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Baldur's Gate's mid-game paradigm shift - from trash mobs to elite enemy parties


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One of things I loved about BG1 is how there was a very pronounced shift midgame, from fighting "trash mobs" like kobolds and hobgoblins in the first half, towards fighting parties of enemy NPCs in the second half.

 

Not only did this give the player a great sense of progress from a narrative perspective ("I'm going up in the world! Real people are starting to actually notice what I've been doing!"), but it was also quite challenging mechanically. Fighting small parties of NPCs in Baldur's Gate was qualitatively a very different experience from fighting hordes of low-HP humanoid mooks. You had to completely rethink your approach, devise new tactics - it was almost like learning to play an entirely new game.

 

It added a lot of depth to the game that is strikingly absent from today's RPGs, where the enemies you encounter at the end of the game are so often just HP-bloated versions of the exact same enemies you encounter at the beginning of the game. I hope Obsidian consider having this kind of progression in Project Eternity, both narratively and mechanically.

Edited by Infinitron
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I agree, the Cloakwood Party is a major turning point in that respect. As the player gains access to various weapons, abilities and spells in the AD&D system, you could afford to have them take on an actual enemy party, which is always a far more interesting experience than fighting a single megamonster.

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I agree, the Cloakwood Party is a major turning point in that respect. As the player gains access to various weapons, abilities and spells in the AD&D system, you could afford to have them take on an actual enemy party, which is always a far more interesting experience than fighting a single megamonster.

 

Yes, the Cloakwood Mines are the turning point, where the difference between "trash mob horde" and "enemy NPC" becomes blurred, with enemies like the Black Talon Elites. After that, once you hit Baldur's Gate itself, it's almost like a completely different game.

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What are you talking about? There were a lot of trash mobs towards the end of the game (skeletons in Candlekeep dungeons, for example). Also, Baldur's Gate was an open-world game (more or less) and you could find strong enemy parties with a low-level character if you wanted to go and explore.

Edited by Lysen
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What are you talking about? There were a lot of trash mobs towards the end of the game (skeletons in Candlekeep dungeons, for example). Also, Baldur's Gate was an open-world game (more or less) and you could find strong enemy parties with a low-level character if you wanted to go and explore.

 

I'm making a generalization. Obviously trash mobs did not disappear entirely from the game after the Cloakwood, but there was a definite overall shift in emphasis on the main quest line.

Edited by Infinitron
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Doesn't matter to me as long as all fights get more challenging later in the game. I can certainly think fighting 500 challenging kobolds or one big monster can be as much fun as fighting some random organized party. The final boss fight in the BG1 Expansion was my favorite battle in the game.

Edited by Bill Gates' Son
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One of things I loved about BG1 is how there was a very pronounced shift midgame, from fighting "trash mobs" like kobolds and hobgoblins in the first half, towards fighting parties of enemy NPCs in the second half.

 

Not only did this give the player a great sense of progress from a narrative perspective ("I'm going up in the world! Real people are starting to actually notice what I've been doing!"), but it was also quite challenging mechanically. Fighting small parties of NPCs in Baldur's Gate was qualitatively a very different experience from fighting hordes of low-HP humanoid mooks. You had to completely rethink your approach, devise new tactics - it was almost like learning to play an entirely new game.

 

It added a lot of depth to the game that is strikingly absent from today's RPGs, where the enemies you encounter at the end of the game are so often just HP-bloated versions of the exact same enemies you encounter at the beginning of the game. I hope Obsidian consider having this kind of progression in Project Eternity, both narratively and mechanically.

 

Great post, totally agreed.

 

When they started rolling out the black talon elite and the chill you knew it was game on.

 

Would love to see Obsidian do something similar.

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Doesn't matter to me as long as all fights get more challenging later in the game. I can certainly think fighting 500 challenging kobolds or one big monster can be as much fun as fighting some random organized party. The final boss fight in the BG1 Expansion was my favorite battle in the game.

 

Urgh. That is possibly my least-liked fight in all the IE games. Outside of some masochistic Path of the Damned mode every fight in the game should be possible to beat on the first try without using any OOC knowledge as long as you've mastered the game mechanics, and that fight is the exact opposite; you're practically required to face it and die to learn how the fight works and then come up with tactics (and even then there's a decent chance bad luck will kill you).

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Actually it wasn't really mid-game. It just depended where you went from the area outside Candlekeep. There was a fantastic amount of open-world exploration in Baldur's Gate 1, I'd really like that to be mimicked in Project Eternity.

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It added a lot of depth to the game that is strikingly absent from today's RPGs, where the enemies you encounter at the end of the game are so often just HP-bloated versions of the exact same enemies you encounter at the beginning of the game. I hope Obsidian consider having this kind of progression in Project Eternity, both narratively and mechanically.

 

That's probably the thing that has been irking me the most about basically all "modern" RPGs. Mindless, ridiculous boss fights against things that simply have 9 million hitpoints (feels less than a fight and more like chopping wood...), resist every special ability you might be able to throw at them, and then, more often than not, spawn in hordes of pointless mooks from thin air without end.

 

Those things kill all strategy, all tactics and all roleplaying in the old, "classical" sense.

Strategic combat was about resource management - knowing when to cast that limited spell, when to use that last potion or when to throw in the final charges from that expensive wand. It was about choosing the best position for your party, and casting area effect spells to best possible effect. Nothing of those happen in today's boss fights (Dragon Age 2 anyone? :devil: ) when mindless hitpoint sinks need 20 minutes of whacking and endless mooks drop in from thin air in waves...

 

I'm really hoping for Obsidian to make this better :thumbsup:

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With magic, you can turn a frog into a prince...

With science, you can turn a frog into a Ph.D. ...

and still keep the frog you started with.

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Actually it wasn't really mid-game. It just depended where you went from the area outside Candlekeep. There was a fantastic amount of open-world exploration in Baldur's Gate 1, I'd really like that to be mimicked in Project Eternity.

 

This.

 

In terms of plot-enemies - that is, baddies who you'll certainly encounter if all you're doing is running the main quest line - the OP is right that there's a few very clear lines of progression. You run into a lot of individual bounty-hunter types in the early game (sometimes with a mate or two) who are clearly more powerful than the PC and demand teamwork and strategy as a party. And then there are the hordes of kobolds.

 

The trash mob encounters get progressively easier through the game, really (never met a doppelganger I couldn't wipe out), but the 'named' enemies and human mercenaries always pose a challenge. Really good balance, making sure you feel increasingly powerful and challenged at once.

Edited by stkaye
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Without exception, the fights against other parties were my favourite in the game. As I was discussing in another thread, fighting a group who had similar abilities and possibly even tactics to you made the fights a lot more interesting and difficult and I find that kind of thing really enjoyable. Do I take out the spellcasters first, or the front line fighters? What about the archers positioning themselves back from the frontlines and using poisoned arrows? Is brute force the best option here, precision fire or retreat and hoping to seperate the enemy up and take them out one at a time?

 

Almost paradoxically, having such enemies gives you more options in how to fight because, unlike a trash mob fight, you can't coast by on auto-attacks and low level spells. It allows you to mix things up and get creative.

 

There is also the fact that such parties tend to have loot which is more useful to you and your party...though of course, the better the loot, the more difficult it is to get it from it's current owner (as it should be).

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Almost paradoxically, having such enemies gives you more options in how to fight because, unlike a trash mob fight, you can't coast by on auto-attacks and low level spells. It allows you to mix things up and get creative.

 

 

 

Exactly the point. Maybe trashmobs like gnolls in BG 1 were some kind of nice because you played your first Infinity game and had to learn how it works. But later on, a lot of enemies are just kiddingly weak - I hope they do it more like in BG 2 where you had easy encounters in the starting dungeon and better ones later. By the way, it doesnt have to be always an adventuring party, just think of beholders, illithids or undead.

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I REALLY enjoyed those party vs. party fights in BG-series. Not to mention the bridge district house you can enter with a rogue stone ... Enemies loaded with protective magic, superior attackspells and clear advantage giving melee skills (vampire + beholder), while your party has nearly reached lvl6 debuffs. That's just amazing, multidimensional-realtime-chess (with lots of luck)!

 

Please don't forget a complicated protection/debuff system for mages ...! :dancing:

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I don't think there should be such a thing as a "trash mob" in the first place.

* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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I don't think there should be such a thing as a "trash mob" in the first place.

 

I disagree. Fighting off hordes of pesky humanoids is an important part of the classic "low level romp" experience. The early hours of Baldur's Gate just wouldn't be the same without those xvart, gibberling and kobold infestations.

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I dont' like the "lever romp" experience you describe.

 

I don't want to start killing rats and end up killing gods.

 

I want to start killing normal, dagerous things and move on to fight more dangerous things. I don't want to struggle with a single bandit only to kill hordes of them wihout looking later.

I want to struggle in the begining and still be challenged later by the same opponent(s)

So stupid HP and power inflation.

 

God-like power levels are for ego-maniacs anyway.

* YOU ARE A WRONGULARITY FROM WHICH NO RIGHT CAN ESCAPE! *

Chuck Norris was wrong once - He thought HE made a mistake!

 

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Doesn't matter to me as long as all fights get more challenging later in the game. I can certainly think fighting 500 challenging kobolds or one big monster can be as much fun as fighting some random organized party. The final boss fight in the BG1 Expansion was my favorite battle in the game.

 

Urgh. That is possibly my least-liked fight in all the IE games. Outside of some masochistic Path of the Damned mode every fight in the game should be possible to beat on the first try without using any OOC knowledge as long as you've mastered the game mechanics, and that fight is the exact opposite; you're practically required to face it and die to learn how the fight works and then come up with tactics (and even then there's a decent chance bad luck will kill you).

 

Disagree, outside of one or two fights in BG city itself, I don't remember it being all that hard. In any case I'm against the 'win every fight on the first try in the first playthrough' philosophy. Unless you've explicitly decided to start in nerf mode or something.

 

The easiest mode should totally be called nerf mode and your bows and guns should shoot little yellow cylinders like nerf darts. Heck, make all the weapons look like foam in nerf mode.

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Definitely there should be shift during the transition from low levels to mid levels, and from mid levels to high levels.

BG1 and BG2 (with Throne of Bhaal) - are paragons here, use their tradition well.

No to experimentation!

No to fixing that is not broken!

No to changes for the sake of change!

Do not forget basis of Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and Planescape Torment. Just put all your effort to story, fine-tuning and quality control.

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