Watch Baldur's Gate 3's new turn-based combat system in action

Baldur's Gate 3 has come to the side of light and righteousness, I'm happy to report. As you might have already noticed if you looked at the leaked screenshots that appeared earlier today, it's doing away with its predecessors' real-time with pause combat in lieu of a much more sensible turn-based system. Hallelujah!

This was one of the biggest questions Larian was asked back when BG3 was first announced, but only now with footage to show has it decided to put our minds at ease. Unless you're a real-time adherent, that is.

Despite being a shift from the Infinity Engine games, turn-based is certainly more in keeping with D&D itself. Larian hasn't recreated the tabletop system exactly, nor has it just bolted on Divinity: Original Sin 2's combat. It will absolutely be familiar if you've played the studio's previous RPGs, but significant changes have been made to improve the pace of battle and make it more flexible. 

When you're out and about exploring the world, you'll do so in real-time, but when fights kick off Baldur's Gate 3 switches to turn-based for all the characters participating in the brawl. Instead of basing everything on initiative or having every character and enemy take their turns one after the other, it's simultaneous. You can pick any character and make them do their thing, and rather than just being able to move and then attack, everyone can take bonus actions. 

Say you're a ranged character and a goblin gets a bit too close for comfort—you can spend your action by pushing them, maybe off a bridge or into some fire, and now with that extra space you can pepper them with arrows. It really emphasises the tactical component of the fights, giving you the space to pull off more elaborate manoeuvres and combos. 

Watch a solid hour of gameplay in this embedded livestream from PAX East:

Exploration can be turn-based, too. Even if you're not in combat, you can force turn-based mode on, though it's not be the most efficient way to wander around. This mode is built for pickpocketing, carefully tiptoeing through traps, and positioning for surprise attacks. If you're up to no good, like sneaking into a bandit camp, robbing a place or trying to hide from enemies, it's a powerful option, and seems better-integrated than Divinity: Original Sin's sneaking system.

For more details on the combat, along with everything else, check out my Baldur's Gate 3 preview

Fraser Brown
Online Editor

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long or talking about his dog.