Baldur's Gate 3 is an absurd game—and I mean that as a compliment. There's been plenty of story wonkiness in need of hotfixes and adjustment (like a very horny Gale) the fact this thing shipped with a mostly-functional beginning, middle, and end is a miracle. There's so much dang choice.
You can be a massive hero, sure—but you can also give yourself to a god of murder, go full mindflayer, or cuss out a demigod so hard she burns a 9th level spell just to wish you out of existence. Hundreds of choices, endings, and character arcs all intersecting in a 2 million word monstrosity that sounds like a nightmare to write.
With those choices comes secrets, and oh boy have we covered secrets.
If you're anything like me, you probably hid under a rock while you completed your first playthrough to avoid spoilers. In case you missed them during your hibernation, I figured I'd round up PC Gamer's favourite hidden, weird, and downright heartbreaking moments from Baldur's Gate 3.
Astarion loses it (August 25)
Even in the early days, my fellow Staff Writer Morgan Park's words here sum up the heart behind this roundup well: "I'm still surprised not just by how much good stuff I've seen, but how equally much I've missed."
Astarion has a legendary hissy-fit if you get him nuked by a sun ray in Act 1. Neil Newbon gives his all to this performance in a way that completely elevates it, which is astounding considering how rare this scene is. You need to have Astarion in your party, activate the sun lance, then let him die, revive him, and speak with him afterwards. It's just so specific.
The response when you ask Astarion why his parasite (which shields him from daylight) didn't work this time is my favourite. "Well apparently there's a limit, somewhere between a nice summer's day, and the full, concentrated power of the SUN!" You know what, fair. That's like asking someone why a kevlar vest didn't stop a cannon ball from killing them. I'd yell at me, too.
The darkest timeline (August 30)
I know I waxed lyrical about Larian earlier, but this one's less 'hey, Larian wrote something cool' and more 'it's incredible that the game allows for this brand of sadism'.
A meticulous, step-by-step playthrough guide devised by the dark mind of Sparkism on the game's subreddit, this playthrough isn't just a 'kill everyone' run. No no no, that'd be too simple. Too easy. Instead, this player decided to devise the exact way to make everyone in the game as upset, miserable, and disappointed as possible.
Some of the bullet points are so downright petty, such as: "With Laezel in the party, go to the mountain pass and speak on her behalf whenever possible." It's genuinely impressive how much of a bastard you can be. Sparkism does make sure Scratch is loved, though.
Egg drop soup (September 1)
Our own Barazhad expert Joshua Wolens went to the trouble of translating some of the abyssal runes you can select in character creation. "Barazhad characters all have English equivalents, so the studio took the opportunity to weave a few hidden messages in there."
Turns out those hidden messages are very, very silly. In the example Josh picked out, Tav's face tattoos just label different areas of your character's poor, scammed face. "Forehead" on your forehead, "cheek" for your cheek, "nose" for your nose, that sort of thing. Even the neck just says "Larian Studios" in abyssal bold-type.
Sometimes the best secrets are the ones devs shove right under your nose. In this case, that's literally what happened.
The saddest Gale (September 4)
Gale's got a bit of a problem. See, like many wizards, he pondered an orb. He pondered it so much, in fact, that it's lodged in his chest now. Waterdeep's most eligible bachelor requires a constant stream of magic items to feed it, or he risks cratering a good chunk of the Sword Coast like a nuke.
Issue is, it'd be unfair to have him explode without warning, so Larian had to figure out an alternative.
Turns out, if you just never speak to him—to the point where he can't even tell you about his condition—Gale leaves you the world's most heartbreaking letter and bounces.
Karlach becomes self-aware (September 17)
The most bizarre dialogue on this list, and potentially the whole game. As far as I can tell, this is only really possible through some coding sorcery. Regardless, Karlach has a fully-animated, voiced, and programmed scene where she crashes through the fourth wall, as our weekend editor Jody Macgregor puts it, "like the Kool-Aid Man".
What starts out as an innocent chat about a unique spell she learned quickly devolves into a haunting plea, where Karlach begs you to tell her whether you're having fun. The over-the-shoulder camera changes to a Bethesda-esque view, with Karlach baring deep into your soul. If you say yes, she seems so relieved it's like you just stayed the executioner's axe. Spooky.
Back it up, now make it die (September 18)
Back in September, YouTuber Proxy Gate Tactician went on a surgical murder spree to see just how many layers Larian added to make sure you won't bungle its story by killing the wrong NPC. Especially since, with the exclusion of (most, non-goblin) children, you can slay anyone.
For instance: if you kill the goblins threatening the druid grove in Act 1, but murder Zevlor before he can give you an invite to the afterparty, he'll be replaced by a tiefling named Asharak. Kill Asharak, and Cerys will do it instead. That's two whole extra scenes of written, recorded dialogue just to account for an itchy trigger finger.
Our senior editor Robin Valentine was flabbergasted enough by this to write it up, and I certainly don't blame him, but I'd feel bad if I didn't spotlight one of my favourite backups Robin missed: Quill Grootslang.
This lovely dragonborn Bard only shows up if you play the Dark Urge origin, then kill Alfira before she's meant to show up at your camp. Grootslang isn't just a throwaway, either—she has this adorable throat singing segment that's genuinely hilarious. Here's a clip of her, courtesy of YouTube channel Daedric Giant.
What happens to her afterwards? Don't think about it.
Scratch that (September 21)
Sometimes you have to do bad things to get to the bottom of a story, like kill a digital dog. This is an instance so rare that it didn't hit wider public knowledge until large portions of the script were datamined.
If Scratch dies (which basically only happens if you murder him in camp), every single character has unique, heart-breaking voice lines for when you throw his ball. Even the most stoic and morally compromised characters are torn up about it. Astarion sounds like he's on the verge of tears, and even Minthara remarks that she "liked the dog."
Anyway, here's evidence for my crimes. I will not see the light of heaven.
Shadowheart's skincare routine (October 15)
This one was picked out by our associate editor Ted Litchfield, and documented by YouTube channel Headline_Olympics. While the lifespans between races vary wildly in Baldur's Gate 3, the game rarely brings this up. However, a throwaway line by Shadowheart: "forty years of my life, documented like I was some sort of specimen" completely ambushed the game's subreddit. She's how old?
According to D&D's player handbook, half elves can live for over 180 years—though they reach adulthood about the same time as us. While this is a funny quirk of fantasy worldbuilding smashing up against Shadowheart's presentation, it's actually a tragic line.
Shadowheart acts like she's in her mid twenties, sure, but that's only because so much of her memories—experiences that would mature anybody else—have been stolen by Shar and locked away. You can make jokes about her absurd skincare and workout routine, but if you look any closer, this line loops right back around and gut-punches you with some fantastic backstory writing and character development.
Dark Urge vs. Bank Teller (November 21)
And now we come to the present day. Once again, this is an entire hilarious, well-written, and clever exchange that's relegated to both a specific origin character.
The Dark Urge is technically a part of Bhaal's family, which technically has property under Baldur's Gate, if you can call an unholy temple hewn in the undercity "property". Try to make good on that, though, and Head Clerk Meadhoney will 'nu-uh' you back into the hells with a mix of bureaucratic wit and smugness. YouTube channel Witch'n Crafts captures this fantastic moment in all its glory, reminding you to never mess with the fantasy IRS.
I doubt this instance will be the last surprise Baldur's Gate 3 has in store for us, though it can't stay that way forever. While that 2 million word script is massive, the famously lengthy fantasy series The Wheel of Time clocks in at around 4 million, and people've read it. I'd like to know where they had the free time to do so, but they've done it.
With thousands of gamers dedicated to digesting this story, there'll be a day where Baldur's Gate 3 has been fully explored. Until that day comes, though, I'll be here. Appreciating the absurd nooks and crannies that have been stuffed into this game's long and winding road. I'll also be thinking about Quill Grootslang, who I should be allowed to save, damnit! Give me Grootslang or give me death.