The tech experts at Digital Foundry have taken a look at Act 3 of Baldur’s Gate 3 in an attempt to explain why PCs appear to be struggling to handle it.
Larian’s sprawling Dungeons & Dragons-themed adventure is as dense an RPG as they come, a game packed with detail, NPCs, and areas to explore. As the game nears its third weekend, more and more players are hitting Act 3, with some reporting an increase in bugs and performance issues.
Light spoilers for Baldur’s Gate 3 Act 3 follow.
But why? According to Digital Foundry’s Alex Battaglia, it has to do with Baldur’s Gate, the setting for Act 3. This large city is packed with NPCs, which adds “considerable” burden to the CPU. This makes other issues worse, too.
“One of the quirks of this heavier performance in Act 3 is that movement makes the game visibly heavier on the CPU,” Battaglia said in analysis published on Eurogamer and YouTube. “In one particular static scene, I noted a 90fps frame-rate on a Core i9 12900K, but just moving the character around in mini-circles hit performance by 20 percent, even though the view and amount of objects on-screen is essentially the same. The frame-rate is lower, but more pertinently, frame-times are spikier.” Camera transitions into cutscenes in Act 3 also struggle, given the higher CPU burden.
But the biggest issue is stutter, Battaglia said, triggered when frame-times increase dramatically. The earthquakes in Baldur’s Gate make matters worse, causing “large spikes to frame-time”. Add fancy spells, multiple summons, and visual effects to the mix in combat (RIP sorcs), and you have a recipe for performance disaster.
Unfortunately it sounds like there’s not much the player can do about this. “At the absolute lowest settings, one can see how the average performance is lifted by just around 14 percent,” Battaglia explained. “Frame-times are a bit less erratic, but all those earthquakes still cause big frame-time spikes, and now you’re losing a lot of the visual splendour thanks to the hit to level of detail. Can Vulkan help here? Not really, I was a seven percent performance hit – DX11 remains the best way forward.”
Digital Foundry calls on Larian to do more work to improve performance generally, and particularly during Act 3. With over 1,000 fixes and tweaks set for Baldur’s Gate 3’s first patch, perhaps performance improvements are coming.
There’s a lot happening in the world of Baldur’s Gate 3. There’s an ongoing community debate about save scumming, and a group of players who are convinced they can “fix” Shadowheart. And let’s not forget Baldur’s Gate 3’s ‘Owlbear From the Top Rope’, which deals enough damage to take down pretty much anything.
Wesley is the UK News Editor for IGN. Find him on Twitter at @wyp100. You can reach Wesley at email@example.com or confidentially at firstname.lastname@example.org.