Pillars of Eternity players who don't want to wait for patches to be vetted and released to the public will now be able to get their hands on them early by taking part in a new "patch beta testing" program. The program will provide advance access to updates, with the tradeoff being that they could introduce new bugs and all sorts of unexpected problems.
The beta patches are currently only available through Steam, although Obsidian is trying to figure out how to get it to GOG as well. Participants in the program will likely have to download multiple builds of patches over a testing period, and the studio warned that some of the patch betas may be unstable.
"We will be doing work on the patches and they haven't gone through a full QA cycle so unexpected things can happen," Lead Producer Brandon Adler explained. "To be safe, I would avoid using any saved games that you do not want to get corrupted. If you do want to use those saved games, it is at your own risk."
To get in on the action, quit and restart the Steam client, then navigate to the Library tab, scroll to Pillars of Eternity, right-click it, and select "Properties." From there, choose the "Betas" tab, enter "BETAPASSWORD" (without the quotes) in the access code field, and click the "Check Code" button. Finally, click the dropdown list and select "beta"; after that your Pillars of Eternity listing should have "[beta]" behind it, indicating that your game is now in the beta branch. An update should begin shortly thereafter.
The beta program will begin with the 1.04 patch, which is now in the works. Bugs in beta patches should be reported on the new Patch Beta Bugs and Support forum.