The big decision you’re going to make when you conclude Baldur’s Gate 3 comes down to how you handle the Elder Brain. The Elder Brain is the major antagonist controlling every Mind Flayer and Tadpole you’ve encountered throughout your playthrough, and it all comes down to a final choice: do you destroy or control the Elder Brain?
The decision is likely the last one you’ll make, with the final bits of Baldur’s Gate 3 reflecting on the handful of major choices you’ve filtered through. However, everything goes up in flames with a single choice. Should you destroy or control the Elder Brain in Baldur’s Gate 3?
What Happens If You Destroy the Elder Brain in Baldur’s Gate 3?
When picking to destroy the Elder Brain, you’re putting a stop to the major antagonist for your Baldur’s Gate 3 playthrough. This can occur when the Emperor controls the Netherstones, Orpheus as a Mind Flayer, your main character, or Karlach. Should you decide to go with this route, the Elder Brain will cease to exist, tumbling into the water outside Baldur’s Gate, and the rest of the Mind Flayers will be pushed by those defending the city and the Githyanki.
Of the two choices, this does feel like the best one to make, especially if you want to see how the end of Baldur’s Gate 3 plays out. You and your party members reflect on the final decisions they’ve made for this moment and decide what to do next. Lae’zel, for example, will have the chance to face off against Vlaakith with Orpheus, or she may choose to remain with your party, away from the Githyanki Empire, and want to work to rebuild the city and forge a destiny of her own. Karlach might be dying if she did not become a Mind Flayer. Astarion might be burning in the sunlight if he did not become the Vampire Lord.
You’ll also have a chance to reflect on the game’s final moments with your cemented love interest in Baldur’s Gate 3. For my main character, they had an opportunity to speak with Karlach and what it was like to now become a Mind Flayer. Although Karlach doesn’t have the same body or emotions that she had at the beginning of the game, she’s free without the Infernal Engine in her heart, and she can now live her life as she sees fit moving forward.
What Happens If You Control the Elder Brain in Baldur’s Gate 3
Making a choice to control the Elder Brain can go in several directions. For example, if you decide to side with the Emperor and allow him to control the Netherstones, you can rule alongside him, but he will be the one in control of the Elder Brain. However, if you sided with Orpheus, set him free, and had him, yourself, or Karlach become a Mind Flayer, your characters can control the Elder Brain and unleash the Mind Flayers on the rest of the world.
For my playthrough, I had decided for Karlach to become a Mind Flayer. When I pick to control the Elder Brain, my character brutally murders Karlach in her new Mind Flayer form and assumes control of the Netherstones. The game concludes with the Mind Flayers destroying Baldur’s Gate, with my character sitting on top of the Elder Brain with the Netherstones in hand, prepared to take over the rest of the world.
This was not the ending I went with for my official playthrough, but I had to see the outcome by making this decision. Baldur’s Gate 3 does end abruptly and rolls to credits because anyone with a Tadpole or as a Mind Flayer is immediately under the control of your character and the Elder Brain. Due to the many events and choices during my playthrough, none of this made sense for my character and feels like the worst decision to make, but this might not be the case for your Baldur’s Gate 3 party.
Is It Better To Destroy or Control the Elder Brain in Baldur’s Gate 3?
This decision comes down to how you’ve played Baldur’s Gate 3 with your party. However, destroying the Elder Brain feels like the best outcome if you’d like to see some of the final decisions and lasting choices you’ll make with your Baldur’s Gate 3 party members. Here, you’ll see what new plans your companions have as they try to learn from their mistakes and what completing their quests did for them. Gale, for example, reflects on how he plans to take the Crown of Karsus back to Mystra rather than reforge it.
It’s fun to see what happens when you or your Baldur’s Gate 3 party chooses to control the brain, but it’s a much shorter choice. You only see the person holding the Netherstones sitting on top of the Elder Brain while everyone is being controlled by them, or has become Mind Flayers. It’s a much more tragic ending and not as satisfying if you were looking for closure from this truly epic conclusion of this phenomenal story.