Tobold's Blog
Wednesday, August 02, 2023
BG3 Hype

My personal hype level for the release of Baldur's Gate 3 is low. I have played through Act I several times, and even if it will be updated, I am not exactly looking forward to playing through it again. But it appears that I am alone in that feeling. From what I can make out through the gaming media I consume, the global hype level for Baldur's Gate 3 is enormous.

I am following a bunch of different Twitch streamers. I all found them because at some point in time they were streaming a game I was interested in. And those were mostly tactical and strategy games, like Jagged Alliance 3, Age of Wonders 4, Wartales or Against the Storm. And it seems as if all of them are going to be streaming Baldur's Gate 3 from Friday on. This is especially weird in the Jagged Alliance 3 streaming community, where Friday is treated like the end of the world: "We haven't finished JA3 yet, but let's see how far we get before Friday". I see a lot of streamers on different games putting a countdown to Friday in the description of their current stream. YouTube is also recommending me lots of BG3 videos already.

Note that many streamers are making BG3 plans for Friday, while the release date is Thursday for most of the world. What we don't know is how early we will actually be able to play the game. There is no pre-load, and having the early access version installed isn't going to reduce the amount of data to download. Which means that a very large number of people are going to try to download a very large game from Steam at the same time. It is completely possible that Steam will have problems delivering all that data as fast as we might wish. Steam doesn't crash that often, but I consider it possible that it will show serious performance problems on Thursday. It will be an interesting test for my new 1 Gbit/s internet access, because for once it certainly won't be my internet speed that determines how fast I can download something. BG3 has a download size of "approximately 122 GB", so theoretically I could download it in 20 minutes. I wouldn't be surprised if it takes several hours instead. Only a select group of content creators, who got a special pre-release version of the game this week, will be able to stream that on Thursday. Regular European streamers would be foolish to schedule a BG3 stream for Thursday evening, with the release only being at 5 pm for them. US streamers might try, as the release is in the morning for them, but there is still a risk. Who wants to watch a stream about a guy downloading a game?

The good news is that once you managed to download the game, there is some hope that it will play smoothly from then on. BG3 isn't a live service game, so at least the single-player version should not suffer from so many people all trying to play at once, being stuck on some login screen. Maybe I'm wrong here and there is some hidden connection to Larian servers that will crash, but I haven't seen any sign of that in the early access. The long early access period also means that there is very little risk of a Cyberpunk 2077 -like launch disaster of the "game is very buggy or unplayable" kind.

Where I am unsure about is how good BG3 actually is for streaming content. My experience from the early access is that while BG3 does have some replay value, on the second run one sees a lot of scenes that one has seen before. I don't know if I want to watch somebody playing through Act I. Also the D&D combat system is complex, which is good for me to play, but maybe not ideal for watching. YouTube is better suited for this than Twitch, because Twitch essentially only offers playthroughs, while YouTube can concentrate on "how to" videos for such complex games.

I would expect certain streamers to likely be given access to download it early no? I know Journalist were give access to download the full game last Sunday for review purposes so I would expect certain content creators will be actually playing at launch tomorrow and not downloading.

I'm excited but I know I'll be too busy to dive into the game until the weekend.
I never played the EA, or paid much attention, so I am very excited. Don't much care about streamers, I don't want spoilers. But I am concerned how long it will take me to DL this, because I'm on an ancient DSL connection that gives me around 10 Mbps down. I can't remember what this pulls per hour, I think it was around 5GB/hr. In either case, even if everything goes well, it'll take me at least 24 hours to install this! Yikes. Most of the time my Internet connection is perfectly adequate, but BG3 will strain both my monthly limit and my throughput. I was a bit shocked when I learned pre-installing the EA version was not going to be of any help whatsoever.

I'm killing time prepping and theorycrafting. Anyone have any experience maining a Bard? Looking to try a Halfling Lore Bard "face + skill monkey + odds changer + disables", with basically all Cha and Dex skills, and Lucky on them to boot. Able to buff and debuff everything and everyone. I am concerned that they've nerfed some of the strong disabling spells to only last 2 rounds (Sleep, Tasha's, Hypnotic Pattern) and Frightened no longer triggers OAs. My damage contribution at higher levels will be negligible, and in a party of only 4 I'm concerned if conditions + mostly manipulating all the odds is enough to pull my weight... I'll have little defense and while sneaky it might be too risky to go explore alone.
I tried a bard mostly doing spells in an actual D&D campaign once, but wasn’t very satisfied. The problem is that pretty much all of those debuff spells require concentration, so you can’t cast another concentration spell. And the bard cantrip, vicious mockery, does very little damage. I was thinking maybe multiclass bard/warlock. I also played a sword bard once, which worked a lot better than the lore bard for constant damage output.
Yeah, that's my main concern now, that like 80% of the good Bard spells are Concentration, and I'm not sure what I'll be contributing the rest of the time. The Vicious Mockery does piddly damage, but keeping the big bad attacker on disadvantage much of the time is decent value. I would probably need to take some second tier spells that don't have concentration. I've kind of concluded that starting Bard with 12 CON resigns me to a life of failing Concentration checks at only +1. The slightest breeze for 1hp dmg would distract me 40% of the time. So revised plan is start Fighter, primarily for CON proficiency, but also adds medium armor, shield, rapiers, +1 defense spec, self-heals, and more, and lets me go DEX 14, CON 14, so my con saves are from +4 to +6, so I can keep those spells up. And with much better AC I can at least contemplate some melee and adversity. With a Fighter start multi, I can finally see how those melee Bards of Valor/Swords become viable.
I also remembered rather late that Halflings lack Darkvision, and I'd need a ring or buff to actually sneak around anywhere dark. So new plan is Wood Elf, which has 3m more movement than the Halfling, and an extra skill (elven perception). Extra mobility for optimal positioning seems good on a caster. I will miss the Halfling Luck, though.
I think I'll give that a shot. Could see myself respeccing into a melee college and going Heavy Armor / STR / melee with multiple attacks at some point.
I think I found a good solution for getting decent at-will damage for a ranged Lore Bard: take the Eldritch Blast cantrip at level 6 as part of the Magic Secrets subclass feature! It should be available, and counts as a bard spell, so it scales, and immediately gives you a 2d10 ranged attack that rolls at your high Charisma bonus. And it scales to 3d10 at 11th Bard level. Until then, you should get by ok with some combo of Vicious Mockery and any +1 ranged weapon you can find. Elf or Fighter adds shortbow/longbow, and Fighter-1 even Heavy Xbow. I'm not sure you can double fire dual-wielded hand crossbows, but that's a 2d6 damage option if so. It may seem like a waste to take a mere cantrip with one of your bonus spells, but not when it offsets a big weakness. I don't think Valor/Swords ever get a 3rd attack, while you get a third d10. And all that at full CHA attack roll bonus, rather than 14 or 16 Dex. Yes, there is no bonus to those d10s, you can't buff it like a Warlock, and they can get magical weapons, but it's still decent I think.

In terms of this build being passive/dull, I don't think it'll feel as bad as in tabletop where you only control your bard. In a CRPG, I also control the other characters that I'm buffing and protecting, and I am not stuck waiting around for my turn even if I'm mostly playing defense and concentrating.
I am doing a bard / warlock multiclass character, same principle.
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