One advantage that Baldur’s Gate 3 has over its tabletop Dungeons & Dragons source material is that you can play solo, with no need for a cranky Dungeon Master or other players. Another advantage is that you can also replicate some of the tabletop multiplayer experience since there’s a Baldur’s Gate 3 multiplayer component.
That very well means you can invite your tabletop friends over for an online Baldur’s Gate 3 campaign– assuming they also bought the game. There is only one campaign though, but each act is like one long campaign from the tabletop and there are three acts in total. What you need to be concerned with is how to make Baldur’s Gate 3 multiplayer work.
That’s what we’re here to help you with.
The three kinds of Baldur’s Gate 3 multiplayer
There are three modes for Baldur’s Gate 3 multiplayer, and all of them are relatively easy to set up.
These modes are:
- Online (2-4 players)
- LAN (2-4 players)
- Couch co-op (2 players)
Actually, that’s the full multiplayer suit for any game with multiplayer. The inclusion of couch co-op is even impressive, given how many games have chosen to omit that old multiplayer mode.
For now, Baldur’s Gate 3 is only available on the PC, but it’s going to be released on the PS5 on September 6, 2023, and presumably, that’s why the couch co-op mode is also available.
To know how to set up each mode, read further below.
Online mode is available right away if you have a legitimate copy of the game. You can even start your first playthrough under this multiplayer mode, though we don’t recommend it since you can’t really predict other people’s internet stability.
To access this mode, just go to the ‘Multiplayer’ section from the main menu.
It’s the first mode that will welcome the players. As soon as you open it, you’ll be able to see which lobbies are up and available for a multiplayer session. You can then join just about any lobby without a password or any other restriction though keep in mind that most of these lobbies will be populated by total strangers (unless you have a lot of friends on Steam).
You can also create your own lobby if you want to be the host. There’s a limit of four players per lobby or session (host included). Meanwhile, saves are handled by the host and any quick save, reload, or autosave will affect and include all players in an online session.
The LAN mode for Baldur’s Gate 3 multiplayer is great if you don’t want to deal with high latency or if you want only to play with other people in your house or near your vicinity. You’ll need several gaming devices for the LAN mode, of course.
Just click the LAN segment on the top center of the UI to switch from Online to LAN.
All of you in LAN mode need to be connected to the same network to see each others’ lobbies and to play with one another or each other.
LAN mode needs a bit more tinkering in order to set up. For other players in the same network to see or join any created lobby in the LAN mode, these two boxes need to be ticked on:
You can see those two settings in the Lobby Settings portion of the UI. Just tick on the two boxes, and other people in the same network or internet connection will be able to see the lobby and join.
Saves work in the same way as Online mode. The host controls the saved games or files.
Couch/Split-screen co-op mode
Split-screen co-op mode is trickier to set up since you need two controllers for them. You can’t just have one controller for one person and assume that the other person can play using the mouse and keyboard.
You need two controllers. That’s non-negotiable for some reason. Also, only two people are supported in the local co-op.
The controller you turned on first will be the main player or Player 1. The second controller is Player 2.
Simply hit ‘New Game’ on the main menu (not Multiplayer) with the first controller and press something on the second controller during the character creation screen. This will split the screen vertically, each half dedicated to either player.
A word of warning, however: the game isn’t friendly with its controller prompts and commands. There’s a bit of guesswork involved with controller inputs.
How do saves work in Baldur’s Gate 3 multiplayer?
It’s a lot simpler than most people think. The multiplayer session, regardless of the mode, will depend on the host’s save files. The most recent save file becomes the “meeting place” in a lobby if the hosts want to resume where the group left off.
Only the host can save the game’s progress. If the host decides to continue the game solo, they can do so, but they’ll have to control the custom characters that other human players created.
More importantly, any player character created in a multiplayer session cannot be removed from the party. The host will have to control them if they decide to continue the campaign solo.
If a human player disconnects during a gameplay session, control of their character will fall to the host until they are able to reconnect.
What if new players want to join an ongoing campaign?
They can do so. Others can join an ongoing campaign’s save file if the host puts it up in the lobby or loads it up. The game will simply make room for these new players, and any NPC companion will be sent back to the camp.
The good news is that you can share, import, or export your save files with other players if you want to host the game and pick up where the campaign left off. Save files are generally located in:
- Users > [username] > AppData > Local > Larian Studios > Baldur’s Gate 3 > PlayerProfiles > Public > Savegames > Story
How do conversations work?
Whoever initiates the conversation will be the one to talk to an NPC and their abilities and skill checks will be applied to that in-game conversation.
While in conversation, other players can then eavesdrop by clicking or pressing the ‘ear’ icon, and they can see the conversation’s progress. They cannot select the dialog choices, however, as that falls on whoever initiated the conversation.
Meanwhile, loot is shared. Friendly fire is enabled, and nothing is stopping you from shoving another human player down a cliff. Do what you will with that information.