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I've recently started replaying both POE 1 and 2. I would say there are two main reasons why the sequel didn't sell well, gameplay and story.

 

When POE1 first came out, it was far from balanced. When no one knew that carnage's accuracy increases as you level up or how most classes work, the game pits you against the stupid ghosts that shred your party at level 4. Believe it or not, but most people tend to give up and blame the game when they face a tough encounter like that rather than lower the difficulty. So what does Obsidian do for the sequel? They flip everything 180 degrees. When Deadfire came out, all you needed was cleaving stance and everything died on POTD. 

Obsidian's tendencies to nerf fun builds also don't help. Game balance is crucial, and I understand that a certain class shouldn't have a 1 shot button skill. I agree that the game should be challenging for a cookie-cutter build. However, nerfing fun niche builds that require certain synergies to work is mind-boggling for a single player game. Creative players shouldn't be punished for trying to explore the available options, nor should they be forced to play a certain way, this isn't a competitive mmo.

 

A lot of game critics critique the story when most of them only had an incomplete picture. Also, while reading the forum it seems a lot of people are confused about the story. The writing is excellent, but problem is the fact that POE1's story is split into three intertwined parts; Endless Paths (Pre-Gods), Inquisition(main story), and Waidwen(companions). It was a pretty bad idea to put much of the story that lead to the creations of the gods in one long ass optional dungeon. The funny part is if reach the fampyr without learning Engwithan welp guess what no more story for you. The Waidwen part is also very important in understanding the interaction between gods but guess what you need to bring the most obnoxious dude with you the whole time and convince him at the end that his goddess betrayed him to get the complete picture. 

I'd like to write a full review on the story of Pillars but I am too lazy and still haven't finished my latest Deadfire playthrough. 

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1 hour ago, aqeelus said:

When POE1 first came out, it was far from balanced. When no one knew that carnage's accuracy increases as you level up or how most classes work, the game pits you against the stupid ghosts that shred your party at level 4.

What does this refer to? I have no memory of this kind of thing, at all.

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2 hours ago, xzar_monty said:

What does this refer to? I have no memory of this kind of thing, at all.

Spoiler

The second level of the Temple to Eothas in Gilded Vale has a bunch of shades that aqeelus is referring to.

 

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3 hours ago, aqeelus said:

I've recently started replaying both POE 1 and 2. I would say there are two main reasons why the sequel didn't sell well, gameplay and story.

 

When POE1 first came out, it was far from balanced. When no one knew that carnage's accuracy increases as you level up or how most classes work, the game pits you against the stupid ghosts that shred your party at level 4. Believe it or not, but most people tend to give up and blame the game when they face a tough encounter like that rather than lower the difficulty. So what does Obsidian do for the sequel? They flip everything 180 degrees. When Deadfire came out, all you needed was cleaving stance and everything died on POTD. 

Obsidian's tendencies to nerf fun builds also don't help. Game balance is crucial, and I understand that a certain class shouldn't have a 1 shot button skill. I agree that the game should be challenging for a cookie-cutter build. However, nerfing fun niche builds that require certain synergies to work is mind-boggling for a single player game. Creative players shouldn't be punished for trying to explore the available options, nor should they be forced to play a certain way, this isn't a competitive mmo.

 

A lot of game critics critique the story when most of them only had an incomplete picture. Also, while reading the forum it seems a lot of people are confused about the story. The writing is excellent, but problem is the fact that POE1's story is split into three intertwined parts; Endless Paths (Pre-Gods), Inquisition(main story), and Waidwen(companions). It was a pretty bad idea to put much of the story that lead to the creations of the gods in one long ass optional dungeon. The funny part is if reach the fampyr without learning Engwithan welp guess what no more story for you. The Waidwen part is also very important in understanding the interaction between gods but guess what you need to bring the most obnoxious dude with you the whole time and convince him at the end that his goddess betrayed him to get the complete picture. 

I'd like to write a full review on the story of Pillars but I am too lazy and still haven't finished my latest Deadfire playthrough. 

I never understood why the folks of Obsidian were so nerf happy in PoE2 compared to PoE1. They also made greatswords weak as ****, limited the amount of upgrade supplies you can get so you are forced to choose your main weapons from the beginning instead of experimenting like in their awesome game Fallout: New Vegas, and their game doesn't even properly follow their own rule set at times.

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29 minutes ago, Haljamar said:

limited the amount of upgrade supplies you can get so you are forced to choose your main weapons from the beginning instead of experimenting

What? I can't see how this could be true. I changed my weapons and experimented with them. What exactly would force you to choose? If you can't get your weapons up to mythic or even legendary status, that doesn't matter one bit.

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1 minute ago, xzar_monty said:

What? I can't see how this could be true. I changed my weapons and experimented with them. What exactly would force you to choose? If you can't get your weapons up to mythic or even legendary status, that doesn't matter one bit.

Legendary status is needed to effectively boost your melee classes damage for the superbosses in the DLCs, and the dragons that can turtle up with healing abilities such as the Volcano dragon.

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36 minutes ago, Haljamar said:

Legendary status is needed to effectively boost your melee classes damage for the superbosses in the DLCs, and the dragons that can turtle up with healing abilities such as the Volcano dragon.

But there is no need to battle either the superbosses or the dragons. So you are not, in fact, forced to choose your main weapons from the beginning. Your options are going to be more limited if you specifically want to do certain things, but I see nothing wrong with that..

Edited by xzar_monty
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Legendary adds 15% additive dmg which is like nothing in the late game (e.g. 2.4 points per attack roll with a sword). The added ACC is nice but doesn't really matter as well as long as your are with a party. In none of my party playthroughs I even bothered to enchant any weapon (that didn't come with legendary in the first place) higher than superb.

Great Swords are fine in Deadfire. Good base dmg, dual dmg, very good uniques, two summonable ones, reasonable PEN for a dual dmg weapon. The only thing that's not very good is the modal. Because no situation calls for a bit more additive dmg (6.3 per attack roll) while lowering ACC significantly.

While I think that balance is important, even in single player games, I agree that when a nerf hits your char while you are doing a playthrough it can be very frustrating. That's why I once suggested that nerfs/buffs should be separate patches that only apply to newly started playthroughs. But using nerfs as explanation for sales drops... how many players actually used some "creative" powergamer's build which then got nerfed? Not that many I would suspect.

Edited by Boeroer
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Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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regarding weapon upgrades: One thing is the improvement of penetration. I do not play on PotD, but even then some enemies are very annoying. In systems with DR you can compensate problems with more damage, in Deadfire your damage is pathetic if your penetration does not reach enemy AR.

back to sales numbers: Yes, maybe the fact that obsidian nerved stuff every time players found something powerful might be another factor among many others. RPGs are the type of games with the most complex rules. Even devs cannot predict everything. Players will find combinations of items and abilities that can make some encounters that are supposed to be difficult very easy, up to the point of becomming immortal. I am surprized they did not nerf salvation of time+barring deaths door+brilliant, which seems to be the only way to manage the ultimate chellenge.

Lets invent a rule: Every sufficiently complex RPG will have legal combinations to break the game. If this is impossible either its not an RPG or its not complex enough.

By break I mean you become almost immortal against most enemies. Deadfire is a complex RPG by this definition. I just finished Mass effect again and it is not. Its easy in general, just shoot stuff and watch for cover. Just to be sure: Just because a game is not a very complex RPG does not mean it is a bad game and not every complex RPG is good.

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14 minutes ago, Madscientist said:

Lets invent a rule: Every sufficiently complex RPG will have legal combinations to break the game. If this is impossible either its not an RPG or its not complex enough.

Hey, that was good! And funny, which is always a plus. It immediately made me think of NetHack, at which I'm very good and whose latest incarnation (3.6.6) I recently finished playing a tourist, generally regarded as the hardest class. There is a certain combination of items and intrinsic properties that you can legally acquire and that make you almost immortal.

By the way, I wish to stress that the word *almost* is crucial, both in NetHack and with your rule in general.

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On ‎7‎/‎13‎/‎2020 at 11:22 AM, Madscientist said:

Lets invent a rule: Every sufficiently complex RPG will have legal combinations to break the game. If this is impossible either its not an RPG or its not complex enough.

By break I mean you become almost immortal against most enemies. Deadfire is a complex RPG by this definition. I just finished Mass effect again and it is not. Its easy in general, just shoot stuff and watch for cover. Just to be sure: Just because a game is not a very complex RPG does not mean it is a bad game and not every complex RPG is good.

I'm not that sure. There are indeed a handful of combos that break the game in PoE2 that couldn't be identified by the devs (or they simply didn't want to remove), but we have tracked them down on this forum during the last months. Honnestly, it seems that once Wall of Draining and Salvation of Time are excluded, the whole system feels pretty game-breaking free (strong or OP abilities aren't the same as gamebreaking).

I think PoE2 ruleset is quite robust in general.

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19 hours ago, Elric Galad said:

I'm not that sure. There are indeed a handful of combos that break the game in PoE2 that couldn't be identified by the devs (or they simply didn't want to remove), but we have tracked them down on this forum during the last months. Honnestly, it seems that once Wall of Draining and Salvation of Time are excluded, the whole system feels pretty game-breaking free (strong or OP abilities aren't the same as gamebreaking).

I think PoE2 ruleset is quite robust in general.

To wit - IWD2's spells system was much more robust to degeneracy than BG2, despite using the same engine and an equally complex ruleset (probably moreso, since IWD2 implemented 3e multiclassing). It's because OBS (who was then Black Isle) knew in advance to exclude certain spells or itemization. Turns out you can eliminate a bunch of degeneracy by just not having spells like Time Stop or (Chain) Contingency, or items like Vecna's Robe.

Edited by thelee
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I would like a more fantasy setting.  POE has been extremely grounded in reality from the get go compared to DnD, properties.  Alot of the factions and content feels like just real world stuff translated to the POE world with minor changes, I think the setting is quite boring TBH.  POE2 played it real safe in this regard. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is conjecture on my part at best, but I think:

  1. It's a pirate game,
  2. The reviews were actually pretty bad from a significant subset of CRPG fans (which happen to be the ones I care to listen to).

Again, I don't have the evidence together make this anything more than conjecture, but I think the decision to set the game in the Deadfire was a disaster. The setting immediately turned me off and put immense pressure on other aspects of the game to carry it. Unfortunately those aspects weren't up to challenge IMO. Cf. IWD, NWN2 OC which are pretty average games in many ways but ultimately fun because I get to do the whole fantasy D&D thing. Deadfire from the outset did not have this fallback position; it has no strategic depth. Obviously some people enjoy pirate games, but the Venn intersection between them and people who like isometric CRPGs is relatively small. PoE1 did a brilliant job of breathing new life into 'fantasy land': just a small shift in Earth-equivalent timescale to push it from late medieval into renaissance was subtle but effective.

One could go into depth about the relationships between staple fantasy themes and settings, and their audiences, but I know I'm not the only fantasy fan who finds the whole pirate thing utterly uninspiring. I'm sure it could work, but it's a bold move and I don't think Obsidian were well placed to make it. If I hadn't played PoE1 and ranked it in my top 3 games ever, I would have paid close to zero interest (and certainly zero money) to Deadfire.

I read a fair amount of review in the weeks after Deadfire's release, but I didn't pay much attention to the major outlets which are generally out of line with my tastes. I like games that take themselves seriously, have a relatively dark or gritty tone, go light on humour, go long on main narrative and I'll take immersive atmospheres over optimised mechanics any day. That's why I loved PoE1 and naturally I'll check out reviews from gamers with similar tastes. From that corner of the community, I found the reviews ranged from disappointed to damning. People do read this stuff, espcially for games aimed at a relatively intelligent and thoughful niche market.

Clearly lots of people here liked the change of tone and setting and had a great time with Deadfire. That's awesome, but it is a very different game. It's often stated that Deadfire sold poorly because no one really liked PoE1 that much. I think the reality is that the people who really did like PoE1 that much just didn't like the direction the successor had taken. That leaves people who were just waiting all their lives to play an isometric pirate game vaguely reminiscent of D&D...

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1 hour ago, alsey said:

I like games that take themselves seriously, have a relatively dark or gritty tone, go light on humour, go long on main narrative and I'll take immersive atmospheres over optimised mechanics any day. That's why I loved PoE1 and naturally I'll check out reviews from gamers with similar tastes.

This is interesting. So, to be more specific, which titles do you enjoy? I like BG2, PoE and Deadfire a lot. I like P:K quite a bit, but much of the writing is too cheesy. I would like to like NWN, but the 3D approach just doesn't work for me, and the writing is poor. IWD is quite all right, but as there is no character interaction, it gets shallow.

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4 hours ago, xzar_monty said:

This is interesting. So, to be more specific, which titles do you enjoy? I like BG2, PoE and Deadfire a lot. I like P:K quite a bit, but much of the writing is too cheesy. I would like to like NWN, but the 3D approach just doesn't work for me, and the writing is poor. IWD is quite all right, but as there is no character interaction, it gets shallow.

Well BG is the benchmark for me as for many of us, and I actually rate BG1 and BG2 equally with each excelling in slightly different ways. Interestingly the tone of BG2 is quite dependent on who you have the in the party. I can't imagine playing it with the likes of Minsc and Jan; it would drive me nuts. The PoE games each have a more consistent tone and I happened to like the first one.

Otherwise I would have Deus Ex and Mass Effect near the top. I'm not die hard with the isometric thing despite my love for the IE games.

While PoE1 might not be the best overall, in terms of tone it really hit the spot for me and frankly the setting and the way it meshes with the story is most rewarding I've ever played in.

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I own the complete PoE and PoE2 games, and I'll briefly state my disappointments with both--as a comment on why PoE2 didn't sell well from the start.

 

*The episodic approach to PoE, that is, the base game being released, then part two six months later, then part three six months after that, was a major negative, in my experience.  Basically, part two was more like a plug-in mod--it was sort of ragged and rough, and the connection with the base game seemed contrived.  Part three--the same--parts 2 & 3 seemed more like amateur mods than actual extensions of the base game itself.  If I had it to do over I suspect I would have enjoyed waiting until parts 2 & 3 had shipped and all the considerable amounts of patching had been completed before buying the game. I think they'd have done much better to wait until all three parts had been finalized to an extent before shipping the game. 

*So I waited until the content was complete for PoE2 before buying the game--almost nine months after it shipped.  PoE2 didn't seem to have much in common with PoE, and it was difficult to figure the pirate-ship aspect.  But more than any other reason, imo, that PoE2 didn't sell well was because it took a solid nine months after release to get the game up to the intended standards--with a turn-based option, and so on.  Same sort of thing that hobbled PoE in the drip-drip release of the content. By the time everything was complete in PoE2--most people had simply moved on to other games.  What a shame because the finished-content and bug-patched PoE2 is a turn-based masterpiece! 

Both games were released at least six months too early. Maybe a year too early, as in the case of PoE2.  And there you have it. 

Take Outer Worlds, for instance.  The base game was released with most of the content done and it was in much better shape in terms of release-day bugs.  It sold much, much better, according to what the publisher has said about the game.  And that's why...  Definitely not rocket science.  The release schedules for PoE and PoE2 were greatly flawed, imo. 

Edited by waltc

It's very well known that I don't make mistakes, so if you should stumble across the odd error here and there in what I have written, you may immediately deduce--quite correctly--that I did not write it... :biggrin:

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On 8/16/2020 at 4:43 PM, alsey said:

Also I've basically stayed away from DOS2 and P:K for these reasons. BG3 could be interesting.

DOS2 is much better than DOS1, I'll say...;)  And I liked DOS1, actually.  It was fun for the period in which it was released.  DOS2 is enjoyable, as well!  Not sure what P:K is...;)

It's very well known that I don't make mistakes, so if you should stumble across the odd error here and there in what I have written, you may immediately deduce--quite correctly--that I did not write it... :biggrin:

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1 hour ago, waltc said:

...But more than any other reason, imo, that PoE2 didn't sell well was because it took a solid nine months after release to get the game up to the intended standards--with a turn-based option, and so on.

...The release schedules for PoE and PoE2 were greatly flawed, imo. 

I agree with you, and I'm sure this impacts early sales. I waited over a year to play PoE1 even though I was a backer and owned it at release. I don't want to deal with all of the bugs, missing features, and balancing pains.

I'm sure this also killed Wasteland 2's reception. Major features were still being added for at least a year after release. The most dedicated fans end up becoming angry and cynical after months of playing the betas and initial releases, experiencing all of the bugs and nerfs. By the time the game is up to standards, half of them are actively working against it.

The alternative is worse, though. Most studios don't have the option to release it "when its done". So I'm grateful these games weren't abandoned after release. I expect they'll eventually be outright successes, but its going to take years. Just like it did for most of the classics they're trying to emulate.

Edited by Helz
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10 hours ago, waltc said:

But more than any other reason, imo, that PoE2 didn't sell well was because it took a solid nine months after release to get the game up to the intended standards--with a turn-based option, and so on.

The turn-based option was not an intended standard (though I'm not sure what you mean by this), it was an extra.

Also, your argument doesn't really work, because Poe2 sales were poor from the start, and at that point people certainly didn't know what was wrong or right with the game, especially because the reviews were perfectly normal.

Edited by xzar_monty
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11 hours ago, Helz said:

Most studios don't have the option to release it "when its done". So I'm grateful these games weren't abandoned after release. I expect they'll eventually be outright successes, but its going to take years. Just like it did for most of the classics they're trying to emulate.

Hang on a minute now. Most of the classics? Really? I hereby challenge you to name five classics that only became successes years after release. I couldn't name any myself.

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15 hours ago, waltc said:

Take Outer Worlds, for instance.  The base game was released with most of the content done and it was in much better shape in terms of release-day bugs.  It sold much, much better, according to what the publisher has said about the game.  And that's why...  Definitely not rocket science.  The release schedules for PoE and PoE2 were greatly flawed, imo. 

Outer Worlds is a completely different game. Fantasy vs. Science Fiction, 2.5 D isometric RTwP vs. 3D FPS, PC only vs. multiplatform. That's a bit like saying Deadfire sold poorly because it didn't have the same release model as Fortnite. 🤸‍♂️

If you want to draw comparisons then you have to compare games of the same gerne which cater to the same audience: isometric, party based fantasy RPGs. Those that sold a lot better than Deadfire (PoE, Pathfinder:KM, D:OS I and II) all kind of had the same release practices as Deadfire with later DLCs- which apparently had no big effect on the sales numbers. Some of them were much worse in terms of bugs at release (PF:KM for example, D:OS also was a bit borked at release).

Even old games like those of the Baldur's Gate or Icewind Dale series had expansions which were released a lot later. Much later than Deadfire's DLCs in fact. And all those games had their fair share of bugs.

One could argue that the decision to integrate the DLCs into the main game leads to more players waiting for those expansions before buying/playing the game - but then they would buy/play it at some point later which wouldn't hurt overall sales numbers - it would only spread them. Why would a majority of potential players be so put off that they skip the game entirely - just because there are expansions coming later? Doesn't make much sense I think - on an individual basis: yes - but is this an explanation why the sales numbers dropped to 1/5th of PoE's (which had the same release model and was successful with it)? I don't think so. If that would be true then all games that put out DLCs over the course of several months or years would get hurt badly. But they don't. Ask Battle Brothers and their plethora of awesome DLCs that all came out months and even years after the release of the main game. The last one came out last week (over 5 years after release) and it seems it's a big success. Battle Bothers also still gets patches that fix issues and balance stuff. Imagine players waiting 5 years to finally play a "finished" Battle Brothers game...

Also publishes ususally know from experience and market research which release practices work and which don't. If the release model of PoE, Deadfire, Pathfinder:Kingmaker, Battle Brothers and so on would be so disadvantageous they wouldn't do it anymore. 

Explaining why Deadfire sold badly is def. not easy. Not even the experts and people with deep insight know - so saying "it's no rocket science" sounds a bit presumptuous. It surely is no rocket science to you to explain what you personally didn't like - but that doesn't mean it's indeed the reason for the massive sales drop. After all you did buy Deadfire despite your release-related concerns - so your anecdotal reference doesn't even work for your own argument. 🤷‍♂️

Edited by Boeroer
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Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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10 minutes ago, Boeroer said:

Explaining why Deadfire sold badly is def. not easy. Not even the experts and people with deep insight know - so saying "it's no rocket science" sounds a bit presumptuous. It surely is no rocket science to explain for you what you personally didn't like - but that doesn't mean it's indeed the reason for the massive sales drop. After all you did buy Deadfire despite your release-related concerns - so your anecdotal reference doesn't even work for your own argument. 🤷‍♂️

Your last point is almost cruel because it so effortlessly dismantles the other person's argument -- but yes, you are correct. What you highlight there is something that appears to be common on forums like these: people have strong opinions, but they have difficulty appreciating that no facts or conclusions naturally follow from their strong opinions. When we try to determine the relative failure of Deadfire, opinions don't really count for much (including my opinions, of course).

Heck, I think D:OS2 is not a good game at all. I gave up on it in something like three hours, because it's so poor, in my view. But in terms of facts, I am one of the people who contributed to it being a huge success, even if I think it's rubbish.

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