Baldur’s Gate 3 Is (Almost) Not Worth Playing Co-Op Right Now

Baldur’s Gate 3 entered early access almost a week ago and players have been falling in love with the world, characters, and Divinity: Original Sin-style gameplay despite a cavalcade of bugs and glitches both big and small. To their credit, Larian Studios has been upfront and transparent about the current state of the game and the work they’re doing to stabilize it — there have already been 3 hotfix patches in the first week to solve crashes and connectivity issues. As it stands, the first act is playable, though I can’t confidently endorse trying to play the game with friends right now.

It’s no secret that the game has a long way to go. Only Act 1 is playable right now (25~ hours if you’re fast, 50+ if you take your time to explore thoroughly) and only half of the classes are playable. That’s still a ton of content to engage with, but all of it is in pretty rough shape.

A lot of the jank happens in cutscenes: characters speak without moving their lips, the camera zooms in and flies around wildly, skill checks fail even when they should have passed, and it’s possible to get stuck looping in a conversation without any way to get out. The audio, especially in dialogue scenes, still needs a ton of work. In one particularly hilarious encounter, a character was “killed” in a cutscene but the death wasn’t shown and the character continued to stand idly behind everyone else while they discussed how tragic their death was.

Then there are the gameplay issues, which are myriad and not entirely unexpected for an early access game. Some spells and actions don’t at all do what they say they do. I’ve had the inventory completely lock me out from interacting with anything while the rest of the game seemed to work fine, as well as looted items that just disappear from my inventory. In combat, characters will sometimes skip turns for no reason or take damage erroneously. Bugs like this are pretty much constant.

Those are all fairly manageable issues and exactly the kinds of things anyone should expect when they sign up to play and early access game. I’m happy to be able to play Baldur’s Gate 3 right now even in its current condition, but I also want to offer a word of caution to anyone planning to play co-op: while single-player BG3 feels like playing a Beta, multiplayer BG3 feels more like early Alpha.

First of all, cross-play between Stadia and even different PC version is currently disabled. I have first-hand experience trying to play on Stadia with a Steam player (you can’t) and have read that others are unable to play together between Steam and GOG, so unless all players are using the same platform, you won’t be able to play together.

It’s fair to say there are a ton of bugs in single-player, but in multiplayer, those bugs multiply and morph into poison-spitting phase spiders. Game breaking bugs like turning invisible, being unable to move, or getting stuck in dialogue scenes happens constantly. The types of “checks” that break players out of busted scenarios simply don’t exist and my group’s play sessions have been fraught with legit game-breaking bugs.

Some advice if you are going to push forward with co-op: stay in the same conversations together. Going off in different directions, even in a town, to talk to different people seems to create more instances than the game can handle, which will lead to game-breaking bugs. You can switch which player controller character is speaking in some conversation through the menu on the bottom left-hand side of the screen, and you can use that to change who is talking if another party member would have a better advantage with a skill check. Otherwise, don’t try to leave and rejoin conversations with different players because that seems to frequently break the game as well.

If you can’t save because someone is “stuck” in dialogue (even if they aren’t in dialogue at all) that isn’t something that’s just going to fix itself. Don’t push forward thinking you can save later, just reload your last save or, if the broken player isn’t the host, have them leave the session and come back.

There are other issues that can be fixed by leaving and rejoining, but the host will have to control your characters for you and move them out of whatever broken scenario they’re in. If the host is the one bugging out, loading your last quicksave is the only option. Hopefully, it wasn’t too far back.

My playtime was with 2 people, but I can only imagine how much worse the problem gets with more players. The quicksave button is F5 and I highly encourage you to abuse it. Take it from me, my friend and I have replayed most of Act 1 twice and certain sections three times because we didn’t save often enough.

I’m still pushing forward because the content is just that good, but it seems unlikely I’ll make it through everything with my group. It may be best to just wait this one out until a lot of things get fixed.

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Eric Switzer is the Livestream News Editor for TheGamer as well as the lead for VR and Tech. He has written about comics and film for Bloody Disgusting and VFXwire. He is a graduate of University of Missouri – Columbia and Vancouver Film School. Eric loves board games, fan conventions, new technology, and his sweet sweet kitties Bruce and Babs. Favorite games include Destiny 2, Kingdom Hearts, Super Metroid, and Prey…but mostly Prey. His favorite Pokémon is Umbreon.

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