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One might wonder why you should care about the ramblings of a lone weirdo on the forum on the writings of a game. The answer is that you really shouldn't, but I am going to rant anyway. Spoilers ahead. The Good: -The humor in this installment lands much more gently, with some surprising amount of wit. Rather than going for the random humor of DOS2 or the innuendos of PoE1, Deadfire experiments with character and incidental based jokes. Now, it doesn't all work, but I was surprised to find myself grinning during several points. There are issues with the fact that there is so many jokes throughout the game (we will return to this later), but still I applaud how Obsidian was able to improve in this area. -Less exposition dialogue is leveled at the player. While what exposition is still incredibly awkward, the hyperlink system drastically decreases problems in this area. -Integrating player choice from PoE1 and character creation is fantastic and often surprised me. Individuals noticed I was a glowing blue god-woman! The Mixed: -Going back to the humor section, I need to state that while the level of writing was improved here it still often felt out of place. Not every character needs to be wisecracking, or making light of moments the narrative wishes to take seriously. Also, the inclusion of the DA2 idea that one should be able to make a joke no matter the situation again downplays any potential dramatic tension. For example, being able to casually mock Eothas or the other gods steals much of those scenes' gravitas. -Side quests are a real mixed bag here. On one hand there, missions that take advantage of the interesting world that Obsidian has made here, such as the Circle or Animancer tasks. Others manage to present an interesting atmosphere, coupled with great dungeon design to communicate mood, like Paradise in the Mind. However, most fail to engage, taking advantage of neither lore or character, and avoiding any connection to the central themes of the central plot. -The lack of an engaging faction system makes this fail in my hopes for a second New Vegas. While in F: NV groups would take notice of you doing quests for other groups, and would change how they would act around you, nothing of the sort happens in Deadfire. The only reason I'm putting this in the mixed pile is because I'm impressed by the reactivity shown otherwise in the game. The Bad: -My god, companions were an utter disappointment here. Eder was reduced to a constant jokester, with a cliché of a side quest. Serefen is a walking, talking pirate trope, that has an unearned attempt at pathos. Xoti switches from fanatic to serial killer/ devout priestess with littler warning or buildup, and speaks in a most grating voice. Maia is just as bland as her brother, with a quest that feels like a complete "Gotch-Ya." Pallegina and Aloth are...fine, but that’s it. Tekehu was never put in my party, so maybe he is well-written, but from the rest of the crew I somewhat doubt it. Say what you will about the unevenness of PoE1's cast, but they were united by both theme (memory, moving on, and rage with fate <except for Kana [damn it Kana]>). Deadfire's cast is much more disparate, and seem disconnected from whatever story the game wants to tell. -Romance is a complete afterthought here. I romanced Xoti, and there was maybe 3 lines of dialogue referencing it? Not to mention the epilogue doesn't change regarding the fact that I apparently entered a relationship with a mass murderer. From the videos I saw online, the others don't seem to be that much better. The only one that seemed fine was Aloth, but again, that just means its fine. -The much-hyped companion system really didn't amount to much of anything, just another dialogue or two. Pity, because the pitched reactivity of it seemed fascinating. -I was hoping that in the sequel Obsidian would be willing to engage with the more unique aspects of its setting. I would love to see more about the philosophy of reincarnation, the modernization of the world, or the conflict between sects. However, we really didn't get any of that. I truly don't understand why the team would go through all the effort of creating this whole setting, if they don't intend to make use of it. -Much has been said elsewhere of the pointlessness of the main plot, about how it is indecisive on whether to focus upon the conflict in the archipelago, or the whole god angle. Likewise, it has been written upon how the story doesn't need you in anyway. Others have even gotten to how the final act seems like it was written under an incredibly tight deadline, and resource shortage. Still, I feel like I most note that yes, the storyline here does feel too short, too meandering, and lacking substance. While I don't agree entirely with Rock-Paper-Shotgun's assessment of the game, I do feel that the game does attempt to hold its subject matter at arm's length. -One often forms attachments from the idea of "What-if," but that is honestly how I feel about the sidekicks. Most of them seem like they could have connected so much better to the main plot, then the companions we did get. Ydwin hints at end-game revelations, is a race we haven't had yet in the series, and would have helped engage with the lore of animacy. Rekke is the perfect way to help explain things to new-comers to the series, and hints at the potential future of the series. Given how intent the writers were at making constant jokes, Konstanten, from the little we see of him, is a character who just wants to enjoy himself, and would have given us a FREAKIN DWARF!!! Fassina has ties to the Circle (and thus the upcoming DLC). I know the grass is always greener on the other side, but I still feel like what we get glimpses of is so much better than what we got. -Some points of reactivity are more frustrating than anything else. For example, why is there no conversation tree with Mahena? -The big twist of the last game was Iovora's revelation that the gods were all "fake." It changes a ton of how one perceives the plot, as well as being important to Eothas' endgame. So why are we not able to talk about this with people. Surely, the Circle or Xoti or Nemnok would be interested in this? It is just somewhat infuriating. -The opening to the game is awful. No walking around our Caed-Nua? No establishing of tone, place, or theme? Instead, we are just thrown into an awkward, although pretty, cinematic that raises more questions than are ever answered. Completely Pointless, Unwanted, and Unqualified Advice: -There are hints that the next game will be set on Rekke's continent, with their unknown GOD. Please don't go with this route. No one likes a third act antagonist. -I see no way to continue any of the romance options from this game into another, apart from Aloth. The rest of them are way to tie in this game's location and story to provide much identity elsewhere. I know it sounds vicious, but I would greatly recommend killing off all of them, except pretty Aloth, at the beginning of the next game. It is the only way I can see around this issue. -Work at integrating your world with the next game. There is so much potential here, it is a pity to see it squandered so. -Tone down the humor. It is a great way to take care of the tension, but that is what it should be used for. Too much of it, and the whole thing gets icky. -Expand on your companion stories. These are what people come away from rpgs with the most love for, so add more content to them. Maybe multiple quests? Final Notes: -I know that this whole thing comes off as a whining, poorly written tirade, but believe me when I say that I really did like Deadfire. The combat changes are great (although it is a little easy), the game is gorgeous, and there were occasional moments that I was blown away by. The thing is being that I was expecting a better game narratively than the first. I gave that one a pass, because there was a ton of potential there. The characters were joined in some pretty cool motifs, the background was unique, and side quests were varied. Everything seemed like it was laying out a great foundation for the future. When I played White March for the first time, I thought I had been proven right in this sense. I was blown away by the expansion. Great plot, side quests that felt meaningful, smartly written companions, and a story that was head-and-shoulders above the base game. I was left with a strong feeling of optimism for the next installment, and thus happily back Deadfire when it became available. After completing it however, I just feel sad. It is a game split between wanting to do its own thing, emulating its inspirations, and imitating its predecessor. There is just such a sense of dissonance. -Some say that PoE2 reminds them of BG2, although I'd argue it is much more BG1 with its emphasis on open space and exploration. What the game really reminds me of is Dragon Age: Inquisition. Both Deadfire and DA: I feature sudden, nonsensical openers, that really should have been expanded on. Both have companions that feel like they're only half there, falling mostly into simple tropes. Both have a massive world to explore, but only with a few things of interest in it. Both have an antagonist that feels out of place. Both are games that do little to expand upon the overarching plot of the series, but instead set up future installments. However, Dragon Age redeemed itself in the eyes of many with some phenomenal DLC. Here's hoping Pillars of Eternity: Deadfire can do the same.