All the Baldur’s Gate 3 classes explained
Aug 8, 2023
Baldur’s Gate 3 is taking over the computers of RPG fans worldwide, soaring past expectations for modern CRPGs, so we’re breaking down each of the classes so you can decide what to play.
Baldur’s Gate 3 is based on 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons, the current iteration of the wildly successful tabletop fantasy roleplaying game. This means that it follows the class mechanics from 5e very closely, with some tweaks here and there. There are 12 classes in Baldur’s Gate 3, and all of them are classes from the Player’s Handbook, so they don’t include Eberron’s Artificer class. They are Barbarian, Bard, Cleric, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger, Rogue, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard.
Barbarian is a brute force melee attacker who wants to be toe-to-toe with the enemy. The Barbarian isn’t subtle, it doesn’t have a ton of utility, but it’s the textbook definition of a bruiser. The Barbarian’s key mechanic is Rage, a stance with limited uses per day that the Barbarian can use to become vastly more durable. Rage gives the Barbarian resistance to Slashing, Piercing, and Bludgeoning damage and empowers their melee attacks with bonus damage.
The Barbarian tends to lack the versatility of other melee classes like Fighter, but if all you want to do is sprint headfirst at the danger swinging some absolutely enormous two-handed weapon, this is your class. Barbarian’s most important stat tends to be Strength, followed by Constitution and then Dexterity. You can start with up to two of these as 16s, and another at 14 if you’re alright with two 8s and a 10 filling out the rest of your array.
Bard is the ultimate support class in Baldur’s Gate. A great deal of its power is focused on Bardic Inspiration, a mechanic that adds an additional dice to certain checks or rolls. The Bard is a full progression Spellcaster, meaning it keeps up with classes like Wizard, Cleric, Sorcerer, and Druid that get more spells every single level. The bard is a master of skill checks and skill versatility, and will shine by making their allies more powerful in combat and cracking open all sorts of new possibilities outside of it. You’ll want Charisma as high as you can get it, likely followed by Constitution and one of Wisdom or Dexterity.
The Bard often lacks large AoE damage spells, but that’s not why you’re taking it. Bard’s spells are often incredibly high utility, having uses both inside and outside of combat. However, it tends to have trouble keeping up with the damage output of its fellow Charisma classes too much to be worth an inclusion purely for combat. Luckily, Baldur’s Gate 3 is a game in which some of the most important portions of the game happen outside of the constraints of initiative.
Clerics are spell casters infused with incredibly powerful divine magic in exchange for their worship and devotion to one of Faerun’s many gods. Clerics tend to straddle the line between utility, zone control, and party support and many subclasses will lean further into one of these. Cleric is one of the most divergent classes, with varying armor and weapon proficiencies depending on which Domain they decide to be. Clerics key strength is their incredibly powerful spell list, full of control options, healing, buffs, and even fantastic battlefield control like the ever-fantastic Spirit Guardians.
Clerics are one of the tankier spell casting classes, with the ability to wield Heavy Armor and the highest level spells in the game.This means that martially-oriented clerics can stand up in the front alongside Fighters and Barbarians and not be a single point short when it comes to Armor Class.
Druids channel the incredibly powerful magic of the natural world around them, magically commanding the sea, sky, land, and even their own skin, to do their bidding. Druids are hermits, protectors of nature, and figures of great mystery and myth. Their natural affiliation makes them great for options like Speak with Animals, Animal Friendship, and similarly nature-focused utility that nobody else will quite be able to match.
Druid is another full-progression spell caster, packing a spell list full of battlefield control and utility spells. The Druid won’t be slinging high-damage spells like a Sorcerer might, but its utility shouldn’t be underestimated. Most Druids will focus on spell casting, but the Moon Druid subclass enables you to use the Wild Shape ability to adopt the form of powerful beast, making you a literal force of nature in combat.
It’s right there in the name, the Fighter’s job is fighting. Fighters sacrifice mobility, spell casting, and utility for sheer, unmitigated combat prowess. Not only are 11 Fighter levels the only way in the game for a character to have three attacks with one Attack action, but Action Surge continues its legacy from 5e of being one of the most absurdly pushed abilities in the entire game. Action Surge is a feature granted at second level that allows the Fighter to take a second action in a turn once per short rest. This means that multiclassed spellcasters can drop multiple spells, or a regular Fighter can unleash a flurry of attacks.
Fighter is an incredibly solid class, able to be durable and dangerous all at the same time, something many parties can lack.
If Fighter is the master of traditional weaponry, Monk is the unparalleled master of unarmed combat. Specializing in hand-to-hand battle and a limited list of Monk weapons, Monk is a fast, versatile magical melee build that focuses on speed and density of attacks to overwhelm opponents. Monk won’t have the durability of Barbarian, the brute force of Fighter, or the battlefield influence of spellcasting classes, but it sacrifices being the master of any one trade for being a jack of them all.
Monk has been given a few buffs to keep up with the other classes, with much more options for unarmed combat present. Monks are meant to be mobile, adaptable melee threats who speed around the battlefield disrupting their enemies. Monks are one of the most-changed options among the Baldur’s Gate 3 classes, and should be a fun play experience even if they can’t match some other frontline classes’ raw power.
Paladin can be considered a thematic cross between a Cleric and a Fighter. While a Cleric is infused with great magical ability for their devotion to their god, Paladins are supreme warriors physically emboldened by divine power. They are typically viewed as paragons of good who uphold a specific code that they have been sworn to. Paladin is unique among the Baldur’s Gate 3 classes in that you can lose your subclass if you break this oath and will become an Oathbreaker instead, unlocking a new and oriented option for Paladin players with darker tastes.
Paladin is an excellent melee combatant, offering huge damage and amazing resilience alongside a smattering of magical effects. All of this combined with the fact that Paladin’s spellcasting ability is Charisma means that this class can excel in social encounters, and in all varities of combat.
If a Paladin is a cross between a Cleric and a Fighter, then in terms of Baldur’s Gate 3 classes, the Ranger is a cross between Fighter, a Rogue, and Druid. Rangers are explorers, guides, and outlanders who at home in the wilderness of Faerun. They tend to be highly mobile and versatile combatants, but shine in exploration and interactions with the natural world. If you’re having trouble picturing the archetype, Aragorn from Lord of the Rings is a great analog for a Ranger.
Rangers choose favoured enemies and fighting styles, specializing against the enemies they want to be most effective against. Ranger can suffer somewhat when compared to the sheer damage output and durability of classes like Fighter and Paladin, but its strength is in its ability to sneak, explore and otherwise provide utility to the team.
The Rogue is the stealth expert, pickpocket, fast-talker, charming devil, and one of the party’s most prominent damage threats. The Rogue’s main mechanic is Sneak Attack, granting scaling damage with Rogue levels to enemies who are attacked with Advantage. This means that the Rogue keys off of their allies’ positioning and environmental advantages in order to succeed.
Rogues want to land one big hit every turn, but solidify their value in their mastery of certain skills. Outside of combat it feels near-mandatory to have somebody who can pick locks, disarm traps and open locked doors in Baldur’s Gate 3.
Sorcerers are Arcane spellcasters whose power is drawn from an innate magical connection rather than divine influence like Clerics or study like Wizards. Sorcerers have less spell choice than their peers, but have the Metamagic system to break the rules of magic. Metamagic allows the sorcerer to spend unique points to upgrade their spells in various ways.
Sorcerers tend to be glass cannons, capable of great destruction but often crumpling beneath significant enemies. Sorcerer is powerful, but you need to know exactly what you want from the class in order to truly excel. Perhaps Sorcerer’s strongest advantage is its Proficiency in Constitution Saves and casting off of Charisma, which allows it to be good at socials as well.
Sorcerer learns magic from innate power, Clerics from gods, and Warlocks from arcane bargains with incredibly powerful beings. Warlocks are a Charisma caster with some significant twists. Warlock has very few spell slots, never more than two, but recharges them on Short Rests. The most unique aspect of Warlock is its Eldritch Blast cantrip, which can be made even more powerful by the Warlock’s Eldritch Invocations, unique character upgrades that can add a whole new dimension to their play.
Warlock is an especially powerful 2-3 level dip for other Charisma-based magic classes like Paladin, where much of its front-loaded power can soup up existing builds in a meaningful way.
Wizard is the most traditional of the Spellcasters. Caring about Intelligence, the Wizard gains their powers through diligent study of the arcane arts. Wizards have the greatest spell selection of any class in the game, and can even learn spells from Spell Scrolls that they add to their spellbook. Wizard’s playstyle is mostly determined by what spells you take, as it can be molded to fit nearly any magically-focused playstyle. The Wizard is the king of versatility and allows you to walk around a playthrough with near-unparalleled choice.
Wizard brings flexibility and incredible magic power, but you’re likely the single most vulnerable class when it comes to taking too much damage being a problem.
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