I started Baldur's Gate 3 over from scratch after 20 hours and I have no regrets

Baldur's Gate 3 party featuring Gale, Drow rogue, Wyll
(Image credit: Larian)

20 hours into Baldur's Gate 3, I'm an upstanding Paladin exploring the Underdark, making decent progress in the main quest. There's a problem though: I have to pick back up the Drow Rogue character I also made to write a cheeky guide on nabbing Commander Zhalk's sick Everburn Blade on the Nautiloid, and oh no. I'm having way more fun. I decide to stick it out with my second guy, turning my back on those 20 hours I've already sunk on Baldur's Gate 3. Goodbye Chainmail Wedgie. It is happening again. I don't want to be this kind of animal anymore.

I've been an RPG enjoyer for a long damn time, but it's only been in the past few years that I've actually been able to consistently finish them. I'm basically always feeling that formless anxiety my colleague Robin Valentine described when faced with Baldur's Gate 3's 11 races, 12 classes, and 46 subclasses. "What If I'm embodying the wrong type of guy? What if I'd be having more fun as a sneaky guy? Do sneaky guys even work in this game?"

Now, Baldur's Gate 3 has its respec system, but that just doesn't feel right for this drastic a change. I like to use the respec system to hone the finer points of a character build, attempting different variations of Paladin or combinations of Rogue and Ranger, but staying with a theme. When it comes to making a full 180 on a character, I have to get that clean break: not just my same guy as before, reconfigured, but a completely new guy. I don't know about you, but I like to make up backstories in my head for all my dudes, and I just couldn't reconcile shifting rails from John Q. Paladin to Thiefy McHunter on the same guy.

Robin got out relatively unscathed with just four hours of Druidic sunk cost, but I was feeling the burn of those 20 hours⁠—I'd saved the grove, befriended a town of mushroom men, and politely turned down all the non-Karlach sexual propositions from my adventuring coworkers. My girlfriend could only shake her head⁠—she'd seen me do this too many times before. Thankfully, Baldur's Gate is a game uniquely suited to my kind of animal, and by god I think I might be grateful for my "lost" 20 hours.

Micro replay

(Image credit: Larian)

First thing's first, this is 100% a game where being a sneaky guy rocks. Baldur's Gate 3's sight cone-based stealthing is so much more intuitive than your classico CRPG stealth mode of "you move a lot slower and enemies maybe don't spot you," and starting a combat encounter with a sneak attack and surprise round can flip überhard fights right on their heads.

So the game plays completely differently with a new class on my main guy, and that extends to story and flavor too. I've made more or less the same story choices (assassinate goblin leaders, date Karlach, be nice), but it all has a completely different cast with all my [Oath of Vengeance] and [Paladin] dialogue options being replaced with [Rogue] and [Ranger] ones.

Baldur's Gate 3 has that malleable magic of a Troika or Obsidian RPG, where your character build factors into the story and choices so heavily, it practically demands that you replay it and try something new. The problem is, that's a much taller order for a 100+ hour-long RPG than one that's "only" 30 or so hours like Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines or Knights of the Old Republic 2.

(Image credit: Larian)

I've found Baldur's Gate 3's first act to be this perfect, bounded testing ground for seeing how different two playthroughs can really be. What's more, learning the ropes with the more "hack 'n slash, with a twist" Paladin helped me acclimate to Baldur's Gate 3's systems and be ready to hit the ground running with a more complicated build and play style. 

I judiciously avoided playing Baldur's Gate 3's early access, wanting to savor the whole thing once it was good and ready. Well, one advantage of trying it early would have been working out those kinks and really dialing in my character ahead of time, but the manic thrill of cranking out 50 hours across two Baldur's Gate 3 characters in the week before and right after its launch has been one of those gaming memories I think I'll always cherish.

I'm committed to my Rogue/Ranger now (famous last words). I'm in Act 2, coming up on 30 hours, and still grateful for the time I spent with my Pally. Maybe I'll come back to him somewhere down the line and try my colleague Harvey Randall's sick Paladin/Rogue build (one of the best D&D multiclass builds in Baldur's Gate 3, by our reckoning), though the siren song of the Bard, allegedly Baldur's Gate 3's best class, also beckons. I'll probably get around to both eventually⁠—this feels like a game I'll be coming back to again and again.

Associate Editor

Ted has been thinking about PC games and bothering anyone who would listen with his thoughts on them ever since he booted up his sister's copy of Neverwinter Nights on the family computer. He is obsessed with all things CRPG and CRPG-adjacent, but has also covered esports, modding, and rare game collecting. When he's not playing or writing about games, you can find Ted lifting weights on his back porch.