Coming from the old Infinity Engine games and the more recent D&D adaptations like Pathfinder and Solasta there are a few things that I wasn’t quite expecting when I first started playing BG3.
Before You Start
Compared to Pathfinder the game feels very streamlined and it is meant to be easier to get into (and easier not to get stuck with a useless build). You don’t have to worry about base attacks and convoluted stuff like that, what really matters is your character’s ability scores (or more accurately the ability you’re going to be using to hit your foes).
Although you can forget about all the zany Pathfinder builds multiclassing can still be very enticing but it comes with a few caveats. Considering the relatively low level cap you will miss out on a few things and that can’t be avoided but if you choose the right class to complement your build you can end up getting an early boost that can make up for it. Plus if you really mess up you can get a respec from an NPC so no harm no foul.
Bear in mind some classes have certain thresholds that can really make or break a build, that’s especially true about extra attacks at level 5 for martial classes (or 6 for non Lore Bards) and that by taking an extra level you may be able to unlock a feat (checking out an online wiki for detailed information regarding levelling and classes can be very useful).
With that being said taking some levels (or even only one level) in another class can be very beneficial especially if there is synergy between these classes (classes sharing the same main stat work really well together).
When multiclassing it’s important to consider whether or not you’re going to delay some central feature of your character’s current class (like access to an extra attack or a new spell level or some perk) and to weigh whether or not the things you gain with the new class make up for this.
The great thing about adding a level in another class is that you get the extra stuff right away and sometimes it can really boost a character’s utility (short term at least). Plus it helps having a character that can be useful right now versus one that will presumably be awesome at the very end of the game.
For instance Fighters can get a second extra attack at level 11 and that sounds awesome but you’re almost at the level cap and at the end of the game by then. Theoretically you could say that adding a single level in another class would greatly enhance the utility of the character without losing the ability of getting this second extra attack but by doing so you would only get this feature by level 12 which sounds like it’s going to be a bit late into the game.
Alternatively some Warlocks can get an extra attack at level 5 and contrary to extra attacks from martial classes (and bards) the Warlock’s extra attack stacks (unless it gets patched out of the game) so you could get 3 attacks by level 10 by taking 5 Warlock levels and 5 levels in a martial class.
If extra attacks is what you’re after an option would be to go for a Thief character and rely on dual wielding since you’d get three attacks as soon as character level 4 (Fighter 1 Thief 3) but two of these would be bonus actions.
If you don’t like the idea of dual wielding and still want to turn a bonus action into another attack then a feat like polearm master may be the one that you’ve been wishing for.
A big part of the fun of the game consists in theorycrafting outlandish builds and then to get them to actually work in the game. Some feats may entice you into experimenting with tavern brawling or polearms and sentinels and stuff like that and it’s definitely something that can be utterly enjoyable.
Regarding dual wielding, it may be useful to point out that without feats you can use weapons in both hands as long as they are both light and finesse weapons. Both weapons will get a bonus to hit depending on your character’s Dexterity but the bonus will only apply to the damage in the main hand (unless you pick the Dual Weapon Fighting Style). Using bigger weapons will require a specific feat. Please do note that Hand Crossbows can be used in both hands and still benefit from the bonus to damage in both hands without unlocking this fighting style.
Shields are very interesting for characters who are going to be using many ranged attacks for a simple reason, the bonus to AC they give does apply even when your character is using a ranged weapon or casting a spell. If you can afford to then you should make sure that archers and casters have a shield equipped at all time.
Weapons get some specific attack options depending on their type. Experimenting with weapons is a good idea for that very reason.
I’ve been going on and on about extra attacks because it’s one way to make sure you’re doing the most damage but more often than not you will have to choose between casting a spell and attacking so if your character is first and foremost a caster unlocking extra attacks won’t be that much of a priority.
Plus there is also the fact that the game encourages you to make use of the environment and sometimes the best move is not to attack three times in a row or to cast a spell but to use the shove action and push an enemy off a ledge (which is much less funny when it happens to a member of your party).
In order to make the most of the tactical aspect of the game and the environment you will need for your character to be able to get into position so they can make the most of their strikes, shoves and area attacks. There is a lot of verticality in the game and being on higher ground is a big deal so jumping around is going to be useful as well and some spells will help a lot with movement. Different races move at different speeds and it’s really hard to make a case for shorter characters simply because of that. It’s telling that there is no short companion NPC in the main cast (whereas BG 1&2 had their fair share of dwarves, gnomes and halflings).
That’s the reason why when picking a race it’s a good idea to consider Wood Elves and Half Wood Elves because they get a bonus to their base movement speed and that is certainly nothing to scoff about.
Sure, you can pick a race for looks (nothing wrong with that) but if you care about mobility then Wood Elves are going to be right at the top of the list and if you’re considering a class that doesn’t come with shield proficiency and you want to take advantage of shields then Wood Half Elves are going to be the best candidates.
There are ways to get some proficiencies by dabbling in multiclassing but considering the arguably lower level cap if you can avoid doing that by picking a race that comes with the armour or martial feat you want then it may be worth considering.
Some races like Half Orcs have some perks that make them particularly well suited for some roles and that would be hard to replicate with other races (plus Half Orcs get the best looking underwear in my opinion).
Multiclassing shouldn’t be the first move to make up for the limitations of a build in some instances picking the right race for the build can do the trick.
With that being said some classes bring stuff you can’t get any other way like for instance the Storm Sorcerer who thanks to Tempestuous Magic will be able after casting a spell (not a cantrip) to use a bonus action to fly up to 10 metres in any direction and if this sounds pretty huge to you then let me add that all you need is a single level in the class to do that (plus you will get extra cantrips and spells including the Shield spell which make a dip in this class an enticing perspective for a Charisma based caster like the Bard who doesn’t get Shield at level 1).
On the subject of dipping and multiclassing there is something that has to be said about the Warlock class and that’s the fact that Eldritch Blast (like other cantrips) will scale according to the (global) character level and not the level in the Warlock class. This makes a two level dip in the class incredibly tempting if you want a cantrip that will scale and benefit from Charisma for attacks and damage (you can even pick the Invocation that adds a puch effect to your character’s blast while you’re at it).
Doing so with a Bard or a Sorcerer will prevent you from ever casting level 6 spells (because of the level cap) but you may feel like it’s a good trade simply because the blast will make getting extra attacks pointless (the number of beams is dependent on character level, not on the character’s number of attacks).
The fact that some Warlocks can use Charisma for attacks and damage at level 3 feels a bit redundant because of Eldritch Blast but bear in mind that if you’re in close range you’ll get a penalty with your blast (but if you allowed your Warlock to be cornered then maybe it’s time to use a spell and not a cantrip). By the way I’m not just raving about Warlocks for no reason, they were pretty good in Solasta and they don’t disappoint in BG3.
When multiclassing it’s also important to note that you won’t necessarily get all the perks you would have obtained if you had started at level 1 in this class (like for instance the ability to use Heavy Armour if you pick a Paladin level afterwards or not getting the Martial Weapons proficiency when adding a Ranger level to an existing character).
Whether you’re multiclassing or creating your character you should pick your race and background carefully in order not to take the same skill twice because these don’t stack and will be wasted. That’s why for instance it’s a bad idea to have a Half Orc with the Soldier background because they already have Intimidation. Humans get an extra skill at character creation but it appears to be buggy at the moment and in my experience it was randomly selected with no possibility to change the selection. Please note that some classes will unlock extra skills at higher levels so if you’ve already picked these skills you won’t get anything extra (checking out a wiki beforehand is a good idea, for instance Lore Bards get Arcana, Intimidation and Sleight of Hand at level 3).
Backgrounds will come into play during the game to add roleplaying flavour and extra experience. It’s a nice touch and gives some relevance to a choice you make during character creation.
Last but not least, you may be able to respec your character and undo the choices you made while levelling your character but you won’t be able to change a character’s race or their appearance during the actual game so spending time fine tuning how your character looks while you can is probably a good idea.