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Like its predecessors, Baldur’s Gate 3 is an extremely Dungeons & Dragons video game. It’s out to replicate the tabletop experience as best as digitally possible, giving players a bunch of tools and encouraging them to break the rules, survive fights, solve puzzles, and navigate conversations in the most inventive ways possible.



However, if this is your first time playing a game this mechanically open-ended, or you’re unfamiliar with the “anything goes” spirit of modern tabletop games, the wealth of options available to you might not be obvious. Especially in a fight. Here then, is my advice to you: Play with a gamepad, at least once.

The rationale here is simple: Baldur’s Gate 3 is complicated, with a wealth of buttons and menus to navigate and loads of information being thrown at you all the time. Once you wrap your head around it, it’s great — you’re going to want that kind of minute control for tinkering and hatching schemes. But initially, it can feel like you have to watch an experienced player take on the game just so you can learn all the things you can even do (not a terrible idea).

Switching to a gamepad is a great way to mitigate this. The developers at Larian Studios have done a fantastic job of making their wonderfully complex game playable on the gamepad, with an interface that makes a lot of your options in a given moment clearer than it might be on the mouse-and-keyboard setup. By default, most of what your character can do is thrown into a bunch of radial menus. It’s a great distilled reminder of how much you can do in any given moment, and a cue to experiment more.

Granted, as great as the gamepad experience is, it’s not always elegant. Things can get lost in translation — it’s easy to forget, for example, that you can open an interaction menu with the X button on just about any item in the world if you want to, say, read a book without picking it up. But the principle is a simple one, and applicable to all sorts of things in life: Looking at something with fresh eyes (or controls) is a great way to get out of a rut, or remind yourself of what’s possible.

Besides, you can always go back to mouse and keyboard controls after this. I’m only recommending you try it once, and see what it could do for you.

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