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Why the main plot, to me, is emotionally unsatisfying.


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I like a lot of things about deadfire. I like the mechanics, I like most of the companions, I like the faction system, and I really like the expansions. But I've still played it less than half the time I've played PoE1 because every time I think about it the main quest and the limits of main-character responses annoy me so much.

It's not that I expect to be able to stop Eothas (though the fact that sending Wael in his titan against him does literally nothing is kind of lame), but game starts out with Eothas murdering you and destroying your home and there's no real option to express that you hate him for it and want vengeance as your main motivation (even if you realise true vengeance is going to be hard or impossible to achieve). Every conversation with Eothas is this big-picture discussion about the wheel and the gods vs mortals when my MC wouldn't care if Eothas is right or wrong in the grand scheme of things, they'd want Eothas to fail and suffer because Eothas made them suffer, and the game barely recognises that this is a thing a person might feel when it's the most human reaction I can imagine from someone in the watchers position.

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Hmmmm, I'm pretty certain there were some "It's personal, I want my revenge!" choices scattered here and there? Even in the final conversation you can go "Come at me bro!!!", no? Though I disagree about petty revenge being the most human reaction - unlike in (too) many RPGs, PoE's protag is not quite a power-tripping power fantasy vessel and power disparity between them and actual god is ->   , so flexing at Eothas is like shaking your fist at erupting volcano. And you can always flex at Rymrgand if you want to experience confronting a God... :)

 

 

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28 minutes ago, bugarup said:

Even in the final conversation you can go "Come at me bro!!!", no?

As I recall it's just a symbolic act of defiance because you don't want him to break the Wheel. But I do so rarely finish a playthrough...

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33 minutes ago, bugarup said:

Hmmmm, I'm pretty certain there were some "It's personal, I want my revenge!" choices scattered here and there? Even in the final conversation you can go "Come at me bro!!!", no? Though I disagree about petty revenge being the most human reaction - unlike in (too) many RPGs, PoE's protag is not quite a power-tripping power fantasy vessel and power disparity between them and actual god is ->   , so flexing at Eothas is like shaking your fist at erupting volcano. And you can always flex at Rymrgand if you want to experience confronting a God... :)

I literally just said it would be hard or impossible to actually get revenge so I don't see why you bring that up as a counterpoint. The point isn't that I wanted to be able to get revenge on Eothas, it's that the game barely recognises that I'd feel like i want to (while at the same time realising its probably not going to happen). 

Plenty people are angry at things much larger and powerful then they are (governments, corporations etc.) without expecting to be able to do much of anything about it.

I just want the option to spit in his face and call him an idiot.

Edited by limaxophobiacq
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Yeah, but I also mentioned you do have some flavour choices to say it's personal. Not in every conversation, but with some companions, Eder and perhaps also Tekehu, I think, when making a speech for your crew, at least once in conversation with Eothas himself, might be some more. 

Spitting in his face might be tricky though, on account of gravity and him being taller than you.  

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Flavor choices are one thing, but regardless of how "realistic" it is in practice to go up against a god (and keep in mind people DID successfully blow up a god in the lead-up to poe1), people generally want their protagonists to be able to effect change. I think it's amusing on an intellectual level how nothing you end up doing matters (even having Wael destroy Eothas, or bringing Waidwen to plead the case does nothing), much in the same way it's intellectually amusing that Indiana Jones has 0 impact on the outcome of Raiders of the Lost Ark, but in a less intellectual sense it's also unsatisfying. You don't have a character arc, so you're left with your impacts to judge your story, and you have zero impact on the crit path.

Perhaps if the writers had put way more emphasis on the factional conflicts in the Deadfire (where you can have massive impact) and treated Eothas as a much more abstract mcguffin, or really let you make meaningful actions in personal vengeance (instead of throwaway lines), there would be less complaints about the main story. But as it is, the crit path is treated as a monumental story beat, the factions are pretty much optional, you have flavor text that takes you to the same dialogue outcomes, and so you could easily end up with an experience where you're mostly interacting with something that you have no impact on. I get why the main story is a recurring criticism.

 

 

edit: i watched a game/story analysis video, and one thing that stuck with me was their claim that you can either have lots of meaningful reactivity, or you can have a strong main story. You can't have both. Everyone loves talking about FNV but it's worth pointing out that you could specify for yourself in starkly different ways the fate of New Vegas and its surroundings because anything else would make all the reactivity and impact of the rest of the game a lie. I'm not sure it's workable to have lots of places of impact in the Deadfire, but then have a main story that must end a particular way (the wheel gets destroyed). Anyone remember the controversy over the Mass Effect 3 ending? Imagine that, except you don't even have the two or three blunt choices on offer at the end. I think if the writers had been willing to let go of prescribing an ending and truly let you have on impact on the fate of the wheel and Eothas and your relationship with him/them, that would be a lot better, even if it makes a direct sequel challenging.

Edited by thelee
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IMO, if they wanted the destruction of the Wheel to be set in stone, it should start occurring at the beginning of the game. e.g., by the time you arrive in the Deadfire, Eothas is already at Ukaizo and in the process of tearing the Wheel down. Instead of it being nearly instantaneous, the dismantling process would take some length of time, during which you would traverse the Deadfire and find some way of reaching Ukaizo yourself to reclaim your soul. The gradual dismantling of the Wheel starves the gods of souls, and the various factions all have their own ideas on which gods they would like to see weaker, and which gods they would like to persist, perhaps even cutting deals with the gods. The main content of Deadfire, then, would be to not only help the various faction solidify their position in the Deadfire, but also decide which gods you want to selectively weaken or strengthen, and in the process find a way to Ukaizo. By the time you reach Ukaizo, Eothas is just about done. He discusses your choices, finishes dismantling the wheel, gives you your soul back, then runs out of soul juice and dies. The destruction of the Wheel would still be non-negotiable, but you would be able to make the best of the instability and uncertainty that its destruction brings about.

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15 hours ago, thelee said:

Perhaps if the writers had put way more emphasis on the factional conflicts in the Deadfire (where you can have massive impact) and treated Eothas as a much more abstract mcguffin, or really let you make meaningful actions in personal vengeance (instead of throwaway lines), there would be less complaints about the main story. But as it is, the crit path is treated as a monumental story beat, the factions are pretty much optional, you have flavor text that takes you to the same dialogue outcomes, and so you could easily end up with an experience where you're mostly interacting with something that you have no impact on. I get why the main story is a recurring criticism.

 

Yeah. There's nothing wrong with having 'some things are to big for you to affect' be a thing in the game but having that be the main story of a game which is about player interaction just feels bad.

Compare say Disco Elysium, where you play a character vastly less powerful/influential in his setting than the watcher, where there's on one hand a story about a murder you're solving, and on the other a story about politics and the seemingly inevitable doom of the setting through natural disaster. But unlike Deadfire the game focuses on the former where you can actually do something, and the small victory you get in the end actually feels satisfying even though the world is still pretty much screwed.

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