Christmas miracles are rare, they are beautiful, and with Patch 5 of Baldur’s Gate 3 out now, they have come early. Patch 5 is a massive update that adds new difficulty modes, patches a notorious slowdown bug, lets you wear armor that gives the Wavemother’s Robe a run for its money, and gives the adventurers of Faerûn what they’ve been clamoring for: a big-ass party with all their friends.
I could jump right into the biggest changes coming with Patch 5, but with one specific quality-of-life update, the addition of new game modes or new epilogue scenes feels inconsequential in comparison.
“Patch 5 introduces a huge quality of life update in the form of improved inventory access,” read the community update for Baldur’s Gate 3. “Now while in camp, you will be able to manage the inventory of companions who are not in your active party without having to recruit them first - all from one single UI.”
The developers at Larian Studios have been pretty good at listening to player feedback and implementing asked-for changes. (Why else do you think Astarion keeps getting his kissing animations tweaked?) But it still feels amazing when something you yourself have asked for, begged for, screamed for, gets added. I can’t tell you how much time I spent cycling through each party member’s inventory, going through the tedious process of dismissing members and adding new ones, all while thinking, “Where the hell did I put that weapon?” That time-wasting frustration is no more. The energy I feel behind this simple implementation is enough to power my home for the next year.
There are lots of smaller updates like this one that improve performance and smooth out the rougher, crunchier bits of gameplay friction that made this otherwise amazing game a bit unwieldy to manage. Check out the full list of patch notes here.
Narratively, Patch 5 adds an epilogue whereby you and your party can meet up six months later to reflect on your journey. According to Larian, “Your epilogue is defined by you. This is the culmination of every choice and consequence that you’ve made since the very start of your adventure, a gigantic tree of permutations that leads to an opportunity to reflect on that journey before you say goodbye.”
I haven’t loaded my game yet to see, but the description feels very much like the Citadel DLC for Mass Effect 3 in which Commander Shepard was able to have so many beautiful moments with their best friends before the final fight. The characters you’ve met will leave you letters, some will show up in camp, and everybody will get fancy party clothes that I can’t wait to see.
Speaking of party clothes: “Orin’s outfit now drops as loot and is wearable by anyone. We also gave it a suitably disgusting description and name.”
I cannot wait to see the crab armor clip through all of Halsin’s muscles. Hats off to Larian. It truly does have its finger on the horny pulse of its fans.
If Tactician Mode wasn’t hard enough, Larian’s added two new difficulty modes that allow players to customize their Baldur’s Gate 3 experience and make it much harder. Custom Mode has options that can make Baldur’s Gate 3 play more like a traditional Dungeons & Dragons game. There are options to obscure the value needed to successfully pass ability checks and enemy health totals. It also offers the ability to turn off enemy critical hits and have short rests fully restore party health.
Honour Mode, however, seems to make the Tactician difficulty seem like a walk in the park. Not only will enemies hit harder, use more advanced spells, and special Legendary Actions but the mode also introduces permadeath with a special reward for those who can complete the game deathless.
“When you inevitably die in Honour Mode, you’ll be presented with statistics from your journey, including how long and how far you survived,” Larian wrote on its Steam Community page. “Should you so choose, you can continue your adventure, which will then disable Honour Mode. But players who do manage to complete the entire game with Honour Mode enabled without dying will be awarded the coveted Golden D20.”
I hope that, like the players who had their names carved into a statue of Lilith for beating Diablo IV on its hardcore difficulty, Larian will also reward BG3’s first Honour Mode winners with more than just some golden dice.
Before you dive into Patch 5, take a moment to clear out some hardware storage. Earlier today, Larian warned that the patch would be 30 gigabytes and require 130 gigabytes of space to install. (RIP, Steam Deck players.) Also, for those Xbox players still waiting, Patch 5 will ship on disk whenever the game launches on the platform, which, according to Larian, should be soon.