When a game like Baldur's Gate 3 comes along—an enormous, hundred-hour RPG packed with detailed lore, locations, and a party full of fantasy misfits—there's one hobby we can all delight in between play sessions: passionately campaigning for our favorite party members. Baldur's Gate 3's companions deserve all the love they're getting for their nuanced personal stories and extreme thirst for your player character; hell, we even love the regular nice guy.
So with opinions flying, I forced the PC Gamer team to sit down and actually rank all the recruitable companions in the game. With our extremely scientific Baldur's Gate 3 Companion Ranking Engine (trademark not pending), our Baldur's players have rated each companion on four extremely official axes:
- Holistic: overall companion enjoyment
- Hotness: of face, personality, or whatever does it for you, champ
- Combat: can they actually take down the bad guys?
- Meme-ability: meme proliferation and potential
We crammed those 10 point ratings into our giant doom spreadsheet to spit out a Final Companion Score that, importantly, is not out of 100, for reasons we won't worry about. In an order determined by the undeniable gods of Opinion and Math, here are the 10 Baldur's Gate 3 companions ranked:
Final Score: 98
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: Minthara comes in at the bottom of the list because I'm pretty sure we all decided to kill her instead of recruiting her. This is expected, as we learned from an interview with lead writer Adam Smith where he explains that he knew that putting effort into writing Minthara as a full companion "would be appreciated by very, very few people." According to the vote, she's hot but nobody really wants her along and no one could vouch for her combat competency as a party member. I do specifically recall her bullying me with the Hold Person spell though, so I suspect she's a good Paladin to have in a fight. I get it, recruiting Minthara means being quite evil early in the game. Maybe we'll all warm to her in our second playthroughs.
Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: The fact that a full companion arc's worth of resources went into a character at least 60% of players would kill is a big part of why Baldur's Gate 3 is such a historic RPG. That being said, I will never betray those tieflings. RIP Minthara, thanks for the enchanted mace, light armor set, and fancy pajamas.
Lauren: I put her jammies on Astarion and it's like they were made for him.
Philip Palmer, Contributor: It’s difficult to imagine why I’d pick the path that Minthara is on. In my first playthrough, I had no idea she was a possible companion, and after my first playthrough I know just how much of the story siding with her eliminates. Maybe I suck at being evil just like the rest of us.
Final Score: 167
Harvey Randall, Staff Writer: Wyll is the literal embodiment of the saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions", and I kinda love him for that. Warlocks are typically all about obtaining power by any means necessary—but Wyll couldn't be any less interested in power. He did what he did for noble reasons, and believes his sacrifices were for the greater good, and damn it all, he'd do it again.
Maybe his low scores here are because he's too good, too normal, too well-adjusted—in my silly little personal ranking, he was dead last for just that very reason. When you're in a party of hilarious freaks, being a (mostly) regular dude has its drawbacks for fan reception.
Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: I make it no secret that I love Wyll, but I love Wyll because he's an absolute goon, and ninth place is the wages of a life lived goonishly. "The Blade of Frontiers" is a little fancyman richboy who sold his soul for superpowers while also acting high-handed and noble all the time.
That tension, frustration, and annoyance is exactly why I love Wyll, though. He sucks, but in a very believable, relatable way, demon powers and all. Also, his goofy little fancy dance romance scene has taken priority over who I was actually dating on two separate playthroughs, as well as in my girlfriend's game, and that's just funny.
He doesn't really deserve a low combat score though. Eldritch Blast whips.
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: Especially with the Repelling Blast invocation, Ted. I finished a lot of hit-point sponges ahead of time by knocking them off things with that cantrip, though I stopped using Wyll for anything but the sidequests he was directly involved in (and some light animal-talking duty) before the end of Act 1. He's fine, but by Baldur's Gate 3 standards, fine doesn't cut it.
Final Score: 178
Robert Jones, Print Editor: I love the world weary depiction we get of the legendary Jaheira in BG3. After all, she's seen it all before, lived through many lifetimes, and lost plenty of companions (and in the case of Khalid, partners) along the way. There's an underlying note of melancholy to her here, but that just adds to her depth and realism of character.
Despite the passage of time, who couldn't feel the old magic return when Jaheira emerges from the darkness in BG3? Jaheira remains a brilliant companion—the voice, the personality, the ridiculous abilities that mean she's often the difference maker in combat—she was a mainstay of my party.
Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: I love where Larian took Jaheira in BG3, she's just got a lot of competition. I was never a Jaheira-head when it came to the original games, and both other companions and other original series cameos made a bigger impact for me. Druids are a bit of a weaker class in this game too.
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: Jaheira got robbed, hanging out down here in spot number eight. Half-elves with face lines are hot, full stop. Also, she can Wild Shape into a panther and much as I'm normally a bear defender, that's cooler than Halsin.
Sean Martin, Guides Writer: Jaheira helped me discover the joy of crushing enemies with a full-grown Owlbear, and for that, she'll always have a place in my party.
Final Score: 190
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: He's built like a brick shithouse but only has a strength score of 10? I benched Halsin back at camp for most of the game. He scores high on the meme meter because of that bear scene, but when I feel like actually having a druid in the party I'll take Jaheira instead.
Philip Palmer, Contributor: I think Halsin is suffering slings and arrows of outrageous fortune on the votes here. To me, Halsin is a funny and eloquent character who suffers from having a shallower personal quest than other companions, and being the only class that’s over-represented. He breaks the mold in the hottest ways on what an elf should look like, but I’m with Jody—in what world do those absolute pythons he’s showing off rate 10 strength?
Final Score: 193
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: Minsc and Boo were my favorite thing about the original Baldur's Gate. He's a big man who likes small animals, basically Lenny from Of Mice and Men only instead of being a figure of tragedy he's hilarious. Though he's one of the companions you can't romance in Baldur's Gate 3, he was excited to tell me his underpants were, "Thrice-laced, in the Rashemaar style, so that a berserker might split skulls without fear of splitting britches, too." I love him, and if you could recruit Minsc in Act 1 instead of having to wait until late in Act 3 he'd be rated higher for sure.
Robert Jones, Print Editor: Minsc is, without a doubt, one of the most memorable and entertaining characters in any fantasy RPG series ever. He went a hell of a long way to imbue the first two games with such charm where he was also a mainstay of my party. His portrayal here by Matthew Mercer is pitch perfect too and so faithful to the original—it's as if Minsc had never been away.
Minsc's do-gooding one-liners are super infectious and stick in the mind as well, whereas his combat abilities—again, what's going on with the voting guys—make him a proper warrior both in melee and ranged combat. Hot he may not be, but it would be a gamer with a heart of stone who couldn't look into Boo's eyes and not feel compelled to include the famous ranger in their group and go "butt kicking for goodness!"
Philip Palmer, Contributor: There are only two crimes that Minsc cannot punish in Baldur’s Gate 3: the fact he shows up with a paltry and unrealistic 12 strength, and that I was over a hundred hours into my playthrough before I could recruit him.
Final Score: 196
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: Normally the "nice guy" rates pretty low in these things, so I'm glad to see Gale place in the middle of the pack. It helps that he's actually pretty funny, and the whole rigmarole with his magical backup resurrection plan is a riot. It's worth letting him die once just for that scene.
Sean Martin, Guides Writer: Even as someone who did the full Gale romance, I'm not sure I actually like him that much. It just kind of happened? He was there, he was relatively charming, and all importantly, it was before I'd met Karlach. Gale's true curse is that he's too eager, and if you get swept along with him, you'll find yourself committed before you've truly gotten to know other characters. Still, as a scroll-eating spellcaster and bantery wizard pal, Gale scores high.
Harvey Randall, Staff Writer: The Sword Coast's biggest wife guy.
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: I'm actually shocked that Gale didn't sweep the meme-ability category. Everywhere I look people are dunking on either his magical item gobbling or the fact that he seems to come on stronger and sadder than any other romance.
Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: Wizard needs food badly. One time when he got hungry the only magical item I was willing to part with were the boots I was wearing. I had a little barefoot walk of shame back to the Grove merchant to buy my starter, unenchanted boots back.
Final Score: 212
Robert Jones, Print Editor: Where do I start with Lae'zel? She's my party's warrior queen MVP and, despite my carefully plotted role-playing plans to court Shadowheart, she's also now my cleric's "hot githyanki girlfriend" in BG3.
Lae'zel comes off as very two-dimensional at first, a perpetual grouch who is dismissive about everything but her mission. But it is testament to Larian's writing team that, if you stick with her, intriguing and intoxicating layers of character reveal themselves.
Yes, Lae'zel isn't the hottest companion in BG3 (unless rough adventures between the sheets are your bag), but the force of her personality, fantastic voice, stone-cold-killer combat skills, and zealot-level purity of thought make her incredibly attractive and interesting nonetheless. I'm borderline obsessed.
Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: "What if we made Sten from Dragon Age romanceable?" These are the bold experiments that will push the RPG genre forward.
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: The Dragon Age companion Lae'zel reminds me of is actually Morrigan because she disapproves whenever I accept a sidequest to help a random peasant instead of concentrating on the main questline. If I take your advice I'll end up too underleveled to actually finish the story, Lae'zel. Honestly, it's like you've never played a videogame before.
Between that and the bickering with Shadowheart, I found Lae'zel annoying at first, but her story really goes some places. That helped change my mind, and so did the strength of the performance. It must be hard to sell all those githyanki words and exclamations like chk, but the acting and animation absolutely nails it.
Final Score: 224
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: On the subject of characters I thought were annoying at first but changed my mind about later on—hello there, Astarion. Larian really has picked up BioWare's crown when it comes to NPCs who are a little too edgy to love immediately, but become your favorites by the end. Like Jack in Mass Effect 2, I thought Astarion was a bit much when I met him. By the time I got around to doing his sidequest I was a card-carrying member of his fanclub.
Tyler Colp, Associate Editor: I like this vampire man. Baldur’s Gate 3 needed a guy who could convince you that murder is fine as long as you look hot doing it. Astarion doesn’t even like my character all that much, but any time I get to talk to him, it’s a treat. He’s also the most lethal person in my party; I basically played the goblin camp like an Assassin’s Creed level with him. He has it all. I would even let this bloodthirsty man bite me IRL.
Morgan Park, Staff Writer: I think letting Astarion rot away at camp robs Baldur's Gate 3 of its snark. He's the first to let you know he didn't like the choice you just made, but he's also surprisingly chill about moving on. I really needed him as the smartass foil to my fighter's noble pursuits and for his reliable brevity in heavy moments. I also can't deny that I enjoyed our conversations partly because he's just a very good-looking man, both in terms of hotness and model quality—Larian really knocked it out of the park with this curly mop, and actor Neil Newbon is just sensational in the role
Harvey Randall, Staff Writer: I got to speak with Newbon, and it fully confirmed that no, my taste in men isn't that bad, and also that I was right to give the character a fair stake. Shake. I meant shake.
Astarion is a deeply complex, flawed character who bucks Baldur's Gate 3's general perception of being aloof about sex, bodily autonomy, and relationships, playing with difficult themes in a very sensitive way. His general sassiness and hunger for power never comes at the expense of his history and the trauma he's been through. Underneath the skin of this loveable bastard is a frightened young man, desperately scratching at his chains. You can read my full chat on the subject with Newbon, but I'd really recommend giving him a chance. You might actually be able to fix him, who knows.
Final Score: 239
Harvey Randall, Staff Writer: Shadowheart is proof that D&D's outdated hand wringing over things like "alignment" and "evil gods" can (mostly) be brushed to one side in favor of letting characters be complicated. She worships a living nightmare, but she has a soft spot for helping children—she's cold and aloof, but she'll open up if you give her space. The more about her you unravel, the more you understand that she's only like this because she's alone. Also, the sassy head-wiggles in her mocap performance make me very happy. You might want to respec her out of the Trickery Domain, though—Life Doman is totally broken.
Robert Jones, Print Editor: Shadowheart is one of those people who straight-up knows that they are a stone-cold hottie but act all aloof and dismissive of anything or anyone that calls attention to it. She's also that person who hides how wickedly smart they are, instead often drawing attention to others around her in deflection, and she's also the person who doesn't always necessarily wear their emotions on their sleeve. Shadowheart hides aspects of her character but, at the same time, radiates an air of mystery.
In summary, Shadowheart is the enigmatic type of character who you wish you could hook to your veins, the person you'll chase before you even know you're doing it.
Jody Macgregor, Weekend/AU Editor: I just like her bangs.
Morgan Park, Staff Writer: When I met Shadowheart in the original early access release, I thought "nope, I'm not bringing this racist along when the full game comes around." Then I brought her along because I was a feeble fighter who couldn't beat those goblins without her healing. I'm happy to report that, while she probably holds the record for the worst first impression for any RPG companion, she mellowed out on the insulting remarks and general stick-up-her-ass-itude throughout Acts 1 and 2. She actually has one of the strongest arcs of any companion, and I've enjoyed watching her mature throughout my playthrough.
Final Score: 272
Fraser Brown, Online Editor: Here she is, the objectively best companion in Baldur's Gate 3. Science has proven it. I'm too old to be simping for fictional videogame characters, but I'll make an exception for Karlach. She's the heart and soul of this party of adventurers, with a deeply tragic backstory that doesn't stop her from being eternally optimistic and surprisingly sweet. I refuse to travel without her, because it's never not helpful to have an axe-swinging barbarian watching your back.
Ted Litchfield, Associate Editor: Karlach forever. All-timer RPG companion, full stop. It doesn't hurt that barbarians rule in this game. Make her a berserker and take a few fighter levels and all of a sudden it's hard not to make five attacks in a single round.
Robert Jones, Print Editor: Karlach is the person that you want to have your back in a fight. She's also the person you want to go get blind drunk with on a night out and sing bawdy songs with. She's also the person that you want desperately to help deal with her issues in any way you can. Oh, and she's also the person the PC Gamer team would most like to hit the hay with. Simply put, Karlach rules.
Harvey Randall, Staff Writer: Every time I start thinking about romancing other companions, Karlach busts out her little idle dance and I'm smitten once more.
Morgan Park, Staff Writer: I have to imagine Larian knew Karlach would become an instant favorite, right? She's the perfect companion for the times we live in: as brave as she is unsure about herself, as strong as she is tender, as rageful as she is wholesome. Her unrelenting positivity is a wrench in the gears of Baldur's Gate 3's often bleak world, and her occasional slip ups are highly relatable. She's the only companion with red skin and horns, yet she's the most human of them all.
Lauren Morton, Associate Editor: I swear this isn't a bit. We all just like her this much.
In our interview with Larian's lead writer, he told us that yes, Larian fully knew Karlach was going to be popular. "She has the advantage of being a response in some ways to Early Access," Adam Smith said, "where we had people say 'your party are edgelords' and we were like 'you want a happy-go-lucky hell lady? Yeah you do!'" Yes, we, and the entire internet, absolutely wanted a literally hot, emotionally expressive, earnest horned lady who absolutely shreds enemies if you spec her into the Eagle Heart barbarian subclass.