Larian Studios recently announced it would be altering some aspects of Baldur’s Gate 3’s ending in order to flesh out parts that some fans (rightfully) argued felt a bit undercooked compared to everything that preceded them. The first of these updates came out today, August 31, as part of the game’s second big patch, and it centers on Karlach, the Tiefling Barbarian party member whose ending felt especially abrupt in its initial iteration. Having seen the revisions, I’m pretty happy with what Larian’s added.
Karlach’s storyline revolves around her mortality, as the infernal engine in her chest is slowly but surely burning her alive. Depending on your choices and whether or not you’ve completed certain questlines, Karlach can either turn into a Mind Flayer and shed the engine entirely, return to Avernus (one of Dungeons & Dragons’ layers of Hell), or accept her fate and die after the final battle. Initially, the Avernus path seems to be the closest thing to a happy ending, but Karlach very much does not want to go back to a place where she’ll likely be hunted.
The silver lining has been that if the two of you are in a romantic relationship, you can accompany her to Avernus in hopes that she can buy herself some time to find another way to save her life. However, in the original ending, you would make this decision, the game would cut to black, and then the credits started rolling. It was abrupt, not at all satisfying, and felt odd considering most other characters got some kind of epilogue.
Karlach’s new scene if you go down this path isn’t quite as fleshed out as some other party members’ epilogues, with zero back-and-forth between her and your protagonist. Instead, Karlach does all the talking. But this new sequence does, at the very least, give you a slight glimpse into what she and your character will be doing in the immediate future: kicking ass in Avernus alongside Wyll, who can choose to fight for Avernus in his own personal quest.
You can check out the full scene here:
This is definitely an improvement from the non-ending she got in the base game, but it will likely not satisfy anyone looking for a way to definitively save Karlach from her fate. Sure, there’s hope that your team might find some solution for her condition as long as she’s alive, but I think some fans wanted a more clearly happy ending for her.
I get it. RPGs like Baldur’s Gate 3 inherently make us care for characters because we feel like we can touch their lives (and vice-versa) with our choices and relationships. But I do think Karlach’s worrying potential fate is paramount to what makes her so effective as a party member. The scene in which she breaks down after the death of antagonist Gortash, who pretty much put her in her predicament, is one of my favorite moments in the game because it plays into themes of grief and fatalism that permeate through the story. It would feel cheap to simply erase that just for a more feel-good ending. I like the ambiguous hope of the current Avernus ending better than a more overtly happy one. It ends with her resolve hardened and more paths before her, and I think that’s a powerful note to end on.
Karlach’s new ending is the first of Larian’s planned ending updates, so it will be interesting to see what Baldur’s Gate 3’s wrap-up looks like after a few more patches. I’m pretty satisfied with the conclusion I got as a Gale romancer, but broadly, the ending feels a little bit rushed, and could benefit from some filling out in the months to come.