Bard’s Tale 4 whopper-patch addresses some of our biggest concerns

The Bard’s Tale 4: Barrows Deep was scruffy at launch – I used that word in my Bard’s Tale 4 review – but inXile has done significant work since. Case in point: this week’s Second Sight patch, which is a whopper.

It allows you to save anywhere in the game – halle-bloody-lujah! Previously you had to wait until you reached a Luck Stone, which was a pain in the arse if your game crashed, which mine did, over and over.

Arguably the biggest thing in the patch, however, is the ability to play the game in Grid mode, like the original Bard’s Tale games. As it stands, you free-roam The Bard’s Tale 4 and then phase to grid for battles.

Grid mode isn’t finished yet and its inclusion here is in beta state. I can’t find any videos of it in action and I’ve uninstalled the game (limited storage) so I can’t quick-check it and post a screenshot for you, sorry.

Other things I’m excited about in the patch: a new top-tier Legendary difficulty; disabled enemy reactions during combat so they don’t clog the ability queue; waypoints toggle-able on the map for clearer navigation; and the ability – finally – to respec! You can use Mercenary Tokens to pay for it.

There’s permadeath now if you want it, too, although I’m not sure I do. As powerful as my group became, they could still die in the blink of an eye if there was even the slightest hiccup in my plans.

You can read more about the additions, and the many, many balance changes and bug fixes, in the full Bard’s Tale 4 Second Sight patch notes.

The Bard’s Tale 4 was released mid-September, and it struggled. It’s a deep, imaginative and charismatic puzzly role-player, but being made by 35 people on a crowdfunded budget resulted in limitations. It was buggy, it ran poorly, and it could look in one moment beautiful while in the next, ugly. In a nutshell, The Bard’s Tale 4 was no Witcher 3, and at ?28 that wasn’t a ridiculous comparison to make. InXile boss Brian Fargo talked about this when we spoke recently.

But like I said: significant patching has happened since then and the price has dropped to ?22.40, which helps. So if you’re the kind of person who likes a crossword – that kind of relaxing but taxing cerebral challenge – then keep Bard’s Tale 4 in consideration.

Of course, there’s been a major development in inXile’s world: the acquisition by Microsoft Studios. The Bard’s Tale 4 was already going to be a console game and come out some time this year, which looks a bit unlikely now, but waiting a bit longer for all the patches to improve the experience is probably a better idea.

Check out my interview with Brian Fargo about the Microsoft-inXile acquisition to find out more.

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