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I recently replayed BGEE/BG2EE (not the entire thing unfortunately) to get a feel back for the RTw/P Isometric RPG style made famous by the IE games before today to compare Pillars with it's Spiritual Predecessor. I rolled a Elven Cipher that used a Pike because I wanted to get a feel for the new class, plus the more familiar classes were already filled (I usually play a fighter or another frontliner in BG, and will probably do so when Pillars is full released). Instead of doing a great big write up, Josh Sawyer has a nice framework for the kind of feedback the team is looking for, and goddamn it he is going to get it. After a little over two hours of playing I have this to say about the game:

 

Classes - Do all classes feel distinct and useful? Does the progression of their abilities seem consistent? Do any classes feel too high-maintenance? Do any classes feel too uninvolved?

 

Wow. I was not prepared at all for the class changes in Pillars. It looks the same, but it feels very different. The fighter feels much, much more involved then IE games, but on the other hand, Wizards and Priests were a lot more hands off. The Cipher, I feel like, worked best when I could get my Fighter by himself being supported at range by the Priest, and having the cipher get some distance from the fighter and target various AoE spells on the Fighter (Like the lvl 3 pushback spell and the electricity burst spell that doesn't do damage to the target). For the most part it seemed like this strategy worked, but I didn't manage to find any hard bosses (at least I don't think I did) in my current playtime.

 

 

Attributes - Do you find any attributes invaluable, such that you would never build a character without emphasizing that attribute? Are there any attributes you consistently dump because they don't seem to have apparent value? Do the attributes seem to skew away or toward different classes?

In both characters that I made (a fighter where the game CTD'd before I managed to save and my Cipher), I felt like I stacked might a lot. Knowing very little about the actual game mechanics besides what the tooltip says, I feel like Might is a very powerful stat. Perception on the other hand, seems very weak. I'm not sure how I'd build a character with very high perception that'd be combat effective, but also, I haven't thought too hard about it, either. I realize that interrupting enemies is very important in Pillars, because it seems like everything uses abilities in someway, but some times it seems like it's almost a better option to hit them with another ability (read: knockdown) then to try and interrupt with the basic attack.

 

 

Equipment - Did you like or dislike the variety of weapons, armor, shields, potions, scrolls, and miscellaneous items? What items did you find invaluable or useless?

 

I couldn't find the weapons that I wanted to use. That was frustrating, the only greatsword I could find for my fighter was magical and super expensive. But overall, the greater weapons and equipment variety I like a lot (Estoc is cool). The thing is that I haven't played long enough for this to be an issue. Tomorrow (and tonight) I'll have more time to really dig into the game.

 

 

Conversations and Quests - Did you enjoy the conversations and quests in the Backer Beta? Were there any aspects of the aesthetics, presentation, or flow of conversations or quests that you didn't enjoy?

 

There's a major departure in Pillars from IE games; Conversations describe what's happening, they occur in the third person, instead of just the line of dialogue like a script. This is a good thing. It's more like story telling, and sets the scene better than in the IE games which I think fits a bit better with Pillars. I remember a number of run-on dialogues in BG and BG2 that were written like they were meant to be read, not like something people would actually say.

 

 

  • Combat - Did you enjoy the overall experience of combat, especially pacing, difficulty, and mechanics? Did the basic attack/defense resolution system (Miss/Graze/Hit/Crit) make sense? Was the relationship between damage and damage threshold clear? Was the relationship between stamina and health clear?

Combat definitely seems more modern compared to IE games. I was reminded of Dragon Age: Origins a little bit, with the way I had to manage my party. One of the things that caught me was that enemies patrol the map, as opposed to the relatively static enemies of BG/IWD, this had the effect of enemies attacking in waves. I'd catch part of the patrol, and just as I was finishing them up the other half would jump down upon me. I wiped once because of this (and then I started scouting everything before engaging).

There was someone who mentioned that combat wound up going too fast, especially without auto-pause, and they might be right about that, but that also might be because we're dropped into the middle of the game, essentially, and I remember that it was around levels 5 and 6 when combat in IWD and BG began to pickup in pace (because of Fireball and level 3 spells), so it might not be as much of an issue as it seems.

One of the things that I immediately got was the Endurance/Health differential. The two health bars definitely worked the way it should (I remember when my Dwarf fell in battle vs. lions and rose with practically no health left, I knew then that it was time to rest). And I like not having to carry all of someone's equipment back and rezing them.

 

 

User Interface - Was character creation enjoyable and clear? Did each stage of the process give you all the information you needed to make choices? Was the main game HUD easy to understand and use? Were any portions of it confusing, poorly-positioned, or did they use visual language that was hard to decipher? Were the inventory, character sheet, and journal interfaces clear and easy to understand/use?

 

It seemed strange in the Character Creator that you culture bonus was applied before picking you culture but besides that it flowed very nicely.

In the main hud, one of the things that took me a bit was stealth/scouting. Is it full party all the time? If it is, I find that strange. If it isn't and I'm just using it wrong, well, maybe it's not clear either way.

My final thing about Pillars UI, and this is a big one, and it might just be that I've gotten so used to playing IE games on PCs that would've been considered impossibly powerful when the games were made, but I feel like the UI lacks the snappy-ness of the IE UI. A better way to put it is that there's a loading delay to bring up different menu screens, like between when I hit the "I" key and when the inventory loads, that makes it feel like the hotkey isn't working. This is not unacceptable, don't get me wrong, I understand that Pillars is not going to run on a 1ghz Pentium 3 processor with 512mb of RAM and GeForce 2 MX 200 (recommended specs for BG1), it's obviously a game made for a more modern PC, but I feel like this could definitely be improved on.


Anyways, to sum up my first impressions in three main points:
I like the combat changes, no longer "attack things and wait until they're dead, heal as necessary."

I like the conversation system, telling me what's happening not just what's being said.

I think the UI needs some work with the load times/snappy-ness.

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Well said.  My download has just now finished so I'm off to try my own play-through.

 

The game hasn't been optimized yet, so hopefully that explains the unresponsiveness of the UI.

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First few minutes (first impressions are key for those other than us die-hard beta backers):

  • Intro splash screens not skippable (via Esc or Space)
  • Character creation resolution appears to be very low-res (running 2560x1440 @ 60Hz) 
  • In-game assets slightly blurry at 2560x1440 - portraits, models and UI appear to be scaled slightly too high (running default/100% scaling - no changes)

None of these are deal breakers for me (at all) but might be picked upon by more fickle gamers in the larger population.

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Can we scale the ui? The combat commands/spells/actions are tiny on my screen.

 

I find it hard to effectively queue my party members whilst in the midst of battle.

 

I tried different resolutions but that just deforms the entire game on my screen.

 

I agree with everything you covered in this post as well.

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[...] Instead of doing a great big write up, Josh Sawyer has a nice framework for the kind of feedback the team is looking for, and goddamn it he is going to get it. After a little over two hours of playing I have this to say about the game [...]

 

I have to say, for me at least, you hit the nail on the head.

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"Which is more the fool: the fool, or the fool who follows him?"

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Can we scale the ui? The combat commands/spells/actions are tiny on my screen.

 

I find it hard to effectively queue my party members whilst in the midst of battle.

 

I tried different resolutions but that just deforms the entire game on my screen.

I think there's a slider in the Video Options menu, but I'm not sure.

 

EDIT: No it's only for the font.

Edited by kangaxxter
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