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PoE1 and 2 are both great games. However I don't think they reach the pinnacle of storytelling like BG2.

Edited by Verde

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However, Deadfire also has a major problem, especially when compared to BG2: the main storyline (the "critical path").

 

...Deadfire's critical path does not work on its own. It is short, uninteresting and repetitive.

 

I regret the way I expressed myself in the above quotes.

 

I loved Deadfire, and cannot wait for the DLCs and God Challenges to be complete for a 2nd playthrough. The devs did a terrific job, and I'm sorry it isn't fairing better commercially.

 

I think my review was a bit unfair, I was basically faulting the game for not being as good as BG2. While that is a relevant comparison, it should not be the only one. It should primarily be compared to the first Pillars game.

 

In that regard, I have to look at it from Obsidian's point of view, because it's clear a number of changes were made in direct response to feedback for Pillars 1. The brighter, happier tone, the repeated interactions with the gods, it's clear they listened to player feedback and addressed it.

 

My criticism of the world map's more colourful or "cartoony" style should have acknowledged that there was a clear reason for the shift in style, even if I personally prefer the more realistic, bleaker style from the first Pillars game.

 

I do think that some of the criticism of the writing is off-base. When you have a team of creative professionals, and one is just unique and very highly talented (we all know who I'm talking about), then it's inevitable that other, less well-known teammembers will be in that person's shadow.

 

However, having read all the short stories, I think that the other teammembers are all talented writers. I particularly enjoyed Carrie Patel's short story about Aloth. The quality of writing in BoW and SSS confirms that Obsidian has lots of talent. I don't think it's the writing of Deadfire, so much as the way the game is structured; for example, having the gods appear together as a group takes away from their mystique and reduces each personality to a line or two of dialogue.

 

I really appreciate Obsidian's work on the game, and hope my review was understood to be meant as constructive criticism.

Edited by glennjones130486
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    By contrast, Deadfire's critical path does not work on its own. It is short, uninteresting and repetitive. Without spoiling anything, imagine if BG2 had ended at Spellhold; Deadfire feels like it ends at the halfway point of the story.

 

JE Sawyer has mentioned this was a function of basically overreacting to player/critical feedback from PoE1, wherein the critical path seemed too long, and the final act especially too long. So they course-corrected by focusing more on faction and side quests, and making the final area extremely short. He's acknowledged that they probably went too far in this direction, given the response to Deadfire's critical path.

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    By contrast, Deadfire's critical path does not work on its own. It is short, uninteresting and repetitive. Without spoiling anything, imagine if BG2 had ended at Spellhold; Deadfire feels like it ends at the halfway point of the story.

 

JE Sawyer has mentioned this was a function of basically overreacting to player/critical feedback from PoE1, wherein the critical path seemed too long, and the final act especially too long. So they course-corrected by focusing more on faction and side quests, and making the final area extremely short. He's acknowledged that they probably went too far in this direction, given the response to Deadfire's critical path.

 

 

I think as stated in a previous thread about the ease of solving quests, it is also a function of game mechanics allowing players to rip through quests very fast.  I think if they slowed the story down with a little more complicated character progression, and some more quest specific mechanics it would have solved much of the narrative criticism.

 

I am not a big fan of BG2, fun game but the narrative is pretty frustrating ... I mean the whole Time of Troubles tale of a god boils down to a slighted Elf??  It still upsets me ;) POE2 is a better game in all respects (I know I am the minority).

 

Edit: When I say quest specific mechanics I mean the need for the certain conditions to be met to solve quests - like a certain item, skill, etc.  They left this very broad.  And for character progression I just mean if they made leveling up your character a little more complicated in terms of unique choices.

Edited by bringingyouthefuture
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“How do you 'accidentally' kill a nobleman in his own mansion?"

"With a knife in the chest. Or, rather, a pair of knives in the chest...”

The Final Empire, Mistborn Trilogy

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    By contrast, Deadfire's critical path does not work on its own. It is short, uninteresting and repetitive. Without spoiling anything, imagine if BG2 had ended at Spellhold; Deadfire feels like it ends at the halfway point of the story.

 

JE Sawyer has mentioned this was a function of basically overreacting to player/critical feedback from PoE1, wherein the critical path seemed too long, and the final act especially too long. So they course-corrected by focusing more on faction and side quests, and making the final area extremely short. He's acknowledged that they probably went too far in this direction, given the response to Deadfire's critical path.

 

 

one thing i'm noticing is that at least two thirds to three quarters of the criticism seems to be about changes they made due to criticism from the first game which says a lot about the internet and how productive discourse is hard to come by

 

it is very unfortunate that anyone thinks this has to do with sales or that sales are a reflection of quality in the first place

 

-crowded field for limited demo

-fashionable shade on real time with pause

-weak marketing strategy

Edited by Cartoons Plural
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Pillars 2 is weird, because in some parts it's a step forward, but in just as many it's a step back.  They were really responsive to fan criticism, and it helped and hurt.

 

The Good

  • Combat System
    • Multiclassing works really well.
    • Itemization is much more solid, and the enchanting changes worked for the better.
    • Combat is significantly more legible, the focus on penetration is useful, engagement works a little more naturally.
    • Terrain types work pretty well, as do totems.
    • The no trash mobs design works pretty well.  Few encounters were repeats.
  • Writing
    • Factions work much better here.  They have a legitimate reason for fighting, and fit into the plot better.
    • The storybook mode skill check system works fantastically well.  Seeker, Slayer, Survivor really pushes the limits in interesting ways.
    • The lore is more focused on this one region.  Pillars I had many interesting bits of lore, but they were too segmented.  One area was all about Hollowborn, another about factions, a third about colonial aggression, a forth about dealing with gods.  This story is all about luminous ardra, and everything else stems from its use and abuse. 
    • The major city is great, almost as busy and content filled as Amn and one of the best I have ever been to.
    • The random ocean events are cool.
  • Everything Else
    • The way they changed stealth is a big improvement, and adds a bit of needed simulationism.
    • Graphics are beautiful.
    • Independent area design is much better and more diverse.  The gunpowder caves and corrupted swamp stand out.
    • Monster design works pretty well.
    • The economy is much better designed.  You're rich by the end rather than by the middle.

 

The Neutral

  • Combat System
    • Exploding hazards like barrels are rarely much of a hazard.
    • The five man party cuts down some on party variety, but multiclassing more than makes up for this.
    • The really cool items from the DLC come really late in the game.
    • Giving pets stats is fine, but a lot of the descriptions don't describe the pet aura very well.
  • Writing
    • Tying companions into factions work well for some (Pallegina and Maia), but worse for others (Serafen is hardly an ardent partisan; Takehu needs to care more about his faction in the beginning, and then make up for it with a crisis of faith in the lower city.)
    • The islands are very modular.  This means that there's a lot more diversity from island to island, but they never seem to interact with each other.

 

The Ugly

  • Combat system
    • The decision to neuter long term strategic concerns was a poor one that compromises other decisions they made which improve the combat system.
      • Decreased importance on resting and removal of supplies means that players aren't drawn towards inns nearly as much, which changes the flow of metaplay.  You go wandering for massive periods of time instead of making expeditions that turn back when wounds pile up and supplies run low.  It leads to a decreased sense of danger.
      • The removal of a long term health bar creates a binary success in its place.  Either your characters got knocked out or they didn't; this removes a significant incentive to improve tactics.
      • Regenerating abilities means that you use the same abilities for every almost battle.
      • Empower doesn't work as an implicit strategic factor.  Limiting the characters to one empower per fight and having empower refresh abilities means that it rarely makes sense to use empowers as anything other than powerpool refreshers, especially at later levels.
      • There's a far smaller range between boss fights and normal fights.  Normally this is filled up with HP bloat, or scripted periods where new enemies come out of nowhere or the bosses go unhittable.  This isn't very fun gameplay.
    • There are no really expansive dungeons.  The Fort Deadlight and Lower City are probably the best two in the game.  Besides them one I'm having a hard time thinking of a dungeon with more than two areas.  The original Pillars had the megadungeon, Raedric's Keep, the undead part of the city, Sun in Shadow, and more I'm forgetting, and then two in the expansion. 
    • Ship to ship combat blows.  Maybe making it realtime would have helped.
  • Writing
    • Importing had numerous errors last time I tried it.
    • The central plot is short and weak.
    • Most character quests are pointless.  There's not a single one as well designed as Sagani's, or even Eder's.
    • The new companions don't really grow or develop, which comes from most of them being ambivalent about the organization they belong to.  Maia isn't just terse, she doesn't really show why she believes in Rauatai.  She cares more about her bird than the country.  Serafen has a quest with a resolution, but the resolution has almost no consequences.  Serafen giving you a quest to wipe out slavery would be far more interesting.  He could even take over their base post credits!  Xoti's quest is by far the best designed; it's a shame the character is really, really, really annoying.  Takehu is probably the worst written of the bunch, he's an unrepentant shiftless hedonist who joins you on your great quest for reasons and then at the end leaves to become an unrepentant shiftless hedonist  (my art vs. my culture that supports my art is not a very convincing conflict).
    • The returning companion quests are superfluous; Aloth's is the best by far, but it isn't important.
    • Romances have weird triggers, and don't turn off when they should.
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i think it's probably pretty divisive decision, but

 

Decreased importance on resting and removal of supplies means that players aren't drawn towards inns nearly as much, which changes the flow of metaplay.  You go wandering for massive periods of time instead of making expeditions that turn back when wounds pile up and supplies run low.

 

i would consider this "working as intended."

Edited by thelee
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I thought the companions is something they would have tried to improve with the whole 'relationship system' or whatever. But they don't seem anymore in depth or interesting than the first game. I hoped on the ship you could go talk to them and they've have a lot to say like in KOTOR 2, but they don't.

 

It feels like WoW sometimes, when people complain about certain aspects o the game and then the designers go a complete 180 on that system instead of just tweaking it or iproving on it.

 

Of course I have no idea what it's like as a game designer but maybe you have to try stick to your guns and take criticism with a whole load of salt.

Edited by daven
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I appreciate Obsidian's commitment to feedback, overall they did an awesome job sorting through a lot of fan criticism and really trying to dig into the arguments to figure out the reality of a lot of the first games systems. Trying to address resting and penetration especially, and really everything you listed under the good. What's frustrating though is some of the worst missteps are a result of moving away from a lot of the good things they had already established.

 

I think the worst change was the health mechanic system. I still can't wrap my head around why they rolled that back. It wasn't what needed fixing in relation to resting, the problem with resting was that it was done to both regain health/stamina AND to replenish spells. Since saving on health/stamina often meant going ape with your best spells you often had to rest frequently if you ever hit a difficulty spike. I and many other's identified this as driving the high frequency of resting. Well, they changed how resting worked and gave us empower and took away vancian casting. Wow, that solved it in an incredible heavy handed way. But I thought a step away from classical vancian could be a big win, as long encounters didn't become too similar. Then they still choose to muck with the health/stamina system even though it was a phenomenal improvement to the iso-rtwp genre. All they had to do was better convey injuries and status ailments (I don't think anyone liked those minuscule UI elements), but instead they gutted the fine granularity that stamina/health and pushed injuries to the extreme of being a countdown to a fail condition.

 

The complaint of health/stamina/ailments related to confusions due to how PoE1 conveyed it's systems to new players. This was a more general complaint about conveying the game's systems and how it got lost within other heavy lore dumps and verbose dialogue early on. While I loved the deep writing, it did make reading carefully the mechanic descriptions hard, plus a lot of the descriptions were hidden away in menus and the game hadn't opened up enough for the player to even grasp how it all fit together. Yet, stamina/health/ailments were not particularly esoteric, and health and stamina probably should have either been visually conveyed better on UI or had their names reversed. They solved this communication issue instead by changing the underlying system. People warned them about this error as they were hashing things out, yet they committed to the change. The misalignment between injuries, risks, and party management severely impacts the meta-game loop. The game needs that player experience of venturing to one's limits. Keeping the older stamina system, there could have been a lot more opportunity to really lean on your ship as a portable base that would absolutely necessary and critical to assuring your progress. In general the ship is really not all that it could be, and I feel this flawed approach to resting had echoing affects all the way out to the new "keep."

 

I've also been critical of the smaller dungeons since before the game launched. Large dungeons are the definition of dangerously exploring to the edge of one's limits. Venturing forth into chaos. Not only should this dynamic be generally across the game, but it should peak occasionally in different forms across the game, one being mega-dungeons which are concentrated depths of abyss that need to be penetrated. The Keep, Caed Nua, Heritage Hill and others make up my favorite parts of the first game for this very reason.

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I think the worst change was the health mechanic system. I still can't wrap my head around why they rolled that back. It wasn't what needed fixing in relation to resting, the problem with resting was that it was done to both regain health/stamina AND to replenish spells.

ye the health/stamina mechanic was a terrific idea they should have stood by. feel that legit could have become a new standard given enough time. sawyer went on record saying he liked the system. rip.

 

one thing i'm noticing is that at least two thirds to three quarters of the criticism seems to be about changes they made due to criticism from the first game which says a lot about the internet and how productive discourse is hard to come by

 

this tbh.

 

im nurturing a theory atm that many people use games as a therapeutic process and a lot of the anger stems from the therapeutic process no longer working - which can have as much to do with the player changing as much as the game. also whether a game works as therapy might not have anything to do with its quality.

 

but this is just a notion i currently have, not a thesis i can adequately defend, so feel free to think im full of ****.

 

I am not a big fan of BG2, fun game but the narrative is pretty frustrating ... I mean the whole Time of Troubles tale of a god boils down to a slighted Elf??

 

throne of bhaal shifts the focus back to the bhaalspawn etc.

 

bg2 was a fun pulpy fantasy romp that traded in raw enthusiasm - and it had writers and designers good enough to convey such.

 

peeps who have notion that it was a profound storytelling experience miss the mark tbh, and undersell the games primary strength - that its a joyful, creative, messy experience not a deep one. i honestly feel that bg2's gleeful kitchen-sink approach is the best argument anyone's ever made for the forgotten realms as a setting.

 

PoE's vibe and goals are just way too different to be comparable.

 

Irenicus was also a particularly interesting and memorable villain; as one review put it, he stole the show whenever he was on screen, and his backstory was arguably more interesting than your character's. There was a Gamespot "Top 10" list for villains, with well thought-out guidelines about what makes a good villain. I remember thinking that Bioware must have used that list as guide -- because Irenicus was pretty much the perfect villain. Who can forget his dream sequences? "Life...is strength."

 

Irenicus was a good laugh, and a great pantomime villain - voice actor did a sterling job selling him - but obs have never been fans of such. thaos is prob the closest we'll get from them, unless they set up rymrgand as an antagonist.

 

prior to that, i think ud have to go all the way back to the black isle days and the master from FO1 for a similar vibe. irenicus just... isnt what obs do.

 

Deadfire's portrayal of the Gods is rather childish, but I like the overall "lack of agency" the Watcher has. Yes, it is actually refreshing!

 

lol, i enjoy a bit of fatalism as well.

 

if u havent played it, fam, u should try Icewind Dale 2. It's just one big ****-off unavoidable tragedy.

 

BG2 is one of the only RPGs I can remember that did the time pressure well.

 

(periodic reminder that peeps really got their bitch on about the imoen as plot device thing)

 

like ye, i bought into it, but i have an imoen t'ing. point is bg2s approach earned dectrators as well.

 

think its just one of those squares u cant rightly circle. am of opinion such energy - trying to establish unattainable balance between freedom and momentum - would be better spent elsewhere.

 

Like im playing kingmaker atm and it has time limits and stuff. im forvever like 'uve given me this big map where i could traipse around killing owlbears forever and u want me to rush? fk off.'

 

i quite liked the fact that in deadfire i could fk about in my trusty ship 'the leng' and do random **** bcs eothas had all the time in the world and wanted an audience for his prattling. he was happy, i was happy. the other ships in the deadfire werent happy, but fk them.

 

I thought the companions is something they would have tried to improve with the whole 'relationship system' or whatever. But they don't seem anymore in depth or interesting than the first game. I hoped on the ship you could go talk to them and they've have a lot to say like in KOTOR 2, but they don't.

 

ye, but issue is, kotor2 is about as wordy as these things get and all those words came at great expense to almost everything else. it wouldve been nice to have kotor2 dialogue coupled with deadfire mechanics and factions but that wouldve been like having two servings of both cake and ice cream.

 

like bioware got away with that sort of thing for years bcs money and trimming down their games to core experiences. the one game where they successfully ticked all the boxes - (dating sim / open-ish world / actual combat system) was DA:O. and that took a bazillion years of development. at one point we all thought it was vaporware.

 

is telling that when they tried to reintroduce exploration elements and do everything again (andromeda) they fell flat on their face. i know DA:I was less of an apparent train wreck but i was extremely not a fan of how that game played. think i might have liked andromeda more, lol.

 

also i dont think obs - or at least sawyer - are keen on the bioware approach anyhoo. tyranny had the seeds of it, but that game obv had to pay the piper elsewhere.

 

I don't think it's the writing of Deadfire, so much as the way the game is structured; for example, having the gods appear together as a group takes away from their mystique and reduces each personality to a line or two of dialogue.

 

Ye, i commented elsewhere that this was the problem, not the actual quality of script. to quote myself, i feel they shouldve had u talking with berath alone as sole contact for ur quest - at most, have physical avatars for eothas, berath and rymrgand.

 

i think rymrgand was the best thing to come from the devs chosen approach. he comes off as truly powerful, inhuman and terrifying. even the other gods are lowkey scared of him. if theyre planning to set him up as a major antagonist - or problem at least - i think they may be onto a winner. they might have screwed up a bit with the round table thing, but ill be more disappointed if they dont take advantage of the opportunities thrown up from it.

 

ye sorry this is all a bit scattered. maybe i should have put my head in here sooner. good discussion all round imo. i felt unable to contribute at first bcs im not doing my 'completionist' run until at least forbidden sanctum.

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I AM A RENISANCE MAN

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I was not a fun of the Health/Endurance system, but I prefer how it was in PoE1. There are other things involved, of course, but I really liked to go to a dungeon, Durgan's Battery for example, and carefully select my spells and resting only when absolutely necessary. I know this is just my experience since most people would simply rest spam.

 

For me a better way of preventing it would be to lock the party in a dungeon like in the beginning of PoE1 and restricting the number of camping supplies. Maybe adding things like enemies respawning when you rest or forcing rests only once a day.

 

And yes, I know other people wouldn't like this...

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I was not a fun of the Health/Endurance system, but I prefer how it was in PoE1. There are other things involved, of course, but I really liked to go to a dungeon, Durgan's Battery for example, and carefully select my spells and resting only when absolutely necessary. I know this is just my experience since most people would simply rest spam.

 

For me a better way of preventing it would be to lock the party in a dungeon like in the beginning of PoE1 and restricting the number of camping supplies. Maybe adding things like enemies respawning when you rest or forcing rests only once a day.

 

And yes, I know other people wouldn't like this...

 

Yeah, I would have preferred more consideration for promoting in-game play strategy and with an emphasis on solving the issue through solid dungeon/zone design. Thinking back, instead of getting rid of vancian and adding empower. It would be nice if the longer you went without a rest, the more you'd build up some sort of inspiration points that you could spend to trigger a second-wind. Sort of like a "state of flow" that would help the player continue forward if they had strategically protected their party's health but wouldn't force them to turn back due to spells. This would disincentivize resting for spells, and disincentivize rest spamming. You'd change your play-style to earn this second-wind and once you got it, you'd feel ready to rest or turn back once you finally made it to the second-wind/flow. So you could probably only earn one per rest per party member. In some ways as your resting bonuses wore off you'd have this glimmer of a chance to earn another sort of bonus and earn some spells back. I'd probably make the bonus take away from passive defense and add to passive attack or something, meaning you can still use abilities to defend but you'd get a general boost to damage. So it'd force you to be both more defensive and aggressive to irk out the last bit of action your party has left in them.

 

Also I just realized I kept calling endurance, stamina and afflictions, ailments. Oh well.

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I appreciate Obsidian's commitment to feedback, overall they did an awesome job sorting through a lot of fan criticism and really trying to dig into the arguments to figure out the reality of a lot of the first games systems. Trying to address resting and penetration especially, and really everything you listed under the good. What's frustrating though is some of the worst missteps are a result of moving away from a lot of the good things they had already established.

 

I think the worst change was the health mechanic system. I still can't wrap my head around why they rolled that back. It wasn't what needed fixing in relation to resting, the problem with resting was that it was done to both regain health/stamina AND to replenish spells. Since saving on health/stamina often meant going ape with your best spells you often had to rest frequently if you ever hit a difficulty spike. I and many other's identified this as driving the high frequency of resting. Well, they changed how resting worked and gave us empower and took away vancian casting. Wow, that solved it in an incredible heavy handed way. But I thought a step away from classical vancian could be a big win, as long encounters didn't become too similar. Then they still choose to muck with the health/stamina system even though it was a phenomenal improvement to the iso-rtwp genre. All they had to do was better convey injuries and status ailments (I don't think anyone liked those minuscule UI elements), but instead they gutted the fine granularity that stamina/health and pushed injuries to the extreme of being a countdown to a fail condition.

 

The complaint of health/stamina/ailments related to confusions due to how PoE1 conveyed it's systems to new players. This was a more general complaint about conveying the game's systems and how it got lost within other heavy lore dumps and verbose dialogue early on. While I loved the deep writing, it did make reading carefully the mechanic descriptions hard, plus a lot of the descriptions were hidden away in menus and the game hadn't opened up enough for the player to even grasp how it all fit together. Yet, stamina/health/ailments were not particularly esoteric, and health and stamina probably should have either been visually conveyed better on UI or had their names reversed. They solved this communication issue instead by changing the underlying system. People warned them about this error as they were hashing things out, yet they committed to the change. The misalignment between injuries, risks, and party management severely impacts the meta-game loop. The game needs that player experience of venturing to one's limits. Keeping the older stamina system, there could have been a lot more opportunity to really lean on your ship as a portable base that would absolutely necessary and critical to assuring your progress. In general the ship is really not all that it could be, and I feel this flawed approach to resting had echoing affects all the way out to the new "keep."

 

I've also been critical of the smaller dungeons since before the game launched. Large dungeons are the definition of dangerously exploring to the edge of one's limits. Venturing forth into chaos. Not only should this dynamic be generally across the game, but it should peak occasionally in different forms across the game, one being mega-dungeons which are concentrated depths of abyss that need to be penetrated. The Keep, Caed Nua, Heritage Hill and others make up my favorite parts of the first game for this very reason.

I wholeheartedly agree with this post. Well said

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I am not a big fan of BG2, fun game but the narrative is pretty frustrating ... I mean the whole Time of Troubles tale of a god boils down to a slighted Elf??

 

throne of bhaal shifts the focus back to the bhaalspawn etc.

 

bg2 was a fun pulpy fantasy romp that traded in raw enthusiasm - and it had writers and designers good enough to convey such.

 

peeps who have notion that it was a profound storytelling experience miss the mark tbh, and undersell the games primary strength - that its a joyful, creative, messy experience not a deep one. i honestly feel that bg2's gleeful kitchen-sink approach is the best argument anyone's ever made for the forgotten realms as a setting.

 

PoE's vibe and goals are just way too different to be comparable.

 

 

Well, sure but I grew up reading Dragon Lance / Forgotten Realm / every other kind of fantasy book I could get me hands on, and also playing D&D and a lot of computer RPGs, so I was confused on why it turned into a simple tale and ended with very little to do with the Time of Troubles.  Ugh, Throne of Bhaal was too much an after thought plus I am in the Ultima camp in terms of favorite RPGs ;) BG2 is great don't get me wrong just never understood why people go nuts over it - I had more fun playing the first Police Quest ; ) which is apples to oranges.

 

Agreed POE is a totally different style of game.

 

On another note - I think Berath's challenge is one of the best, especially if you don't like the wound system.  And I must say if you haven't used an Empowered attack to win a fight well you are missing out, but that being said, I am not sure which I like better per rest abilities or per encounter - I like good combat and POE2 has that - POE also had it but is one better than the other?  I will say I think POE2 is a little more difficult on PoTD than POE1 - for instance I just did a fight at level 12 where Aloth was on the ground with 3 wounds - at the end of the fight most of the party was knocked out - my Watcher was wearing the Heart Chime and it probably saved everyone ... no empowers left, Xoti had a spell left, I mean it was a perfect example of why I love POE and POE2 combat, it was epic and at one point I thought I would have to reload :)  I guess my point is that even though they changed it, they did the changes really well.

 

After playing Pathfinder myself I understand the why people like the classic DnD-style, it is fun too but in a different way that is also very similar if that makes sense... I think POE's crowd is more of the DnD crowd and less the RPG-adventure crowd so they maybe should have stuck closer to the DnD-style :(

Edited by bringingyouthefuture

“How do you 'accidentally' kill a nobleman in his own mansion?"

"With a knife in the chest. Or, rather, a pair of knives in the chest...”

The Final Empire, Mistborn Trilogy

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Maybe I'm in an extreme minority, but I completely agreed with and supported the move to the per-encounter system.

  • I thought the health/endurance system was creative and interesting, but I think saying that it was merely "confusing to new players" undersells just how unintuitive of a mechanic it is; there's virtually nothing like it out there. It also had really weird edge cases, because sometimes you wanted your character to get knocked out instead of healing them, because otherwise they might run out of health instead of running out of endurance, which is the difference between permadeath and a wound. This is something that I frankly noticed in Backer Beta and I guess everyone else just shrugged this obviously broken edge case away (I think I advocated for some sort of enemy coup-de-grace option). Don't mind me, I'm just deliberately not casting Consecrated Ground so that my wizard won't get gibbed in this fight.
    • This also had the probably unintentional effect that sometimes unwinnable fights against enemies could actually become winnable because the health/endurance system meant there was a "cap" to how much health the enemy could heal.
  • With per-rest you can't balance encounters knowing a set amount of player resources... you go for an average case, but it means that rest-spam can completely trivialize it. And objectively, many players were just hauling back and forth to stock up on rest supplies to do almost precisely this (and then complaining about having to do this), because if you told the average player that they could make battles easier by just blowing their entire spell wad in one go and then just resting up for the next fight, that's what they would do. I must've been like the 1% of players who actually treated rest supplies as a strategic constraint and not a tedious "time to go back to town" countdown.
    • To be fair, when Deadfire first came out, it's difficulty curve was so low that it didn't seem like they didn't even balance for a per-encounter system properly (where you can assume player at 100% resources with each fight). With all the PotD re-balancing I think it has become a much better case study of why a per-encounter system is better for game balance. Gorecci Street and Engwithan Dig Site is basically a player sieve now on PotD.

If anything, my critique is that they still had some vestiges of a per-rest system (empower, per rest items, powerful food bonuses) while rest was still trivialized by per-encounter, which makes me go ???? at something like "Great Soul" (which grants +1 empower but rest to refresh all your empower is so cheap on anything not Eothas or Rymrgand challenge).

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Maybe I'm in an extreme minority, but I completely agreed with and supported the move to the per-encounter system.

  • I thought the health/endurance system was creative and interesting, but I think saying that it was merely "confusing to new players" undersells just how unintuitive of a mechanic it is; there's virtually nothing like it out there. It also had really weird edge cases, because sometimes you wanted your character to get knocked out instead of healing them, because otherwise they might run out of health instead of running out of endurance, which is the difference between permadeath and a wound. This is something that I frankly noticed in Backer Beta and I guess everyone else just shrugged this obviously broken edge case away (I think I advocated for some sort of enemy coup-de-grace option). Don't mind me, I'm just deliberately not casting Consecrated Ground so that my wizard won't get gibbed in this fight.
    • This also had the probably unintentional effect that sometimes unwinnable fights against enemies could actually become winnable because the health/endurance system meant there was a "cap" to how much health the enemy could heal.
  • With per-rest you can't balance encounters knowing a set amount of player resources... you go for an average case, but it means that rest-spam can completely trivialize it. And objectively, many players were just hauling back and forth to stock up on rest supplies to do almost precisely this (and then complaining about having to do this), because if you told the average player that they could make battles easier by just blowing their entire spell wad in one go and then just resting up for the next fight, that's what they would do. I must've been like the 1% of players who actually treated rest supplies as a strategic constraint and not a tedious "time to go back to town" countdown.
    • To be fair, when Deadfire first came out, it's difficulty curve was so low that it didn't seem like they didn't even balance for a per-encounter system properly (where you can assume player at 100% resources with each fight). With all the PotD re-balancing I think it has become a much better case study of why a per-encounter system is better for game balance. Gorecci Street and Engwithan Dig Site is basically a player sieve now on PotD.

If anything, my critique is that they still had some vestiges of a per-rest system (empower, per rest items, powerful food bonuses) while rest was still trivialized by per-encounter, which makes me go ???? at something like "Great Soul" (which grants +1 empower but rest to refresh all your empower is so cheap on anything not Eothas or Rymrgand challenge).

 

I would say though that if you are discussing in terms of balancing, having a feature like Empower where you can refresh abilities gives balancing an added edge, where you can make sure your encounters are a little more difficult, but at the same time make them more approachable for a variety of parties.

 

Serious question is there a game you can think of where you aren't either save spamming or rest spamming?  I am more a save spammer ...

Edited by bringingyouthefuture

“How do you 'accidentally' kill a nobleman in his own mansion?"

"With a knife in the chest. Or, rather, a pair of knives in the chest...”

The Final Empire, Mistborn Trilogy

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Maybe I'm in an extreme minority, but I completely agreed with and supported the move to the per-encounter system.

  • I thought the health/endurance system was creative and interesting, but I think saying that it was merely "confusing to new players" undersells just how unintuitive of a mechanic it is; there's virtually nothing like it out there. It also had really weird edge cases, because sometimes you wanted your character to get knocked out instead of healing them, because otherwise they might run out of health instead of running out of endurance, which is the difference between permadeath and a wound. This is something that I frankly noticed in Backer Beta and I guess everyone else just shrugged this obviously broken edge case away (I think I advocated for some sort of enemy coup-de-grace option). Don't mind me, I'm just deliberately not casting Consecrated Ground so that my wizard won't get gibbed in this fight.
    • This also had the probably unintentional effect that sometimes unwinnable fights against enemies could actually become winnable because the health/endurance system meant there was a "cap" to how much health the enemy could heal.
  • With per-rest you can't balance encounters knowing a set amount of player resources... you go for an average case, but it means that rest-spam can completely trivialize it. And objectively, many players were just hauling back and forth to stock up on rest supplies to do almost precisely this (and then complaining about having to do this), because if you told the average player that they could make battles easier by just blowing their entire spell wad in one go and then just resting up for the next fight, that's what they would do. I must've been like the 1% of players who actually treated rest supplies as a strategic constraint and not a tedious "time to go back to town" countdown.
    • To be fair, when Deadfire first came out, it's difficulty curve was so low that it didn't seem like they didn't even balance for a per-encounter system properly (where you can assume player at 100% resources with each fight). With all the PotD re-balancing I think it has become a much better case study of why a per-encounter system is better for game balance. Gorecci Street and Engwithan Dig Site is basically a player sieve now on PotD.

If anything, my critique is that they still had some vestiges of a per-rest system (empower, per rest items, powerful food bonuses) while rest was still trivialized by per-encounter, which makes me go ???? at something like "Great Soul" (which grants +1 empower but rest to refresh all your empower is so cheap on anything not Eothas or Rymrgand challenge).

 

I would say though that if you are discussing in terms of balancing, having a feature like Empower where you can refresh abilities gives balancing an added edge, where you can make sure your encounters are a little more difficult, but at the same time make them more approachable for a variety of parties.

 

Serious question is there a game you can think of where you aren't either save spamming or rest spamming?  I am more a save spammer ...

 

 

save spamming is fine so long as this is done in the context of encounters being generally beatable, and the designers didn't design an encounter with a 90% chance of instadeath so you have to reload: however much I love Fallout 1/2, those games are so brutally difficult early on (just down to stupid bad luck, e.g. a lucky critical hit from a venus fly trap plant that knocks you out until you die) that save spamming is a necessity which means they had poor early game encounter balance/design.

 

rest spamming is also fine, but it makes it harder for encounters to be properly balanced, if you want to be a well-tuned game. BG2/IWD2 become a lot easier once you check off "rest party until fully healed" and just rest after each encounter. (though IWD2 on heart of fury mode is hard enough that you can rest-spam and it is still a challenge). If you want resiliently well-balanced encounters, you have to eliminate rest-spamming somehow. PoE1 tried one approach (limit your rests), but failed because I think it wasn't restrictive enough (though I'm sure most players would have hated more restrictive resting). Deadfire is trying another approach (make rests not matter).

 

i think ultimately the "make rests not matter" is probably the best approach (probably not coincidentally a lot of games are converging on this solution, e.g. games like modern Tomb Raider where you heal to full health after a fight is over). some of my favorite tactical RPGs are essentially this (see: Final Fantasy Tactics), since each battle starts with everyone at full resources.

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I think the worst change was due to criticism about the long-winded writing in the first. So now the game has more brevity but the writing can be downright cringey or confusing. I'll give you an example -

 

In one of the better faction quests you have the opportunity to oust the current Director for one of his underlings. Some political drama. The problem is...we barely know anything about his underlying so the dialogue is really disjointed, like we are convinced even though she is barely above a random NPC. It feels like something is missing.

 

I actually remember a review using this same example and it sticks out to me.

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Maybe I'm in an extreme minority, but I completely agreed with and supported the move to the per-encounter system.

  • I thought the health/endurance system was creative and interesting, but I think saying that it was merely "confusing to new players" undersells just how unintuitive of a mechanic it is; there's virtually nothing like it out there. It also had really weird edge cases, because sometimes you wanted your character to get knocked out instead of healing them, because otherwise they might run out of health instead of running out of endurance, which is the difference between permadeath and a wound. This is something that I frankly noticed in Backer Beta and I guess everyone else just shrugged this obviously broken edge case away (I think I advocated for some sort of enemy coup-de-grace option). Don't mind me, I'm just deliberately not casting Consecrated Ground so that my wizard won't get gibbed in this fight.
    • This also had the probably unintentional effect that sometimes unwinnable fights against enemies could actually become winnable because the health/endurance system meant there was a "cap" to how much health the enemy could heal.
  • With per-rest you can't balance encounters knowing a set amount of player resources... you go for an average case, but it means that rest-spam can completely trivialize it. And objectively, many players were just hauling back and forth to stock up on rest supplies to do almost precisely this (and then complaining about having to do this), because if you told the average player that they could make battles easier by just blowing their entire spell wad in one go and then just resting up for the next fight, that's what they would do. I must've been like the 1% of players who actually treated rest supplies as a strategic constraint and not a tedious "time to go back to town" countdown.
    • To be fair, when Deadfire first came out, it's difficulty curve was so low that it didn't seem like they didn't even balance for a per-encounter system properly (where you can assume player at 100% resources with each fight). With all the PotD re-balancing I think it has become a much better case study of why a per-encounter system is better for game balance. Gorecci Street and Engwithan Dig Site is basically a player sieve now on PotD.

If anything, my critique is that they still had some vestiges of a per-rest system (empower, per rest items, powerful food bonuses) while rest was still trivialized by per-encounter, which makes me go ???? at something like "Great Soul" (which grants +1 empower but rest to refresh all your empower is so cheap on anything not Eothas or Rymrgand challenge).

 

Having your character taken out of battle via low endurance simulates getting a concussion or other near-death sorts of injuries. Maybe the enemy would enact a double-tap, but they have other drawn blades and staffs to worry about. It opens up the opportunity to rescue your party member. It's a really great facet of the endurance system, is intuitive, and adds a neat layer of strategy of choice when it comes to party health management.

 

Also you absolutely can balance per-rest systems. Not only can you know exactly how many resources the player has at a given moment to implement a dynamic scaling. You can also scale the area relative to the players level, then forgo dynamic per-encounter scaling in favor of zone-balancing to encourage the player to strategically build momentum through an area while keeping it challenging. You can also repopulate mobs if the player rests in an area which would further discourage spamming. There are so many more options and it can vary area to area for totally different experiences and challenges. Challenges which play out different relative to a party's build. This environmental balancing is far better than some lazy system wide mechanic approach that makes assumptions abstractly over the whole game. It's also important for a character to be able to alter encounters based on preparation and prior play.

 

Once again, all the vestiges make plenty of sense a game like Deadfire, it's really the strange injury/empower/non-vancian shift that has caused most of the issues.

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save spamming is fine so long as this is done in the context of encounters being generally beatable, and the designers didn't design an encounter with a 90% chance of instadeath so you have to reload: however much I love Fallout 1/2, those games are so brutally difficult early on (just down to stupid bad luck, e.g. a lucky critical hit from a venus fly trap plant that knocks you out until you die) that save spamming is a necessity which means they had poor early game encounter balance/design.

 

rest spamming is also fine, but it makes it harder for encounters to be properly balanced, if you want to be a well-tuned game. BG2/IWD2 become a lot easier once you check off "rest party until fully healed" and just rest after each encounter. (though IWD2 on heart of fury mode is hard enough that you can rest-spam and it is still a challenge). If you want resiliently well-balanced encounters, you have to eliminate rest-spamming somehow. PoE1 tried one approach (limit your rests), but failed because I think it wasn't restrictive enough (though I'm sure most players would have hated more restrictive resting). Deadfire is trying another approach (make rests not matter).

 

i think ultimately the "make rests not matter" is probably the best approach (probably not coincidentally a lot of games are converging on this solution, e.g. games like modern Tomb Raider where you heal to full health after a fight is over). some of my favorite tactical RPGs are essentially this (see: Final Fantasy Tactics), since each battle starts with everyone at full resources.

 

 

do you think theres any practical way of incorporating attrition inside a dungeon but outside of combat?

 

like im pulling ideas out of the air here, but d'you think thered be any mileage in something similar to darkest dungeons stress mechanic? a measure of how long ur character can keep spelunking and fighting before theyre forced to find an inn and get drunk? but something mostly separate from how ur character performs in combat, so u could safely balance encounters around a predictable level of resources.

 

i wouldnt have it like it is in the darkest dungeon where its an in-combat thing that monsters can target, i was thinking more of straight up linear progression. u fight x battles, u gain x stress or something. then like maybe ur partys stress hits a certain point and theyre debilitated in some way that forces u to back off.

 

i guess many people would be put off by its existence, but if ur not balancing actual encounters around it - only dungeon length - u could shove in a toggle switch and let people ignore it or stick it on if they want 'the immersions'.


I AM A RENISANCE MAN

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I think the worst change was due to criticism about the long-winded writing in the first. So now the game has more brevity but the writing can be downright cringey or confusing. I'll give you an example -

 

In one of the better faction quests you have the opportunity to oust the current Director for one of his underlings. Some political drama. The problem is...we barely know anything about his underlying so the dialogue is really disjointed, like we are convinced even though she is barely above a random NPC. It feels like something is missing.

 

I actually remember a review using this same example and it sticks out to me.

 

eh, i remember this section. u can chat to alvari. u find out shes from a poorer background from the other officials, has pulled herself up by her bootstraps etc etc and is more of a realist than the ambitious castol. the opportunities there for u to feel her out - shes the quest giver for one of the VTC missions. this might be just a case of skipping that step by wandering into poko kohara ahead of being given the quest.


I AM A RENISANCE MAN

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Having your character taken out of battle via low endurance simulates getting a concussion or other near-death sorts of injuries. Maybe the enemy would enact a double-tap, but they have other drawn blades and staffs to worry about. It opens up the opportunity to rescue your party member. It's a really great facet of the endurance system, is intuitive, and adds a neat layer of strategy of choice when it comes to party health management.

 

 

Pop quiz: Eder is at 20/120 endurance and is under attack. Should you use a big +60 heal on him? Trick question, because Eder was at 80/600 health. All you've done under constant pressure is turn a knock-out scenario into a permadeath scenario. There is literally no world in which it is intuitive to not heal the person in pain. And it's related to this violating one of the most basic rules of RPG-like mechanics: within your basic systems, a heal should always put you in a better situation. (Yes, you can have trickery like in M:TG where you have effects that turn healing into damage, but that's why it's within your basic system.)

 

The intent of health/endurance was to cause a resource constraint over many fights, despite healing up to full at the end of each fight, but it produces bizarre outcomes and broken incentives.

 

I've literally cast AoE spells to knock Eder out myself instead of letting his Constant Recovery go long enough to restore his endurance to the point that his health = endurance and any future knockout in the current fight instead becomes a ruinous permadeath. That is a fundamentally broken incentive in the system.

 

If they wanted to fix this, any healing should have instead have been implemented as "bonus endurance" basically an endurance shield that doesn't increase your current endurance. That way you avoid these broken situations where healing makes you more vulnerable. But this is probably too complicated for such a fundamental part of your RPG system.

 

A better solution is actually from Tyranny. There they don't have health/endurance, but they have wounds. Unlike in Deadfire, you need 10 wounds before they are fatal, but also unlike in Deadfire you also get wounds for being brought down to low health (in addition to lots of wounds from knockout). This performed a similar function as providing a resource constraint over many fights despite being healed to full each time (because while I've done no-knockout challenges in PoE1, it's extremely hard to avoid getting bloodied in Tyranny to avoid those wounds) without the weird edge cases that health/endurance introduces.

 

Also you absolutely can balance per-rest systems. Not only can you know exactly how many resources the player has at a given moment to implement a dynamic scaling. You can also scale the area relative to the players level, then forgo dynamic per-encounter scaling in favor of zone-balancing to encourage the player to strategically build momentum through an area while keeping it challenging. You can also repopulate mobs if the player rests in an area which would further discourage spamming. There are so many more options and it can vary area to area for totally different experiences and challenges. Challenges which play out different relative to a party's build. This environmental balancing is far better than some lazy system wide mechanic approach that makes assumptions abstractly over the whole game. It's also important for a character to be able to alter encounters based on preparation and prior play.
 
Once again, all the vestiges make plenty of sense a game like Deadfire, it's really the strange injury/empower/non-vancian shift that has caused most of the issues.
 
Many of those things you suggest are awful or tedious mechanics. Sure they might "balance" per-rest encounters for some definition of "balance," but they are also just extremely not fun and/or unintuitive (e.g. I hated rampant monster spawning in BG). Dynamic scaling is extremely hard to get right, and all you're really doing is opening yourself to weird loophole-y interactions.
Edited by thelee
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Guest Psychovampiric Shield

A better solution is actually from Tyranny. There they don't have health/endurance, but they have wounds. Unlike in Deadfire, you need 10 wounds before they are fatal, but also unlike in Deadfire you also get wounds for being brought down to low health (in addition to lots of wounds from knockout). This performed a similar function as providing a resource constraint over many fights despite being healed to full each time (because while I've done no-knockout challenges in PoE1, it's extremely hard to avoid getting bloodied in Tyranny to avoid those wounds) without the weird edge cases that health/endurance introduces.

I believe this feature was removed from Tyranny and now only knockouts cause wounds. Given that wounds also decreased stats, that was rational change, because otherwise it could send a player who was winning, but not winning by large enough margin, on downwards spiral towards the bitter end.

 

Anyway, it has the same problem (well, edge case): at some point you might want to stop healing and have a character knocked out, because it would survive wounds from knockout now, but not another wound and wounds from knockout later.

 

Perverse incentives exist in Deadfire too. For example one can sacrifice a companion to pull enemies to a gunpowder barrel and then blow them and the companion up. Or conversely hide with one companion and sacrifice the rest to kill some enemies by any means, then rest and repeat.

So the problem in PoE 1 is rather that death is not permadeath, and it has similarly weird consequences in Deadfire even though it abandoned heatlh/endurance system.

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A better solution is actually from Tyranny. There they don't have health/endurance, but they have wounds. Unlike in Deadfire, you need 10 wounds before they are fatal, but also unlike in Deadfire you also get wounds for being brought down to low health (in addition to lots of wounds from knockout). This performed a similar function as providing a resource constraint over many fights despite being healed to full each time (because while I've done no-knockout challenges in PoE1, it's extremely hard to avoid getting bloodied in Tyranny to avoid those wounds) without the weird edge cases that health/endurance introduces.

I believe this feature was removed from Tyranny and now only knockouts cause wounds. Given that wounds also decreased stats, that was rational change, because otherwise it could send a player who was winning, but not winning by large enough margin, on downwards spiral towards the bitter end.

 

Nope. I loaded up Tyranny again a few days ago and you still get wounds just from being dropped to low health. (Might be limited to PotD-only though.) Wounds used to decrease stats a lot at first, but in more recent versions are a little bit less painful.

 

 

Anyway, it has the same problem (well, edge case): at some point you might want to stop healing and have a character knocked out, because it would survive wounds from knockout now, but not another wound and wounds from knockout later.
 
Perverse incentives exist in Deadfire too. For example one can sacrifice a companion to pull enemies to a gunpowder barrel and then blow them and the companion up. Or conversely hide with one companion and sacrifice the rest to kill some enemies by any means, then rest and repeat.
 
So the problem in PoE 1 is rather that death is not permadeath, and it has similarly weird consequences in Deadfire even though it abandoned heatlh/endurance system.
 
Actually I'm not sure that's right. Whether or not you damage your own characters, they still have to get through low health, which triggers wounds, and once they do so I don't think they can trigger more wounds by healing up and then falling back down (I could be wrong and if so, this is also a bad mark on Tyranny's approach).
 
Similarly, decoys are not unintuitive, nor is it a perverse incentive. In fact, in many games, it is a great strategy to lure enemies into dangerous situations with a decoy. People do this IRL in wars and stuff.
 
Anyway to reiterate - the fundamental brokenness is the fact that in your basic system (before adding the complexities of one-off effects), healing should always be a good thing, instead of potentially extremely lethal. And not to mention that no one has touched on the fact that health/endurance could lead you to win unwinnable fights or lose unlosable fights because the health effectively meant that healing was capped (because bizarrely aside from Infuse with Vital Essence, all healing only affected endurance.)
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