Baldur’s Gate 3 is an excellent game. The PC version of Larian Studios’ D&D epic will easily be a frontrunner in game of the year discussions come December, and the PlayStation 5 version is a comparable experience, at least if you don’t have a beefy enough PC to run the game well. That said, it definitely has more technical troubles than the PC version, although most of what I’ve come across hasn’t been game-breaking.
Thank You, PS Plus, For Making My Backlog Even Bigger
The biggest culture shock between PC and PS5 is playing with controller, which uses the same control scheme as the one you can use on PC now. Having put over 100 hours into the game on PC with mouse and keyboard, I do find the DualSense is hurting for buttons in a game with this many actions to use and menus to scroll through, but the more time I spend playing Baldur’s Gate 3 with a controller, the quicker my mind instinctively relearns how to pull off my favorite spells, access different features, and navigate Faerûn from the comfort of my couch. Baldur’s Gate 3 still feels most sensible when you can easily point and click on the enemy you want to blow away with your Eldritch Blast, but Larian has done the best it can with the means of input it’s been given.
Combat and movement are serviceable, but I’ve had much more trouble with minute tasks like examining small items in a cluttered environment. In one of the early sidequests in Baldur’s Gate 3’s first act, my party of Mind Flayer tadpole-infected weirdos was looking through a hag’s lair and had to find a specific wand in the villain’s belongings. Combing through a desk covered in trinkets is much easier when you can just click on them, but while using a controller, it took several more button presses to just grab an item off the table. Pressing on the d-pad lets me focus on items in my surroundings and scroll through them like any other menu, but it definitely feels like an accommodation for not having a mouse to just click on things. Luckily, there is a cursor mode that lets you emulate having a mouse, but it’s not quite as precise or snappy. I definitely think anyone who is playing Baldur’s Gate 3 for the first time on console will be more than happy with these tools; I just catch myself experiencing momentary frustration with the adjustment from time to time.
Screenshot: Larian Studios / Kotaku
While playing with a controller has been an adjustment, I’ve noticed some general technical issues on PlayStation 5 that haven’t been game-breaking, but have at the very least represented a noticeable dip in performance and fidelity compared to the game’s PC counterpart. Each issue has been small on its own terms, but over time they’ve compounded to have a noticeable impact. There are some graphical troubles like texture pop-in, and elements like certain characters’ faces are just presented at a reduced level of detail. I’ve especially noticed this during some sidequests, in which even characters you get some lengthy face time with just don’t look as great as they do on PC. In that same quest with the hag, I saved a girl named Mayrina from the witch’s clutches, and had some lengthy conversations with her in which it was clear the detail on her face and hair had been scaled back a bit for PlayStation 5. These kinds of accommodations are pretty standard, and in return, Baldur’s Gate 3 runs at a pretty solid 60fps in its performance mode, though if you want something with a little bit more fidelity at the expense of framerate, that option exists as well.
The more questionable issues have been less about general technical performance and more about a higher frequency of bugs than I experienced when playing Baldur’s Gate 3 on PC. The first was strange sound mixing in the final act. I loaded a save to play through Baldur’s Gate 3’s endgame and during some of the big climactic moments, the music was muted, and the sound effects of spells casting and swords swinging were delayed or nonexistent. It wasn’t a regular occurrence, but it was drastic enough that the entire vibe of the section was off.
Sound mixing is a weird technical flub, but it doesn’t derail the Baldur’s Gate 3 experience on PlayStation 5. The strangest, unfortunately regularly-occurring glitch I ran into was in choosing dialogue. As I jumped around saves throughout my Baldur’s Gate 3 run, I ran into a few moments where the dialogue options were broken in a way I couldn’t overcome with a dice roll. A few times I would be engaging in a conversation (luckily nothing that could devolve into hostility) and instead of giving me several options to pick a response, I’d be met with only one option: “1. Continue.” Choosing this apparently counts for a dialogue option that should be showing up, but is hidden by a bug. Every instance this has happened to me has been a minor interaction and if I reloaded a save it would (sometimes) fix the issue, but if it persists into life-changing decisions or relationship-altering moments, this could fundamentally undermine the Baldur’s Gate 3 experience. I spoke with some folks who apparently encountered this glitch sparingly on PC, but I never saw it myself, then experienced it a handful of times in rapid succession in just a few hours of playing on PlayStation 5.
Screenshot: Larian Studios / Kotaku
Whether or not you experience video game bugs, especially in a game with as many systems as Baldur’s Gate 3, is often about luck. I had a relatively painless experience playing Baldur’s Gate 3 on PC, and yet Larian was able to deploy a patch that fixed over 1000 bugs, the majority of which I’d never seen. I can’t say for sure if running into these issues on PS5 is just a poor dice roll on my part or speaks to some bugs being more prominent in this console port, but I’ve at least told Larian Studios about this specific issue, because its prevalence in my PS5 playtime is probably the biggest caveat as to whether or not I’d recommend playing Baldur’s Gate 3 on the system.
All that being said, it is a relief to finally be able to play Baldur’s Gate 3 from my couch. I’m still chipping away at my second playthrough, and being able to sit back and relax a bit as I work my way through all the quests and stories I missed the first time around is a real treat. But more than that, I’m looking forward to more people getting to experience this game. Its rougher edges on PlayStation 5 are most likely at the forefront of my mind because I’ve spent so much time playing on my decent PC, but if you were worried the console version was going to be a subpar experience, you won’t find that here.