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I'd first want you guys to know that I registered an account on these forums only to post this. I was so fed up with all the negativity that I felt I had to do something about it.
I didn't back the game, but I bought it and have been playing it since the release. I've played about 30 hours of it already, and it's been a very interesting experience.

Now, onwards to the subject at hand; please, put "IMHO"s everywhere you see me saying "this is good" or "this is bad". I only intend to give my own opinion on the matter, but it's faster if I don't clutter the text with reminders that I'm not forcing my will upon you readers :

TL;DR :

 

If you think this game is bad, it's because you haven't learned how the game works yet. I'm running a retarded party on path of the damned and having no problems. Obsidian, I consider this game an improvement over the messy, loophole-full D&D rules (coming from a 10-years long D&D player) and I think you should keep improving on it as it has strong fundations and an excellent mentality behind it. And I'm not even talking about the story & roleplay aspects of it, which are delicious too, but are not the topic at hand.

The combat system is mostly good, because it integrates elements of :
- various ways of dealing damage, and according various defenses : means you gotta think about your super duper DPS builds
- excellent group synergies : everyone knows the cipher-rogue sneak-attack combo, and that's only the most obvious one. Ever seen a cipher paralyzing an ogre, and all your team firing a volley of arquebuses in its face ? Dude, that stings !
- somewhat interesting engagement mechanics : I'm not convinced about the realization, as sometimes opportunity attacks feel like they come from hell for no reason, but the idea is excellent and adds a real utility to those tanks that couldn't keep aggro on the IE games (I mean that if you played the tactics mods on baldur's gate, it was hell for your back line and an engagement mechanic would've made it much easier) Please, DONT GET RID OF THE ENGAGEMENT SYSTEM
- the mechanics are complex enough, but not too much : I'm looking at you, D&D. I'm a die-hard D&D player and I've been optimizing characters for years on that system, and I am absolutely certain the D&D system is more of a "find the loophole" kind than the really "be smart" type. Yes, the monk/druid kung-fu dragonshifter is hilarious and ten buckets of broken, but it's mostly based on the designers not thinking about that loophole.
- the accessibility of information : if you played more than 2 hours and looked at the wiki, you'll know the wiki is full of crap. But then, all you need is in the game : rolls are explained, all your bonuses are on your character screens, and there's tooltips too ! I had some difficulties FINDING the actual information, but it's right there, plain in your face for you to see.

But then it also has flaws :

- balancing all the classes : the druid is broken, according to beta players. The chanter can fill any role AND buff the whole party with crazy stuff, and its summons are broken, according to beta players.
- opportunity attacks & automatic movements : my tanks have taken I-don't-know-how-many opportunity attacks from ennemies because they were moving forward in the fight instead of holding the line. I would be glad if there existed a "hold position" button so they don't do that.

END OF TL;DR

Detailed explanations :

Just so you know what I'm talking about, I have been playing hard mode for ~3h, but felt it was to easy, so I restarted on path of the damned and been playing that until now. I am at about mid-game, characters are level ~6.
My team, at the moment, consists of :

Front line : (all melee with sword and board)
- Fire godlike monk tank (I thought that was a funny build, and actually after playing with it I think it sucks because you'll never get damage with the monk that's in any way comparable to the amounts of damage dealt by my actual DPS characters)
- Rogue tank : yeah, you read that right. I wanted to try riposte + the various evade skills that rogue have on a tank. It's pretty good, toe-to-toe with the monk on tanking capacity, but the riposte doesn't deal that much dmg, exactly like the fire monk doesn't deal any amount of interresting damage.
 
Back line : (all ranged with arquebuses)
- Bleak walker paladin : I intented to build a smiter but I found out that the accuracy aura is actually what's most interesting about paladins; the smite not so much, as in 2/enc ain't very impressive when you have 10 ennemies to kill.
- Rogue : no backstab, only sneak attacks when the ennemies are debuffed by cipher or flanked by front line. As for the paladin, 3 backstab/enc kinda sucks, especially when you have to get as close as 2m to deal them. The sneak attacks are cool but x1.5 dmg isn't that much compared to, say, the chanter giving you x2 reload speed.
- Chanter : if for anything, for the reload speed chant that gives x2 reload speed. That's x2 on the damage of all my back line, and it's crazy. Also, corpse explosion is excellent against the horde in POTM.
- Cipher : mostly for debuffs, the paralyze is crazy (-40 deflec means no one can miss)

Also, I have rules for playing : no direct AOE spells (except chanter corpse explosion because that's only doable once, with ennemies you killed yourself, so it's fair ?), no summons, no druids. Because druids are so incredibly broken, according to beta players. I thought those rules would make the game more challening and interesting to me.

So you see for yourself : I didn't use gimmick builds, except maybe the fire monk one, and it's really not the important character in my party. And I'm pwning POTM pretty good. It's not easy (though it's been easier as I leveled up and all the right talents & abilities became accessible) but I'm rarely stuck. I have not fought Raedric yet because the fight starts with you in 15+ strong ennemies, and my front line only has 2 engagement slots (yeah that sucks) so my back line gets destroyed in a matter of seconds, but I'll do that soon.

The fights go like this : find a corridor, block it with my tanks, aggro the ennemies there and fight for my life. The goal is to kill important targets before they kill you; to do that I paralyze with the cipher, and shoot volleys of arquebuses until they're very much dead. I kill the basic mobs at the end, always, because a powerful enemy can wreck your party faster than 10 basic fighters if you're not smart enough.

And you know what ? that's being smart. That's fighting with an ounce of brains, and not throwing yourself at the mercy of 5+ archers with a single character and it dying.

If you think this game is bad, it's because you haven't learned how the game works yet. I'm running a retarded party on path of the damned and having no problems. Obsidian, I consider this game an improvement over the messy, loophole-full D&D rules (coming from a 10-years long D&D player) and I think you should keep improving on it as it has strong fundations. (I'll copy that too in the TL;DR for people that can't be bothered to read to the end of the post)

I am looking ATM at swapping my monk and rogue for two fighters so as to get 6 engagement slots, and swapping my rogue for something that gives more buffs to my party, as even a 1.1x dmg aura is better than a 1.5x dmg on a single character. My permanents buffs right now are :
+6 accu, +5% crit from paladin aura

+6 accu from weapon focus on everyone in back line

x2 reload speed from chanter
And that's enough to have loads of fun.

EDIT : Thanks moderator for the moderation. It does feel less angry like this.

Edited by Racooknight
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Heh, I've registered an account to respond :)

 

I think you're roughly right, but I can understand a lot of the complaints.  The combat system is fun once you get the hang of it, but it's not fun out of the box for some noticeable number of people.  I think to make it fun, the tutorial section would have to be a bit reworked, to introduce the concept of engagement in a more logical, step-by-step way, because it's quite different from what one is used to from most games, and especially from the old IE/D&D games.

 

Personally, my favourite combat system of all time in this type of RPG was the turn-based implementation of D&D in Temple of Elemental Evil, and for the life of me I've never understood why that hasn't been developed further and iterated on.  It was the perfect implementation of D&D.  (I guess realistically, the reason ToEE never took off is because the game was buggy and unfinished on release - problems the Co8 modpack has solved since then.)

 

But I am starting to get the hang of this game's system and starting to appreciate it for what it is, not for what I'd prefer it to be but isn't. Maybe it needs a teensy bit of refinement as you say (maybe making the ceiling for the penalty for disengaging just a little bit lower ), but overall, it's got its own charm.

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Thanks, that's exactly what I meant.

TOEE was the ultimate D&D implementation as a video game, but then I think D&D is far from the best RPG system there is. It's heaps of fun, and it's heaps of broken too if you know what you're doing. I think the simplicity of the rules in Pillars of Eternity makes for an excellent system, or at least the foundations of one.

For example, the accuracy system :

Combat rolls are crap in D&D. You roll a d20, or two, or a dozen, but most of the actual chance of hitting is fixed by your +x bonuses. At high levels, the bonuses render the actual "randomness" from the dice completely irrelevant. Also, crits are some bonus feature that's never been implemented in any interesting way. You pick kamas & the relevant feats and you get crits, yay, but then you could have also done something else. Also many creatures are completely immune to crits, thus making a whole game mechanic absurdely useless.

In Pillars of Eternity, however, raising accuracy is always a solid means of improving your combat prowesses. Crits are integrated into the equation as 100+ on your attack roll, meaning that you can create a reliable source of crits with very high accuracy/debuffs on the enemies, for the same effect (I think paralyzed, obviously). Conversely, a poor roll (or a high defense on the enemy) will get you a graze that's like an anti-crit.
I think this system is gorgeous, as it integrates seamlessly both random numbers (you can get that 100 roll) and hard-working raising of your stats in a certain goal. (Play with only one one-handed weapon and some cipher debuffs and enjoy the super accurate critter warrior)

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If one is wanting another good DnD incarnation and if you haven't tried, Knights of the Chalice. It looks old school, but imo it is even better than TOEE at it.

 

Overall I like D:OS's system for fantasy so far the best. The only big thing in that one I'd change is as you level up your abilities it doesn't affect cool down turns (or a lot less). You can spam to easily as-is. What I  find great is a all the abilities to use for non-casters, which make playing those classes much more fun. Things like Bull rush, vicious blow, sweeping blow and several more. Make melee much more interesting.

 

But enjoying PoEt's combat system enough, even though it does seem unbalanced and on the easy side. Question to OP: How much more difficult did you feel there is between Hard and Path of the? I rather not start over again, looking for a hack, but would also like a bit more challenge. FWIW D:OS had the same thing, first start at it, "man this is tough" a couple redo's... too easy.

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Well, in my humble opinion, D:OS system was made by people that wanted to tell a story, not to make interesting combat. They had the excellent idea of creating all those environemental interactions that allow you to burn oil, to make fog combust, and so on... but then most of the spells you get over level 5 are pretty useless. The best ones are always the basic ones, as they allow you the same things that, well, get the job done.
Also, the tenebrium skill. Gods, the shame that thing was... build your character and then get told "hey mate ! you know all these ability points? well, yeah, actually they're useless now ! Cya, have fun training the new skill that we put in the game to override your character build !" I think they may have fixed it now, but I'm not sure about that.

About the difficulty of POTD, I'd say it actually makes the game kind of different, as the important part about it is the greater number of ennemies. AOE spells, barbarians, ... should be even more useful in POTD. However, I don't use those (as per my rules in OP) and I'm getting by pretty good.
For example, there's this fight with a boss (I won't be more specific as not to spoil anyone) and there's like 10-15 little crappy mobs around it; well, 5 or so of those are priests/paladins, and they keep on healing the boss if you don't shoot them down.

I think POTD tries to swarm you with ennemies, and that's good because you got to think "okay so I've got those 10 guys to kill, but who should I get first ? the rogues that are punching my tanks to death, or that druid that is going to throw crazy AOE at my back line" ? Also, ennemies with group buffs are obviously even more dangerous since they have more allies to buff.

I thought hard was to easy because I never felt in any danger, as controlling a small number of mobs is incredibly easy. In POTD, I sometimes get swarmed and can't control the tide that's trying to murder my team, because you just can't hold them all in place, so you got to really think about the terrain, and what ennemies are able to shoot your back line from where they are, and so on. That forces you to make choices and compromises, and I think it's great.

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If you think this game is bad, it's because you haven't learned how the game works yet.

 

 

 

There's a difference between hard and no fun.  I know how the game works.  I can build a party and play just fine.  What I can't do is have any fun doing it.

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