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Baldur's Gate 3 Community Update #4: Combat and Stealth

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Baldur's Gate 3 Community Update #4: Combat and Stealth

Game News - posted by Infinitron on Thu 16 July 2020, 00:18:23

Tags: Baldur's Gate 3; Larian Studios

Larian have published a new Baldur's Gate 3 community update. It's basically a recap of what we learned about the game's combat and stealth systems in last month's gameplay stream and last week's interview with Nick Pechenin. I suppose it's always good to have these things in writing. No Early Access release date yet, unfortunately. Here's the relevant part of the update:

BG3 deploys fifth edition D&D rules and is class-based. We’ll go into what that means per-class later this year, but for now let’s focus on how BG3’s combat plays. It’s come a long way since the reveal in February. It’s now faster, and more responsive. And it works well in both singleplayer and multiplayer.

If you watched the gameplay stream, one thing many of you have noticed is how fluid combat in BG3 now feels. Despite being turn-based, which allows you to have an authentic D&D experience and really deliberate over your moves as a team, BG3’s combat is much faster than DOS2. But how? Magic? A rift in the space-time continuum? Currently, neither of those things. In fact a lot of it is down to how animations are both created and processed. We invested heavily into what drives our animation pipeline, and specifically made tweaks to improve the feel and motion in combat. The increased brevity and flow is down to many, many changes shaving off microseconds (and sometimes entire seconds). For example, another character’s turn will begin - behind the scenes - as the previous character is ending their animation. Even things as simple as combining move animations with the hit of a melee strike shaves seconds off combat.

Since the initial gameplay reveal in February, we totally overhauled the order of combat. Early Access means change, and change is shaped by feedback and testing over time. BG3’s combat is now set so that each combatant takes a turn at a time but there’s a twist. If multiple combatants of the same faction follow one another in the turn order, then you can simultaneously command each of them.

That means that based on the results of the initiative roll, you’ll experience a different tactical puzzle in each combat that really mixes everything up but still allows you to react to the “cards” you’re “dealt”, so to speak. (There aren’t literally any cards, sorry MTG fans!) Between the RNG of initiative, and the planning, you should be able to have a fresh experience with every combat while still being able to predict and plan with friends how to combine spells and abilities, and ultimately win the fight.

Baldur’s Gate 3 is a party-based game that you can play alone, controlling each character, or as a party of up to four where each person rolls their own character. (It’s of course possible to also play as 2, or 3 people, with AI, etc).

In multiplayer, when your avatars and companions are next to each other in the turn order players can simultaneously control characters. This allows you to communicate with your friends and combine spells and abilities to take advantage of more brains on the battlefield, and more hands on the keyboard. This, compared with Divinity: Original Sin 2, drastically reduces the amount of time each player would have to wait between turns, since they’re able to move together.

Stealth is also a big part of Baldur’s Gate 3 - if you want it to be - and it goes hand in hand with the game's great sense of verticality, and ability to shove people. Sneaking is a really useful technique for positioning your party prior to the initiative roll, ensuring you get the first strike. Using stealth, it’s perfectly viable to sneak into a camp, avoid being seen, and roll crits to victory. With a little thought comes the perfect ‘shove’.

Using stealth to prepare for combat is even more fun due to the introduction of forced turn-based mode. This is a big new feature that allows players at any moment during exploration to switch to turn-based rules. Each turn equates to 6 seconds, allowing players to predict and navigate enemy movement, or solve puzzles that require clever navigation (for example, not getting hit by a fireball!).

Our stealth mechanics now also take light and darkness into account. You can be obscured or heavily obscured so that even when you are caught in the visibility cones of the enemy, you still have a chance to slip through unseen. Of course, that is if your enemies don’t have darkvision. Here’s a little table that summarizes how light, darkness and darkvision affect stealth.

Clear area = always visible.
Lightly obscured = stealth check.
Lightly obscured + enemy has darkvision = visible.
Heavily obscured = undetected.
Heavily obscured + enemy has darkvision = stealth check.

Things get even more interesting when you discover you can manipulate light by using spells or throwing water at a torch, as lighting is dynamic, and thus shadows are also.

To summarize, forced turn-based mode, allows you to switch to turn-based rules in exploration, to set up traps, bypass patrols, steal, and otherwise head on many other roguish exploits. But you don’t have to be a rogue class, of course.

These are all super useful techniques that, when used imaginatively, really help you to get the best chances during your initiative roll as combat starts. Baldur’s Gate 3 has high-stakes combat, so making good use of surprise mechanics will give you a leg-up.
It's good that they're releasing these updates more frequently. It sounds like the next one might be about player choice.

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