I have seen many posts praising new factions and there is a lot to like in there. All four of them are well developed, with detailed backstory and with multiple representations throughout the Deadfire. Each of them have a companion to represent them and have a lengthy chain of well designed quests.
How Deadfire handles its factions is in many ways similar to New Vegas. The political scene of Deadifire makes up the majority of games content and choosing with whom the player will ally with (if at all) is probably the most important choice in the game. Who will become your antagonist depends on that choice. That’s right, while Eothas might be the one who starts you on your journey, it is the fight before you confront him, which is the true resolution of this games conflict. It is a big deal – you face a major faction representative, with whom, most likely, you interacted for the big chunk of the game and you will have to kill one of the companions who traveled with you for tenths of hours (or from what I understand: you should have to. In my personal playthrough I managed to not kill said companion by now talking to her after making my faction choice, From what I have heard others a just as easy to exploit).
Unfortunately, it doesn’t feel nearly as impactful as I am making it sound like and, as I believe, it should be. While there is a pretty elaborate combat sequence before reaching Ukaizo it isn’t quite the same as charging the enemy in the battle for the Hoover Dam in New Vegas. The final confrontation with the faction leader feels more like an afterthought, rather than a climax – perhaps it might be redeemed with a better difficulty, but personally I feel there is just not enough buildup to really allow this moment to properly pay off.
However, I think that the weakness of this finale comes from fairly inconsequential faction and relationship system. In New Vegas the conflict between factions was active and present everywhere you went and you were part of it. The choices you made throughout the game – both following certain quest paths and by making mechanical choices (like killing members of certain faction) influenced your standing with various faction in both story and gameplay. This lead to said faction responding: either granting you access to their hideouts and helping you in wilderness or becoming unfriendly and later hostile and even sending bounties after you. Choices you made throughout the game actively allied you with certain faction, making the finale the result of your entire journey, rather than a single choice.
While Deadfire has means to achieve a similar effect, it never utilizes it. While many of the quests will force you to favour one faction over the other, I didn’t notice my choices being reflected in the faction system. The following screenshot is taken from my “on the crossroads save” – all of the sidecontent completed with only the final choice and Ukaizo left to complete.
How is my standing with all of the factions so high, in spite of my actions hurting some of them? I made a lot of choices against Royal Deadfire Company and yet, none of it is reflected. Only Principi ended up at “mixed” though outside one or two token reactivity in conversations it had little effect on my interactions with them. Even better, here is my standing after making the choice: allying with Valians, blowing up RDC’s powder reserves and lying to the Queen (while RDC might have been unaware of my actions, queen wasn’t).
Nothing has changed. While hand crafted content might not support such flexibility, a worldmap is a perfect space to react to your choices – unsatisfied faction trying to raid your ship, you raiding faction ships affecting their reputation, friendly ships coming to your aid, ambushes in the city etc. Unfortunately, world map is static and shares no connection with the rest of the game, even though many ship claim to represent one of the four factions.
Similar problems can be seen among companions – before and after the choice:
I didn’t go out of my way to appease all of my companions. And yet as a character who didn’t respect the Gods, was fairly unsupportive to RTC and vocally supportive of Valians, trade and animancy I didn’t step on anyones toes. As a matter of fact, I was pairing companions with opposite worldviews (Pallegina+Maia, Takehu+Maia, Serafim+Pallegina) and yet I didn’t see any disagreement there.
Your choice of faction should have repercussions earlier in the game and get reactions from both companions and factions. The final choice should be a natural extension of the previous adventure and not artificial “which ending slide do you prefer” choice, it is right now.
It is probably unrealistic as expansions are planned already, but what I would much like to see is an expansion which would focus on core mechanics of the game. I feel that the way faction and companions interact with each other is in need of a major overhaul to make the story that is already in the game effective.
Edited by Wormerine, 22 May 2018 - 12:35 PM.