After its launch in August for PC and in September for PS5, Baldur’s Gate 3 is finally coming to Xbox Series X/S. It will be available in December, with the release date to be announced at The Game Awards, and the hype is palpable. What should those who have never played the game know regarding combat, quest structure, choices, and playtime? What quirks does the Xbox version have, and what will the next big patch offer? Check out everything you should know before playing Baldur’s Gate 3 on Xbox Series X/S.
When starting, you can create your own character. This allows for choosing your race, sub-race, class, subclass, backgrounds (which have different goals), and starting skills. This is on top of extensive options to customize their face, age, hairstyle, skin tone, voice, etc.
If you want the best combination, choose The Dark Urge. They have their own path (one that allows for maximum violence, if you wish), but you can customize their appearance and class.
Classes, Subclasses and Multiclassing
Baldur’s Gate 3 has 12 classes. You can jump into the fray as a Barbarian, support allies with music as the Bard, rely on martial arts as the Monk, hunt as a Ranger and much more. Each offers multiple subclasses, whether a Gloomstalker and their increased starting attacks and Initiative or the many Schools of the Wizard, from Conjuration and Enchantment to Evocation and Illusion.
There’s also an option to multiclass, combining different abilities and skills into potent combinations. While it’s available on Balanced difficulty and above, those who want to experiment with builds and focus on the campaign can play on Explorer, switch the difficulty to Balanced, multiclass and then back to Explorer.
When the game first launched, you were locked into your choice of appearance with no way to change it. The Magic Mirror was added in Patch 3, finally allowing you to modify makeup, eyes, hairstyles, and more. However, body type and races/subraces can’t be changed, and any changes from decisions that occur in the campaign also can’t be overridden. It’s also possible to change a Hireling’s appearance, which is a nice touch.
Memorable companions are important in any role-playing game, especially Baldur’s Gate 3. To that end, the game’s showcase of all characters united by their desire to remove the Illithid tadpole in their heads is intriguing. Shadowheart is a secretive individual who possesses a mysterious artifact. Lae’zel is a tough-as-nails Githyanki warrior who hates the Illithid. Gale is a gentlemanly wizard who hides a dangerous secret, while Wyll, the legendary Blade of the Frontiers, is noble and just (but not without his monsters)
Astarion is a charming vampire recently separated from his master and mysteriously capable of walking in the light. Karlach is a Tiefling Barbarian and a happy-go-lucky personality. Other companions join the player on their journey, depending on the choices made, with detailed backstories, quests, objectives and more.
Combat and How it Works
Baldur’s Gate 3 combat is turn-based. You can attack with weapons, cast spells, throw items (or people) and even shove enemies off rooftops. There is also the option to jump around and access high ground easily. You also have a set amount of movement points to determine how far a character can move in a turn.
Of course, these are just the basics. Since this is a Dungeons and Dragons, there are Attack Rolls, Saving Throws, Death Saves, Critical Hits and much more to account for, all influenced by an invisible die. Initiative determines turn order, while Damage Rolls indicate how much damage enemies will receive from attacks after taking ability score modifiers and equipment into consideration. There’s also Karmic Dice, which helps prevent long streaks of low or high rolls, with the trade-off being that it’s more on the positive side during combat. It means enemies can also benefit from higher rolls, potentially making things more difficult.
Spells and Actions
There are over 600 types of spells and actions, and since you can upcast spells, making them stronger with different effects, there’s a lot of variety. You can create water surfaces for putting out fires or electrocuting wet enemies with lighting spells, disguise characters, speak with the dead, cast Hexes, or make enemies laugh hysterically, causing them to fall prone.
All of that is at level 1, by the way, with even more devastating options available later. Some spells require Concentration to be maintained during their duration, while others are Cantrips that can be cast without Spell Slots.
Baldur’s Gate 3 has three difficulty options – Explorer, Balanced and Tactician. The first is for those who care about the campaign and don’t want challenging combat (it even doubles the health of party members). Balanced is, well, the balance between combat difficulty and campaign, and keeps you on your toes.
Tactician is for those who want the most challenging experience with enemies having more health and better AI (targeting weaker party members or those at Disadvantage). Some encounters are different from other difficulties and more challenging as a result. If that weren’t enough, the amount of camp supplies for a Long Rest is doubled, so you’ll need to think more carefully before using them.
Outside of the campaign, you’ll receive various side quests. These can range from rescuing someone to searching for a missing caravan. While they may seem simple, they open up and often involve exploring unique locations or overcoming difficult encounters. Companions also have quests, and fulfilling them can decide their ultimate fate.
Choices and Consequences
Nearly every choice has a consequence, which can intertwine with the main campaign in different ways or outright change it like You could side with the Goblins in Act 1. Alternatively, using the powers of the tadpole, you can make the Goblins think you’re an ally and sneak in to assassinate their leaders. Companions will also react to your decisions, even leaving if they disapprove enough.
Controller Support and Feel
Seeing as Baldur’s Gate 3 is a computer role-playing game or CRPG series, how does it play on a controller? As it turns out, well enough. Your default view is third-person, resulting in more fluid exploration and being able to appreciate the visuals up close. There are radial menus for opening up the journal and inventory, which isn’t the best substitute for a keyboard and mouse. However, considering the complexity and all the different mechanics, controller support streamlines them well.
A typical playthrough can take about 75 to 100 hours if you focus on the campaign and about 200 hours if you try to do everything. However, given the sheer range of classes and choices, you can easily spend more than that. There are also multiple endings, with your decisions manifesting differently on completing the game.
Contains All Updates
The developer has released several patches and hotfixes for the game, which will launch with the Xbox Series X/S version. They improve performance, especially in Act 3, fix various issues like a sizable chunk of a companion’s dialogue not triggering, and even add a new ending for Karlach. However, the latest update is perhaps the biggest for the game yet, adding a brand new playable Epilogue.
The Epilogue takes place six months later, with the party reuniting at camp. It’s essentially a “final goodbye” with 3,589 lines of dialogue, numerous permutations, cinematics and more. But wait, there’s more – Honor Mode, a higher difficulty which disables save scumming and specific exploits, is also available.
If Honor Mode doesn’t sound like your jam, try out Custom Mode and modify everything from short rests fully healing to death-saving throws being disabled. That’s not including all the bug fixes, a revamped UI for accessing the inventories of all companions simultaneously and much more.
Baldur’s Gate 3 currently supports cross-saves, which means progression carries over between PS5 and PC. The Xbox Series X/S version will also support the same, so if you want to continue your journey on consoles, go right ahead. Crossplay isn’t available, but it’s one of the features that the developer is working on for the future.
No Local Split-Screen on Xbox Series S
While you can play through Baldur’s Gate 3 solo, it also supports co-op for up to four players, with everyone capable of going off on their own and making bad decisions. On PC and PS5, there’s local split-screen support, allowing two players in the same room to play together.
Local split-screen co-op will be available on Xbox Series X at launch but not on Series S. The developer is still working to make the latter happen, but it’s something to keep in mind if you’re on Series S.