Baldur’s Gate isn’t exactly a pick up and play sort of game. The mechanics governing the underlying system take some getting used to, but there are a few key pieces of information that can greatly aid a new player when undertaking their first adventure in the Baldur’s Gate universe. While explanations of the rules that govern Dungeons and Dragons can obviously be rather verbose (entire books are dedicated to this), this article is meant to be a quick start help guide, offering some very basic tips that can help you survive the early stages of a first playthrough, enabling you to better learn the more subtle nuances as you go.
Building Your Character
For a first time playthrough the class that is probably the friendliest to new players is the fighter class. Choosing this class when creating a character will allow you to not only survive early game better, but it also doesn’t limit your race choices. When choosing your stats emphasize Strength, Constitution and pick either Dexterity or Charisma to focus on after that (Charisma will be helpful in dialogues and when shopping). Don’t overly worry about wisdom or intelligence as you generally won’t be using those stats as a fighter, but don’t overly skimp on them either as lowering them too much can cause problems. When looking at weapon proficiencies its probably better to spread coverage by adding a single proficiency point to multiple weapons so that you can better use new weapons gained during your play through, rather than overly specializing in a specific weapon up front. Don’t worry because you can add more proficiency points to a more specific weapon as you level up.
Having a mage in your party is highly recommended. They can be hard to keep alive early game, but as you learn higher level spells in the late game they become devastatingly deadly while also providing great support. What you want to do is to pick your mage early and stick with them, search for spell scrolls and pick up every one that you find. Once you have a spell scroll you have two choices. They can copy the spell to their spellbook making it available for constant use (right click on the scroll then click write magic), or you can place the scroll in their quick item slot for a one time use. Why wouldn’t you just copy down all spells to your spell book? Well the problem is low level mages don’t have access to high level spells in their spell book. In order to learn to cast a spell a mage must have the spell in their spell book and then from there you assign it to a slot by opening your spell book and clicking on the spell to assign it to a slot. If you want to clear that spot for a new spell then click the spot to erase the spell that is there (this will not remove it from your spell book just the slot) and click another spell to add it to the slot. It will be gray just after adding meaning you must rest in order to make the spell able to be cast from the spell cast button at the bottom of the screen when your mage is selected. If you keep the spell in scroll form you can cast high level magics even as a low level mage, but it will be gone after that one use. Also if you want more than one cast of a spell that is in your spell book per rest you have to assign a spell to multiple slots. So if you want to be able to cast “fireball” twice before resting you have to assign the fireball spell to two slots in your mages spell book. Also your mage should be able to identify unknown items for you (the blue ones in your inventory). Give them the item, right click, click identify then click spell (they should have identify in an assigned magic slot already, if not add it to one and rest). This way you don’t have to fork over money at a shop every time you need an item to be identified.
You will want at least one thief in your party. Traps are everywhere and can really ruin your day especially at low levels. Thieves have the ability to detect traps, disarm them and unlock locked doors and chests. Disarming traps and unlocking things also gives experience to your party so a thief is definitely worth having just for that alone. Detecting traps is as easy as clicking the detect traps button on the bottom and walking around (slowly) while waiting for a red area to pop up. Once the red area pops up click the mask looking button and then click on the trap to disarm it. Clicking the mask also picks locks (click on the door or box) and picks pockets (click on a person, careful with this one). They can also “hide in the shadows” which can be useful at times depending on the situation, but really probably won’t be used very often.
It seems so simple, but pausing can really help out in battles. Looking at the bottom left the of screen you will see a time mechanism looking square which displays either a sun or moon depending on the time of day it is. Clicking this mechanism pauses the game. While the game is paused you still have the ability to set up any spells or direct your party as you see fit. So rather than trying to frantically direct your fighter to battle a troll while simultaneously having your mage cast a spell on a spider and have the rest of your party fight an enemy mage in the heat of battle, you can pause and then direct your party at your leisure and then unpause for them to carry out your orders.
Hopefully this information can help you in your new Baldur’s Gate adventures. There is quite a lot to learn when playing Baldur’s Gate and games like it, but these quick tips can help facilitate an easier new playthrough experience and hopefully ease some of the frustration that comes with learning such a complex system. No matter what, try not to be overly daunted; this game is very difficult but also very rewarding. One last final tip: if you find yourself overwhelmed by enemies, the best course of action is to creep on them slowly and try and draw them away from their group one by one and slowly whittle down their numbers.