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Baldur’s Gate 3: Gameplay and Combat reveal at PAX East 2020

In Baldur's Gate 3 combat is going to be turn-based
Modified 28 Feb 2020

In yesterday’s PAX East 2020 reveal, Larian Studios finally revealed some more details about their upcoming title Baldur’s Gate 3.

After the game’s first announcement in E3 2019, not much was revealed about it, up until yesterday's gameplay showcase by Vincke.

The demo shows us a lot that’s in store for us. From gameplay to combat, to unique character customization, classes, as well as, a dice roll feature, Larian seems to have added a lot of extra elements to them as compared to some of their previous titles. 

And this fact is especially true for combat in particular.

Turn-based Combat with Real-time Exploration

If Larian’s previous IPs such as the DIvinity series are something to go by, then we can expect a lot of fights and brawls in Baldur’s Gate 3. However, unlike their previous titles, the combat this time around is going to be turn-based. 

Exploration will take place in real-time, but when it comes to drawing your bow, the fights are going to play out in a tactical turn-based mode 

Larian Studios’ senior designer Edouard Imbert says that he is, “critical of real-time-with-pause because I think that it looks messy. It's like a miss, pause, give three orders, a miss, pause," "Also, I don't believe that sticking to the old system can expand to a greater audience. The thing with turn-based logic is that everybody understands it. It's my turn; it's your turn. And we have this experience with it—it worked for us with DOS1, it worked for us with DOS2, and D&D is turn-based. Your characters are the tools you'll use to solve a puzzle, and the puzzle is a lot messier if everything is moving at the same time."

However, turn-based combat can, at times, feel rather slow and not be able to hold on to a player’s interest for long. 


Larian Studios is aware of this, and that is why they have made a few changes to the turn-based formula. They will allow a combo system where you can swap between your characters instead of going for a standard ‘attack-on-turn’ scenario. 

This will help you create particular combos depending on the situation that you’re in, and not feel too restricted with the flow of the combat.

More interactions with the environment

Larian doesn’t want to limit their players in any way. Just like in a normal tabletop game of DnD. ‘open-ended roleplaying’ and ‘imaginative combat opportunities’ are what they’re trying to push for, and that is why they are keeping Baldur’s Gate 3 as interactive and as experimental as possible. 

The environment is going to be a lot less restrictive than what was in Divinity: Original Sin 2, and you will be able to exploit and abuse every aspect of the game to your advantage.

In the gameplay demo, we see that Vincke placed some crates to give his characters some elevation. Elevation in Baldur’s Gate 3 works similarly to that in Divinity: Original Sin 2, and gives bonus combat stats to certain skills.

Alternatively, the player can use these crates differently, and create a sort of a barrier, if they are facing a difficult fight.


Later on, Vinke shows us another unique interaction as well. He spots some suspicious skeletons, and he goes about sneaking and robbing them of all their weapons. So, when the fight starts, the enemy AI will either have to search for more weapons which are equal to the value of the ones they lost, or fight with their bare fists.

This is a very unique gameplay aspect that Larian has included in the game, which a lot of players will have fun interacting with.

A 3D Grid, not a 2D one

3D grid, not a 2D one
3D grid, not a 2D one

Even though Divinity: Original Sin 2 had a lot of elevated areas, the combat didn’t play out exactly in a 3D grid. The gameplay was essentially 2D, which Larian Studios are looking to change in Baldur’s Gate 3.

So, not only are elevations available now but below ground pathways and ambush traps as well.

While you place your ranger on an elevated platform, you can have your rogue stealthing towards the backline of the enemy through an underground path for an ambush. 

However, such moments of imagination will not be available for all combat scenarios. Imbert says that "We don't want all the fights to be complicated. Some of the fights have to be easy, like three goblins standing next to an explosive barrel. So we have this concept of popcorn fights, which are designed to make you feel good about yourself." 

Creating complex combat scenarios will require complex level designs, and Larion wants to keep a few things simple, and in the 3rd person, instead of always pushing players to employ an isometric view.

Published 28 Feb 2020, 18:32 IST
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