I've been meaning to write this one down for quite some time now :
I've touched upon this topic before, but I think it warrants a more in-depth look. To start off - I think that many cRPGs make the mistake of rendering magical items utterly mundane; after all, if you practically trip over them since the very beginning of your journey, they do lose their charm a bit, don't they? On the other hand, using nothing but ordinary trappings doesn't sound too exciting either.
What if PE offered players cultural equipment, while making magical items truly rare? Instead of finding just another +1 longsword we'd, for an instance find :
1. Aedyran sabre :
2. Glanfathan sword :
Both would fit into the same basic category, but there'd be a sense of progression both in their effectiveness (as if you just had replaced a +1 sword with a +2 equivalent) and appearance (as the items could look wildly different).
But what of magical items? I think that they should truly extraordinary and rare. Finding them should really feel very rewarding - and their level of power should absolutely reflect that.
But there's more that you could do with cultural equipment. Let's use two different PE cultures as examples :
Free Palatinate of Dyrwood
Due to a long history of conflict, all denizens of Dyrwood are accustomed to constant warfare and to hardships - as a result, they are practical people. They value discipline and uphold strict laws.
This could be reflected not only in the equipment they use, but also in the way they fight :
1. They fight as a group, supporting each other, often using reach weapons and trying to keep enemies at bay.
2. They favour heavy armour over mobility.
3. Instead of firearms, they prefer longbows.
You'd not only be able to who you're fighting (due to their specific cultural armour & weapon designs you'd be able to spot right away) but also how to fight them. Let's make a second example :
Being merchant people, the citizens of the Vailian city states value style over substance and like to let everyone know that they're wealthy. Their armies consist mainly of well-paid mercenaries, who tend to uphold the same values when it comes to fashion. Vailians are known to be strong ndividualists.
1. Vailians are individualists and this is reflected in their fighting style - they often fight as duellists, seeking personal glory.
2. They eschew heavy armour in favour of mobility.
3. Avid users of firearms.
To recapitulate : I'm hoping that Obsidian will go an extra mile with the work that goes towards fleshing out various cultures. Each region should be unique, whether it's in clothing, weaponry or even battlefield tactics.
That'd not only make the world of PE a truly immersive environment, but would also allow for very varied combat encounters.