Baldur's Gate 3 update breaks down combat and stealth

(Image credit: Larian)

Following last month's meaty gameplay stream, Larian Studios has shed a bit more light on how Baldur's Gate 3's many systems work, some of which have been changed since we first got a look way back in February. 

If you've been devouring everything Larian has revealed so far, much of this will already be stuff that you know, but the community update provides some more details on changes and mechanics, along with some neat gifs. 

Combat is quite a bit brisker than it was in Original Sin 2, despite sharing a lot of things, most notably that it's turn-based. Some of this is down to how turn order works, but you may have spotted that it's a little bit different from what was shown off earlier in the year. 

Originally, your party could act simultaneously, but after feedback and playtesting Larian has made it a bit more like D&D's turn order. It's now determined by initiative, so you'll be commanding your characters one by one, but party members next to each other in the turn order will still be able to act simultaneously. It's a mix of old and new.

"That means that based on the results of the initiative roll, you’ll experience a different tactical puzzle in each combat that really mixes everything up but still allows you to react to the 'cards' you're 'dealt,' so to speak," Larian says, clarifying that there aren't literal cards. "Between the RNG of initiative, and the planning, you should be able to have a fresh experience with every combat while still being able to predict and plan with friends how to combine spells and abilities, and ultimately win the fight."

This is also the case in multiplayer, so you'll be able to set up combos and simultaneously control your characters along with your co-op buds if they are next to each other in the turn order. 

So it's not quite the free-for-all it was before, but Larian says it's still going to reduce the wait between turns, giving Baldur's Gate 3 a flow that most turn-based romps don't have. Animation makes things even quicker, with fewer gaps in the action. 

"We invested heavily into what drives our animation pipeline, and specifically made tweaks to improve the feel and motion in combat," Larian says. "The increased brevity and flow is down to many, many changes shaving off microseconds (and sometimes entire seconds). For example, another character's turn will begin—behind the scenes—as the previous character is ending their animation. Even things as simple as combining move animations with the hit of a melee strike shaves seconds off combat."

Sometimes you'll be able to avoid fights altogether thanks to your sneakiness. To become one with the shadows, you'll need some skill, of course, but the environment is also a factor. Enemies have visibility cones, but they can be obscured by darkness. If an enemy has darkvision, however, you'll be out of luck. You can affect this in various ways, like throwing water on a torch or casting spells. 

"Sneaking is a really useful technique for positioning your party prior to the initiative roll, ensuring you get the first strike," Larian says. "Using stealth, it’s perfectly viable to sneak into a camp, avoid being seen, and roll crits to victory. With a little thought comes the perfect shove."

You'll be able to push people off ledges and get into turn-based brawls this August, when Baldur's Gate 3 launches in Early Access. 

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.