We are living in an age of great Bards. Whether it's Jaskier making Toss a Coin to Your Witcher a smash hit; Edgin leading his party in the unexpectedly brilliant Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves; or Zenn, the half-elf drow, rescuing druids, tieflings, deep gnomes and anyone else who needs saving in Baldur's Gate 3.
You might be less familiar with that last one because he's my player character in Larian's gargantuan RPG. He's the best. Whenever I settle on a class in any RPG there's always a bit of doubt, a bit of regret, as I wonder if I made the right choice. Not so here, however, where every second I spend as a Bard vindicates my decision. If you're wondering what class to roll, the answer is Bard.
A Bard is a jack of all trades, a moniker that can be a bit off-putting, implying a lack of specialisation and suggesting that they're just OK at a bunch of stuff rather than being really good at anything. That's a load of bollocks. They are, in fact, the best class for a player character.
With dexterity and charisma being their primary abilities, and proficiencies in skills like persuasion, deception and performance, they are the masters of skill checks. Whether it's unlocking chests and disabling traps, or talking their way out of a dangerous situation, there's no situation they can't overcome. And even when my skinny half-drow encounters a strength check that would normally require a beefcake, he's able to succeed thanks to magic. My toolkit is vast and I can handle anything.
And don't you dare call me a support character. Sure, with my magical tunes I can buff my pals, but after I picked the College of Swords subclass at level 3, I became a frontline fighter. Now I'm dashing around the battlefield with my two legendary swords and hand crossbows, slicing up and shooting anything that stands in my way. I'm fast, I get multiple attacks each turn, I can handle ranged and melee fights, and when I just want to chill out a bit I've got plenty of spells to fall back on. I play whatever role I want. I'm like Bowie, a musical chameleon.
This also means I never have to worry about what companions I'm going to bring with me on my latest quest. If you're, say, playing a Fighter, you're probably going to have to bring Astarion with you unless you want to walk into traps and get stumped by locks, or Gale so you can spit out handy spells, but my Bard can easily fulfil those roles, letting me bring whoever I want on my adventures. Hell, I can even bench Shadowheart, since I can do a bit of light healing in a pinch. Not that I'd ever bench my favourite goth.
Where Baldur's Gate 2 tried to capture the fantasy of playing a Bard by letting you briefly run a theatre (one of my favourite strongholds), Baldur's Gate 3 lets you feel like a troubadour at all times. I can bust out my lute whenever I want, even in the middle of a fight, to play a non-magical tune. It's quite the sight, playing a ditty while surrounded by demons and undead, my tunic caked in blood. If I do it near NPCs out of combat, they'll gather around to dance and clap, netting me a bit of gold for my trouble. I feel like a proper performer. Being a Bard doesn't just inform my stats and skills, it's an actual lifestyle that informs how I roleplay.
Bard-specific dialogue is also a hoot, allowing me to use my quick wit to disarm foes, befriend strangers or simply show off. I made a bugbear think he could become the star of his own erotic novel, stoked Elminster's ego and made a very tense stand-off with Jaheira a little bit lighter by promising to amend the history books to note that she's not very nice to strangers. Every class gets unique dialogue, but with Bards it's just so damn fun and flavourful.
To cap it all off: Bards get to look good. Now, I like ornate armour and comfy wizard robes as much as the next adventurer, but Bards have drip like nobody else. When I head into a dank dungeon or take a trip into the Underdark, I want people to think I'm off to a party. And thankfully, magic gets those bloodstains out no bother. After a rest, I'm back to looking my best, as comfortable at a fancy soiree as I am stalking enemies through the wilderness.
You're probably going to have a great time whatever class you pick. Even the normally boring Fighters are a lot of fun to play around with. Baldur's Gate 3's flexible systems and companions also mean you'll never be starved for utility. But you'll always have that nagging doubt in the back of your mind: "What if Fraser was right?" I always am.