Something really cool in this game is the way some of the mechanics, quests, and storylines surprised me. The direction(s) the game took instead usually make a lot of sense, too, but go against what a player used to typical RPG patterns.
Romance - As a disclaimer, I'm not really into the romance feature of RPG's generally. I've been listening to that content and the negative rep conversations post-facto because I wanted more PoE content and I've already beaten the game, and probably won't ever go the routes needed to see the content naturally.
That said, although I know it upset and disappointed some people, I really liked that PoE2 doesn't make the whole party deeply in love with you and champing at the bit to date you. The romance mechanic kept in mind the people in your party, their personalities and personal interests, and determined if they'd ever be interested and, if they are, what kind of relationship they'd be interested in/okay with. It actually adds a level of depth that's really neat!
I'd say every companion handles it differently, but the most notable examples that drift from the typical RPG set-up that I can think of are Serafen, Eder and Pallegina. Serafen is completely cool with flirting and casual sex, but doesn't want a relationship. Eder and Palegina are no where near an emotional place to even be interested. And even Aloth, while technically romanceable, won't ever engage you himself and will reject you unless you're in a specific situation. There's no magic way to make them change their minds by just being charming or the main character, either.
Maia's Quest - This is one of my favorite examples (I've seen someone else mention this earlier, too). RPG's have ingrained the idea that every companion needs help with something personal, and that helping them out is the nice and right thing to do. Generally, if there's a gray zone or a questionable moment, you're usually given the chance or expected to correct your companion's direction. Usually doing otherwise is the evil or wrong thing to do.
Maia's quest completely manipulates you and those assumptions into potentially doing some horrible things. It comes off as banal and helpful at first, but there's obviously something wrong, there's no way to get anyone to admit what, and there's no way to stop Maia from doing it altogether or change her mind before she's already done something horrible. You have to either already know the consequences or go off your own suspicions to decide to go against the objectives, which completely goes against the player mentality. And you have to pretty much be a **** about it - which at least in my case, is extremely uncomfortable.
The way the quest objectives and its story works does a great job at showing how the RDC works and thinks, and how Maia works and thinks. And it's especially fitting that a quest that manipulates player assumptions like this comes from Atsura.
Eothas's Storyline - This one is a little more finnicky. But I really liked the ethical issue his storyline brought up, in part because it felt like a storyline a main character in an RPG might do. Eothas is trying to do the ultimately right thing, in his eyes, by giving kith the opportunity to see what the gods are and gain independence and freedom from them. But the actions he's taking to make that goal are morally reprehensible - sacrificing and killing hundreds (thousands?) to do it, with no choice or say on their part, and potentially dooming the entire universe without anyone else's say.
It's interesting, because that's the kind of thing a player character can and often does. To some extent. Often RPG's give you morally gray or questionable choices for the ultimate greater good. Often getting the best result involves killing several people. This, and Wael's comment about how the main character, "reaps, but on a smaller scale" like the gods, made me start to feel a lot more uncomfortable with the choices I was making for other people and the people I was hurting or killing to get an end positive result.
I have at least one more example that I like, but this is already kind of a wall of text, so I'll hold off on that.
Edited by Tick, 01 July 2018 - 11:02 PM.