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Critique of the faction system and its negative impact on the ending [Spoilers!]

faction system ending reputation interaction

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#1
Wormerine

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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.

I4AS6B0.jpg

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).

JMD4ly2.jpg

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:

2Lut4kv.jpg

NmalU2P.jpg

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.

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#2
GamerSerg

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My take is that each faction knows they can't accomplish their goals and get to Ukaizo without the Watcher's help so right up until you make your final choice they are each trying to stay on your good side and still hope you will choose them.  Once you make your choice the other factions do become hostile and actively try to stop you.  

 

Also, I don't think any of the factions expect you to be 100% loyal as you are an outsider and not an actual member of any of these organizations.  As long as you are doing more good than harm for their faction overall they will still see you as useful and have an overall positive reputation.

 

As for companions, Xoti and Pallegina got into a huge fight in my game over religious views and it was looking like one of them was going to leave but I was able to calm Xoti down, maybe because we had developed a relationship.   Also Tekkeu left my party because of choices I made and he sent me an angry letter about it!


Edited by GamerSerg, 22 May 2018 - 01:06 PM.


#3
M4xw0lf

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Spot on OP, my feelings exactly. Factions definitely should get angry at the player at some point (before the final showdown of course).
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#4
Wormerine

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As for companions, Xoti and Pallegina got into a huge fight in my game over religious views and it was looking like one of them was going to leave but I was able to calm Xoti down, maybe because we had developed a relationship.   Also Tekkeu left my party because of choices I made and he sent me an angry letter about it!

Yes, similarly Takehu and Pallegina had a little episode because of Takehu showing his interest in her, by dripping a religious idol into her bag. However, those are not faction related. The point I was trying to make, is that as factions are such a central part of the game, and the most important choice you will make, your companions would be a great place for those factions to clash and try to sway you towards them on a human level. I find it odd, that in spite of such opposing goals, some of the companions didn't seem to show much opposition - Pallegina and Maia in particular has been sent to support company interests. 


Edited by Wormerine, 22 May 2018 - 01:22 PM.


#5
morhilane

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One of the issue is how fast you gain disposition (which was supposed to be slowed down with 1.02).

 

I was at +2 with Maia, I took 2 pro-Huana dialogue choices in a single conversation with a NPC and I dropped at 0. It didn't took me very long to get back to 2 afterward.

 

It's the same thing for factions, I got Delver's Rows at -3 by killing the "doormen". After doing Dereo's quest, I was back at -1.


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#6
Wormerine

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One of the issue is how fast you gain disposition (which was supposed to be slowed down with 1.02).

 

I was at +2 with Maia, I took 2 pro-Huana dialogue choices in a single conversation with a NPC and I dropped at 0. It didn't took me very long to get back to 2 afterward.

 

It's the same thing for factions, I got Delver's Rows at -3 by killing the "doormen". After doing Dereo's quest, I was back at -1.

Did getting to -3 do anything?



#7
morhilane

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One of the issue is how fast you gain disposition (which was supposed to be slowed down with 1.02).

 

I was at +2 with Maia, I took 2 pro-Huana dialogue choices in a single conversation with a NPC and I dropped at 0. It didn't took me very long to get back to 2 afterward.

 

It's the same thing for factions, I got Delver's Rows at -3 by killing the "doormen". After doing Dereo's quest, I was back at -1.

Did getting to -3 do anything?

 

I think.

 

At least one of the merchants didn't want to trade with me and Rust didn't want to talk to me (checking the Wiki, I had the quest he can get involved in).



#8
Slotharingia

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I had a similar thing. I blew up the powderhouse and blamed the Vailians, lost no rep with them, but lost some with the RDC, although the latter didn't know I did it and the former were royally screwed by me (I sided with the Huana). My reputations were mostly extremely mixed pickles. Maia also didn't quit my team, and I did speak to her, it just said "she glares at you", or something to that effect. I think I found a horn to call allies to somewhere, which would suggest picking a side earlier in the game. I feel like some aspects just weren't finished and then left as is, not only factions but also companion reputations/reactions/conflicting dispositions (Aloth in particular feels like he was written during an all nighter right before his completion deadline), and player dispositions very easily result in everything or close to everything maxed out.
 
 

I think.
 
At least one of the merchants didn't want to trade with me and Rust didn't want to talk to me (checking the Wiki, I had the quest he can get involved in).

I looked it up due to your comment as I never figured out what Rust was for and missed out on all of this just by being a compulsive thief xD Anyway, having - rep with the criminals makes them charge you extra and the drug dealer won't sell you anything.


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#9
FecklessFool

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My main issue with the factions are how shallow they are. 

 

In terms of gameplay, there is no real difference between any of them because outside of quests there is no conflict between factions. 

 

Pirates are the worst at it since they don't actually engage in any piracy because they have some strange fixation with only going after the Watcher's ship. How will they make booty like that? 

 

There should be actual sea battles between factions, and actual repercussions if your ship has been sinking tons of VTC ships, not just some guy telling you how much of a meanie you are and now they won't sell you stuff.



#10
Slotharingia

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My main issue with the factions are how shallow they are. 

 

In terms of gameplay, there is no real difference between any of them because outside of quests there is no conflict between factions. 

 

Pirates are the worst at it since they don't actually engage in any piracy because they have some strange fixation with only going after the Watcher's ship. How will they make booty like that? 

 

There should be actual sea battles between factions, and actual repercussions if your ship has been sinking tons of VTC ships, not just some guy telling you how much of a meanie you are and now they won't sell you stuff.

Agree they should attack one another. It always annoys me in games when people only attack the player and not one another. There should be repercussions, but they should also only happen if it's known it was you. It makes no sense you killed some guys and no one saw it, and seconds later everyone knows it was you, same for sinking ships. Seems to me if you are getting caught somehow, it should positively affect your rep with another faction, and maybe that's why they didn't bother with it.

Then the Principi are divided, so shouldn't they have two rep meters?

You can steal stuff right in front of people's noses w/o consequences, so there seems to be no rhyme or reason to how/whether your actions are known. At the same time you can be the dogsbody of all factions and no one cares, even if you mess up their quests, intentionally or not. And while you are leading everyone on, the guy from the RDC will talk to you like you are a nincompoop if you have points in dip and benevolent xD You can piss off gods with no consequence too. Also, not using violence should make a diff, and I haven't noticed it doing anything.

Another thing, is there a point to all the copious clothes and ship flags?



#11
flamesium

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If you go to Ukaizo alone there’s no battle before reaching the island. You still get a faction rep turn up at the end - for me it was Hazanui but Maia didn’t say anything.

I can understand the factions (excluding pirates) not openly attacking each other, they aren’t at war.
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#12
FecklessFool

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If you go to Ukaizo alone there’s no battle before reaching the island. You still get a faction rep turn up at the end - for me it was Hazanui but Maia didn’t say anything.

I can understand the factions (excluding pirates) not openly attacking each other, they aren’t at war.

So you don't understand why pirates wouldn't attack merchant ships, or slavers wouldn't attack whoever? Cool. Glad we're on the same boat.

 

And yeah, the flags, and triumphs don't mean much apart from making you look cool, but what does it matter when there is no one on the high seas to see your collection since you've already sunk all named ships and it's just boring unaffiliated merchants sailing.



#13
jones092201@gmail.com

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the problems with the factions and narrative structure is this:

 

there aren't enough points where the main narrative intersects with the faction gameplay. In a game where the risen avatar of a dead god is going to alter forever the world space by meddling with the metaphysics it adheres to, everything (either directly or indirectly) must push towards resolving that conflict. If you don't keep that focus, you end up with Skyrim--an unfocused sandbox.  It is a great game, but not a particularly compelling story.

 

Deadfire falls into that all to familiar rut of a static feeling world. Eothas is going to wait on you, the factions are going to wait on you. in fact the the world will literally not end or change as long as you don't bother pushing Eothas from one scene to the next. you really want to save the world, watcher? just ignore Eothas.

 

the factions suffer from the same paralyzation. As such, there is very little meaningful reactivity in narrative/dialogue, or in game play. However I finish Poko Kohara, or Crookspur, really any faction quest, the faction's behavior doesn't change towards me or towards each other. Notably, this paradigm only changes when the main narrative compels it to.

 

When the world starts to feel static, as a player, you start to feel okay about pausing to do this side-quest or these bounties. Eventually, you're just sailing around to get levels and loot instead of immersing in the story. So all the great setup that Obsidian does-- fleshing out strong factions with well-articulated beliefs and lore, even giving them different apparel/armor and character voice-- comes to nothing because the game turns into a combat simulator (which it isn't very good at being, at the moment)

 

for a game like this to work (and they know this, because they did it well in New Vegas), there has to be a dynamic feel to faction interaction-- both narrative and gameplay. And it has to not just tie in at certain points to the main plot, but be interwoven through it. there just isn't a way around that.


Edited by jones092201@gmail.com, 24 May 2018 - 10:32 AM.

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#14
Wormerine

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I don't think factions attacking each other (and you) out in the sea would be unthinkable. While Neketaka might be a space were no open conflict will be tolerated, sabotaging factions operations in the wild is different case entirely. A less extreme reaction would be welcome, but it seems like the easiest solution. Adding some kind of automated system seems like an easier solution, than bunch of hand crafted branching paths or reactions. 

I would agree that the biggest flaw of current factions is how static they feel. I never got "holy crap, I made that happen!" reaction. I never felt like I am really interacting getting friendly or angering factions until the final choice comes into play and everyone goes insane. There are couple mechanics which are New Vegas like (disguises, stealth, faction reputations) but they don't seem to really have a role to play.



#15
flamesium

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The slavers are ostensibly in the legal slave trade so I doubt they are brazenly attacking the major factions very often; that's what the relationship with the pirate faction is for.

 

The pirate faction would attack whoever and be attacked by the 3 major factions. This is implied to be happening; I don't believe the ship icons on the world map are necessarily supposed to represent all shipping in the Deadfire. They could add nameless pirate ships attacking nameless faction ships on the world map though. I personally don't think it would hurt or add much.

 

If the Huana, VTC and RDC were attacking each other at sea it would presumably be clandestine and not in sight of other shipping, as they aren't at war. It would be very confusing to the player to explain that a fragile peace exists between the 3 state factions and then show them openly attacking each other's ships on the world map.

 

The game could lock you into a faction earlier like they did in PoE1, but a lot of people didn't want to get locked out of so much content, which is understandable. In the context of Deadfire it does make some sense because by the end you're the kingmaker and the major factions all need you far more than you need them.


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