Even the processing power of PS5 can't conquer Baldur's Gate 3's notorious Act 3

 Baldur's Gate 3
Baldur's Gate 3

Baldur's Gate 3 is now on PS5, and while the processing power of Sony's console is able to handily present most of the game in line with the heartiest PCs out there, it's still no match for the game's notorious Act 3.

That's according to a new report from the tech analysts at Digital Foundry, who have found that the PS5 version of Baldur's Gate 3 runs "at or close to" the PC version's ultra settings. In fact, PS5 even seems to offer subtly better shadow quality, and its denoise filter appears to improve the game's depth of field effects, too.

Baldur's Gate 3 offers two graphical modes on PS5. Quality mode locks the frame rate to 30 FPS with a native 1440p image, and according to DF's testing, it's rock solid at that performance target - with one notable exception. Performance mode takes the frame rate up to 60 with an image that appears to be upscaled to 1440p, and while there are a handful of drops in cutscenes and dense areas, this target is also pretty solid - again, with one notable exception.

That exception is, of course, the city of Baldur's Gate itself. The location of the game's climactic Act 3, the titular city features densely populated streets with far more NPCs than any other location in the game. For many PC players whose machines were able to handle the early sections, Baldur's Gate was the one thing that could bring that same hardware to its proverbial knees.

According to DF, it's pretty much the same story on PS5. In both performance and quality modes, Act 3's densely populated urban areas will bring the frame rate crashing down, rarely hitting its intended target and often getting as low as the mid-20s range. That's not a huge problem for playability in a game with turn-based combat, but it could still prove a disappointing surprise for anybody who invests the dozens of hours needed to reach the finale. (Assuming you aren't speedrunning the game in minutes, that is.)

That might make you question why PS5 is chasing PC's ultra settings in the first place, since a lot of console ports eschew top-end graphical options in favor of more stable performance. But here, unfortunately, setting tweaks might not help much. The Act 3 performance issues seem to stem from the game's ability to handle AI for all those NPCs, which is a CPU bottleneck, not a graphical one. Graphical choices aren't likely to affect the outcome one way or the other here.

On the plus side, it'll probably take you a long time to reach Act 3, and by that time some of these performance issues might be alleviated through patches. Swen Vincke, head of developer Larian Studios, says on Twitter that the "code team is getting closer and closer to achieving the performance they originally aimed for - I think they'll manage to surprise everyone still. They're very motivated."

Even with performance issues, Baldur's Gate 3 is rivaling Elden Ring as the best-reviewed PS5 game yet.