Baldur's Gate 3 review: Our Early Access verdict
Baldur's Gate 3: Everything we know
Baldur's Gate 3 tips: Start smart
Baldur's Gate 3 classes: Find your perfect profession
Baldur's Gate 3 races: Pick your favorite face
Baldur's Gate 3 companions: Learn who's who
Statistically, most people spend one third of their lives sleeping. The same can be said of me playing Baldur's Gate. In Dungeons & Dragons (which the Baldur's Gate games are based) there always comes a time when you're riddled with magic missiles and have taken one too many maces to the face, and the only thing that can put you right is exactly 8 hours of rest.
You can sleep almost anywhere in Baldur's Gate. Sleep in the town square. Sleep in a sewer. Sleep in a dungeon just around the corner from a brood of giant spiders. Like a good Dungeon Master, Baldur's Gate attempts to punish you for closing your eyes in perilous places by allowing a chance that you'll be interrupted by an ambush, squandering those healing Zzzs with a fight. But if you are cheating scum, like me, you learn to make liberal use of your Quick Save and Quick Load keys, rewinding time when your risky sleeping is punished and saving when it's rewarded.
Sleep-scumming is the only way I know how to play classic Baldur's Gate, and I refuse to play Baldur's Gate 3 unless I can use the same trashy tactics that got me through the Nashkel Mines.
Health potions and healing spells are precious, only to be used in the most dire circumstances. You can't just uncork a bottle of the red stuff every time a skeleton looks at you. The same is true of healing spells, which are a finite resource for your magic-wielding characters each day. Real adventurers are capable of sleeping off their ailments for the greater good, no matter how uncomfortable the environs.
Letting your companions die is even more expensive than nursing them back to good health after a battle. Your party members drop all of their gear when they die, meaning if you want to keep the goods, you're now a dead person's pack mule. Besides that, until you have a high level Cleric you can't just resurrect a dead party member in the field. You'll need to limp you way back to a temple with one fewer fighter and pay a hefty sum for a priest to cast Raise Dead for you.
Healing and resurrection are expensive undertakings and if you can't bankroll the healthcare for all your mercenary friends, you've got to play it safe. The original Baldur's Gate and its sequel (and the enhanced editions) use a fog of war mechanic to keep anything too far away from your party hidden. Even if you've been to an area and explored it before, panning around the map won't reveal enemies until you're close enough to see them. Your party needs to be in peak fighting condition at all times. The next thirty meters of grassland may be pleasantly deserted, or it may be swarming with gnolls. You won't know until there are spears in your face.
So you sleep. Then save. And if you're ambushed, you reload your most recent quicksave. It's almost certainly not how Baldur's Gate was meant to be played. I was probably supposed to deal with the consequences of playing carelessly. Roleplay my way out of it like a true adventurer. I definitely have a Steam achievement called "Leave No Friend Behind" awarded for completing Baldur's Gate: Enhanced Edition without any party members dying that I do not deserve.
But looking back, constant sleeping is an inextricable part of my Baldur's Gate experience. Learning to play a little dirty was one of my favorite parts of classic Infinity Engine RPGs and other tough late-90s RPGs. Cheating the system is just another way of playing smart, even if a Dungeon Master at a table would never let me off the hook so easy as a game engine that doesn't know better.
By their own admission, Larian developers love seeing players use and abuse the systems they created for Divinity: Original Sin and Original Sin 2. It sounds as though that permissive attitude will extend to Baldur's Gate 3. I can only hope so, because I don't think I'll survive an adventure that I can't sleep through.