Knowing that Baldur's Gate 3 won't be finished until 2023 makes every update bittersweet, but I'm still pretty excited about the one that's gracing Larian's RPG today because it finally adds gnomes and, to sweeten the deal, bards. It's a good day for lovers of tiny troubadours.
Patch 8: Of Valour and Lore is due out today, July 7, and Larian spilled the beans during its Panel From Hell livestream, which you can watch below.
Larian's added new classes before, but this is the first new race to be flung into the game since it launched in early access. This almost makes up for the terrible oversight when they weren't included straight away. I guess you don't want to start with the best of the best—you've got to build up to it.
We've been expecting them for a wee while, too, since Larian boss Swen Vincke accidentally soft-announced them at GDC.
The arrival of bards is also very welcome. As a support class they don't always get the kudos that their peers enjoy, but they're one the most flavourful classes and, from a roleplaying perspective, one of the most fun to play. The last time I barded it up in the tabletop game, I got a bit too into it, writing parody songs that I'd perform whenever I had to use one of my bardic abilities. It was incredibly embarrassing and even more stressful, but I'd do it again in an instant.
If you roll a bard, you'll be able to choose one of two subclasses. College of Valour is the combat-focused one, juggling front-line scraps with buffing their allies. Its signature feature is Combat Inspiration, giving an ally a buff that adds +1d6 to their next attack roll, ability check or saving throw. Your ally can also choose to add +1d6 to the damage of their next attack, or a +4 bonus to their armour class for one attack.
The College of Lore subclass, meanwhile, is more into spellcasting, so you won't be wading into the thick of things. Its signature feature is Cutting Words, an ability that distracts enemies and saps their confidence, resulting in a 1d6 penalty to attack rolls, ability checks and damage dealt until the start of your next turn.
Any class with the Performer feat can get a taste of what it's like to be a bard, as this gives you the Perform ability, letting you pick up an instrument and start spitting out songs wherever you want. There's a practical point to this as well: NPCs might react to your performance, potentially joining in or rewarding you for your musical talent.
Beyond the headline attractions, Of Valour and Lore includes a few more tweaks and new additions. Swarm AI in particular sounds great—grouping together minor enemies like goblins and animals so they move and attack as one, hopefully speeding up the pace of battles considerably. I'm glad BG3 is turn-based instead of real-time with pause, but boy do some of those fights go on.
Killcams, improved hairstyles, improved multiplayer stability and Brazilian Portuguese localisation have also been included with this update.
I keep saying I won't play again until I can get my hands on the finished version, but I'm kidding myself. I'll be making my gnome today.