A big Bard's Tale 4 update adds grid movement, save anywhere, and respeccing

InXile Entertainment has rolled out a major update for The Bard's Tale 4: Barrows Deep that brings a host of new features to the old-timey dungeon crawler. Collectively known as "Legacy Mode," the changes include the promised grid-based movement with selectable free or fixed camera, a save anywhere option, character respeccing, and toggles for gameplay options including waypoint display, automapping, and auto-resurrection. 

The grid-based movement mode is still in beta, "but rather than holding back for longer we wanted those of you who are passionate about this feature to try it out and let us know what you think," inXile wrote. It also warned that enabling the feature in a saved game prior to patch 4 will result in many NPCs not looking directly at you while you're moving. The developers adjusted NPCs to better align with the grid, but propagating that through existing games would require wiping NPC save data. 

"That would reset things such as their inventory, which we wanted to avoid at all costs," inXile wrote. 

The updated save feature is accessible from the pause menu, and quicksaves and loads using the F5/F9 keys are also available. When the feature is enabled, however, luckstones are disabled, meaning that they can't be consumed for bonus experience. 

A new Legendary difficulty setting has been added, and for the truly hardcore there's also a new permadeath mode that, once enabled, cannot be turned off for a run. "This mode is only for the bold. If your entire party is incapacitated, your save file is permanently deleted," inXile explained. "Don’t say we didn’t warn you."

A large number of bug fixes and gameplay changes have been made as well, including a big nerf to Rogues that reduces both the range and duration of their Infiltrator ability: Previously, a single Rogue with the ability could hide the entire party for three turns, but following the patch they'll be reduced to hiding a maximum of two party members for just one turn. 

"This was done because Infiltrator passive was simply negating too much damage, and there were plenty of ways for the party to effectively deal damage in that time (like Razors Strop or Meditate) that wouldn’t reveal them," inXile said. "Hopefully Rogues position at the start of combat, and who you choose to hide, will be more strategic, while still allowing the enemy to get hits in on some characters." 

There are some lingering known issues as well, although most of them are relatively minor, or at least rare: The game might crash if you try to save and load during the end-game credits in order to re-fight the final boss, for instance. (Fix: Don't do that.) Some major features, like a better inventory system and controller support, are still in development, and the studio is also working "a few other nice things that we can't talk about yet."   

The patch notes are available in full on Steam, where The Bard's Tale 4: Barrows Deep is also on sale for 20 percent off across all editions as part of the ongoing Steam Autumn Sale.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.