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Help with Veteran difficulty - having a rough time - 1st playthrough


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Hello!  I'm kind of at a loss.  I've watched a bunch of YouTube videos and followed some Fextralife guides and read a bunch of Steam guides and I just keep dying.  I had about 85hrs on Pillars of Eternity 1 w / White March and I loved the game.  The difficulty setting was just challenging enough that I had to reload a few fights but could eventually modify my strategy to overcome them after one or two tries.  Most notably - that dragon was CRAZY!  The Frost dragon in the cave was nuts and the Adra dragon (oops, are these spoilers?) at the foot was absolutely bonkers!  I think I played on one setting above the standard difficulty - so "hard" or veteran or something - but definitely not ULTRA HARD or Path of the Damned.

I'm about 16hrs into Pillars of Eternity 2 - and I've restarted 3 times already.  I don't know if I'm just an idiot and I can't wrap my mind around the cross-classing and the stats and synergies or I'm not paying enough attention to resistances and armor values or what it is but I seem to be dying - like full party wipe - dying a LOT on the veteran difficulty.  And, to be perfectly honest, it's kind of deterring me from playing it as much - and I've been playing other things in my free time like Wasteland 3.  The story hasn't really gripped me like the first one did.  I absolutely love the tropical feel of the islands and the language and the "flavor" of the world but the main story has had me kinda scratching my head at times.  The ship battles have been SLAUGHTERFESTS - with me on the losing side.  And I seem to keep slamming my head against some unbeatable wall.  Even in the first main encounter where you have to (spoiler?) rescue the scientists from that little dig-site - I'm like dying over and over again.  So I think I'll stealth in from the other side or I'll lure them out of the pit to fight them with separate encounters or use some kinda crowd control.  And forget about it!  The skeletons inside NAIL me sofa king hard it's like...what am I doing wrong?

So my first though was that I tried to get too creative and fancy with my main character - I thought it'd be effin' awesome to be a berserking were-bear and so I mixed a barbarian with a druid of some kind and used all the standard companions - the way I played PoE 1 - no custom characters except the Main Char.  Eder was a Swash.  But I gave up and re-rolled when I wasn't able to tank the way I was hoping.  So then I re-rolled a fighter/paladin - shieldberer of elcga - all defensive w / spear - shield spec / extra engage / into the fray / modals for armor - defense up the WAZZIZANG - and Xoti just isn't able to keep us all alive long enough for the crowd control to work and the DPS to take mobs down.  My fighter is actually doing a decent job of living with some watcher stuff and gauns pledge and some paladin lay on hands and he's really capable but I'm like...at some island now looking for the remnants of an expedition at some old ruins and fighting these giant Xaurips with High Priests and Champions and getting my ass handed to me!

So then I re-rolled and made a full party of custom characters - keeping my MC the super defense fighter and an "off-tank" to pickup adds and generally keep the backline squishies safe - and I rolled up a dwarf barbarian cipher - witch?  I forgot the name but he dual wields and crits and does the soul whip and he can blind and fear mobs - pretty meaty and fun but he can't tank at all - and he dies fairly often on Veteran difficulty (jeesh - I must suck), and to support the party I made a ranger / assassin for long range DPS and a bear off-tank pet to try to pickup the non CC'd mobs who are killing my priest and mage.  Btw, the mage was a death mage who specializes in all the dazzling lights and web and oil slick and all the crowd control spells - and my priestess is just Xoti - for heals.

I need some help guys.  Am I doing anything obviously / overtly wrong?  What do you suggest?  Are the cross-classes inherently weaker until higher levels?  For my first playthrough should I just mono-class - single class every party member and give myself two (2) full front-line tanks with only (1) off-tank??  Will I be lacking in DPS?

I'm open to feedback / suggestions / constructive criticism.

Thank you in advance,

Brent

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Hi there,

Just a couple thoughts: you will find that as soon as you have a few levels under your belt, Deadfire is not so difficult (IMO less than POE1) BUT the difficulty is very front loaded, kind-of peaking at that dig site encounter. Gorecci street... just avoid the fight. And the skeletons in the training grounds are high level, come back later. Then if you finish Maje and go to Neketaka to do non/less violent quests, Deadlight, a bit of Tikawara, a bit of Dunnage, explore... you'll be fine. I won't spoil anything but difficulty comes back up with end game DLC content.

To better survive early game:

  • Indeed pay attention to armor rating (on both sides). Super important in Deadfire, on top of usual defenses/offense (which will be dismal at this point).
  • Maybe it's a bit obvious, but really make sure you've done everything else in Maje before engaging that digsite battle at the best level/setup possible. Early on, just 1 level = huge difference.
  • On martial characters early game, I'm a big fan of Monastic Unarmed Training, fists are the best weapons you can get at this point and until quite later (Xoti is also not a terrible Monk :) but she may be more useful as a Priest).
  • Don't hesitate indeed to recruit bodies. If you want discardable ones once you've gained all story companions, Devoted/Monk fighting with fists can be nice, straightforward early adds.
  • In a party ultimately you can win with any main character combo so really go with whatever floats your boat, you're not gimping yourself.
  • Positioning in Digsite is key: creating choke points up the stairs, discovering that there is a barrel of gun powder down in the pit... :) 

You'll crack it you'll see :) If you've beaten Adra/Alpine wurms you really have everything required :).

Cheers!

Edited by Not So Clever Hound
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Don't be discouraged. The Digside fight is just too difficult compared to the other content around. You can sneak around and avoid the fight - and maybe that's what Obsidian wanted you to do - but most new players just reload and reload until they become extremely frustrated. Maybe not the best encounter design in hindsight.

If one knows the mechanics better it's not that tough - or one addicentially or knowingly has more front-loaded characters in the party. But rel. new players will notice a huge spike in difficulty.

Don't give up - it gets a lot easier after that. 

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In additional to what has been written above, I will just add my 2 cents:

1. Multiclass characters are A LOT more frontloaded then Single Classes and typically far stronger at the start. SOME Single Classes eventually end up stronger late game. But moving to SC to be stronger early is a bad idea. Exception: you might want some casters to learn higher level spells sooner, particularly Priests, but also Wizards.

2. In order to survive ship boarding barrage early, equip your characters with heavy armor (preferably without penalty to Piercing AR). It really makes a ton of difference. Characters who can afford it, could also use a large shield with Shield Wall modal enabled. Also if you have a druid, cast Woodskin/Form of Delemgan. All this will make a HUGE difference.

 

Edited by Haplok
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I am on the same boat, mate.

I lost the count of times I restarted the game. Tried all classes, and still didn’t get the feeling of what I want. Sometimes the fights ends before I can cast two abilities, and I don’t have idea of what to do. 
 

I am using a Barbarian/BM, but maybe I will try something different this weekend, I want something that just don’t die in 5 seconds 🥲

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It has been said several times in other threads, but if you struggle to stay alive and want to make it your big focus then an Arcane Knight properly equipped, buffed (and played) is as sturdy as they get. If it's sturdy enough for PotD it will be even sturdier on Veteran which provides less ACC bonus to enemies. All while offering a ton of utility, flexibility and fun/firepower. You can choose based on your RP favored dispositions, all Paladin orders can be good in a party. For solo, Steel Garrote is probably optimal but everything is viable.

There is also absolutely zero shame in discovering the game on Normal and coming back to Veteran/PotD once you've learnt the ropes. Personally that's how I learned PoE1, then I started Solo playthroughs on PotD when I felt ready. I did a first half-playthrough of Deadfire on Normal, then I felt good enough to just play PotD. From then I've played almost only Solo Upscaled PotD. And I really don't consider myself a particularly cunning player :). It's just that this game has a significant learning curve, even for seasoned PoE1 players because enough mechanics have changed in Deadfire.

All I'm saying is you don't have to suffer through the learning curve :). Especially given the great replay-ability of the game, you can definitely do yourself a favor on your first playthrough!

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Wow guys!  Thank you for all the suggestions!  I went to sleep and came back to find a ton of great responses.

I think right now I'm going to stick with my current playthrough and really exhaust the Maje / Neketaka quests to get as many "early" levels as I can and then come back and chew bubble gum and kick ass and take names with a little bit of gear / experience.  I tend to be very thorough while questing but the sheer volume of side-quests and exploration opportunities has me totally side-tracked and loving it.  But maybe I'll circle-back and cross off all the early bounties / fetch quests in the first two cities.

One last quick question - I actually had a thought about this last night while I was trying to sleep - do you guys have any suggestions for some more crowd control focused race / class combinations?  I'm specifically thinking of crowd control in the form of disposable summons / adds to body-block or take hits intended for my party.  Or crowd control that actually turns the enemies AGAINST themselves or turns them to my team?  Like charm or confusion?  I know my wizard has a confusion spell but MOST of his first 3 levels of spells crowd control hit my guys for FRIENDLY FIRE which is forcing me to micro-manage the positions of all my melee guys during the fight and usually messing it up royally.  Web / oil slick / etc. are terrible for my front-liners.

Thank you!

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Wizards have no summons besides Essential and Substancial Phantom* (which are great though since they get all your items you currently wear) and no charm or dominate.

But you can do both with one character: summoning tons of creatures AND charming/dominating foes. Use a Psion/Troubadour and focus on summons (Troubadour) and Mind Control (Psion).

Start with summoning Skeletons and charming enemies with Whisper of Treason. Just note that charmed enemies will turn hostile again if you or your allies hit them. So leave them be until they flip alliance back. Later you can dominate foes (no flipping back wheh hit by allies) and summon additional skeletons "passively" with the phrase "Many Lives Pass By". You ca fill half the screen with friendly creatures this way and gang up on the only remaining hostile enemy. Repeat until all enemies are dead.  

 

)* and maybe some tentacles later

Edited by Boeroer

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That's an awesome suggestion!  Psion is a Cipher?  Troubadour is a Chanter or the bard type class?  I'll have to do a little more research.  I'm most familiar with the traditional classes - fighter, paladin, barbarian, wizard, priest, etc.  This game uses a few others that are more exotic like the bard and druid and cipher and stuff.

Thank you Boeroer!

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Yes indeed. Psion is a Cipher subclass who doesn't need to use weapons in order to generate his "spell fuel" named focus. It just comes to him like a steady trickle. Just avoid getting hit because that will stop the trickle for some time. But that's easy because of all the summons & mind controlled foes. You'll rarely have problems with getting attacked too much.

Troubadour is a Chanter subclass. It has a passive called "Brisk Recitation" that lets you gather phrases a lot more quickly. Like with a Psion, Chanters' "spell fuel" comes with time: they sing phrases. For every elapsed phrase they get a point which can be used for "invocations". Summoning a bunch of skeletons for example is done by such an invocation. 

The good thing about Psion/Troubadour is that while you are using the one fuel the other is reloading. The phrases can be used to load up invocation points for summons while the focus loads up and can be used for mind control then. 

The other good thing is that besides gaining resources so effortlessly and being good at summoning/mind controlling a Psion/Troubadour is very versatile (if you let him be). Healing, support, debuffing, crowd control, damage - it can all be done with such a character. 

Imagine you meet a bunch of enemies who can't be mind controlled (e.g. imps): just shock them with "Soul Shock" instead. Or there are enemies who can move across the battlefield easily and just circumvent your summons to get to you: paralyze them with "Killers froze Stiff". 

And so on. But generally speaking the combo of mind control + mass summoning is very powerful.

It's good to have some kind of Wizard in the party. Preferably one who can cast debuffs with high accuracy (e.g. Assassin/Wizard or Arcane Archer/Wizard or something like that) because a well-placed Miasma of Dull-Mindedness will lower the Will defense of enemies by 40 points straight and that's the defense your Psion/Troubadour wants to overcome. 

 

Edited by Boeroer

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Wow Boeroer!  Thanks for the insight and information.  A lot of that makes sense when you say it.  I really didn't get to know the subclasses well enough to understand the synergies.  I'm gonna pop back into the inn and re-spec / re-hire some companions to add some of those things.  I have a straight-wizard mono-class right now but it feels really lack-luster.  As I said in a previous post the web / oil slick / sparkles all hit friendly fire so I've been avoiding using his spells on mobs that my melee front-line are in combat with which really cuts into his efficacy.

Step 1: make a Psion / Troubadour

Step 2: re-spec my wizard to assassin / wizard

Step 3: PROFIT!

LOL!!!

Thanks again!

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10 hours ago, W1tchcr@ft said:

I have a straight-wizard mono-class right now but it feels really lack-luster.

If you keep on to him a bit it will be rewarding. Single Class Wizards do become very powerful. Besides the very good tier-8 and -9 spells he also will gain access to impactful spells a lot earlier than a multiclass. If you have trouble with friendly fire: there are some good spells that are foe-only. The best ones (imo) have friendly fire though. That's where Intellect (INT) comes into play.

Slicken/Chillfog etc.: those are very good spells for such low level tiers. I'd even say extremely good. But you have to make sure that your buddies don't step into it. The yellow indicators for your area of effect (deep yellow circle + lighter yellow ring) show you which parts of the spell will do friendly fire (the deep yellow circle) and which parts will be foe-only (the lighter yellow ring). If you have enough INT (or other bonuses for area-of-effect size like Aloth's armor or Ring of Overseeing) you can place those spells in such a way that enemies who stand right besides your front liners will get affected by the light yellow ring but your buddies won't get affected.

I mentioned Wizard multiclasses because some of them bring their own accuracy buffs. Like the Assassin/Wizard who can cast a very precise CC/debuff from stealth (or invisibility) with +25 accuracy - which is a massive advantage, especially early in the game. You can build such an Assassin/Wizard into a great debuffing/crowd controlling machine as well. Once you get a grimoire from the Archmage Arkemyr (that is possible rel. early in the game) you can cast the unique spell "Arkemyr's Brilliant Departure" from it - which makes you invisible for quite a long time and thus will give you the Assassin/Wizard's +25 accuracy buff.
Usually invisibility breaks as soon as you hit enemies (with whatever attack roll, be it damage, debuff etc.). The obscure "special sauce" (which is not hinted in the tooltip) of Arkemy's Brilliant Departure is that it only breaks when you deal damage(!).
That makes it the perfect spell to shower enemies with CC and debuff while being unseen. Its invisibility will not break as long as you don't deal damage, meaning you can cast the nastiest stuff on them with +25 accuracy - and all the while be untargetable and undisturbed by enemies.
Imagine a Miasma oDM with +25 accuracy, followed by Arkemy's Dazzling Lights with +25 ACC, too. This will lower an bunch of enemies' Will defense by solid 50(!) points which makes them the easiest prey for your Troubadour/Psion's mind control spells or his "Killers Froze Stiff" invocation (whtever he wants to cast which targets Will).
The charm or dominate effects of the Psion/Troubadour will mostly likely critically hit then - which means they will last 50% longer (which is huge). Also note that the Psion's "Lingering Echoes" effect (+20% duration) will stack with the longer durations from critical hits. Very, very long mind crontrol times can be the result. 
With a Psion/Trouabdour I also could perma-paralyze enemies that way because Killers Froze Stiff with 20%+50% duration (and maxed INT) lasted long enough so that I could recast it before the old cast wore off. 

However, also a single class Wizard can achieve good debuffing results if he has a Priest buddy. "Blessing" raises the Wizard's accuracy by 5 and "Devotions for the Faithful" will add another 10 points (of yourse you could do the same with the Assassin/Wizard which would make his accuracy from stelath/invisibility even more bonkers...). At the same time the Power Level of SC Wizards is higher than multiclass ones which also effects the accuracy a bit. Then you can make sure to wear some perception gear (like some early unique headpiece - see Horns of the Bleak Mother - for example) and some accuracy gear (Gautlets of Accuracy).

Once you have cast Minoleta's Missile Salvo you might not want to play multiclass Wizards again. ;) But stuff like a shady Assassin/Wizard is also very cool.  

 

Edited by Boeroer
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On 4/25/2021 at 4:57 AM, Boeroer said:

Slicken/Chillfog etc.: those are very good spells for such low level tiers. I'd even say extremely good. But you have to make sure that your buddies don't step into it. The yellow indicators for your area of effect (deep yellow circle + lighter yellow ring) show you which parts of the spell will do friendly fire (the deep yellow circle) and which parts will be foe-only (the lighter yellow ring). If you have enough INT (or other bonuses for area-of-effect size like Aloth's armor or Ring of Overseeing) you can place those spells in such a way that enemies who stand right besides your front liners will get affected by the light yellow ring but your buddies won't get affected.

Those spells are AWESOME!  But I was having the EXACT problem you described.  The light yellow / dark yellow rings.  And during character creation I min/maxed my mono-class wizard so she's got a 19 INT and 19 MIGHT I think.  But when the tank is constantly slipping and falling or freezing all hell breaks loose!  LOL!  I'm gonna need to really ZOOM IN and get very micro-detailed about the placement of my melee fighters and ranger pets.  I have a tendency to stay zoomed out to get a better high-level perspective on the battle.  But not using those spells seems like it's neglecting a really powerful tool in the kit.

Also, I haven't tried the "casting from stealth" strategy but I'm gonna have to give it a go.  I tend to explore the map with Fast Forward and Stealth and then when combat starts everyone walks REALLY SLOWLY toward the battle.  LOL!  Then, randomly, the ranger is the first one to get hit and is almost dead before the tank engages.  Sighhhh...

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1 hour ago, W1tchcr@ft said:

But not using those spells seems like it's neglecting a really powerful tool in the kit.

If your party's placement is a pain to manage in certain situations, there are also spells in the Wizard toolkit that have super powerful debuff/CC effects and that don't come in a pulsing/hazard AoE format. So they are one-shot, you only have to worry about initial targeting.

To cite a few that get very very good if combined:

Dazzling Lights
Curse of Blackened Sight
Miasma of Dull Mindedness
Ryngrim's Enervating Terror (!) - applying Terrify and Weaken vs. Will in such a long duration will completely shut down your enemies and prime them for devastating attacks. Everyone in your party will love you very much.


Of course Gaze of the Adragan... you also have a unique Ninagauth spell that does both DMG and Paralyze in a fireball type effect. And another one that spawns a giant magical hammer to pummel-lock a single target to oblivion. Etcetera, etcetera :).

Bottom line: if you can position your party carefully or if you play solo, the Wizard pulsing spells are outstanding, but many non-pulsing spells are outstanding too!

Edited by Not So Clever Hound
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1 hour ago, W1tchcr@ft said:

when combat starts everyone walks REALLY SLOWLY toward the battle.  LOL!  Then, randomly, the ranger is the first one to get hit and is almost dead before the tank engages.  Sighhhh...

Not sure if you know, but you can increase combat speed with the little cursor inside the little clock/timing thing on your HUD (it's a bit hard to notice, you can pull it to the right for increased combat speed). Beware though, with everything at full speed you can win or die very fast. (Personally I play full speed but with Auto-Pause when party member casts ability).

In Deadfire your enemies will naturally try to target your squishiest little dudes. So pre-combat placement/stealth is great to give the opportunity to your front line to engage and lock down opposition. The enemy will usually not try to move after that, for if they do they'll take a nasty disengagement attack.

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That's different from the "fast forward" button right next to the "pause" button?  I didn't know that.  The RTwP is a little tough to manage already with different casting times and abilities firing off and stuff.  I think I'll keep it where it is right now.

What's a Ninagauth spell????

Also, my party composition is a little awkward after modifying it for the advice in this thread - LOL!  And I went from a standard 5-man (tank, off-tank, ranged dps, priest, wizard) to ummm lots of hybrids - and now I've hired more people, in addition to the companions, and I can't seem to figure out how to fire them or dismiss them.  LOL! 

tank - defensive fighter / st. elcga shieldbearer paladin - wielding dagger / large shield (main character from PoE1)

off-tank - berserker barbarian / cipher (witch?) - dual-wielding hatches and critting like a madman (or trying to)

ranger / assassin - arquebus sniper w / bear pet

ranger / wizard - arcane archer w / lion pet (boeroer's special) - debuffs / crowd control

troubadour / psion (boeroer's special) - charm / pet summoning / etc.

And I don't really have any heals though they haven't really been necessary with the latest setup.

How do you play solo?  Is that like DivOS2 Lone Wolf??????

Brent

 

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Yes the combat speed cursor is different from the Fast Fwd button, it's a tiny little cursor just above.

Ninagauth is an Archmage and he crafted a few standard and unique spells in the game (unique = only available in unique grimoires) - nothing to worry about right now :).

You don't get anything like lone wolf bonuses when you play Solo but you level up faster and you can concentrate all the best stuff and buffs/bonuses on one character so it helps. Ultimately Solo is still harder in end-game but I prefer it personally - for the challenge and to generally avoid the hassle of party placement and loot distribution. I work with a team all day so when I relax in a video game I'm happy to be an "Individual Contributor" :).

Your party seems hard hitting, lots of damage and CC - as long as you can make it work I can see that you don't need healing. You can dismiss your party members when you enter one of the cities (the map view), in a tavern or on your ship. The bottom menu.

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On 4/25/2021 at 12:13 PM, abot said:

just a note I think lingering echoes is 10%

Yes, sorry. I'm playing with the Community Patch and forgot that Lingering Echoes gets buffed a bit by it. I also believe it's +15% with CP, not +20%. :blush: 

Edited by Boeroer
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