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14 Things I Wish I Knew Before Playing Baldur’s Gate 3

BG3 1

Despite playing many tabletop fantasy role-playing games, including Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder, I’d never taken the leap into a video game version. So, despite knowing quite a bit about the mechanics, I didn’t really know what to expect when diving into Baldur’s Gate 3.

To make matters more complicated, BG3 leaves a lot unexplained. There are so many tips, tricks and quality of life tweaks that I didn’t know about until hours into my playthrough that would have made the game that much easier to get stuck into.

To help you out, here are 14 top tips to help you become the ultimate dungeon diver.

#1: Save (Scum)

What do you mean, you allowed a child to be attacked by a giant snake? I’m sorry, but why did you get closer to that ancient eaglet when its mother told you to back off? Did you want to piss off best girl Shadowheart?

Saving often is critical in BG3. There’s a decent chance you’ll kill an innocent bystander, turn a whole community against you, or fall into a chasm before you’ve had the chance to take in your surroundings. The consequences of your actions are often wildly unpredictable. This is, after all, a game where you can kill key companions as soon as you meet them, writing them out of the story entirely.

If you are the type of person to kill Lae’zel as soon as you meet her, you’re gonna need a backup plan. Autosave doesn’t pop up that often, and you can go a whole hour or two before realising that reversing a decision will cost you a great chunk of progress.

The good news is that it’s easy to save. Remembering to do so before attempting an ambush, making a big decision, or rolling the dice is a foolproof way to ensure that any unfavourable outcomes can be reversed. Is it a bit scummy? Sure, and I know many players say half the fun of the game is rolling (!) with the punches, whatever the outcome. But with a game with as many weaving threads as this, you don’t want to be permanently locked out of any storylines. It can really put a bummer on your playthrough.

Besides, now you can always ensure you make fiery Karlach belly laugh at your actions. Result!

#2: Camping It Up With Your Buds

Did you know you can set up camp…anywhere?

I didn’t for a few hours into my playthrough, and it really changed the game for me. If you need to check in with companions, swap out some items, or just take a break and heal up from your adventure, a warm fire and some bedrolls under the stars are waiting for you just a few clicks away.

Short rests are one thing—a quick heal and a few replenished spell spots are always welcome. However, long rests are the GOAT. Make sure to set up camp often, as companion storylines are often advanced during the times when the moon is out, you’re in your skimpy underclothes, and anything seems possible. Talk to everyone before you turn in for the night, just to see what’s going on in those pretty heads of theirs.

Bear in mind that you’ll need plenty of camp supplies to fully restore your hit points and spell slots. Additionally, if you long rest while there’s a fire raging in an inn, for example, you could cause time to pass and fail the objective, triggering some of those negative consequences we talked about earlier.

Sometimes, it’s worth going to camp just to see how your current surroundings affect the site. Whether you’re surrounded by calming woodland, deep underground, or nestled in a spectacular cave system filled with bioluminescent mushrooms, you’re sure to enjoy your rest.

#3: Feeling Lucky?

In D&D, dice rolls aren’t just for the gamblers and board game fanatics of this world. They’re your lifeline.

The most obvious use of dice rolls is in conversation. They trigger when you need to persuade, intimidate, or deceive someone, or use your wisdom, intelligence, insight, investigation skills to decern more about what’s going on. If your class is Ranger like mine, for example, then you’ll often get an automatic buff to rolls such as Investigation, Nature, or Animal Handling. These all depend on your stats. For example, a high Charisma score provides a bonus to Persuasion checks, whilst Wisdom is useful for Skills like Insight, Medicine and Perception.

Another, sneakier way that dice influence your game is in combat. You can hear the telltale roll of dice every time you, your party, or enemies take a turn during a fight, but the game doesn’t tell you what you roll. The only way to know if you’ve rolled high or devastatingly low is if you hit or don’t. When that Critical Miss pops up, your heart drops…and hopefully the odds are in your favour on the next roll around.

It's not all about pure luck, however. If you want to influence how the dice land, even just a little, you can go to settings and turn off Karmic Dice. This setting gives the illusion of randomness, so it breaks up any streak with a forced good or bad role. Turning it off may give you a string of Critical Fails, but it might also mean you steamroll through a particularly nasty fight or conversational sparring match.

My advice? Just save if you’re worried about the outcome. It’s all you can do to really ensure you succeed the way you want to.

#4: Stave Off The Loneliness With Forced Companionship

You go down into the abyss. There’s smoke everywhere. Darkness around every corner. There’s so much to do, so much to see. Your Perception roll fails—and suddenly, you’re ambushed. Dice roll. You’re up first with the highest Initiative roll. You start to pick out your first move…

Wait, doesn’t Astarian normally have the highest Initiative?

With a curse, you realise you left your companions up on that high ledge. Either they couldn’t hack the jump, or you’ve accidentally delinked your characters on the left-hand side toolbar, essentially telling them I got this, babes. No need to have my back this time.

Really, you do. At all times (unless you’re sneaking about). So just make sure your party members are always tethered to you, or you could find yourself surrounded without a buff shapeshifting druid to burst onto the scene and ravage yo…your enemies.

#5: Misty Step Isn’t Just For The Spellcasters

Purple runes aren’t in the world of Baldur’s Gate 3 just for cute, nerdy wizards to get trapped in. They’re actually waypoints.

To activate a waypoint, you need to walk close to it. Then, you can fast travel to any you’ve unlocked by opening the map and clicking on the icon or the name of the location on the list to the right.

The world is so huge that fast travels are absolutely necessary—even when you want to traipse through the shining Underdark for hours on end. Make sure to pick them all up as you go.

#6: Pick Favourites – But Mix Up Your Party

With so many fascinating characters with distinct personalities and motivations, you’re bound to have your favourites. Even though relationships are super important in games like BG3 where dialogue and persuasion are key, one of the most important things is getting through the challenging battles without being steamrolled.

This means having a varied party. You want a mix of classes to help you take, deal, and heal damage.

My main party usually consists of Shadowheart (Cleric) to heal and support, Gale (Wizard) to blow up enemies with a kaleidoscope of spells, and Lae’zel (Fighter) to consistently pack a punch. However, not only does keeping party members with you help to raise their relationships, but it gives you more options. When I’m exploring a settlement or dungeon, it’s almost a necessity to have Astarian (Rogue) to pick locks and disable traps, giving Lae’zel a chance to have a rest in camp. I’ve also started giving Halsin (Druid) support options so I can swap out Shadowheart for a more aggressive healer. It’s all about what suits you, but…

…it’s also useful to swap members in and out so you can level them up. It’s a little frustrating when you haven’t touched a character in ages only to realise that you have to raise them up 6 levels in a row. Besides, if you want to get the full experience of the intricate story BG3 has to offer, sometimes you need to take a particular party member along for the ride. You might not like Wyll’s Warlock spells or care much about Jaheira, but if you want to find out more about the world, you can get some interesting dialogue and character development you wouldn’t get otherwise.

Unless, like my friend, you didn’t let Shadowheart join your party as she was rude to you in the starting area. Then later, when she offers to join, you kill her to grab a particularly useful artefact from her corpse. Who needs party members anyway?

#7: It’s Not You, It’s Me. I Have Standards

As a pansexual woman, Astarian had me on my knees almost from the get-go. However, as someone in a polyamorous relationship, I was definitely sad that Shadowheart couldn’t join in. Thank goodness there was a particularly handsome druid later on that could answer my call of the wild!

It’s also a good thing I rejected Lae’zel at the beginning of the game. There’s no way Shadowheart’s prejudices would have let me become romantically involved with a Githyanki and pursue her afterwards.

Clearly, it’s important, particularly after Act 2, to figure out who you want to spend those chilly camp nights with. Some people may not be as open-minded as you. So, the safest thing to do is go after your favourite first, and then see if anyone else is up for a bit of fun, if you’re so inclined.

#8: These Boots Have Seen Everything

The first time I went to the Underdark, I was blown away. The bioluminescent plant life, from shining flora to glowing, technicolour fungi lighting your way to secrets yet unexplored, is stunning. The myconids, a sentient fungal race, are one of the most visually appealing races in the whole game and, if you’re nice to them, they provide you with a calming underground haven. The music and atmosphere present a genius balance between disturbing and spectacular wonder. It made me want to dive into the Underdark’s nooks and crannies with fervour.

Whilst the location designs certainly are beautiful, it’s not the chief reason to take in the world around you. There’s so much to do, see, loot and discover, and you can notice even more by holding down Alt. It highlights all the items of interest around you with pop-ups telling you what’s around, from chests and items to books, letters, and even buttons and levers. Just be careful—red means that, if you’re seen interacting with it, you could be told off or even arrested.

You can also use the environment to your advantage in combat. So, take note if you see alcohol puddled on the floor or a barrel close by. You could injure or even kill hordes of enemies with a well-aimed fire spell or arrow. Liquid pooled on the floor? You can freeze blood to create a slippery surface, or burn water to create hot steam. A wall nearby? Use it as a choke point and to hide from snipers. Get up high to gain the advantage yourself, or, if there’s a significant drop, why not push an enemy to their death? You might lose out on loot, but it’s a guaranteed one-hit-KO.

The moral of the story? Pay attention. You might just find an incredible weapon to loot, discover a hidden door, or suss out an easier way to win a fight.

#9: Strategic Spellcasting & Skirmishing

Did you know that you can swap out your prepared spells at any time? I didn’t until around 20 hours into my playthrough—I just assumed you had to wait until the next day or upon level up. It’s so useful when you realise you’ll be fighting plants or the undead for a chunk of time, so it would be useful to have spells like Blight or ones that bestow Radiant damage.

Ironically, do NOT “sleep on” Fast Rests. Recovering spell slots is invaluable, and for spellcasters like Wizards or Warlocks, you are severely limited without these options.

Just make sure to do all this outside of combat. Even equipping or swapping weapons spends an action during your turn in a battle, so prepare beforehand.

Seeking out Advantage and avoiding Disadvantage is also a fantastic way to get ahead in combat. If you have Rogue Astarian in your party, Advantage is so useful to help him hit hard with sneak attacks and get the upper hand. Plus, having Advantage means that your character rolls the dice twice and takes the higher of the two results, whilst Disadvantage takes the lower. Just being more accurate relies on Advantage, so manipulate combat whenever you can, such as by blinding enemies, hiding, or backstabbing.

#10: Get Inspired

You don’t need to have a bard in play to hype up your party. Your characters can earn Inspiration Points to help you persuade, deceive, intimidate, lockpick, or puzzle-solve your way through Faerûn.

You and your companions have Background goals. As a first time player, it’s likely you had no idea what kind of character your Tav would turn out to be after 200 hours of sparring with cackling goblins and moist mindflayers. That’s what second playthroughs are for, of course, but if you want a few hints, read on, friend.

I picked Folk Hero, as it seemed to align with my traditional ‘be nice to everyone’ playstyle. Saving citizens in distress, challenging baddies, and overcoming monsters will ping you those precious points—and align yourself with goodie-two-shoes Wyll, who’s also a Folk Hero. Plus, as a Ranger, the boost to the Animal Handling and Survival skills was super handy.

My favourite goals are some of the most unexpected. Astarian’s Charlatan goals are all about deception and persuasion. Doing things like tricking magical objects, betraying people, or manipulating enemies into advantageous ends will all make sassy Astarian chuckle and get you one step further into his good books.

I love the idea of picking Criminal, Entertainer, or Urchin on my next playthrough. None of your companions have these Backgrounds, so living to entertain crowds or being overly street-smart seems like a fun and exciting new way to experience the game and make different decisions. This is especially cool if you want to go down a darker path—BG3 gives the player so much freedom to do whatever they want, offering endless ways to either save or doom the day.

It's not all just about story and flavour, though. These Inspiration Points are crucial to help you pass checks and learn more about the world around you for an even greater experience.

Just remember, you can only have 4 Inspiration Points to spend at a time. So spend away and throw some faeces in a goblin’s face! Go on, you deserve it.

#11: Get The Upper Hand

As Gale would say, “knowledge is power”. I spent the first few hours (read: fifty) hours of BG3 guessing at enemy weaknesses. Like an idiot.

No need. Take the time that a turn-based game gives you to right-click on enemies and Examine them. Their character sheet will pop up, allowing you to peek at their ability scores, weaknesses, and resistances.

Then you won’t waste time throwing a Fireball at an enemy that resists fire, or casting a spell that requires a saving throw that they are proficient in. For example, if an enemy has a high dexterity score, using the Sacred Flame cantrip will most likely miss, as it requires a dexterity saving throw to avoid.

Death is but a word away.

#12: Don’t Let Withers Fade Away

In Act 1, you can go on a little side adventure to ignore the wriggly tadpole burrowing its way into your skull. Do not bypass this. It’s here that you’ll meet the ultimate zaddy himself, Withers. Once you’ve rescued Withers from the Dank Crypt, this crusty skeleton will make his way to your camp, where he’ll remain for the rest of the playthrough. Not only does he offer sage advice—whether on the world at large or how you shouldn’t be too distracted with your lovers!—but he is the key to Respeccing.

Withers will allow you to change your class for a measly 100 gold. You can rebuild your character from the ground up, including your class, skills, and ability scores. You can even do this with your companions, too! This means you can try out as many different builds and class combos to figure out what works best with your playstyle.

For me, Withers is most useful for resurrecting party members. I’ll never forget the time Wyll got shoved into a pool of lava in the Underdark, or when I misclicked and Tav willingly leapt into a chasm, never to be seen again. Without Withers, you’ll need to find a floating blue orb where the character died, as well as a Revivify scroll or spell.

Lastly, if you’re one of those people who kills key companions for the hell of it, you can also purchase hirelings from Withers to help you take on the challenging battles in the game. Who needs Lae’zel or Minsc when you can have three gnomes running around after you to intimidate the realm?

#13: I’m A Large Man, And That’s A Very Small Hole

One of the most frustrating things about exploring Faerûn for me are the little hidey-holes. You need to find a way to get small to traverse them and, early game, that’s easier said than done.

If you’re not a Cleric yourself, Shadowheart provides your earliest solution. She can learn the Shapeshift spell to turn herself or others into a gnome, which is often enough to squeeze into a burrow hole.

You can also use Gale or Wyll to cast Gaseous Form, which allows you to effortlessly blow into a hole and come out the other side. The Reduce spell also makes a character smaller—but bear in mind that it doesn’t last long. I’ve trapped a companion on the other side of a hole before, and either had to fast travel or reload to reunite the party!

If you’re a Druid, or have Halsin or a hired Druid in your party, you also have the ability to turn into a cat to solve this problem. NB: Find Familiar is not good enough for this, as summons cannot traverse holes.

Basically, if you want to discover sneaky ways into areas, or just satisfy your curiosity, it’s worth having a foolproof way to transfigure yourself or others.

#14: I Wish I Had A Bag Of Holding

Scrolls, potions, nautiloid bulbs and salami, oh my!

There’s so much to see and loot in BG3 that you don’t know what to do with it all. Carry weight is an often frustrating mechanic in RPGs, but you can bypass the usual backpack-related migraine by sending some of your items to camp.

You can right-click on an item at any time and hit ‘Send to Camp’, teleporting it to your Traveller’s Chest. Just remember to go check it later on so that you utilise everything the game has to offer you.

Top tip: don’t have Astarian along for the ride? You can even send whole locked or enchanted chests to your Traveller’s Chest, so you can unlock them at your leisure.

Wrap Up

That’s all you need to start your playthrough of Baldur’s Gate 3! Will you take your ragtag team of tadpole-infested misfits all the way to the city of Baldur’s Gate in one piece? Or will you side with goblins and the Absolute to spread fear and havoc throughout Faerûn?

Either way, remember: all’s well that ends…not as bad as it could have. Unless you’re on a Dark Urge playthrough.