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Some thoughts about the difficulty tuning (PotD)


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I'm aware there are a few other threads around on similar subjects but wanted to give my impressions so far. I've been playing on Path of the Damned for my first playthrough with a Druid as a main character. I'd like to add I think the game is brilliant and has exceeded all my expectations, thank you Obsidian!

 

There are a few major aspects that are sticking out to make a great many of the encounters far too easy however, so wanted to share my thoughts so that they can hopefully be improved. As far as I'm concerned, there should be very few encounters you can one shot on a deliberately ridiculous difficulty level, so far there have been very few that have required more than one or two tries.

 

1) The overimportance of the tank. At level 6 Eder has 87 deflection (geared and defender on - I checked and he's not bugged or not majorly bugged) and all saves except will above 70. I haven't gone out of my way to stack deflection, my shield has it obviously, as does one ring. I have taken the talents for weapon and shield and defender as that's what he's there for. The vast majority of fights currently hinge on whether Eder is in the right position when the fight starts. If he is, unless there are more than say 6 enemies in a wide open space, they're going to be attacking Eder. If they're attacking Eder, they're not going to hit him.

 

This was particularly jarring when in the latest ruin, 5-6  swamp trolls literally didn't damage him for the 2-3 minutes it took to kill them all, and a scary looking army of Animats and Adra Animats also failed to do anything whatsoever to good old Eder.

 

The only fights I've had any difficulty with for a while owing to Eder's tanking capabilities were the spores, and the Pwgra/Druid combo which leads me on to my next point...

 

2) The enemy AI, and particularly the caster AI is, unsurprisingly (I appreciate it's hard to do), awful. Before anyone laments for the IE days, it was rubbish there too, so don't. As a personal plea, if any of the developers are inclined, I would look at the Sword Coast Stratagems mod for Baldur's Gate, this mod does AI very very well, although I appreciate there are marked differences between the games and the things the AI needs to consider.

 

The reason Pwgra/Druid is nasty is because the Pwgra apply their debuff to your party while the druids spam the enemy targeting lightning spell at will, they AoE without having to worry about friendly fire. As for enemy casters, I have not been rolling flamed, fireballed, lightning struck to my knowledge in 30+ hours. Presumably, the caster AI won't use it where they risk friendly fire, or, aka, nearly every single situation in the game. A player will always be better at using spells than the AI, but they need to be able to use them with at least some degree of effectiveness. If my ranged fighters are behind the tank, and the tank is surrounded, go sling a fireball at them, please!! The best fights in the older IE games (admittedly again with SCS on) were versus other adventuring parites which included well scripted casters. The assassins outside the Cloakwood mines and Cloudwulfe party in the Iron Throne building spring to mind.

 

3) Many of the enemies feel undertuned regardless of this. Animats have a lightning ability they use every now and again that does very little damage, even when there's six of them doing it. Adra beetles have a shock ability that isn't used enough to take down one of my casters, again rendering it completely pointless. Spider poisons don't seem to do very much.

 

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I understand it's not an easy proposition, the easiest argument would be to nerf deflection or up enemy accuracy, the problem with this would presumably be that if Eder started dying all the time everyone else would melt, as if you aren't a tank in melee you are a dead person. Frankly this would be a better situation to try and deal with than no situation at all. A nerf to deflection bonuses while making it easier for non tanks to acquire damage reduction might be a good place to start. I'm looking forward to trying without a fighter tank, maybe I'll make Eder an archer or a melee dps.

 

In terms of caster AI, it just needs some serious work, they need to be able to use friendly fire AoE abilities even if it's on my ranged party only rather than get stuck missing the tank as there's no trigger for them to move in range of the rest of my guys. They need to be able to determine to not just pound on your tank all day, and actually use some of the better CC spells.

 

A number of creatures need their non stat abilities to be more impactful and will hopefully be tuned up at least on PoTD. I think a few more abilities on creatures in general wouldn't go amiss.

 

I would welcome a quest experience nerf on PoTD, I reached lvl 5 and 6 pretty quickly which is where things got easy, before that it was nice and tense (bandits in Black Meadow were hard). When I want a challenge, I don't want completing side quests (an aspect of the game I also enjoy) to feel like it is messing that up. I want to feel forced to have a beer before I storm Raedric's hold rather than not doing so to handicap myself!

 

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There's plenty of bugs to address in the game and I know this won't be priority, but I hope some thought is given to it. I actually really like combat overall and how it's done. (Prebuffing sucked, camping supply system is interesting if you don't abuse it) but I don't expect to two shot Raedric, one shot all story events so far, one shot most encounters etc. I was walking through the most recent ruin thinking I really hope I die soon, and that's not what I want!

 

Anyway, thank you again for an overall wonderful game!

Edited by ComplyOrDie
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