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Baldur’s Gate 3 is dense, but really rewarding once you’ve gotten the hang of all its systems. For some, the RPG’s combat has been particularly challenging, because it’s so embroiled in the game’s deep systems.
I’m about 40 hours in, and I’m still learning all the little nuances that can make a huge difference in a combat arena. If you’re struggling with fighting goblins, ghouls, and other beasties in Faerûn, here are a few general tips for getting out of a fight alive.
Distribute your healing items
When you’re looting or buying items in Baldur’s Gate 3, you’re probably not swapping through each character to do it. I know I don’t, at least. Most of the time, I let my main avatar character hoard everything until he becomes encumbered under the weight of it all. But inventory management is a huge part of successful combat encounters. You can’t just buy a bunch of healing potions and head out into danger. You need to manually give each of your party members some of your recovery items so they can be self-sustaining.
This applies to both health potions and Scrolls of Revivify, items necessary to revive your party members should they die in battle. No, I don’t mean fall in battle, I mean die in battle. This happens when a party member has been downed by an enemy attack and has either laid on the ground for too many turns without using the Help command to get them back into the fight, or is struck before you can get to them. Sometimes, your main character might be the one dead (though you can loot Scrolls off their corpses), or they might not be able to get to a fallen ally. So having a wide spread of your healing items is just good practice.
Shove your enemies off high places
As we said in our general tips guide, shoving enemies off high ground is one of the best ways to cut a fight short. Why waste time and turns whittling down an enemy’s health when you can simply push them off the side of a cliff? If you can position characters near high-ground enemies like archers or spell-casters, you can use Shove as a bonus action to send them tumbling down into a chasm. But depending on a character’s class, you can also learn abilities that help you do this. After leveling up my Warlock character, my Eldritch Blast ability now has a force effect that pushes enemies a great distance when I fire it at them. This has helped me take out enemies at a distance who were bold enough to perch themselves on high ground, unaware that I would send them falling to their deaths. Characters with high-strength builds like Lae’zel and Karlach are optimal, but spellcasters at least have some chance to pull off a good Shove. Always look for opportunities to knock someone down a peg. Or a ledge.
You might as well Jump
Movement is a key part of Baldur’s Gate 3’s combat. Each character has a specific distance they can move each turn, but there are several ways to expand or alter how they move. Jumping is one of the best ways to get some added value out of your movement , and it doesn’t take any of your actions, as it’s technically just an extension of walking. This helps you not only move over obstacles, hazards like fire or other traps, but can also give you some high ground if your character can reach them with a Jump alone.
Area-of-effect abilities are invaluable
No matter how big or small a combat arena is, the best teams can create and control space. Area-of-effect spells and skills are crucial in gaining and maintaining the upper hand in a fight. There are a few notable ways to make large areas dangerous to your enemies. Some of this can be through one-off abilities like the spell Cloud of Daggers, which creates a concentrated whirlwind of sharp objects for anyone to walk through and take significant damage. Placing this at a choke point can ensure your opponents inevitably walk through them and lose a chunk of health. I’ve taught both my character and Gale this spell and we’ve been able to control large parts of a field with it. Sometimes I’ll even push an enemy back into it with a well-placed Shove or Eldritch Blast, and then they have to walk through it again to reach us. Usually that’s more than enough to take them out.
If you want to control space without it being in a static area of effect on the field, abilities like Spirit Guardians will encircle its caster in a damaging aura that follows them as they move around the field. Close-combat enemies will inevitably have to get in close and take damage just to reach you. I had a fight against an army of rats in a small space, and casting Spirit Guardians meant that as they funneled toward my party they all immediately died as their 1 HP was lost.
Pay attention to how elements interact
Baldur’s Gate 3 has a lot of abilities that work in tandem with the elements. Some crowd control abilities like Grease and Web can trap or slow down enemies in a wide radius, then you can follow up with a fire-based attack or spell that will ignite the entire area, burning all the enemies within it. There are a ton of interactions like this that can help you use a foe’s attack to your advantage. If your whole team’s been covered in Grease, move everyone out of the affected area but position yourself where your enemies will have to walk through to get to you, you can ignite it and turn what was once an obstacle into an asset.
Sneak in if you have to
Not every character is built to run into a fight head-on. But luckily, Baldur’s Gate 3 gives you tools to sneak in should you feel so inclined. This can be both helpful to get a better position and ambush your foes, or, in some cases, it can help you avoid combat entirely.
Every character has the Hide ability that, if you pass stealth checks, can help you navigate around a group of enemies. But also, using abilities like Invisible, Misty Step, or Dimension Door can help you get around enemies without detection.
Ungroup party members for better setups
Some of those maneuvers are easier to pull off if you split your party up. Ungrouping your team will let you move individual characters without the rest of the party following. For example, say you ungroup your spellcaster who knows Invisible, so they’re able to freely move around a battlefield unseen, reach high ground, and cast an AOE spell on the enemy team before any of them are the wiser.
This also works to ensure your team isn’t all clustered together when your opponents start to swarm you. Depending on the fight, you can use this to file in characters on different sides of a battle, letting you spread out, cover more ground, and keep your team from getting wiped out in one well-placed explosion.
It’s fine to run away sometimes
Say you’re surrounded by an enemy team and things are looking real rough. You know if you move even an inch you’ll be struck by an Attack of Opportunity that activates by walking away from an enemy in close proximity. Slap that Disengage action and you can retreat without worry. Enemies will still come after you, but this will let you move for at least a little bit without worrying about getting whacked in the back of the head with an enemy mace.
Destroy the environment (in an eco-friendly way)
The longer Baldur’s Gate 3 is out, the more we’re learning about how much abilities can interact with the environment. There are a lot of destructible objects, such as bridges, that you can use to your advantage. See a bunch of enemies on a bridge headed your way? Check if it has an HP bar you can cast a ranged attack on that will blow it up and send your foes falling down into the hole below. Or preemptively destroy it before your enemies can even get on it to reach you.
Hirelings let you craft your party
Sometimes you just don’t have the tools and abilities you need to pull off a strategic play. Perhaps you spec’d Gale with too many support abilities and now he’s not built to do as much damage as you like, or maybe you made Shadowheart too damage-heavy to help you create a good crowd-control setup. Respecing your characters is an option, but you can also just get a Hireling. These are essentially additional, preset party members who occupy certain classes/races, but are customizable beyond that. This can both replace lost or missed party members or just give you a greater sense of control over the character builds you’re working with. They cost 100 gold to hire and you’ll have to wait until you unlock Withers, who joins your camp after you explore the Dank Crypt in the Ravaged Beach at the beginning of the game, to hire them.
Don’t be too precious about resources
Baldur’s Gate 3 is a pretty resource-intense game. On top of the items you’ll need to replenish, you also have Spell Slots that give you a limited amount of spell uses before you have to do a Long Rest. You can run out of these resources in just one fight, which means you need to be really deliberate with their use. However, being strategic doesn’t mean you have to hoard things. Generally, you’ll come across enough supplies to do Long Rests to heal up and get your Spell Slots back naturally through looting. If you haven’t, buying food from merchants is a quick, often cheap way to get those supply numbers up. But also, you bought healing potions for a reason. You have Spell Slots so you can use them. It may take some time for you to get comfortable using a consumable resource, but I’m telling you now, the game is a lot more generous with these things than it might appear at first.
Throw your junk items at enemies
Part of looting is eventually realizing that you have a lot of junk in your inventory. While there might be some temptation to drop stuff you don’t actually need, keep in mind that you can use Throw in fights to just fling the garbage you’ve picked up at an enemy to do damage. High-strength characters like Lae’zel and Karlach will get the most value out of this, as they can throw heavier things farther, so if you’re looking for someone to hold onto all the trash you’ve found on your journey, prioritize them. But spread it around, too. You wouldn’t want anyone to become encumbered and lose movement speed.