Baldur’s Gate 3 Beginner’s Guide: 8 Top Tips For Your First Playthrough

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Baldur's Gate 3 on PC
Baldur's Gate 3 on Steam

Baldur’s Gate 3 is the latest instalment in a series of epic, D&D-based RPG adventures from Larian Studios, the creators of Divinity: Original Sin.

Having just won the “Ultimate GOTY” award at this year’s Golden Joysticks, BG3 is hotly tipped to take the crown at The Game Awards too. It’s available now on PC (Steam and GOG), and PlayStation 5.

Baldur’s Gate 3 has local & online multiplayer modes, an epic single player mission mode, and a whole host of loveable characters and interesting challenges just waiting to be discovered. 

Before you start your journey into the Forgotten Realms, here are eight helpful tips to ensure you get the most out of your initial playthrough (with tons of alternate endings and branching quests, you’ll be sure to want to experience several playthroughs before you consider your journey completed).

Please note, these tips were accurate as of time of writing, 1st November 2023. See something we need to update, or got a tip to share? Get in touch – contact@spawningpoint.com

Breaking news: Baldur’s Gate 3 has just won “Ultimate Game of the Year” at the Golden Joystick Awards 2023!


Baldur’s Gate 3: The Need To Know

Game: Baldur’s Gate 3
Release date: Available now 
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 5 (an XBox port is in production at time of writing)
Game style: Open world RPG, based on the Dungeons & Dragons universe
Multiplayer? Yes, local and online co-op modes
Good for… Lovers of D&D, RPG fans and anyone who loves a story-driven, epic adventure with added romance and intrigue. 
Age rating: Mature, for violence, gore and explicit content. PEGI 18.
Our rating: 9/10 – incredibly immersive, fun and rich gaming experience, but prone to bugs and still undergoing hot fixes, and a steep learning curve for those not already familiar with D&D character creation and combat.


Baldur’s Gate 3 Guide: 8 Top Tips For Beginners

Tip 1: Customise Controls and Settings For a Better Baldur’s Gate 3 Experience

Before we even get into the complex, time consuming BG3 character creation screen, which is your first real challenge on your journey, you’re going to want to adjust a variety of settings in the options menu to make your gaming experience more comfortable.

Action and cancel buttons: Accidentally ending a turn early, or pressing the wrong action button, can have deadly consequences during a BG3 fight. To get around this, customise your controller layout to fit your play style. You’re going to be wading through a LOT of mid-fight menus, so a comfortable layout is doubly important. 

Adult content settings: BG3 has lots of adult content, and available options for romantic interactions. You can choose to toggle on or off nudity and to limit or restrict the amount of adult content shown in game, which is handy to know if you are playing in a family or group setting, especially when it’s time to camp at night.

Getting familiar with the zoom options : BG3 offers a flexible camera experience, ranging from a third-person view behind your lead character, to a zoomed out tactical view of the area around you. The tactical view is great in combat scenarios when there are multiple enemy combatants. Allowing you to keep track of the enemy, the terrain around you and your party members. 

Tip 2: Set The Game Difficulty to Easy

Baldur’s Gate 3 is a difficult game with challenging battles

Look, we know that for some of you, completing a game on hard mode is a point of pride. But BG3 is a super complex, multi-faceted, 100 hour game that is very difficult to master first time round due to its insanely detailed menu system, almost infinite character optimisation options and branching storylines. 

Trust us when we say, play through the first time on narrative or easy mode, enjoy the story, learn the menus, and then crank up the complexity when you get to playthrough no. 2 if you so choose. 

Even on easy mode, the fights are challenging – especially if you do what I did, and accidentally fall down a hole 20 mins in and end up fighting six very overpowered NPCs that wipe the floor with your party.

Tip 3: Character Creation in BG3: Customisation is King

Your D&D character is the golden jewel in your quest for absolute power. Without the right customisations, cantrips, fighting prowess and charisma/smarts, you’re going to have a hard time completing quests and succeeding in dice rolls. 

Your party should be a well-balanced group of fighters, healers, magicians and thieves.

A well-balanced character that specialises in one of several key skills is going to serve you well, but before you decide how to deck out your avatar, make sure to carefully study the stats of the other origin characters who will be joining your party, because between you all, you make up a force to be reckoned with. 

What you’re trying to do is balance out your party, by adding the missing skills and competencies from the origin characters (while also choosing from what seems like an endless array of hair styles, skin shades, ear shapes, voices and body types). 

Here’s what you need to know about the origin characters who are coming along for a wild ride with your avatar (one or two, more so than others, depending on your preferences and play style). 

Character-By-Character: Getting To Know The Cast of Baldur’s Gate 3

Astarion – the heart-throb of the Forgotten Realms, Astarion is a complicated, mysterious and brooding long range fighter with a penchant for arrows, stealth and stealing. He’s arguably one of the most desirable romance option in Baldur’s Gate 3. Astarion is not particularly well-endowed when it comes to health, but you can specialise him as an assassin, a thief or a mage (wouldn’t recommend the last one, as you already have Gale for this). This is your long range stealth fighter and thief. 

Gale – the wise-cracking, super smart and super delicate wizard you want to keep away from the front lines, Gale is a really key party member because he can multi-hit from far away and specialise in many different ways. He’s also not one for the front lines, and when he’s in your party, he more than fulfils your needs for a mage, so I personally would not customise your main character this way, as Gale is weak and prone to collapsing and coming back necrotic, KOing your entire party due to the sheer reek of his rotting corpse (thanks, Gale). This is your mage and long range, multi-hit fighter. (Not that much of a healer). 

Lae’zel – being honest, we’re doing Lae’zel a bit of a disservice here, because neither of us Spawnies who played chose her as part of our party. We do know that she’s a strong and well-balanced fighter.

Shadowheart – Shadowheart is one of the most important, well-balanced people to have in your party during the early game. She’s a strong, powerful fighter that starts out with healing spells. You’ll be wanting her on the front lines in your initial battles. She’s less exciting than some of the other characters because she’s less specialised in some ways, but a key player none the less. This is your frontlines healer and fighter. 

Wyll – a balanced fighter/mage with a variety of customisation options that make him a sort of inbetween of Shadowheart, Astarion and Gale. Because you can only take three characters with you on your journey (the other ones hang out at camp and wait for you), Wyll is a good choice if you want to benefit from some of the skills of the others, and don’t need someone to be particularly good at magic or stealth. This is your compromise character that does a bit of everything. 

Karlach – is one bad-ass barbarian tiefling. She’ll come in clutch as your frontline soldier and tank, both dealing a ton of damage with melee attacks and able to take a hit just as hard. Pro tips: Put Karlach’s proficiencies to good use and equip a 2 handed melee weapon (the Everburn blade is a great choice here), to deal maximum damage, and embrace her natural unamoured class defence buffs.

What We Recommend for Your Custom Character in Baldur’s Gate 3

With all of this in mind, plus the fact you can only take three of these guys with you on your adventure at any one time, here’s the character formulation we recommend for BG3 new players:

High elf druid with healing spells, fire powers and animal-related cantrips, plus bonuses in intelligence and perception. 

This is the character style we chose because it allowed us to support, heal and fight alongside our origin characters in early fights. We also stacked the initial points towards intellect and charisma, as many of the early rolls are related to intelligence and perception. This helps with building relationships, passing skills tests and, in general, ensuring you can survive long enough to enjoy your time with Astarion, we mean the whole party. 

Tip 4: Manage the Heck out of Gale’s Health

So, fun fact about loveable wizard Gale. When he dies, which he will, because his health is not particularly stacked, if you revive him, he comes back with a status effect called “necrotic air”. This delightful status will cause every other party member to faint until it is removed, meaning that you could have a party with full health except Gale battling monsters, and have them all die purely from standing next to him.

In terms of frontlines planning, whatever you do, keep Gale well back and away from the fray. Unless you want to replay and replay the same fight over and over again, for instance, if you happen to fall into the wrong hole… did we mention there’s a giant hole full of OP NPCs near the beginning of the game? 

To heal Gale’s necrotic air status effect in Baldur’s Gate 3, all you need to do is camp. He’ll wake up right as rain, after a good sleep.

Tip 5: Take a Long Rest To Fully Recover Health and Skill Points (and To Fix Gale if He Becomes Necrotic)

You’re on an epic quest. Characters often get super tired and run out of skills and powers. You can choose to enjoy a short rest, which resets certain aspects of your characters’ status, but we recommend a long rest to heal properly and recover your hit points and skill points. 

It takes 40 camp supplies to have a long rest in Baldur’s Gate 3, which you can acquire from shops and travellers. You should collect as many items and perishables as possible as you travel, so that these can be bartered for camp supplies.

Bonus Tip: How To Camp in Baldur’s Gate 3

Wondering how to camp in BG3? Depending on what system you are using, the icons will look a little different. Camp in BG3 on PS5: Press R2 to access the main party menu and select the long rest option from the wheel 
Camp in BG3 on PC: Select the fire icon to the right of your character bar and choose long rest. 

Tip 6: Use Your Long Rests To Bond With Your BG3 Origin Characters

While taking a long rest in Baldur’s Gate 3, you can choose to speak to your party members and swap them out (party management is very important for successful completion of key quests). 

Karlac is one of the strongest characters in the game, it’s well-worth building a strong relationship.

During your long rests, characters that you can bond with will have an exclamation mark over their heads. You should take the opportunity to bond with origin characters every time it’s afforded to you. Ultimately, the decision whether to make things romantic or not is less important than ensuring a positive sentiment between party members – you’ll often notice that each choice you make on your journey is met with the approval or consternation of your team mates, and so, if you’ve had to make an unpopular choice that day, smoothing things over at night is key to keeping everyone onside.

When it comes to character bonding, and romance selection, it’s important to note that your moral choices affect how you are viewed by potential romantic partners. If the selection of a particular romance path is more important to you than taking a particular moral view on a choice or action, look up the romance path for that character before making any decisions, otherwise you might quickly find yourself “locked out of heaven” to quote Bruno Mars, within a few hours of your, what is expected to be, around 80 hour playthrough.

Tip 7: Keep an Eye on When It’s Time To Level Up Your Characters

You receive points for every battle you win and quest or task you complete in Baldur’s Gate 3. It’s easy to miss when a character is ready to level up, as the game doesn’t particularly announce this fact, or overly prompt you to choose your bonuses. 

Levelling up is absolutely crucial, especially in early game, because your health can often increase by a third, you will get extra skill or spell slots and learn much more advanced powers. 

The maximum level a character can reach is 12, but you can change class, which gives you access to a whole host of different abilities and can change your character dynamics considerably.

We found that you typically levelled up for every hour of gameplay, at least initially. To level up faster in BG3, make sure that you explore every area, loot enemies and chests, fight every hostile enemy you come across and complete quests by finishing all dialogue to gain the “quest completed” interaction. Don’t skip fights or avoid exploring areas; the more you do, the more XP you gain.

The choices you make while levelling up in Baldur’s Gate 3 are complicated, as there are lots of customisation options available and specialisms to choose from, so just be prepared to spend a chunk of time deciding how to level your character.

Bonus Tip: How To Level Up in Baldur’s Gate 3

To level up in BG3, check for a white arrow in the top left corner of your character’s portrait. Click on the portrait to bring up the level-up screen, by pressing R1 on your PS5 controller, or clicking with your mouse.  You will then see all the new changes with the level, including additional hit points and new abilities or spells that you can choose from. Make sure to take your time when choosing your bonuses and new abilities. Press “accept” to level up your character.

Tip 8: Decide in Advance if You’re Going To Go to the Dark Side

This is probably an unpopular opinion, but in our minds (Mind Flayer thankfully absent), the best way to play BG3 is to decide in advance whether you are going to succumb to the Mind Worm, or fight its influence.

There are many benefits to customising your Mind Flayer and deepening its skills, but it is important to note that this is a key game-defining decision that changes many outcomes, including the ending you receive after your many-houred playthrough of Baldur’s Gate 3.

You’ll meet your first demon pretty early on, within a couple of hours of gameplay, and be presented with your first Mind Flayer choice. If, by this point, you aren’t sure whether to utilise your additional abilities or not, then you will be uncertain how to handle this interaction and may miss out on an opportunity for advancement, or make a choice that negatively impacts your party interactions which you then wish to change later.

There is no right or wrong answer here, personally we recommend experiencing at least two playthroughs, one pro-Mind Flayer, and one resisting its influence.

Summary: 

Baldur’s Gate 3 is a fulfilling, rich and diverse gaming experience that will appeal to fans of D&D and those new to the universe. Customising your characters, setting up your controls, deciding on your preferred gameplay style and inviting your friends to a coop session will pretty much guarantee that you’ll enjoy your BG3 experience.

Have you played BG3? Drop a comment below and let us know how you’ve found it. We’d love to hear about your experience!

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