Your choice of class matters in most RPGs, but Baldur’s Gate 3 makes that choice as important as it has ever been. While there’s no such thing as picking the “wrong” class in Baldur’s Gate 3 (as long as they’re the right class for you), certain classes obviously have notable advantages and disadvantages. Well, there are a few areas of the game where those advantages and disadvantages are more obvious than when you’re thrust into combat.
If it is possible to do a pure pacifist run in Baldur’s Gate 3, then nobody has discovered how to do it yet. You will have to fight something at some point. When that happens, you may discover that Baldur’s Gate 3‘s combat can be quite unforgiving. As such, it’s a good idea to have a rough understanding of which classes are more capable in combat than others.
Before we dive into that topic, though, here are a few points to consider.
– These rankings are based purely on a class’ overall combat potential. It does not account for the many non-combat scenarios you will encounter.
– Party composition matters in Baldur’s Gate 3. Simply rolling out with the top four classes on this list may not work for you. As such, these rankings are partially determined by a class’ overall combat potential relative to the loose role they can expect to play in most fights (damage dealing, support, ranged, melee, etc.).
– Finally, though I will reference multiclassing a couple of times in this article, these rankings are based on the base classes in the game rather than their multiclass value. That will be a topic for another day.
With that out of the way, let’s dive in…
Warlocks greatly benefit from their enhanced Charisma and all the dialog/interaction options that stat enables. They also have access to some powerful core abilities as well as late-game spells that allow them to summon the impressive creatures that ultimately define this class’ combat identity.
The big problem with Warlocks at the moment is how long it takes for them to reach their full potential. That extra Charisma and those extra armor/weapon options they start with certainly seem appealing, but Warlock’s relative lack of overall spells slots hurt them in both the early game and the long run. You’ll actually rely on debuffs and cantrips fairly often early on with the Warlock, which are both nice, but generally aren’t as appealing as many of the class alternatives. Their endgame potential looks to be impressive, but they would almost need to be broken to make up for some of those early struggles, and that doesn’t appear to be the case.
From a pure min/max perspective, I would say that Warlocks are the hardest class to find a home for in combat at the moment. However, they can certainly play a role if you’re determined to use them.
Rogues are an exceptional overall class option in Baldur’s Gate 3. Even in the early game, their subterfuge and stealth abilities allow you to access quite a few alternative (and fun) paths. They also fulfill a very specific role-playing fantasy that will undoubtedly be appealing to those who love to sneak around in other RPGs.
If you’re expecting to sneak around the battlefield and start one-shotting enemies with the Rogue like you did in games like Skyrim, though, then you may be disappointed to find that Baldur’s Gate 3’s Rogues don’t quite work that way. While you can eventually acquire a powerful set of abilities that allow Rogues to devastate targets before they even realize the Rogue is there, those abilities take quite some time to acquire and are intentionally challenging to master. Until then, you may find it difficult to have a Rogue locked into your party as your main character (not to mention that one of your earliest companions is also a Rogue).
Even after you acquire some of Rogue’s powerful combat abilities, you will likely find that they’re just a slightly more situational combat class. There will be times when you just won’t be able to get them into the positions they sometimes require in order to reach their full damage potential.
In theory, Monks are a combat-oriented class. How else would you describe the only class in Baldur’s Gate 3 bold enough to face towering terrors armed with little more than their knuckles? Indeed, there are times when Monks very much feel like the fury of fists and magic that they were seemingly intended to be.
However, reaching a Monk’s full potential is going to be a rough process for many players. In the early parts of the game, they simply lack the defensive options that other notable combat classes (Fighters and Barbarians) have access to. That’s a real problem given that Monks typically need to operate at very close ranges. It’s tough enough to get through the early battles in Baldur’s Gate 3 without having to rely on a squisher melee class for much of your damage.
There are also some valid concerns about the Monk’s full late-game potential compared to other class options. It’s nice that they offer more versatility in terms of mystical abilities compared to other melee-focused classes, but that “jack of all trades” school of design does seem to bump into some“master of none” roadblocks early and often. You can do some incredible things with Monks in combat, but you’ve really got to love their style to justify the investments.
I initially thought about moving Druids up a couple of spots on this list. After all, their unique shapeshifting nature allows them to access quite a few abilities that are useful in most combat situations. They’re even a bit sturdier than some other starting classes, which is a valuable attribute in the early parts of the game.
Ultimately, though, Druids run into a variation of that “jack of all trades” issues that Monks also have to deal with. It’s not nearly as pronounced in the case of Druids, though I do find that they strangely become a victim of Baldur Gate 3’s generous character-building options. In a game where multiclassing, respeccing, and character creation freedom are so readily available, the Druid’s ability to borrow a little from various styles of play just feels less significant than it otherwise would in a more rigid role-playing experience.
Druid’s shapeshifting abilities are incredibly fun (especially outside of combat) and allow you to approach dynamic combat challenges in rather unique ways. It’s just a little harder to find a role for them in the toughest combat scenarios where more classes bring something slightly more definitive to the table.
This is where the rankings start to get really tough and where the differences between combat classes should be measured by degrees.
Rangers are an exceptional ranged DPS option. In fact, they’re one of the best pure damage dealers in the game. Even better, Rangers also have access to valuable companions as well as an impressive collection of useful debuff abilities that can help your party melt through a single target. I actually really love this class when it comes to many combat scenarios.
So what’s the problem? Well, if we’re splitting hairs at this point, then I’d argue that Rangers just don’t scale as well as some of the other classes we’ll soon be discussing. They offer some gaudy damage numbers very early on, but some other classes are able to match (or surpass) their raw damage in a relatively short amount of time. At that point, Ranger’s relative lack of utility functionality (and their positioning requirements) gradually starts to become more noticeable.
Having said all of that, I actually think this is one of the more interesting (and sometimes overlooked) class options for anyone who is committed to letting their other party members do the tanking, healing, and utility work while they focus on pumping out pure damage.
To be very clear, Wizards are only ranked this low (relatively speaking) because of their inherent glass-cannon nature. Like Wizards in many role-playing games, Baldur’s Gate 3‘s Wizards are as powerful as they are squishy. That can be a problem in some of Baldur’s Gate 3’s toughest battles where losing a Wizard to a bad roll is a real possibility.
That said, Wizards bring much more to the table as a ranged DPS class than Rangers do. Their jaw-dropping number of spell slots allows them to almost always access the perfect spell for nearly any situation. Granted, it takes quite some time to get the hang of how to not only keep track of Wizard’s various spells but properly manage them in combat. Once you do, though, then you’ll find that the Wizard is designed to regularly bring a buffet of powerful abilities to the table.
While the other notable casting class we’ll soon be talking about has access to a feature that makes them more versatile than I was expecting, Wizards really are the masters of accessing an array of arcane arts during those tricky combat situations when you need them most. Just be sure to keep them alive.
I actually had the Bard ranked much higher than this on an earlier version of this list. Ultimately, it was just difficult to get past the fact that they were clearly not designed to be a pure combat class. Their own offensive abilities are pretty weak, and it does take a little longer for them to learn the abilities that eventually define this class in combat situations.
However, Bards can make up for their lack of pure damage and other traditional offensive options via their powerful buffs and debuffs. Once you reach a Bard’s full potential (or close to it), you’ll find that their buffs and debuffs essentially add up to make up for the hypothetical DPS role that they could occupy. Pair them with an otherwise sturdy party, and they’ll allow you to clear otherwise tough combat situations in record time.
While Bards’ unique “non-combat” role-playing abilities are clearly intended to help make up for some of their combat weaknesses, I actually do think that Bards are generally more useful in fights than they sometimes seem to get credit for.
Opinions tend to vary wildly on the Cleric class, and I can see why. For some, Clerics’ incredible healing powers and relative toughness for a support class make them an invaluable addition to any party. I’ve seen them top a few similar tier lists for that very reason. For others, Cleric’s powerful (but limited) offensive options ultimately make them slightly less appealing when you’re trying to make the most out of a limited four-spot party.
While I do think there is something to be said for the fact that the first companion you’ll likely have access to (Shadowheart) is a Cleric that you’ll level up throughout the game, I tend to lean towards the side of all the Cleric supporters out there. Being able to quickly heal yourself or a fellow party member is one of the most valuable things you can do in Baldur’s Gate 3. Since Clerics have access to some of the best heals in the game, you can almost always justify bringing one along for the ride for those times when things will get tough.
Furthermore, Clerics benefit from a sometimes underrated set of debuffs and other combat-focused abilities that can increase your overall damage output through slightly more indirect means. Don’t be put off by their “support” label. Clerics can easily hold their own through much of the adventure.
I think the Sorcerer class may be the most confusing or “misunderstood” casting class in Baldur’s Gate 3 (at least from the outset). After all, Wizards and Warlocks tend to have more defined roles in such fantasy role-playing experiences. It might take you a little while to understand the niche that Sorcerers occupy in between those two casting classes.
Once you do, though, you may find that Sorcerers are indeed the best spellcasting class in the game. On paper, Sorcerers should have access to fewer abilities than Wizards. In reality, the Sorcerer’s unique Metamagic abilities allow them to modify their spells in ways that will ensure you make the most out of the slots available to you. When you can do things like modify a powerful single-target ability to target multiple enemies…well, let’s just say that Sorcerers can eventually push a ton of damage.
Sorcerers’ incredible high-end damage potential and surprisingly useful utility abilities allow make them one of the best overall ranged/casting damage options in the game. They won’t be for everyone, but their power is undeniable.
I can’t imagine anyone is surprised to see the Fighter class near the top of a combat-focused list. If anything, you may be wondering why Fighters aren’t at the very top of this list. Well, it really comes down to personal preferences and a few factors I’ll dive into a bit more later in this list.
But yeah, Fighters are a sight to behold in most combat situations. Actually, Fighters are probably the closest thing you’ll get to a “cheat” combat class (at least in the early parts of the game). They’re easy to learn, they’re tough, they hit hard, and they can easily perform multiple actions every turn via a variety of abilities. Honestly, their ability to get so much mileage out of any turn may be reason enough to roll a Fighter and never look back if you’re mostly worried about combat.
Hell, you can even make a ranged Fighter viable if the urge to do so strikes your fancy. Unlike some other versatile classes that ultimately suffer from having too many options available to them, the Fighter’s shocking collection of combat options allows them to effectively contribute to the many fights you will inevitably get into in Baldur’s Gate 3.
Even in the earliest stages of the game, Paladins are tanky healers that have little trouble staying alive and keeping others on their feet. If you’ve ever played an RPG (especially an RPG like Baldur’s Gate 3), you’ll understand why that combination of skills is so valuable in most combat situations.
So what separates Paladins from Clerics? Well, aside from obvious skill/build differences, Paladins are certainly more durable, and they don’t technically have access to quite as many healing/support abilities (or spell slots). However, that potential drawback is more than made up for by the fact that Paladins have access to powerful party-wide healing abilities that allow you to top your companions off while absorbing an impressive number of blows.
While Paladins will never be your biggest damage dealer, they’re actually capable of dealing some impressive amounts of damage relative to their class design (especially if you decide to walk the always amusing “Oathbreaker” path). In a game where you’re often looking to get the most out of every party slot, Paladins just have so much to offer.
If we’re just talking about combat situations, then I think it’s hardest to replace what the Barbarian has to offer in Baldur’s Gate 3. It’s incredibly tough to get through Baldur’s Gate 3 without a character that has a high health pool, a lot of defenses, and the ability to deal a ton of damage in the close-ranged scenarios you will typically encounter. While Fighters fill that role nicely, Barbarians are quite literally tough to beat in such scenarios.
Barbarians start with the highest overall base health pool, which is quite generous when you consider that they also benefit from some of the best overall defenses in the game. Though the right gear can certainly elevate the Barbarian in combat, they’re not quite as gear-dependent as Fighters are due to their high natural defenses/stats. It takes a lot to take a Babarian down.
More importantly, Barbarians are a truly aggressive class. They can not only charge at enemies in situations where other classes are more dependent on the perfect position, but they will punish enemies for getting too close to them. Given how many enemies in the game try to close the gap against your party, it’s so nice to have a combat class that thrives when they’re forced to go toe-to-toe.
Again, that’s the biggest advantage of the Barbarian class. Many fights will end with you in melee range at some point, and Barbarians are exceptional melee combatants by the very nature of their core design. It’s almost always worth rolling out with one, and you can easily justify starting the game as a Barbarian if you’re worried about surviving early, mid, and late-game battles.