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Let's Play Baldur's Gate 2, and reflect on Pillars of Eternity (2)


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BG2 had and has it right imo. It’s important that combat has strategical and tactical value. BG2 had both. You can have a strategy which evolves around your enemies like vs mages, but what happens next is up in the air. Even with the set encounters and automated enemy actions, battles played out differently in BG2. How much is this the case in PoE? I haven’t played the beta, i think though that on paper/theoretically, PoE’s combat mechanics seem tactical in that there are several disengaging abilities.

 

Yet, that’s what BG2 has in form of counters, it’s just that now melee guys (instead of casters) decide the tactics in the game. But these decisions are limited to actions especially in regards to disengaging but there’s hardly any movement involved in these tactical decisions. The tactical decisions have shifted from ranged to the melee classes i think. But what does that leave for the casters then, just strategical decisions i think. Their only tactial value i think is repositioning in battle so that they don’t get caught in melee (although even that's questionable since the melee guys are locked in so there's no need for them to move either). But them casting midway through the battle? How much is that required (and even possible) in PoE when compared to BG2? In BG2, melee guys’ tactical value was diverse, they would change weapons, drink potions, use weapons that could dispel and move at will (if they weren’t disabled).

 

Then consider the Tolgerias fight in BG2, even before you entered the room with your entire party where he and his companion mage appear, he casted protections on himself and when you finally had your party moved in position he casted ( if I remember right) cloudkill on one of your chars. This is how you protect enemy casters, how you make battles play longer, how tactics are of value through actions including moving. Whether you prebuff or not is up to you, metagaming can only define your strategy but your tactics will easily vary. How much do tactics vary in PoE? The first thing to realize is that the melee system is unnecessary as BG2 already demonstrated.

This is just my 2 cents. I'd wish for a reasonable and civilized discussion with Obsidian about this topic.

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@4ward Casters, especially wizards but also ciphers do need to move in combat, more so than frontline fighters. This is because many of the good spells have AoE's which originate from the caster, meaning, you can't blast them safely from behind the front lines without causing serious FF. Once the front lines are engaged, the battlefield sort of stabilizes a bit; that's your cue to move the wizard to the side so he can blast with these spells. What you can't do (without using special abilities) is have a ganker rush to the back to murder a caster, then rush back. Instead, you can use stealth to get your rogue into position, stab stab stab, and use his specials to get back out. Or use the barb's Wild Sprint to make mayhem behind the lines, or the monk's fast movement. Buuuut... none of that is really necessary at least at this time because it's easier just to gank the mage with a ranged starting volley.

 

Basically, you use your front line to engage the enemy's front line, then your ganker to gank enemies that are engaged and therefore can't engage them, and flank with your bombardier to apply AoE damage, while fighting off enemies who try to do the same to you. (Not that they're smart about it at all ATM.) 

 

I like the way they've done firearms. If the whole party is packing, that starting volley is murderous, you can pretty much take out any single enemy party member in the opening. The trade-off is that reloading is really slow, so you only get one volley like that. But they are supremely scary mage-killers, and they're okay that way. We'll see what kinds of encounters the full game will throw at us; I suspect that facing, say, three armored casters at a time would be pretty daunting if you're relying on putting them out of commission with the starting volley. Er, once they get armor working like it's supposed to, that is.

 

But, it is very different from the IE games. Similar to DnD4 in many ways. (The classes aren't though.)

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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@BruceVC

 

I truly admire your dedication to bringing up the lack of romances often and without compromise. I salute you, sir.

 

 

@Stun, I think...

 

I think Josh wants to avoid the hard counters for people like me. In regards to the basilisks specifically, I made the bad choice of being all like, "Meh, I don't know what these are, but I should be fine." I was not fine. Got wiped out several times and eventually got through after getting most of my party petrified. Didn't know until much later I could un-petrify them. I was pretty upset about it, but this was back when it was inconvenient as hell to dial-up to the internet and get some guidance. 

 

Now that I can grab my phone, get help from folks like you on the interwebs and discuss different encounters in the game, that hard counters are a much less game breaking issue. It offers an extra challenge for you guys that are really into them, and gets people like me more involved in the community. 

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Ha! Romances. Feh.

 

There's your Real Hard counter/sucker punch/Rock-paper-scissors/Save or else mechanics.

 

Romances in BG2:

 

1) They hit you suddenly, and regardless of your actions and without warning (Sucker punch)

2) There's only 2 outcomes. Success or failure. Nothing in between. (save or else)

3) When the LI speaks, romance success can only be had with the "nice" response, and failure can only be achieved via the douchbag Response. That is "Hard Countering" by definition. There are no alternative responses/options. Why? Because the whole thing is a primitive Rock-Paper-Scissors mini-game.

Edited by Stun
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@Lord Wafflebum

 

Regarding Basilisks encounter specifically, there are Protection from Petrification spell (both for mage to learn and for everyone as consumable scroll) and potion of mirrored eyes. Also, undead summons immune to petrification. My point is, game did give you a clue about what you can do against petrification, but didn't make this clue too obvious. That's what they call good design.

 

Of course, it's another story altogether when game assumes that you're metagaming and says like "die and reload until you fumble something suitable for encounter or go ask someone".

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@ Yellow Rabbit

 

Oh, I know. I just assumed I would be fine, tho. I had plenty of warning, but I chose to ignore it. Then I whine about it. That's why unnecessary hand holding gets put into the game, because sometimes I'm in a mood where I don't want to put in the effort and cry about the results. The Dragon Age series is the way it is because of people like me. And I'm sorry for that. I was just commenting on why that might be an attitude game devs have now. Because I, and people like me, suck and are lazy.

 

@Stun

 

Lol, usually true. I was doing the LI thing with Ashley in ME3 and was just terrible to her through the whole romance subplot. She still tried to hook up with me at the end tho. That's how it should be. If I was nice to Ash, I should have caught her hooking up with Vega. I think I might agree with Chris Avellone that romances should be brutal and unforgiving.

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@Lord Wafflebum

 

Regarding Basilisks encounter specifically, there are Protection from Petrification spell (both for mage to learn and for everyone as consumable scroll) and potion of mirrored eyes. Also, undead summons immune to petrification. My point is, game did give you a clue about what you can do against petrification, but didn't make this clue too obvious. That's what they call good design.

 

Of course, it's another story altogether when game assumes that you're metagaming and says like "die and reload until you fumble something suitable for encounter or go ask someone".

BG1 also gave you warnings (a bunch of petrified people and animals littering the map area before you encounter them), and BG1 gives you a very blatant anti-petrification tool the moment you set foot on the map (the NON-hostile, talking Ghoul that begs to come along and 'kill your enemies')

 

^There's enough hand holding on that map already... do they have to take it further and render petrification itself harmless/trivial/temporary too? Yep, I guess they do. Look what they did to petrification in PoE.

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@ Yellow Rabbit

 

Oh, I know. I just assumed I would be fine, tho. I had plenty of warning, but I chose to ignore it. Then I whine about it. That's why unnecessary hand holding gets put into the game, because sometimes I'm in a mood where I don't want to put in the effort and cry about the results. The Dragon Age series is the way it is because of people like me. And I'm sorry for that. I was just commenting on why that might be an attitude game devs have now. Because I, and people like me, suck and are lazy.

Heh. For some reason I don't believe in particularly you whining about such things afterwards.

 

You're right about reasons of such dev's behavior, though. Casual players' whining is definitely one of them. It's just that Josh should know much better which game needs such talks and which one doesn't. PoE doesn't.

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@Stun

 

Again, I'm not disagreeing. I deserved to get continually wiped out for not paying attention. It didn't stop me from whining about it at the time, tho. 

 

What I'm saying is that over time, so many people like me whined about that sort of thing that it got phased out more and more. Now that I'm less of a little girl I think some encounters like that in a game would be fun. I'm a little surprised that Josh isn't taking into account that his PoE audience is cool with stuff like that. He seems like a pretty sharp guy, and that us casual gamers get moody sometimes and should be ignored would be something well known to him.

 

@Yellow Rabbit

 

Agreed. A little hand-holding in the beginning of the game on Easy difficulty should be enough to get me where I need to get skill-wise. There should be some encounters I get into where I have to sit back and actually think about what I'm doing instead of coming on the forums and crying about it. One strategy type should not be viable 100% of the time. I guess we'll see what the full release has in store...

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You know what else I dislike? Undetectable traps. IWD had lots of those, even if the Find Traps skill description warns that you won't detect all of them. If I invest points in Find Traps, by golly gosh I want to find traps. Same thing.

 

 

You know what else? Unpickable locks of "you need a key" kind.

Well damn, a lock that needs a key, who'd have thought of such a thing!

Me the worlds best lockpicker, but alas, I only do locks as don't need a key.

 

No. Make it hard, maybe "need a skill of 20" hard, but not flat out impossible.

If I'm the best, I pretty much want to lockpick a stone wall, be there door or no.

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With regards to movement, are disengagement attacks really so murderous that you never ever want to disengage? I don't know since I don't play the beta.

 

It would seem like sometimes it would be worth getting hit to get to a mage, of course it wouldn't if you are instakilled 

 

Without doing anything to avoid them? I'd say yes, they're pretty bleedin' murderous. A tougher enemy will one-shot your mage with a disengagement attack, or close anyway.

 

The good thing is that there are lots of ways to break engagement without incurring one, or to protect yourself from them. Off the top of my head: knockdown (fighter), stunning blows (monk), that awesome kick special (monk), any spell that causes stuns, paralyzes, knocks down, and probably a few others (wizard, others), any ability or spell that pushes toons back (wizard, chanter, cipher), that one spell that lets you switch positions with another toon (wizard), charm (cipher), Escape (rogue), Shadowing Beyond (rogue), Something-something Positioning (rogue). Things that are not 100% sure but are likely to help: Arcane Veil (wizard), Zealous Charge (paladin), that priest spell that gives a big buff to Deflection.

 

I'm sure there's more. You're pretty unlikely to be in a situation where you really need to break engagement and there's no way to do it other than take the hit.

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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@Jarmo Unpickable locks don't offend me as much. To be able to pick a lock, there has to be a lock to pick, and it's not hard for me to visualize a door which can only be opened by magic, or from the inside, or from another location. An undetectable trap feels like cheating when there is a Find Traps skill. Worse if it's even undetectable with the cleric spell. 

I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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@Jarmo Unpickable locks don't offend me as much. To be able to pick a lock, there has to be a lock to pick, and it's not hard for me to visualize a door which can only be opened by magic, or from the inside, or from another location. An undetectable trap feels like cheating when there is a Find Traps skill. Worse if it's even undetectable with the cleric spell. 

 

Well... yeah. I can live with those.

But the ones that do have a key, I just can't visualize how they also wouldn't have a keyhole or something.

 

Would be cool though, if there were traps undetectable by "detect traps", but detectable with "spellcraft" or something.

Or maybe you'd need both spellcraft and trap detection.

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@PrimeJunta, can you build a melee guy with passive disengaging to go through enemy lines, e.g. fighter with ‘vigorous defense’? If you can hurt the caster from afar in PoE as you say, isn’t it also more valid to simply hurt them from range as Cubiq also mentioned? The player can increase AoE and target range of spells by raising stats so i just stand away and cast/mousewheel from afar as i see fit.

 

You have now replayed a portion of BG2, how often could you murder a caster straight away from melee and afar likewise? In PoE, to me it seems, you can more easily interrupt them, that might change for the final game, but i don’t think that by simply adding to the number of enemy wizards they’ll become such a threat. In PoE they don’t seem to be able to get off their spells, armour doesn’t really offer that protection/defense while it increases casting time. Perhaps in PoE there are items akin to the bracers of defense in BG2, perhaps there are robes that give casters bonus and even reduced casting time. But i doubt it.

In BG2 i had stoneskin on my caster and if an encounter would start i could apply fireshield against melee. Higher wizards could return the projectiles like returning melf minute meteors right back to me. The wizards’ movement you mention in PoE to me seems more like it’s strategical than really a tactic. Your melee guys get locked up and you move your wizard to the side where he casts a cone-shaped spell from the appropriate angle so he doesn’t hurt your chars. But what then? You cast another such spell if you have one or you go back, that’s it.

 

With movement allowed like in BG2, the tactical value in combat increases not just by moving your char from point A to B, but also because in the meantime other chars have (yours and opponents) moved as well and that required to assess your new situation, it adds dynamic to combat which i’m afraid in PoE is missing due to the (unnecessary) melee system.

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@PrimeJunta, can you build a melee guy with passive disengaging to go through enemy lines, e.g. fighter with ‘vigorous defense’? If you can hurt the caster from afar in PoE as you say, isn’t it also more valid to simply hurt them from range as Cubiq also mentioned? The player can increase AoE and target range of spells by raising stats so i just stand away and cast/mousewheel from afar as i see fit.

I think the intent is that you can build a toon which is hardened against disengagement attacks; Josh suggested the monk as a base. I haven't attempted it though. At least the beetles punch so damn hard that I can't see anything surviving in the middle of them for long.

 

The range/AoE thing works for spells with single-target or circular AoE's. Thing is, lots of them are cones or lines that start from the caster. So if you shoot them from the back, you'll get friendly fire.

 

But, again, right now the best way to deal with enemy casters is just to shoot them dead, ideally with firearms but any ol' ranged weapons will do. Partly it's the AI, I don't think I've ever seen one put up an Arcane Veil, but firearms bypass that so... well.

 

You have now replayed a portion of BG2, how often could you murder a caster straight away from melee and afar likewise?

Clerics and such, fairly often. Wizards, not so much before dispelling the protections, but that done it's not a problem. I'm honestly not having a lot of trouble with the magefights so far, although of course I'm using brute-force tactics like using summons to draw fire and Breach to dispel defenses.

 

In PoE, to me it seems, you can more easily interrupt them, that might change for the final game, but i don’t think that by simply adding to the number of enemy wizards they’ll become such a threat. In PoE they don’t seem to be able to get off their spells, armour doesn’t really offer that protection/defense while it increases casting time. Perhaps in PoE there are items akin to the bracers of defense in BG2, perhaps there are robes that give casters bonus and even reduced casting time. But i doubt it.

Perhaps. I was just thinking out loud. Right now I can't see how a P:E wizard would effectively defend against firearms, since Arcane Veil is useless for it. Something ought to be done about that. Maybe I'll post a topic in the BB forum.

 

In BG2 i had stoneskin on my caster and if an encounter would start i could apply fireshield against melee. Higher wizards could return the projectiles like returning melf minute meteors right back to me. The wizards’ movement you mention in PoE to me seems more like it’s strategical than really a tactic. Your melee guys get locked up and you move your wizard to the side where he casts a cone-shaped spell from the appropriate angle so he doesn’t hurt your chars. But what then? You cast another such spell if you have one or you go back, that’s it.

 

With movement allowed like in BG2, the tactical value in combat increases not just by moving your char from point A to B, but also because in the meantime other chars have (yours and opponents) moved as well and that required to assess your new situation, it adds dynamic to combat which i’m afraid in PoE is missing due to the (unnecessary) melee system.

Here's that semantical thing again, one of my little peeves with you grogs. Tactical positioning is also tactics. The fact that you move less doesn't necessarily make things "less tactical," only different.

 

Also, things do move. There will always/usually be un-engaged enemies, so when you move your wiz to the side, it's likely something will target him and he'll have to do something about that. The field stabilizes, but doesn't become completely static.

 

Again: I can see why people who really like the way combat works in IE will really dislike the changes to P:E. What I take issue with is the statement that it's "worse" or "less tactical." It's not worse, it's different. I think my idea of what tactical combat should be like comes largely from Total War, and I prefer the way it works in P:E.

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I have a project. It's a tabletop RPG. It's free. It's a work in progress. Find it here: www.brikoleur.com

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very interesting discussion

 

some comments:

- What is the difference between strategy and tactics? Is one thing character creation and party composition and the other thing is positioning and ability use in combat?

- What is the main target group of PoE? IE veterans or new players? You cannot please everyone. I have played so many RPG that I know most basics ( but I am not a very good player, I don´t think I could solo an IE game.)

- about party interaction: I don´t mind if there is no romance in PoE. But I liked the way PST did it. Your companions will comment on what you do, up to extreme results like Vhailor attacs you if you commit a crime or you rufuse to kill a criminal. But you have to talk to them to learn more about them. Like your discussion with Dakkon about the ring of zerthimon. It was nice (and realistic, if this word has any meaning in a fantasy game) that you could learn something from your companions and they could learn something from you.

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@Lord Wafflebum

 

Regarding Basilisks encounter specifically, there are Protection from Petrification spell (both for mage to learn and for everyone as consumable scroll) and potion of mirrored eyes. Also, undead summons immune to petrification. My point is, game did give you a clue about what you can do against petrification, but didn't make this clue too obvious. That's what they call good design.

 

Of course, it's another story altogether when game assumes that you're metagaming and says like "die and reload until you fumble something suitable for encounter or go ask someone".

BG1 also gave you warnings (a bunch of petrified people and animals littering the map area before you encounter them), and BG1 gives you a very blatant anti-petrification tool the moment you set foot on the map (the NON-hostile, talking Ghoul that begs to come along and 'kill your enemies')

 

^There's enough hand holding on that map already... do they have to take it further and render petrification itself harmless/trivial/temporary too? Yep, I guess they do. Look what they did to petrification in PoE.

 

Bg1 didn't warn you when you ran into a Basilisk on random encounter :D
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Well, yeah, I'm all about not holding the hand of the players, but let's not pretend even the greatest of games were perfect. I remember the basilisk random encounter. It's possible to get it before you even know what basilisks are, so it's pretty horrifying.

 

There issues with IE games as well as any other game, but at the end of the day, things like the random basilisk encounter are not flaws as much as quirks, because the issue isn't systemic, it's just one of those small things that makes you tear out some hair, it's not a huge problem with the game design itself.

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@PrimeJunta, but in PoE i’m forced to play differently, in BG2 i can play someone who stabilizes the battlefield or play differently. Regarding the stabilizing of the battle in BG2, there’s vampires you can use hold undead, there’s beholders you can use hold monster (or so i read, never used that myself). Later you get sunray against vampires and there’s no need to stabilize anything against them anymore if you don’t like. There’s web to stabilize, you still can move with e.g. ring of free action. Then there’s those slow opponnents in BG2 like ghouls, mummies where you don’t need to stabilize anything. Sure, it’s not your Total War level… really, i think you can play BG2 the way you now play in PoE if you wanted.

 

For months now since the first beta build Obsidian is trying to fix their melee system; imagine if they instead worked on designing BG2 combat that would allow for all of us to play like we want. The talents/skills system was reworked but the melee system seems like an untouchable topic and there’s no willingness to discuss it. Personally i think that’s a pity and there’s also not much to explain but just kindly ask the Obsidian team to start a game of BG2 like you did and think about it.

I hope you’ll continue with your BG2 replay and hopefully you’ll have more fun than negative experiences. No game can please anyone 100% but in end the positive side hopefully will prevail. If you haven’t done the Planar Prison quest yet, that’s a fun thing to do in BG2 as well, many cool items to find there. Cheers..

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