Previews

Baldur’s Gate III Early Access Patch 7 early preview — it’s Barbarian time!

It’s almost time for the next Panel from Hell – the super fun way Swen Vincke and his team at Larian Studios announce their huge content patches for Baldur’s Gate III. This time around it’s Patch 7, and it’s a huge one. We got to sit down with Swen as he showed us all the new features you can expect to drop right after the Panel, and I’ve gotta say…nobody can possibly be as excited about these as Swen always is (The guy loves his work!), but after seeing it for myself, I’m getting there! Let’s bust out our dice and get rolling.

First and foremost, Patch 7 is bringing us a brand new class, the Barbarian, and two sub class specializations – the Berserker and the Wildheart. By communing with nature, your Barbarian will be imbued with supernatural might, but which heart you want to align with is a huge choice. There are five Bestial Hearts to choose from, each with their own powers that will dramatically change how you play.

Baldur's Gate III - Patch 7 – Behold the Barbarian!

Rage is about momentum. You’ll stay in your rage form for up to 10 turns, provided you can continue to cause damage every round. In a pinch, that can mean dishing out a lovetap to somebody in your party, much to their chagrin. You can also keep your rage going by receiving damage, and some subclasses gain advantage from getting hit, but the point is that damage has to be dished or received every round, lest your rage subside early.

The Bear Heart grants unnatural resistance to any and all damage, with the only exception being incoming psychic attacks. It also gives you Unrelenting Ferocity — an action that allows you to muster your stamina to heal 1d8+3 HP, but it’s only available when you are raging.

Eagle Heart’s rage gives you unparalleled mobility, forcing a disadvantage on foes attempting opportunity attacks against you, and granting a dash as a bonus action. It also gives you Diving Strike, allowing you to leap onto an enemy below you, dealing slashing and bludgeoning damage, negating any falling damage, and knocking that enemy prone.

Elk Heart’s rage is all about the Primary Stampede. The Elk Heart gives a huge boost to movement speed, increasing your range by a whopping 4.5 meters. When Primal Stampede connects, you’ll do 1d4+2 bludgeoning damage, hitting all hostile creatures in the way and knocking them prone.

Tiger Heart embodies the Barbarian with incredible leaping powers. In fact, it grants the user a 4.5 meter jump distance that can close the distance to unleash Tiger’s Bloodlust. Tiger’s Bloodlust lashes out to hit up to three enemies at once, inflicting half weapon damage, but also causing them to bleed for two turns.

The final option, Wolf Heart, provides an advantage on melee attack rolls against any enemy within 2 meters. It also grants Inciting Howl which stirs up your allies, giving them an additional 3 meters of movement for their next turn.

It’s cosmetic (or at least appears to be so far), but characters can now have piercings. In the case of the Barbarian we saw earrings that aesthetically aligned with their chosen Bestial Heart, such as eagle feather earrings with little dangly eagle claws. Whether you are into the Baldur’s Gate universe or not, you cannot deny that this game is absolutely eye-poppingly gorgeous, and these little details serve as further immersion points.

All of these new powers and subclasses tie directly into new gear sets that we saw in the game. It seems highly unlikely that you’d find these items early in the game, but by way of example Swen unleashed a weapon called Hamarhaft — an uncommon magical two-handed maul that unleashes 1d4 thunder damage in a 3 meter radius, when combined with a jump attack. This is in addition to the 2d6 bludgeoning damage, and the tenacity bonus that hits nearby enemies for 2 damage. This makes it a perfect companion for an Eagle Heart-aligned Wildheart Barbarian.

The other specialization, the Berserker, is your grab-and-throw specialist. Barrel full of pitch? Throw it at your enemies. Nearby heavy steel anvil? Throw it at your enemies. Enemies standing too close? Throw them at your enemies. Throw ALL the things! Obviously connected to your strength, this power to hurl things at other things is bolstered by your frenzied state. We saw this in action when Swen took the opportunity to grab a mouthy little goblin and hurl him down a flight of stairs, and I plan to abuse this heavily.

If you’ve played the game in early access you have likely been turned to paste by a trio of ogres named Chock, Fank, and the smart one — Lump the Enlightened. Swen deployed his pair of Barbarians just out of sight to ensure he could ambush these three. Transforming his Druid into a polar bear with Wild Shape, he used his leap ability to get on top of the nearby house so he could pounce down on them once the fight started. His wizard and Tiger Heart Barbarian stacked up on the adjacent roof for the same maneuver, leaving the remaining Barbarian to head in through the front entrance. Lump the Enlightened was having none of it, and he spotted the trap easily. In an entirely new move, he lurched forward, smashing the support beam holding the roof, dumping a huge amount of destroyed lumber and tiles crashing to the ground. The poor Druid hit the ground, prone and damaged, and now sitting in the middle of three angry ogres.

Finally taking down Lump the Enlightened, we uncovered the secrets to his intelligence, getting to see another unique item – the Warped Headband of Intellect — a diadem that increases the wearer’s intelligence stat to 17. What a filthy cheater. Other examples might be the Blast Pendant, an uncommon amulet that unlocks a special proficiency that enhances his Witch Bolt spell. When combined with similar artifacts, you’ll accumulate “Lightning Charges” that grant an additional +1 to attack rolls, added lighting damage, and when you’ve accumulated five of them, unleash 1d8 of lightning on your enemies. The Helmet of Grit ties directly to the Bear Heart as the wearer gets an additional bonus action and a +1 to Dexterity saving throws when they are below 50% hit points — some folks like the pain. There are a lot of cool new pieces of gear headed our way, and it’s clear that Larian is working hard to make them more than simple stat buffs.

The UI in Baldur’s Gate III has also gotten a serious polish pass, with major refinements in just about every area. Every mouseover panel now has keywords in it to further explain keywords like “Opportunity Attacks”, or “Disadvantage” within the confines of the Dungeons & Dragons universe. Handy if you are unsure how a particular power or item works.

The inventory is a panel that can be moved around the screen, and can be stacked side by side to manage your entire party. The tabs at the top for inventory, spellbooks, character sheets, and character features also lets you mix and match them simultaneously, which is useful for matching the right gear with the right class. Given that it’s no longer taking up the entire screen, you can also see what’s going on in the environment without having to close the panel.

This tabbed panel design also applies to your hotbar, and is easily the biggest improvement on the UX/UI side. Organization is cleaner, and you can use a common, class, items, passives, or custom (more on that in a second) sorting button at the bottom to bring up just the actions relevant to your current situation. This will be especially useful in the late game when your powers have expanded and you need to quickly hop through a long list of skills to find the one you need.

The custom button is one that’ll require a little work on the player’s part, but you can build your own presets. Perhaps you have an “opener” set of skills that you like to use, or a particular grouping for dealing with long range. Whatever your need, you can build out a custom panel of your own design, accessing it quickly and easily.

Grouping up your team is now easier than ever, allowing you to multi-select all of them with a single button press. Little improvements like this are everywhere in the new panel, but we’ll have to spend more time with Patch 7 to really find them all.

It’d be easy to say this about every single patch since the launch into Early Access, but Patch 7 looks to be the largest quality of life upgrade we’ve gotten so far. When asked, Swen said that the team is finally moving towards being “happy” with the interaction systems. He also said that it feels like there’s a solid year of development ahead, but their burndown charts are starting to trend downwards, which is a positive sign. Given how far we’ve already come and how great the game feels already, Baldur’s Gate III could easily revolutionize what we can expect from an RPG going forward.

See you at the Panel from Hell, and let us know what you think of the game so far. Are you playing the game as it develops, or are you waiting for the eventual 1.0 release? Hit us up on Discord and let us know what you think!

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