play out.

The dice roll isn’t always the final number, though. Different modifiers can add or even subtract from the outcome. Some modifiers are based on your stats, with high ones giving you extra points on a roll and low ones potentially taking away some points. Modifiers can come from elsewhere too. Get your blood sucked out by a vampire and you’ll gain a temporary Bloodless trait, taking one point off every roll. Other characters can also provide support at times, acting as a bonus that adds their own dice rolls to yours. It sounds complicated, but Baldur’s Gate 3 does a great job at showing you exactly each bonus you’re adding when you make a roll.

Inspiration points

An inspiration menu in Baldur's Gate 3 shows different bonuses.
Larian Studios

There’s one other thing to know about rolls: the importance of inspiration. In D&D, players can earn “inspiration points” that are handed out by the dungeon master in a variety of ways. These can be fairly flexible, with a dungeon master giving you one if they like something you did. Baldur’s Gate 3 has that system too, but with a more specific way to earn points. Inspiration is handed out when a character does something that’s true to their background. A Noble, for instance, might get an inspiration point for doing something that raises their social status.

Those points are extremely useful, as you can spend one to reroll any skill check. So, say you fail a high-stakes check. You can spend an inspiration point to essentially get a second try. Players can only hold four inspiration points at once, so don’t stockpile them. Use them when you’ve got them, because you’ll always get more if you role-play properly.

Combat options

A Drow prepares to throw an item in Baldur's Gate 3.
Larian Studios

If you’ve played a video game RPG, you probably think you have the basics of combat down pat. Attacks, spells, and items, right? Well, not quite. In D&D, you actually have a pretty massive range of things you can do outside of simply attacking. Baldur’s Gate 3’s greatest achievement (and most overwhelming aspect) is how well it brings that idea to a game. When you open up your action list, you’ll see a whole mess of commands you can issue. Some are straightforward, but others are nuanced. For instance, you can choose to make an improvised ranged weapon by throwing anything from your inventory at an enemy. Or you can dip your weapon in whatever element is nearby to enhance it.

You have tons of options that go far beyond standard attacks, so don’t ignore options that don’t have an immediate damage effect. Learn the full breadth of your commands and experiment with each during battle to see what they do. Sure, you can probably get through battles by simply using a basic attack, but where’s the fun in that?

Opportunity attacks

This tip is a literal lifesaver. In most RPGs, you might think that an enemy can only damage you on their turn. That’s not the case. D&D has a concept called “attack of opportunity” that you need to be aware of. If you’re standing right next to an enemy and you try to run away, they can essentially swipe at you while you’re vulnerable. You’ll often find yourself in situations where it’s better to stand your ground and fight rather than running away and taking a hit.

There is, however, a way to avoid opportunity attacks. The Disengage command in your action menu will allow you to safely get away without provoking an enemy attack. That’ll cost you an action, so you may not be able to attack during that turn, but it’s something you’ll want to use when you’re backed into a corner with low health.

Long and short rests

Characters rest at a camp in Baldur's Gate 3.
Larian Studios

Healing in D&D isn’t quite so simple as picking up a health item. While you can get one-time-use potions, you’ll actually need to stop and rest your party to fully regain your strength. Baldur’s Gate 3 uses this same system, and it can be a little confusing if you’re not used to it. When you go into the main menu, you’ll see that your party can take two “short rests.” These will instantly restore some of your party’s HP, allowing for a quick refresh.

You’ll also see an option to take a “long rest.” That option will actually send you to a campsite. That doubles as a hub where you can change your party, adjust your class, and even bump into some story events. Once you’re ready to sleep, you’ll have to use some food from your inventory to fill your party up. A successful long rest will restore both your short rests, all HP, and refresh your spells. In short, use your two short rests to heal first, and jump into a long one once you’re out of those.

Preparing spells

Perhaps the most complicated aspect of D&D comes from how spells are handled. While characters will gain access to dozens of spells, they can’t actually equip them all at once. Rather, they’ll need to “prepare” a few by essentially slotting them into their inventory. Anything that’s not equipped can’t be used until it’s prepared, so choose your loadout carefully. Luckily, Baldur’s Gate 3 isn’t too strict about when you can prepare a spell. All you need to do is make sure that you’re outside of battle and aren’t in the middle of any action. From there, simply open up your spellbook in your menu and swap them around as you like.

That’s only scratching the surface of Baldur’s Gate 3. There are a ton of tabletop systems baked into the RPG that you’ll need to learn as you go. These tips should be enough to get you started, though, regardless of your Dungeons & Dragons history. Now go kill some mind flayers, you rapscallions.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is now available on PC. It’s coming to PS5 on September 6.

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Giovanni Colantonio
Giovanni is a writer and video producer focusing on happenings in the video game industry. He has contributed stories to…
Baldur’s Gate 3 Patch 1 improves the game in over 1,000 ways
Karlach in Baldur's Gate 3.

Larian Studios released Patch No. 1 for Baldur's Gate 3 today, almost a month after launch and following several hotfixes. It brings over 1,000 gameplay improvements and bug fixes to the highly successful RPG.

Baldur's Gate 3 has been a massive success since its August 3 release on PC, but it definitely hasn't been free of bugs and some other weird quirks. Four hotfixes have addressed some of the most pressing issues, but these patches are much larger in scale when it comes to what they add and fix. Larian says Patch 1 is primarily focused on game balance and flow tweaks, as well as bug fixes. There's nothing too glamorous or game-changing, but it should make playing Baldur's Gate 3 an even smoother experience. 
A couple of these fixes have to do with the game's romance system. A bug causing the conclusion to Shadowheart's romance to not activate properly has been fixed, and animations have been added so taller characters don't awkwardly kiss or hug shorter ones anymore. Fixes have been made in preventing bugs at the Morphic Pool, an issue where loot wouldn't appear on corpses in multiplayer, and some Game Over screens problematically appearing where they shouldn't have. There are way too many tweaks and bug fixes to list here, so we recommend going to the Baldur's Gate 3 website to check out the full list.
Unfortunately, game performance improvements aren't part of Patch 1, as Larian Studios is saving those for Patch 2. But it says that we "won’t be waiting long" for those. Baldur's Gate 3 is available now for PC, comes to PlayStation 5 on September 6, and will launch on Xbox Series X/S before the end of the year.

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Baldur’s Gate 3 drops Series S splitscreen support to release on Xbox in 2023
Jaheira in Baldur's Gate 3.

Larian Studios promises to release Baldur's Gate 3 on Xbox Series X/S later this year after pushing the game back because of performance problems on Xbox Series S.
Baldur's Gate 3 is available now on PC and will come out for PS5 on September 6, but an Xbox Series X/S version won't be available for a little bit longer. In a July 2023 community update, developer Larian Studios explained that this is because it needed "to ensure that the game is performing without compromise across the entire Xbox X/S ecosystem, in multiplayer and with split-screen. The Xbox Series X version was running fine, but the Xbox Series S version of the game was struggling a lot more. The Xbox versions of Baldur's Gate 3 didn't have a release window until now, when Larian Studios co-founder Swen Vincke took to X to confirm it'd come to Xbox platforms before the end of the year. That said, it will exclude one notable feature.
"Super happy to confirm that after meeting [Phil Spencer] yesterday, we’ve found a solution that allows us to bring Baldur’s Gate 3 to Xbox players this year still, something we’ve been working towards for quite some time," Vincke wrote. "All improvements will be there, with split-screen coop on Series X. Series S will not feature split-screen co-op, but will also include cross-save progression between Steam and Xbox Series."
Thankfully, it looks like Xbox players won't have to wait too much longer to play this excellent game, but it will be one of the first games to notably drop a major feature between the Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S versions. This follows comments by Head of Xbox Phil Spencer where he said he doesn't believe Microsoft will drop support for Xbox Series S in the foreseeable future. "I want to make sure games are available on both, that's our job as a platform holder and we're committed to that with our partners," Spencer told Eurogamer. "And I think we're gonna get there with Larian. So I'm not overly worried about that, but we've learned some stuff through it. Having an entry-level price point for console, sub-$300, is a good thing for the industry."
Baldur's Gate 3 is available now for PC, launches for PS5 on September 6, and will finally come out for Xbox Series X/S before the end of 2023.

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I beat Baldur’s Gate 3 in 30 hours (and killed everyone in the process)
Gale talks to the player in Baldur's Gate 3.

Baldur's Gate 3 is such a long game that even though millions have played it, far fewer have seen the ending. Only 0.4% of players have gotten the Hero of the Forgotten Realms achievement for beating the game at the time of this writing, according to Steam. It's a game someone can put dozens of hours into, with no end remotely in sight.
That is. unless you beat it way earlier than you were supposed to.
During the climax of Act 2 in Baldur's Gate 3, I accidentally reached a premature ending -- one that my party members weren't too happy about. The ramifications of the ending definitely weren't good for the Forgotten Realms, but finding a way to wrap up Baldur's Gate 3 early just gave me an ever deeper appreciation for how personal each player's journey through this game can feel. 
Note: This article contains major spoilers for Act 2 of Baldur's Gate 3.
One last gust of Weave
Anyone who has played Baldur's Gate 3 probably knows Gale, the smooth-talking wizard who you can pull out of a portal early on in Act 1. Throughout that Act, I had to keep giving him magical artifacts to satiate some sort of curse he has, although their positive effects on Gale dulled with each new item. After doing this enough, I learned the truth: Gale was cursed by the God Mystra after betraying her. At the start of Act 2, though, Gale's former mentor, Elminster, arrives and tells Gale that Mystra has a new task for him: destroy the "Heart of the Absolute" with a Netherese Orb Blast that will essentially nuke and destroy everything around him.

This option appeared alongside Gale's other spells in menus throughout the entirety of Act 2, although using the Netherese Orb Blast early typically results in a message that said my party had been defeated and tasked me with reloading. But there is a real opportunity to use it and end things at the end of Act 2. Most of this section of the game is spent finding a way to defeat Ketheric Thorm, a Baldur's Gate 3 villain voiced by J.K. Simmons. I confronted him on top of Moonrise Towers with the help of Nightsong, who I freed, but before I could beat him, he retreated to a massive Illithid Colony underneath Moonrise Towers. Obviously, my party followed, ultimately stumbling upon Ketheric and two other villains -- Lord Enver Gortash and Orin the Red -- activating the Elder Brain that seemed to be the "Heart of the Absolute" that Gale needed to destroy.
Gale told me that this and asked me me for permission to explode and destroy everything. The first option is to tell him not to, which makes sense; there's still a whole third of the game left to play! But seeing that every major threat in Baldur's Gate 3 was here in one room and knowing how much the game had already taken over my life in a week, I told him yes.
After saying, "One last gust of Weave. One last gale to end them all," Gale blew himself up, and there was nothing else I could do as my Dream Visitor shouted, "No!" Gale blew up, killing Ketheric, Orin, Gortash, and the Elder Brain and granting me the Hero of the Forgotten Realms achievement you're supposed to get for beating Baldur's Gate 3. The post-explosion dialogue paints a gimmer future for the Forgotten Realms, though.
"Beneath the smoking ashes of Moonrise Towers, the elder brain lies destroyed," the narrator says. "But what of the tadpoles it commanded? Freed of the Absolute's control, they will complete their transformations. A plague of illithids will soon descend on the Sword Coast, enslaving all they do not affect." Credits rolled as I blankly stared at the screen, processing that this was the ending I'd worked toward.
An imperfect ending
This definitely isn't a good ending for Baldur's Gate 3; it's pretty terrible, actually. Still, the fact that I could do that speaks to a wider strength of the adventure. The best thing about Baldur's Gate 3 is how much choice it gives players. It's not just freedom in completing set objectives, but freedom to circumvent them entirely. The most fun I had with Baldur's Gate 3 was finding ways to avoid major boss fights or set pieces. Instead of picking a side in the attack on the Druid and Refugee camp, I destroyed the bridge Minthara could use to escape in the Goblin camp, killed her before having a conversation with her, and then pushed Dror Ragzlin off a ledge to kill him.

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