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Cool Twists in Expected Mechanics / Storylines

pillars of eternity maia romance eothas

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#1
Tick

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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.

 

Examples!:

 

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.

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#2
handsomenat

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What I liked about the fling with Serafen is the lack of melodrama and attempting to "fix" him and make him monogamous and emotionally ready to be in a committed relationship. With Aloth it's kinda similar - you have to respect his boundaries and it's the only valid way to romance him, unlike telling him to "open up" like one might expect would be the correct way o pursuing video game romance. (Just shower them with platitudes and enjoy the passion of tropes and cliches). I never picked up the seductive line for Pallegina because it just seems terribly inappropriate way to start it; wasn't it in the same conversation she told the Watcher about her being suicidal? Too bad I can't just express some kindness and care for Pallegina in a more considerate way and then get rejected. I also don't mind Eder rejecting the Watcher (okay. I do the way he rejects an orlan). I never romanced Xoti or Maia because I don't get them at all so I can't comment on that. But it makes me super happy that they can get together. I also haven't finished Tekehu's romance yet; it has a little weird structure.

 

I made that point about Maia's quest before so naturally I agree :d.

 

Your point about Eothas' storyline makes me realize that there is a running theme. I complained somewhere on this forum before about lack of a connecting theme in the game? But now I see the question of responsibility and consequences of one's actions pops up here and there. Similar to Aloth's arc in Deadfire.


Edited by handsomenat, 02 July 2018 - 12:06 AM.

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#3
uuuhhii

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the dialogue trigger for companions like or dislike each other are a little weird

possible to never get xoti pellagina fight when brought them in team almost all the play through



#4
bugarup

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Nice catch about Eothas acting like a typical RPG protagonist -- leaving a wave of corpses on his way to victory, unstoppable, uncaring...yep. All signs are here. :alienani:

 

As for companions being not that into you and quests where seemingly optimal resolution leads to Very Bad Things happening -- it might seem novel in, well, a CRPG-verse as a whole, but for an Obsidian game it's quite normal, even expected -- the studio is famous for subverting expectations and tropes rather than going along with them, after all. Like, there is a companion in "Fallout:New Vegas" who doesn't even bother to hide his low opinion about your protagonist; for another, you do her quest in a way that seems to lead to warm fuzzies but actually ends with mass murder; in "KOTOR2", a planet fares better if you support the violent dictator as opposed to the benevolent queen and all your followers are drawn to you because you unwittingly cast (Force equivalent of) Charm all the time; in the ending of "Mask of the Betrayer" you have to do quests in particular way to please all your allies -- just to discover later that doing so caused a horrible tragedy in one of your former companion's life.

 

In short, it's Obsidian being Obsidian. :wub:


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#5
uuuhhii

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Nice catch about Eothas acting like a typical RPG protagonist -- leaving a wave of corpses on his way to victory, unstoppable, uncaring...yep. All signs are here. :alienani:

 

As for companions being not that into you and quests where seemingly optimal resolution leads to Very Bad Things happening -- it might seem novel in, well, a CRPG-verse as a whole, but for an Obsidian game it's quite normal, even expected -- the studio is famous for subverting expectations and tropes rather than going along with them, after all. Like, there is a companion in "Fallout:New Vegas" who doesn't even bother to hide his low opinion about your protagonist; for another, you do her quest in a way that seems to lead to warm fuzzies but actually ends with mass murder; in "KOTOR2", a planet fares better if you support the violent dictator as opposed to the benevolent queen and all your followers are drawn to you because you unwittingly cast (Force equivalent of) Charm all the time; in the ending of "Mask of the Betrayer" you have to do quests in particular way to please all your allies -- just to discover later that doing so caused a horrible tragedy in one of your former companion's life.

 

In short, it's Obsidian being Obsidian. :wub:

bad and simple faction was the expectation

but poe2 portray them even better than fnv


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#6
Celan

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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!

Really? Because every time I turned around it seemed like someone else was wanting to hump my leg, though apart from Aloth none of them can really be called a relationship. Good if you're into flings, I guess.


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#7
Incendax

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Really? Because every time I turned around it seemed like someone else was wanting to hump my leg, though apart from Aloth none of them can really be called a relationship. Good if you're into flings, I guess.

Tekehu is probably like that because of the whole confident/no confidence theme he has going on. Maia has some very shady reasons to romance you, even if she gets too attached (as these tropes often go). Only Xoti seemed really bizarre to me, simultaneously strong and defiant to others but then desperate for the affection of... almost anyone.
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#8
bugarup

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Hey, fling is a sort of relationship. :getlost: Personally, I mucho prefer Tekehu's and Maia's "Hey boss, wanna f†ck?" to Overly Attached Aloth.

 

Anyway, lets not make this into yet another romance thread perhaps, hmmmm? Romances seem to derail every discussion, so better keep them contained in their own thread. 


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#9
Tick

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What I liked about the fling with Serafen is the lack of melodrama and attempting to "fix" him and make him monogamous and emotionally ready to be in a committed relationship. With Aloth it's kinda similar - you have to respect his boundaries and it's the only valid way to romance him, unlike telling him to "open up" like one might expect would be the correct way o pursuing video game romance. (Just shower them with platitudes and enjoy the passion of tropes and cliches). I never picked up the seductive line for Pallegina because it just seems terribly inappropriate way to start it; wasn't it in the same conversation she told the Watcher about her being suicidal? Too bad I can't just express some kindness and care for Pallegina in a more considerate way and then get rejected. I also don't mind Eder rejecting the Watcher (okay. I do the way he rejects an orlan). I never romanced Xoti or Maia because I don't get them at all so I can't comment on that. But it makes me super happy that they can get together. I also haven't finished Tekehu's romance yet; it has a little weird structure.

 

I made that point about Maia's quest before so naturally I agree :d.

 

Your point about Eothas' storyline makes me realize that there is a running theme. I complained somewhere on this forum before about lack of a connecting theme in the game? But now I see the question of responsibility and consequences of one's actions pops up here and there. Similar to Aloth's arc in Deadfire.

 

Yeah! Exactly!  It's much more realistic and believable, and it doesn't force the characters to warp their interests around the player.

 

I completely forgot there was a line for Pallegina, but yeah, it came off as extremely inappropriate (I never saw what happens after).  She's very obviously not comfortable with that kind of stuff, and she's being open and vulnerable about something extremely personal at that point.   And yes, Tekehu's romance is a weird set-up haha.  It ends up being really important and personal to him though.

 

Ha! I had that feeling about the Maia quest and really liked the way it played the player before, but if yours is the post I'm thinking of, it crystallized a lot of my viewpoints on it.  Put into words why the quest was so cool very well and brought up a couple things I hadn't thought of.

 

Exactly! It very much does.  Aloth and Eothas and the Watcher all play into the theme.  It's just kind of awkwardly placed in what feels like random parts of the game.  But it's for sure there.  And when it's there, it's really maturely done I think.

 

Nice catch about Eothas acting like a typical RPG protagonist -- leaving a wave of corpses on his way to victory, unstoppable, uncaring...yep. All signs are here. :alienani:

 

As for companions being not that into you and quests where seemingly optimal resolution leads to Very Bad Things happening -- it might seem novel in, well, a CRPG-verse as a whole, but for an Obsidian game it's quite normal, even expected -- the studio is famous for subverting expectations and tropes rather than going along with them, after all. Like, there is a companion in "Fallout:New Vegas" who doesn't even bother to hide his low opinion about your protagonist; for another, you do her quest in a way that seems to lead to warm fuzzies but actually ends with mass murder; in "KOTOR2", a planet fares better if you support the violent dictator as opposed to the benevolent queen and all your followers are drawn to you because you unwittingly cast (Force equivalent of) Charm all the time; in the ending of "Mask of the Betrayer" you have to do quests in particular way to please all your allies -- just to discover later that doing so caused a horrible tragedy in one of your former companion's life.

 

In short, it's Obsidian being Obsidian. :wub:

 

Thank you!  I think it's a very cool touch to the game and brings a really complicated feeling/issue up to the forefront.  It's actually an issue that I've sort of pondered on and off about throughout the past few years.

 

And that's very true.  It's why Obsidian is one of my favorite developers.  They don't always make perfect or complete games (e.g. KOTOR 2), but the content they do make is nuanced and human and realistic, and yet knows the tropes of its genre(s) extremely well.  You made some fantastic examples, I didn't know/remember a couple of them even, ha.

 

 

bad and simple faction was the expectation

but poe2 portray them even better than fnv

 

Yes! The factions were amazing this game.  I loved the ones in Fallout: New Vegas, but I appreciate how muddy the issues were in Deadfire. 


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#10
Verde

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I really thought the RDC "twist" was daring and shocking. Loved it.


But ofcourse it wouldn't be an Obsidian game without the complete lack of consequences ruining it. No change in overall rep, no convo from Maia, not a single comment from any other faction or authority.

Not to be too negative. I thought the Principi campaign was great reminded me of the Witcher..Aedyris or whatever her name is def should be a romance option :)

#11
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 It might be a very long post since I want to address a lot of things. Apologies in advance - I will try to put my thoughts in order at least.
 
 1. Romance
 My feelings on the matter are stupid enough for me to comfortable call myself a hypocrite over it. One of my hugest pet peeves is treating romance itself as a pinnacle of all relationship, something every relation between two (or more) people should aspire to be, something greater than any other connection people can share. I acknowledge that it's something a lot of people enjoy, but claiming that it's the be-all-and-end-all and finer than any other kind of love really pisses me off.
 
 With this attitude, I expected myself not to like romance content in videogames, but to my surprise, most of the time I found it enjoyable. But I have a firm rule that it should enhance the main game, not get away from it. I expect romanceable companions to stay in character and not just abandon everything they stand for just because they slept with the PC. For example, should I play some suicidal Watcher who thought that getting frisky with Rauatai's finest sharpshooter and betraying her country is a good idea, I fully expect Maia to still leave, and maybe have Ishiza wreak Hylea's wrath all over the Defiant.
 
 Therefore, I am partial to romances that prize character consistency over what's romantic. I liked that Eder was not interested in the Watcher. I liked that Pallegina isn't interested in romance at all. I liked that Serafen is willing to have a fling but not engage in proper fraternisation. And I liked that in his ending slide, Aloth still continued his work to dismantle the Leaden Key, even if it meant leaving the Watcher behind.
 
 2. Maia's quest
 It was another favourite of mine. PoE series overall has a tendency to subvert expectations with character quests - in the first game, almost every party member ends their quest by not getting what they wanted, and more unhappy than they were when they started. Eder never gets closure of knowing why his brother switched sides (and despite having a perfect opportunity in Deadfire, there is no option to ask Eothas himself). The tablet Kana set out to find is broken and he never finds a way to verify his theory. Some companion quests (Aloth's and Serafen's come to mind) share this tendency.
 
 A lot of players were unhappy with the conclusion of the quest, and went to great lengths to try and sabotage the assassinations. I wonder how many of those players would feel just as strongly if Atsura asked them to carry out the mission outright - or even if Maia came clean to begin with. In one of the threads dedicated to this mission, someone pointed out that a lot of players complete bounties, which is essentially the same thing but in different trappings. Some companions even react to the player receiving a bounty - I distinctly remember Tekehu being concerned over a kill order on the head of one of the Huana targets, calling him a patriot. But I have a feeling that if a player were to drop the quest, it would be due to mechanical difficulty rather than regard for companions' feelings - especially since I registered no bounty influence on the reputation system.
 
 Of course, I shouldn't discount the way those quests are structured. If the game offered an alternative way to handle the quest - something like finding out why the target has a bounty on their head, perhaps discovering that they were framed and clearing their name; anything would work as long as it moves the quest from 'active' to 'completed'. Perhaps this is a way gamer brain works - it's a quest, it has to be done.
 
 Perhaps I'm going on a tangent here, but it greatly reminds me of the orlan baby quest. While there is a 'good-esque' ending - poisoning Simoc and saving Vela's life, it can only be achieved by taking the quest in the first place. If a player wants to accomplish that, they need to have their Watcher consent to the plan to begin with.

 

 

Not to be too negative. I thought the Principi campaign was great reminded me of the Witcher..Aedyris or whatever her name is def should be a romance option :)

 

 Aeldys :3


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