I hope this will be the most honest of all critics. I will try to stay fair. This wont be a feedback only for the beta patch so i hope you will still think about it, even if i didnt answer to your questions directly.
First i would like to clarify i only would like to give feedback to the game itself, not to your community work.
In my opinion i realy like you want to communicate with us, this is not mandatory for every developer.
But there is little to say about because so many things are kind of obvious and i dont want to waste your reading time.
I am one of the older players who waited ages for another game like Baldurs Gate and i expected very much.
The plot is realy great. I enjoyed every quest and the art the game implemented the story. It was fascinating and in most quests the atmosphere was believable. In my opinion the story was great but the influence i have on the story was little. But thats okay. I know people expect more of an old fashioned RPG but in my opinion this doesnt need to be. There is only one thing which disappointed. I realy disliked the end of the game. It was sudden, not epic enough, even the big hall didnt change the atmosphere. The fight and the end wasnt very satisfying and the end felt like an open end. Was it ment to be so? I dont know. It was way to sudden. Way to many open questions at the end. The Addons didnt continue the main story so i am still wainting how to fill the emptiness of the end.
This game is beautiful. It has a lot details, nice plot about the way of magic and souls of people (it is difficult to explain in english because i am german). I realy enjoyed the main idea behind the game. But thre can still be details to mention i missed alot.
With Baldurs Gate it was easy to implement all the atmosphere because DnD has its own tons of material in books and the pen & paper version.
Pillars of Eternity is a completely new universe and every detail needs to be done all by yourself. This is a very big task and very difficult to accomplish. The effort to adapt a dnd similar universe is difficult. You need your own identy while you want to focus on the older clients.
DnD can be summorized it its roots and basics f.e.
- Monstermanual <- tons of Monsters, all very "fairytailish"
- Adventureing and still every thing is very "classical" there knights, castles, dungeons and dragons of course, typcial races, tons of weapons and armor, typical classes. Dnd is nothing realy "special" itself.
But you need to have an own identity. You did very well so far. But in Detail your magic system is not very creative. To be honest, it is realy realy bad. I will explain in detail in gameplay. Also your monsters are neither very creative nor you were able to implement all of the classical types of monsters. So you had to have alot "human" villains. This is sad. Same problem for Dragon Age by the way. To create a dense atmosphere with interresting "Monsters" or "Villains" you could have to think more about different ways. In generall every fairy tail monster you may think about or create yourself could have an human mind, able to speak etc. So not every villains need to be animals or dragons or ghosts...
I wish i would be part of your team, i could do quite a lot creative things :D Probably an own villain race would be great.
Dragon Age did it by implementing the dark breed.
Also your religion and gods are not baked out very well. I missed the temples, i missed the sidequests for priests. I missed the deepness in why or when do certain people certain things depending on their prejudice which is very common in a mediavel fantasy world. That was great about Baldurs Gate, there were always some weird fanatics around any corner doing weird stuff because they realy believed in it.
The Adventuring is quite great but there is always to much reasoning for exploring things. I think more "unknown" locations would be great for our curiosity. In most open world games i play i realy enjoy to travel somewhere unexpected just to look whats going on there. This is why we are adventures. We are curious. The home castle of pillars of eternity is of course very great. i enjoyed it so much. But i missed the epic moments in this game. There is no epic capital city. No epic army. Even the main thread is more "secret" and you feel more like some kind of a "adventuring special ops team" than a team of a bunch of heroes honorized by the world. I didnt have the feeling in this game to feel realy like a great person. Even my charackters destiny felt so weak somehow. Also the most items, even the crafted ones, felt so "regular".I always missed the aspect of items beeing very special or rare. There wasnt a story behind the items itself. There was no "sword of the king forged in the halls of the dwarves with magical steel, in family for 1000 years and epic and mighty" I cant remember ANY item, i was realy proud of. The items have no soul, no identiy. To be honest, i just didnt care less about it...
I realy enjoyed a classic rpg with pausing and managing tactics. The idea is not new and i realy like you didnt try to reinvent the gameplay itself. Because it is alreay a good genre and i think people who bought pillars of eternity do exactly want this type of gameplay.
But there are very big shots in detail you did honestly bad.
Half of the gameplay is only a comparision of "damage i deal" and "damge the enemy deals" and probably a little bit "how tough am i"
But this game is so weak in tactical gameplay. I tried and experimented so much what is possible what can i get out of this game.
The problem is, the buff system, the very very few crowd controll spells, the useless healing spells...
In the end, only dmg matters. And this sucks. The most spells are damage spells with different values and different shapes. Some Aoe, some not. Some good, and some bad. Thats the problem. We dont need 10 damage spells, if 2 are best and 8 we will never use anyway. I dont need crowd controll or buffs, if i just shoot the hell out of everything. I dont need a knight fighting in the front, if my team of ranged fighters destory anything easily.
I didnt even use controling spells. This is realy bad. I feel like the possible diversity is ruined by its completely uselessnes.
Also there is no realy thinking about what and how to do. It is made for dumb people. There are so many "fake" selection of tactics and skills because it is way to obvious which spells and which tactis are way more better.
But there still is hope. You realy have to rework the whole gameplay, if you care about creating the best rpgs possible. I know the fighting gameplay is not important for many rpg players because they focus on the story. But charackter creation, planing level ups, chosing certain skills, create tactics and ideas is important for all the more intelligent players of rpgs and i think this genre is played by intelligent players alot.
I will just throw in some ideads which could help. I dont want to spend to much time right now but i only what to show a direction:
Many different types of elemental enemys with recognizable immunitys to certain types of magic or weapons.
This is important to make the player have a wider repertoire on skills and items.
- an Iron Golem completely immune to most types of items and magic. To beat it, you realy think about how to do. Probably some very little hints in the game you can find out. Probably a special tactics ore special wand or magic is necessary.
- diversity in very slow or very fast enemys, you probably need to create an ambush, maybe use traps to slow down very fast monsters.
Maybe you will need crowd control
- area damage MUST damage your team aswell on EVERY diffulcties. This is very important for your tactics. You have a powerfull fireball? Dont throw it on yourself. (would be good vs slow enemys, bad vs fast enemys)
- Invisible and illusional things you need to dispell
- very powerfull buffs you can do very little and need to dispell on enemys.
- more nasty aggro. Archers will try to kill your spellcasters f.e.
- melee fighters need more "practical" ways to fight. They cannot cast "overpowered" spells. So charging, stunning, defending etc must become very tactical. How about a shield able to block an odem of a dragon. Or a magical barrier absorbing arrows for your team?
- way more crowd control and practical spells.
- more spellcombos. eg freeze an enemy, shutter it with a sledgehammer. Paralyse your foes and strike critical hits with a bow to them. Make them asleep to ambush them with a rogue. Give your cleric an holy spell everytime he strikes with his sword, he will heal the group. Combine it with haste spells, so he will attack faster and heal the group way better. Give your cleric an even faster weapon , or maybe to weapons, so he will break out of classical concepts of regular clerics. Why not? A villain wants to attack you i n a narrow corridor with his spells? Summon a bunch of tough demons in front of him. Who said that it must be, that spells are able to pass through them?
- Use the sorroundings, electrify water, fire an fire arrow on a oil trap you planted for an ambush.
- New threads, poison, sleeplessness, madness and many more
I realy missed the preparation of battles in this game. Once i found out an effective playstile, this game was a piece of cake and i hope pillars of eternity 2 will have more atmosphere, deeper universe and more diversity in combat.