Baldur’s Gate III will be coming to Xbox consoles this year after all. In a tweet, Larian Studios CEO Swen Vincke confirmed that he and Xbox head Phil Spencer had found a solution to bring the critically acclaimed CRPG to Microsoft’s current-gen consoles. There’s one catch though: the game won’t support split-screen co-op on the less-expensive Xbox Series S — a feature the developer has been struggling to enable for months now, thanks to the technical limitations of the console. In fact, to maintain parity of features between Baldur’s Gate 3 on the Xbox Series S and X, Microsoft even sent engineers from their side to help out Larian.
“Super happy to confirm that after meeting [Spencer] yesterday, we’ve found a solution that allows us to bring Baldur’s Gate 3 to Xbox players this year still, something we’ve been working towards for quite some time,” Vincke’s tweet reads. The aforementioned change does not affect the regular online co-op, in which you can invite friends to help out with your campaign. However, rolling multiple characters on the same system (lower-end) is what’s causing the issue for Larian — especially, when all party members run off in four directions, start hurling spells, and stress the console. That’s a lot of on-screen activity on a single screen and in Vincke’s words from a recent interview, “That requires memory.”
All improvements will be there, with split-screen coop on Series X. Series S will not feature split-screen coop, but will also include cross-save progression between Steam and Xbox Series.
— Swen Vincke @where? (@LarAtLarian) August 24, 2023
That lack of memory has to do with Microsoft making the Xbox Series S more affordable, which naturally comes with the caveat of reduced performance. Larian confirmed, earlier this month, that the lack of an Xbox release date for Baldur’s Gate 3 wasn’t due to some exclusivity deal with PlayStation, but rather because they were struggling to maintain parity between both consoles on the Green Team. Microsoft’s policy enforces gameplay feature parity between Xbox Series S and X, so players with the lower-end console aren’t left out. As for whether Microsoft is making an exception for Baldur’s Gate 3 or lifting the rule entirely for upcoming games in the generation, remains to be seen.
Speaking to IGN, Spencer claimed that he didn’t see a world where his team was going to drop the Xbox Series S any time soon, but added that Microsoft would learn from the situation. “I don’t think you’ve heard from us or Larian, that this was about parity. I think that’s more that the community is talking about it,” he said, adding that parity between systems was more of a developer decision. “It’s a game I want to see on the platform, and we have resources that helped in terms of making sure it’s going to… I think they’ve said it’s going to ship by the end of the year.” In the tweet, Vincke also confirmed that the Xbox version will have cross-progression between Steam and Xbox Series S/X, so you can jump between platforms and continue from where you left off.
Larian Studios also dropped their promised first patch for Baldur’s Gate 3, which addresses over 1,000 bugs and balancing issues, in addition to fixing the kissing contact for shorter races. Earlier, the animation made it look like your short character, who couldn’t reach their romantic interest, was simply leaning in and kissing their chest. Now, if you’re not tall enough, your partner will kneel down to make contact. You can check out the entire list of changes on the official website. Meanwhile, the studio will continue working on a second patch, which will include ‘significant performance improvements’ (for Act 3 content, I’m assuming).