I'm a long term infinity-engine / RPG fan (having played and completed all the major PC and XBox RPGs over the last decade or so), so I've been really looking forward to PoE (obviously). But, I must say, I'm seriously, seriously, seriously disappointed by this game. From a mechanical perspective, it's a great product (it looks great, works well etc.). But what on earth is going on with the story? Where is all the mystery and intrigue that made BG and BG2 such amazing games? The story presented is quite amazingly one dimensional and has totally failed to capture my interest.
Cast your minds back to heady days of 1998. I remember the opening scene of BG (some unknown character is thrown off a roof) and then my own introduction in Candlekeep and the subsequent unexplained murder of Gorion. This introduction set the tone for an intriguing mystery that would gradually unfold as I progressed through the story. My interest in the game was driven by my enthusiasm for discovering the answers to the questions I uncovered as I made my way through the world (by whom and why was Gorion killed? Who were the characters on the roof? What was wrong with the iron? How was I connected to this? What was Imoen's connection? etc., etc.). BG was a masterclass in storytelling - and that was why it was so awesome. My development as a character – and all of the necessary mechanics were more or less incidental to the primary concern – the story. Other games imitated the mechanics (appearance, rules, etc), but typically failed to recreate the suspense that made BG a great, great game. PoE has also failed in this fundamental respect.
I've played PoE for 1 hour and the following things have happened:
- I've acquired strange new power
- The mystery of those powers has been partially solved (I'm a "watcher")
- I've acquired a stronghold
- I’ve listened to and read vast reams of rambling explanation and dialogue
- I’ve completed some random, essentially meaningless, quests
Where is my reason to carry on adventuring? Where is the looming threat to my character? Where are the questions that need answers? There aren’t any. It’s all so obvious.
Seriously, lame stories are a curse on modern RPGs. Every time I hear about <the dark lord who must be defeated, my special destiny/abilities/powers that need to be fulfilled/used/harnessed, the evil that stalks the land that must be eradicated> I want to bash my head against a brick wall. Haven’t your writers read any decent novels? Every single game that uses this lame formulaic approach to storytelling is the RPG equivalent of a Michael Bay blockbuster – all style and no-substance. Take Dragon Age as a prime example – dragons don’t make a game good. Not at all. Not even a tiny bit. Get rid of all the dark lords, all the dragons and all the “earth shattering” spell effects and give me a proper mysterious story line. PoE, why have you made an isometric Dragon Age?
And no, “witty” inter-character conversations don’t compensate for a totally disinteresting storyline.
Sorry to moan. I’m holding out hope that things pick up as the game progresses – but I’m doubtful that this will happen. Interested to hear whether anyone else agrees / disagrees with my complaint. I wish this was something that developers would focus on / think of as a big deal.