Skip to main content

Balatro is getting just a little bit easier in the next patch, and you can try it now

Beta branch now in public testing with heaps of balance changes

High-scoring cards popping off in a Balatro screenshot.
Image credit: Rock Paper Shotgun/Playstack

The deck-fixing roguelikelike poker of Balatro is chuffing excellent, no doubt, but my main criticism has been that the higher difficulty modes are just a bit boring. Having beat them myself, I didn't find them a fun or interesting challenge as much as an annoying one that required too much to go right. I'm glad to hear that they're being tweaked in an upcoming patch, which you can now test in a public beta on Steam, and even the lowest difficulty setting will be tweaked. Other changes include improved (hopefully) Steam Deck performance, balance tweaks, and better Joker-related Tags.

Developer LocalThunk expects to properly launch the patch in a week but you can try it in beta now. LocalThunk shared the 1.0.1c experimental patch notes on Balatro's Discord, which were then reposted to the game's Reddit board for your reading convenience. Many jokers will be buffed or depowered, so do go see what's happening with your favourites (I'll tell you what's happening with your favourite: Gros Michel "now has a 1 in 6 chance to go extinct instead of 1 in 4").

Beyond individual cards, the White Stake (base difficulty level) will become a little easier, reducing the score scaling on Ante (floor, I guess, to use a dungeon crawling analogy) 3 and 4. Climbing the difficulty ranks, Green and Purple Stakes will also reduce scaling on several Antes. Orange Stake will thankfully removing the boring problem of card packs getting more expensive each Ante, and in place give jokers "a 30% chance to have a 'Perishable' sticker, disabling them after 5 rounds." And right at the top, Gold Stake will remove the -1 hand size penalty, replacing it with a 'Rental' system which gives jokers a 30% chance to have a sticker "making them cost $1 up front and $3 every round".

I'll have to play a few hands to see how that shakes out but I like the sound of this approach to difficulty. I'll take fiendish obstacles over reduced options. Escalating prices make you customise your deck less and smaller hands make you play fewer big hands, and those are core to Balatro's fun, so I did find Orange and Gold more boring than challenging.

For me, the most interesting non-Stake balance changes are in reworking the Tags (those rewards you get by skipping non-boss battles) which affect upcoming jokers in the shop. The Uncommon, Rare, Negative, Polychrome, Holo, and Foil Tags will now make their respective jokers free, which is great. Maybe now I'll actually use more of those Tags now. After playing enough Balatro, I've reached the point of only ever taking the Negative one because a Negative joker is almost always useful. It is not worth skipping a battle (and its rewards of cash, a fresh shop reroll, and opportunities to pull tricks) just to guarantee a random Uncommon or even Polychrome joker which is likely to only be useful in the early game, and even then maybe not that useful. Making them free makes them far more useful in that situation. Nice. Good one.

I'm also glad to see buffs to the planet cards for Straight, Straight Flush, Flush House, and Flush Five hands. Working to put together Straights often doesn't feel worth the fuss, so it'll be nice to find them more lucrative before I start really cheating with fictional hands. And the first shop of every run always having a Buffoon pack, guaranteeing at least one joker, is handy too.

In technical changes, a framework update should fix a problem which caused "poor/stuttery performance" for some players on Windows and Steam Deck. And I imagine some players will welcome the new option to reduce the wibbly-wobbly animations.

If you can't wait for the patch to officially launch, right-click on Balatro in your Steam Library then select Properties and go to Betas and select "public_experimental" from the Beta Participation drop-down menu. You can then uninstall it by doing the opposite.

Katharine heaped praise upon the game in our glowing Balatro review, saying that it "reels you back in not to exploit psychological weakness, but to celebrate the inherent joy of learning, mastering and beating a system gamed around impossible odds, all while being just a teeny bit naughty in the process." And that was before she even beat it. I'm routinely smashing it myself, so I'll add that Balatro's Endless mode is perfect: a fun victory lap before you extremely die.

Read this next