If they suddenly shift to a 6-person party - given that all encounters are presumably intended for 4-person parties - how can this not affect encounter design/difficulty? Surely encounters will be too easy so you'd need to rejig them?
Each character in a 6 person party will have 4/6 as much exp as characters in the 4-person party. Game auto-balances itself. If this doesn't do a perfect job of auto-balancing for different party sizes, Larian can adjust the exp formula for differently-sized parties.
Yes, but why are we even having this discussion? Nobody's asking for Larian to "shift to a 6-person party." That's a completely false claim. What we're asking for is the OPTION to have a 6-person party, which is fundamentally a different thing. It is an option, and people can CHOOSE whether they want to use that option or not.
When games come with multiple difficulty settings such as story, easy, normal, hard, brutal, do people actually believe the game is optimized and balanced for each of those settings? In every single such instance, the game is only balanced for the normal setting, and it is understood by EVERYONE that if you the player opts to select one of the other difficulty settings, you are essentially playing an "unbalanced" game. This is the very definition and essence of something being OPTIONAL.