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Baldur’s Gate III Patch 5 feels like fanservice and I’m conflicted

BG3's new patch adds loads of new things to see and do, but it feels less special as a result
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I tried my best to stick to my Baldur’s Gate 3 decisions and outcomes whether I liked them or not. Battles might need restarting, but when dialogue fails because of a dice roll, I’m only going to try it again if the team dies soon after.

So when demons overwhelmed Last Light Inn and gave me zero chance to prepare, Isobel was taken, and almost everyone in Last Light Inn was turned by the shadowcurse. That includes the blacksmith Dammon, who is – or was – entirely necessary in order to help mend Karlach’s heart.

That’s what made Last Light Inn falling to the shadowcurse so impactful. It meant the forest couldn’t be saved, Halsin left the party before Act 3, Karlach couldn’t be healed, and there was a blotch on the team’s otherwise spotless record of helping people.

That’s what made Karlach’s send-off so impactful. After the final battle, the team chats near the docks of Baldur’s Gate and discusses the next steps. If you haven’t healed Karlach’s heart and she’s still around, this is where she’ll depart. In my playthrough I was given the option to march into Avernus alongside Karlach, slaying demons until the very end, or I could be with her as she burns up.

A red-skinned woman with horns and pointy ears, and flames burning in her chest, is standing in a forest with a sly smile on her face

Karlach, I'll never forget you.

Both of these moments feel intensely bittersweet. Karlach quickly became one of my favorite party members, so this moment hit hard. The game was over anyway, but one of the best characters didn’t get her happy ending. Life was cruel and unfair to her, from beginning to end, and her only solace was the bond she’d made with the party in her final moments.

BG3 Patch 5 adds a new epilogue, where weird necromancer Withers will talk with you about Karlach, explaining that in another realm her soul is so bright that even the gods must shield their eyes. It’s a genuinely beautiful send-off for Karlach, a far better one than burning up on a dock. But that’s not the only thing that Patch 5 has added to the game.

Minthara feels like the most elusive character in the whole game. She can become one of your companions – one of only a select few NPCs that can – but in order to recruit her properly, you must sell out both the Druids and the Tieflings. At least, that’s the intended method – intrepid fans did eventually find their way around that.

But now you don’t even have to go that far. If you simply knock Minthara unconscious – which can be toggled on and off when using melee attacks, by the way – during the Goblin Lair section, she will later appear at Moonrise Towers, where you can save her life and add her to your party.

Shadowheart loves me and Bing Bong - nobody else.

Shadowheart loves me and Bing Bong - nobody else.

On the one hand, I truly adore the send-off my Karlach has been given, which feels much more fanciful and romantic thanks to Withers’ words. I also love that more players will be given the chance to hang out with Minthara – but I’m torn. Wasn’t Karlach’s somewhat sad death – which would’ve been lonely, if not for the Tav – kind of the point? Wasn’t the fact that Minthara could only be recruited if you committed atrocities (sans-shenanigans) kind of the point, too?

Now that she’s allowing herself to join up with people who aren’t primarily about murdering innocents, Minthara has lost a bit of her edge, and people who play through Baldur’s Gate 3 from now on will likely have more similar playthroughs than ever, now that she’s so much easier to impress.

Baldur’s Gate 3 Patch 5 feels like fanservice. If you felt bad for something that happened, it’s okay, because now there’s a happier ending available. Think Minthara is hot, but don’t want to have people be mean to you for your sins? Now there’s an official way around that, too.

Minthara can now be yours without genocide.

Minthara can now be yours without genocide.

I want to celebrate more options, but I also want some of these things to feel like lofty, almost unachievable goals. Minthara was a reward for players who were daring enough to be truly evil in a game all about choice, but now that choice isn’t actually going to be bringing you many exclusive bonuses.

I love that Larian has continued to support Baldur’s Gate III and the love the developer shows the community is incredible – Bing Bong is canon now, after all – but a patch like this doesn’t actually entice me to go back and play the game again. Instead, it makes me feel like I should’ve just waited until now to try.

There are a bunch of new choices in the game now, all available simply by doing all the things I did previously, instead of taking a chance and trying new branches. I might just kill the Tieflings anyway. For old-time’s sake.