Baldur’s Gate 3 presents an intriguing co-op feature for 2-4 players, but it doesn’t simply dictate that co-op is the superior way to enjoy the game—it offers an alternate experience. While I plan to initially delve into the full game as a solitary RPG player, I’ve explored co-op and its inherent unpredictability, which is undeniably tempting.
Here’s an exploration of how Baldur’s Gate 3‘s co-op mode functions (it might not align with your expectations), a walkthrough of starting a co-op campaign, and a balanced view of the advantages and disadvantages of opting for co-op gameplay based on my perspective.
The Mechanics of Co-op Mode
In contrast to the typical co-op setup seen in many contemporary games, Baldur’s Gate 3 approaches co-op differently. Characters in the game are linked to campaign save files rather than individual player accounts. Visualize a campaign’s latest save file as the gaming table where your D&D group convenes, preserving all character sheets from your previous session. To resume the campaign, the host must load this save file, invite all participants to the table, and seat them in front of their respective character sheets.
During co-op gameplay, Baldur’s Gate 3 allows players to pursue their own paths to a considerable extent. For instance, when one player engages in dialogue with an NPC, others can observe and suggest dialogue options by clicking on them. However, the player who initiated the conversation makes the ultimate decisions. The Session menu is where control of NPC companions in the party is allocated. (Refer to the subsequent section on romance for more insights into co-op interactions involving NPCs.)
Co-op participants have the freedom to venture in separate directions and undertake distinct activities. It’s even plausible for one player to be engrossed in a turn-based battle while another explores a far-off area of the map.
Initiating and Progressing in Baldur’s Gate 3 Co-op
Commencing a Co-op Campaign: To initiate a fresh co-op campaign in Baldur’s Gate 3, access the “Multiplayer” option from the main menu. From there, opt to “Create” a lobby by selecting the corresponding button at the bottom of the screen. This provides the means to invite players from your Steam friends list by clicking on vacant player slots or making the lobby public to enable anyone to join. An alternative method involves sharing the Server ID with friends, which they can use for Direct Connect in the Multiplayer interface. This is essential for players who acquired Baldur’s Gate 3 on GOG.
Upon commencing the game, all connected players proceed to the character creation screen and awaken collectively at the campaign’s outset. This marks the sole means for players, apart from the host, to choose Origin characters. Those joining mid-campaign must craft custom characters.
Continuing an Existing Co-op Campaign: To pick up where you left off in co-op mode, the host player must load the most recent save file for the campaign and invite players through the “Session” menu (accessible by pressing Escape). Subsequently, the host can assign characters to their respective players.
Incorporating New Players into an Ongoing Campaign: When a player is invited to a campaign lacking player-controlled characters, they will be prompted to design a new custom character. Origin character selection is unavailable in this scenario. Following character creation, the new character joins the party, displacing one of your companions if the party is at maximum capacity. The new character’s level is adjusted to match the host’s level.
Vital Reminder: If a friend is invited to your campaign and you subsequently continue solo, their character will persist in your party and cannot be removed unless you revert to an earlier save prior to their joining.
Addressing Player Absence or Disconnection: When a player is absent, the host can assume control of their character through the Session menu.
Can Hosts Be Changed? Yes, with some effort. The ability to save campaign progress is exclusive to the host, which means only the host can initiate a new session unless they transfer the save file to another player. My own Baldur’s Gate 3 save files were found tucked away in Windows’ concealed AppData folder:
Users > [username] > AppData > Local > Larian Studios > Baldur’s Gate 3 > PlayerProfiles > Public > Savegames > Story I shared a co-op save file with another player, who successfully loaded it and extended an invitation to me. Furthermore, character reassignment within the Session menu allowed me to retain the character I created at the inception of the co-op campaign.
Deciding on Baldur’s Gate 3 Co-op Play
Contrary to games like Borderlands 3 or Remnant 2, where the recommendation to opt for co-op is clear-cut, Baldur’s Gate 3 presents a nuanced choice. After experimenting with both modes and gathering insights from others, it becomes evident that neither co-op nor singleplayer gameplay possesses an inherently superior status. Let’s delve into the merits and demerits of Baldur’s Gate 3 co-op from my vantage point:
Pros of Baldur’s Gate 3 Co-op:
• Juggling a complete party solo is demanding: Assuming the roles of four D&D characters simultaneously is an intricate task. Co-op gameplay distributes responsibilities among participants, permitting focused attention on individual character development and actions. • The open-ended freedom can foster genuine bonding and comedic moments, reminiscent of the camaraderie experienced during tabletop RPG sessions. Phil Iwaniuk, who engaged in both Divinity: Original Sin and Original Sin 2 co-op with a friend, lauds the competitive aspect of co-op in Divinity as its most captivating feature.
Cons of Baldur’s Gate 3 Co-op:
• Completing the campaign may be time-consuming, particularly without highly efficient friends who remain committed and available to play consistently. • Distractions are likely: Your companions’ movements might coincide with your crucial dialogue scenes, disrupting immersion. • Disparate decisions made by friends could alter the course of the campaign in ways that may not align with your preferences. If personalizing the narrative is pivotal, embarking on a solitary playthrough might be the preferable choice initially. • Origin characters played by other participants cannot be romantically pursued. Although interactions with NPC companions at camp, including romantic interactions, are feasible, party composition and player preferences might restrict their inclusion.
For individuals inclined towards singleplayer gameplay but concerned about missing out by skipping co-op, my suggestion is to trust your instincts and embark on a singleplayer adventure. Managing multiple characters is intricate, and while co-op could potentially yield a rewarding experience, you can always delve into a co-op campaign anew once you’ve savored the story at your desired pace, making your preferred decisions.