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An observation on mechanics


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By now I've logged roughly 30 hours of gameplay, with a restart after about 10 hours, which by no means make me an expert on the game, but I've noticed a few issues that, although they might be by intent, are severely lowering my experience of the game, and I think for a lot of others too.

 

Before I present my issues, I will admit that I am playing on Hard difficulty as a Rogue. My party consist of my own character, and four others: Fighter, Wizard, Priest, and Chanter.

 

If someone have some insights into any of the below I would be grateful to hear from you. In particular if you can point out where I am wrong.

 

First issue - Trap strength

I am not sure who thought it was a great idea to limit number of traps to just one per character, but it seems a strange decision. Maybe the number of traps per character increases later on as a result of higher class level, Mechanics level, talents, or class abilities, but currently, as a 5th level Rogue with 8 in Mechanics, my character is able to place down one trap. One.

 

It could be that I am missing something, but one trap doesn't do a lot of damage, and most of the time it will only hit two enemies since they tend to go after the party in a single file column. At my current level and ranks in Mechanics traps feel more like a gimmic that is good for taking care of cannon fodder that pose no real threat anyway, rather than something to turn the odds of a fight.

 

Placing down a second trap with the same character will also make the first trap go away. Normally your own traps can be recovered if they are not triggered, but not here. Place down a second trap and the first one is gone with no way of getting it back. I am sure this is a bug.

 

I am by no means looking for traps to be as broken as they were in BG2, but a small upgrade would be nice.

 

Second issue - Trap placement

I am certain that some of you have tried to place down two traps with two characters, one from each. If so you have likely encountered the same issue that I have, where placing a trap too close to an existing one will make the first one disappear. This behavior would be fine if placing a trap on top of another trap, but when they are placed apart from eachother, yet obviously still too close, it becomes an issue.

 

The spell Warding Seal, and likely others like it that I haven't seen yet, also do this. On the positive side, Warding Seal isn't removed by a trap placed close to it, or even on top of it. Although placing a trap on top of a Seal makes little sense.

 

Third issue - Stealth

This has already been addressed in another thread, so I won't go into too much detail, except to point out that I agree the mechanic seems counter-intuitive. Stealth, as far as I am concerned, should be an individual action, not something for the whole party.

 

The ability to properly position a character on the battlefield is important, sadly, with the way Stealth is currently working, this is not possible. Some of you may wonder why it isn't possible, and the answer to that is simple: Stealth breaks when combat starts - for all characters, not just the one being spotted.

 

Fourth issue - Enemy omnipotence

Enemies seem to be omnipotent in this game. At least that is the only reason that can explain how they are able to charge directly at a character hiding behind a rock formation with no clear line of sight between the two. Just like with the Stealth issue, this is a major hinderance to tactics in battle.

 

Fifth issue - Pre-combat spells

Otherwise known as buffing. Again I am uncertain who had the brilliant idea to disable pre-combat buffs, but oh boy is it a blunder. Now, since we are talking about magic, I won't go into a logical debate as to whether or not it makes sense for spells to be locked out of a caster's arsenal unless threatened. Instead I can only point out that some fights would be less painful to deal with if spells such as Armor of Faith, or Circle of Protection, could be cast prior to combat.

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Fifth issue - Pre-combat spells

Otherwise known as buffing. Again I am uncertain who had the brilliant idea to disable pre-combat buffs, but oh boy is it a blunder. Now, since we are talking about magic, I won't go into a logical debate as to whether or not it makes sense for spells to be locked out of a caster's arsenal unless threatened. Instead I can only point out that some fights would be less painful to deal with if spells such as Armor of Faith, or Circle of Protection, could be cast prior to combat.

Why is it a "blunder"?

"some fights would be less painful to deal with if spells such as Armor of Faith, or Circle of Protection, could be cast prior to combat."

Yep, that certainly would make the game much easier.
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Fifth issue - Pre-combat spells

Otherwise known as buffing. Again I am uncertain who had the brilliant idea to disable pre-combat buffs, but oh boy is it a blunder. Now, since we are talking about magic, I won't go into a logical debate as to whether or not it makes sense for spells to be locked out of a caster's arsenal unless threatened. Instead I can only point out that some fights would be less painful to deal with if spells such as Armor of Faith, or Circle of Protection, could be cast prior to combat.

Why is it a "blunder"?

"some fights would be less painful to deal with if spells such as Armor of Faith, or Circle of Protection, could be cast prior to combat."

Yep, that certainly would make the game much easier.

 

 

Spell durations are short in this game, and the number of spells per rest is limited, as it should be. Being unable to use spells to increase survivability and/or damage for the initial 15-20 seconds of any fight while you get it under control, is usually a sound tactic. With that tactic no longer available, you have to spend precious time casting supportive spells after the fight has already started. It doesn't help that most spells have a short radius, forcing your party to clump together rather than get into good positions.

 

There is also the whole logical side to it, which, as I initially wrote, I won't get into since we are dealing with magic.

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Fifth issue - Pre-combat spells

Otherwise known as buffing. Again I am uncertain who had the brilliant idea to disable pre-combat buffs, but oh boy is it a blunder. Now, since we are talking about magic, I won't go into a logical debate as to whether or not it makes sense for spells to be locked out of a caster's arsenal unless threatened. Instead I can only point out that some fights would be less painful to deal with if spells such as Armor of Faith, or Circle of Protection, could be cast prior to combat.

Why is it a "blunder"?

"some fights would be less painful to deal with if spells such as Armor of Faith, or Circle of Protection, could be cast prior to combat."

Yep, that certainly would make the game much easier.

 

 

Spell durations are short in this game, and the number of spells per rest is limited, as it should be. Being unable to use spells to increase survivability and/or damage for the initial 15-20 seconds of any fight while you get it under control, is usually a sound tactic. With that tactic no longer available, you have to spend precious time casting supportive spells after the fight has already started. It doesn't help that most spells have a short radius, forcing your party to clump together rather than get into good positions.

 

There is also the whole logical side to it, which, as I initially wrote, I won't get into since we are dealing with magic.

 

You just listed a bunch of reasons why no precasting makes the game harder. But you haven't listed any reasons why it makes the game worse.

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Fifth issue - Pre-combat spells

Otherwise known as buffing. Again I am uncertain who had the brilliant idea to disable pre-combat buffs, but oh boy is it a blunder. Now, since we are talking about magic, I won't go into a logical debate as to whether or not it makes sense for spells to be locked out of a caster's arsenal unless threatened. Instead I can only point out that some fights would be less painful to deal with if spells such as Armor of Faith, or Circle of Protection, could be cast prior to combat.

Why is it a "blunder"?

"some fights would be less painful to deal with if spells such as Armor of Faith, or Circle of Protection, could be cast prior to combat."

Yep, that certainly would make the game much easier.

 

 

Spell durations are short in this game, and the number of spells per rest is limited, as it should be. Being unable to use spells to increase survivability and/or damage for the initial 15-20 seconds of any fight while you get it under control, is usually a sound tactic. With that tactic no longer available, you have to spend precious time casting supportive spells after the fight has already started. It doesn't help that most spells have a short radius, forcing your party to clump together rather than get into good positions.

 

There is also the whole logical side to it, which, as I initially wrote, I won't get into since we are dealing with magic.

 

You just listed a bunch of reasons why no precasting makes the game harder. But you haven't listed any reasons why it makes the game worse.

 

 

His point is that it's worse because it cuts out all of the tactics from the game.

In a better designed game the game would be balanced around the ability of the player to buff the party before combat. Somewhat higher base difficulty. It would be balanced around the ability of the player to place characters strategically around the battlefield, which is now impossible as buffs can be cast only after combat is initiated and only in a small radius (as in, everyone clumped together).

 

In short if you want to use buffs you need to forego tactical planning.

 

It's quite inelegant design.

Much better would have been to make buffs always available and apply to the whole party when still out of combat, but when already in combat require AOE targetting.

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His point is that it's worse because it cuts out all of the tactics from the game.

In a better designed game the game would be balanced around the ability of the player to buff the party before combat. Somewhat higher base difficulty. It would be balanced around the ability of the player to place characters strategically around the battlefield, which is now impossible as buffs can be cast only after combat is initiated and only in a small radius (as in, everyone clumped together).

 

In short if you want to use buffs you need to forego tactical planning.

 

It's quite inelegant design.

Much better would have been to make buffs always available and apply to the whole party when still out of combat, but when already in combat require AOE targetting.

 

 

In short if you want to use buffs you need to forego tactical planning.

What? No. Exactly the opposite. If you want to make effective use of buffs, you are REQUIRED to use them tactically. You are forced to consider the tradeoffs of casting that spell, versus adopting a spread out formation or casting an offensive spell.

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I think the objection about not being able to use abilities outside of combat has more to do with the fact that there isn't so much as a "Magic doesn't work that way because souls!" handwave. All there is is Obsidian reaching out and graying out some of your abilities until they say you can use them, because otherwise you wouldn't be playing your characters the way they want you to. It feels obtrusive and unfair, especially when your enemies either don't need buffs to be BAMF or can instantly magic up buffs out of nowhere whenever they feel like it, which you can't do. That doesn't mean it's not a legitimate game design decision, but I think that resentful kneejerk reaction is very understandable. It's like if you were playing around the tabletop, the party cleric says, "Okay, I'm going to cast bless on the party before we kick down the door in case there's monsters!" and the DM leans over the screen and says, "No, you're not allowed to do that because that would unbalance the encounter I designed and you're going to play the way I want you to or you're not going to play at all."

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What? No. Exactly the opposite. If you want to make effective use of buffs, you are REQUIRED to use them tactically. You are forced to consider the tradeoffs of casting that spell, versus adopting a spread out formation or casting an offensive spell.

 

While this is true, it actually eliminates a number of tactical options, this reducing your tactical choices. IMO. Note I'm not saying you should be able to pre-buff your party to the ridiculous degree you could in the BG games.

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While this is true, it actually eliminates a number of tactical options, this reducing your tactical choices. IMO. Note I'm not saying you should be able to pre-buff your party to the ridiculous degree you could in the BG games.

 

It doesn't eliminate them, it just creates a tradeoff.

 

In my opinion, the more tradeoffs a game system has, the more tactical it becomes.

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Fifth issue - Pre-combat spells

 

I haven't tried using traps yet so I can't speak to your whole post, but I am strongly in support of Obsidian's design decision on out of combat buffing.

 

 

 

You can set traps out of combat, but I think just one?

 

Each character in the party can set exactly one trap. That means six traps in total. However, most of those traps are going to be extremely weak due to low or complete lack of a Mechanics skills on some of those characters.

 

I've encountered traps that did 100+ damage to everyone within range, effectively knocking my entire party out. However, despite me being able to disarm such a trap due to a high enough Mechanics skill, thus adding said trap to my inventory, the most damage I have been able to do so far with a single trap is a Mechanics 8 Arrow Trap for 22 - 28 Piercing AoE damage in a 2.5 meter radius or the equivelant of hitting three targets clumped together.

 

Traps represent a major strategic advantage. If you can lure your enemy to the traps, you can usually turn the fight in your favor despite having the odds stacked against you. At least that's what traps are supposed to do. Currently the best trap I've used (see above) took ~20% health away from three enemies at once, and I haven't seen any traps that immobilize enemies or help control the battlefield.

 

 

His point is that it's worse because it cuts out all of the tactics from the game.

In a better designed game the game would be balanced around the ability of the player to buff the party before combat. Somewhat higher base difficulty. It would be balanced around the ability of the player to place characters strategically around the battlefield, which is now impossible as buffs can be cast only after combat is initiated and only in a small radius (as in, everyone clumped together).

 

In short if you want to use buffs you need to forego tactical planning.

 

It's quite inelegant design.

Much better would have been to make buffs always available and apply to the whole party when still out of combat, but when already in combat require AOE targetting.

 

 

In short if you want to use buffs you need to forego tactical planning.

What? No. Exactly the opposite. If you want to make effective use of buffs, you are REQUIRED to use them tactically. You are forced to consider the tradeoffs of casting that spell, versus adopting a spread out formation or casting an offensive spell.

 

 

That tradeoff isn't really paying off though. At least not when you can place a character out of line of sight of the enemy, behind a giant boulder, half a screen away, only to have two of the five enemies go straight for that character when combat starts rather than the much more visible guy with a mace and shield standing out in the open.

 

Rogues, Wizards, Rangers, Priests, and Chanters are all rather soft targets, some more than others. Tactical positioning of said classes is vital to any strategy, so if you have to clump together for the initial 3 - 4 seconds of the fight to ensure that they all get a nice buff to their survivability, before they move out to their intended positions, you are not only wasting valuable time in getting to said positions, but you are also risking the enemies getting so close that any movement done by your characters trigger Disengagement attacks, not to mention receiving a god-awful spell to the face that either cripple several of them, or deal damage to them thus putting stress on your healer.

 

There is simply too much reliance on buffs to help you through combat. Due to the other issues that I mentioned (Stealth, Traps, and Omnipotence) you are at a strategic disadvantage. If those issues were addressed, however, the reliance on buffs would be significantly less, and it would present much more interesting tactics.

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1.  If traps were too OP then they'd have to ratchet up encounter strength and all players would need to use traps all the time.  I'll pass on that.

 

2.  It's also somewhat silly to think you're invading this dungeon, scouting out your enemies, and setting up these elaborate trap setups.  Maybe if the enemies all cloaked and stealthily approached when you aggro them and had a chance to disarm your traps on the way in rather than blindly stumbling thru them like a sloppy adventurer.

 

3.  Somewhat agree but it's not that big a deal since rogues in this game can do insane damage nonstop AND get extra damage from a wide variety of easily produced disabled and even get sneak damage on ranged attacks.  Generous indeed.  It would be nice if your rogue could stay stealth going into battles, for sure, but it's hardly the end of the world.

 

4.  Haven't had a problem with this since I do the more basic pull with tank and everything seems to stick to the tank most of the time.  Seems like people have "interesting" ways of doing things in games like this that I would probably consider exploitive, cheesy, or not in the spirit/intention of the game.  Not saying that's what the OP is doing, but either way - this is an RPG, not Dishonored or Assassin's Creed - stealth/sneak tactics are the focus.

 

5.  So, why should the player get an advantage going into combat, which is what you get if you scout your enemy and fully buff up before combat.  Shouldn't all the enemies sit around buffing and resting to refresh spells constantly so that they're all fully buffed up too?  I don't like having spells locked for combat only since that's kind of goofy, but, it's a game mechanic for balance, and I can accept that.  The enemies probably don't like that our parties recharge endurance to full in a few seconds after fights or that we can freely/safely rest anywhere in their domain.  Give and take.

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There is simply too much reliance on buffs to help you through combat. Due to the other issues that I mentioned (Stealth, Traps, and Omnipotence) you are at a strategic disadvantage. If those issues were addressed, however, the reliance on buffs would be significantly less, and it would present much more interesting tactics.

 

I disagree wholeheartedly.

You're in a better strategic position than the enemy is. You can see them before they can see you, you always get first strike, and you can see what their defenses are before you attack. You also have the luxury of being able to sit back and draw them towards you, as opposed to being forced to go on the offensive.

 

And there is, in my opinion, NO reliance on buffs. Unless you're running a chanter/priest core team comp, you can probably slide through most combats without casting any buff spells at all.

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Being a BG player, I'm a fan of buff before combat. 

 

There is still restrictions on number of casts/rests, so you still have a tactical decision on whether or not to buff. Skill is also involved in the buffing process as buff in this game last 30 seconds at most. Compared to some spells that last 10 turns or 8 rounds + 1/level of caster in BG.

 

So you can't buff like crazy and then head into battle like a superhero. You can probably stack 2, 3 at most, and head into battle, and even then, the first buff would expire when you engage the enemy for a bit.

 

I don't see how buffing before battle would break or make fights underpowered. I feel it add a layer of decision too. In a role playing sense, it fits perfectly too,  to have a priest give certain buffs right before a battle, rather than waiting for a fight to break out.

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Slightly more involved "pre"buffs:

  1. position the party a moderate distance away from the enemy group
  2. send one character to pull the enemies
  3. as soon as the puller gets aggro, the whole party is in combat and can cast buffs
  4. pull the enemies back to the main group as the main group lines up for the fight with a stack of buffs running
  5. the puller misses out on the buffs, but hey, can't have everything

Also traps get significantly more powerful than the 22-28 damage figure that was listed as an example. A trap I found in a certain level 4-5 dungeon does double that plus adds a status effect.

Exoduss, on 14 Apr 2015 - 11:11 AM, said: 

 

also secret about hardmode with 6 man party is :  its a faceroll most of the fights you will Auto Attack mobs while lighting your spliff

 

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So far my biggest issue has been with the traps. Not because I can't play without it or etc. etc. but it's horribly immersion breaking. I place a trap down and then the other one just... disappears? Is there some sort of cosmic trap magic? An anti-trap god?

 

I can respect that you don't want people to focus their fights on traps and in doing so basically make a trapper character or allow traps to make the game easy. But the way it works now feels so arbitrary and immersion breaking. Indeed it feels like it runs so contrary to how the game plays otherwise. At first I couldn't believe it and had to google it. I stopped playing.

 

Now I'm not blindly complaining. I intend this as constructive criticism and such I will offer a way I feel it could be done better. Hopefully it at least helps get people thinking and maybe how this is 'solved', if at all, will be some entirely different way.

 

Make all traps neutral. You placed a trap? You can only see it when sneaking and it will trigger on you too. It's just another trap. There's no reason my characters should be immune to traps they place. This limits how easy you can make a fight with traps because you still have to get people to walk in to them. Without triggering them yourself.

 

 

I also agree with the everyone dropping 'scouting' once combat is started. This isn't a big deal but it would indeed be nice. Especially for anyone wanting to play a stealth focused character.

 

Again I can see why you wouldn't want to... alleviate the challenge. But I've always felt one of the most satisfying things, especially in RPG's, is managing to do the unexpected. Which stealth helps enable that.

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This game isn't hard enough to need pre-buffing (playing Path of the Damned). If you spend one or two cycles on a buff for a "difficult fight" then you're golden esp with how long some of the buffs last. My issue is it's hard to tell who's idling.

 

In BG it made a difference to buff. Honestly, I was just buffed all the time. There wasn't much "thinking" to it. It was just "always keep spells X,Y,Z up and summons for bigger fights". So, BG wasn't more "tactical" it was just easier to max out pre-fight... and honestly, sort of a hassle in comparison. I don't bother with buffs most of the time and I'm sort of happy I don't need them.

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5.  So, why should the player get an advantage going into combat, which is what you get if you scout your enemy and fully buff up before combat.  Shouldn't all the enemies sit around buffing and resting to refresh spells constantly so that they're all fully buffed up too?  I don't like having spells locked for combat only since that's kind of goofy, but, it's a game mechanic for balance, and I can accept that.  The enemies probably don't like that our parties recharge endurance to full in a few seconds after fights or that we can freely/safely rest anywhere in their domain.  Give and take.

 

Because the enemies are usually found in a place that they themselves have chosen and deemed safe. You, the player, are invading their home or turf, and as such it is natural that you are preparing as best you can to match up against whatever the enemy has in store for you. Meanwhile the enemies are slaving away at whatever mundane tasks make up their daily lives. Or do you sit around in your home with a loaded gun on the table, nervously waiting for the burglar you know will come at some point? No, you don't. It is your home, you feel safe there. You may have a gun somewhere in the house, and it might be loaded, but you're not having it at the ready 24/7. Enemies in a dungeon are no different.

 

 

This game isn't hard enough to need pre-buffing (playing Path of the Damned). If you spend one or two cycles on a buff for a "difficult fight" then you're golden esp with how long some of the buffs last. My issue is it's hard to tell who's idling.

 

In BG it made a difference to buff. Honestly, I was just buffed all the time. There wasn't much "thinking" to it. It was just "always keep spells X,Y,Z up and summons for bigger fights". So, BG wasn't more "tactical" it was just easier to max out pre-fight... and honestly, sort of a hassle in comparison. I don't bother with buffs most of the time and I'm sort of happy I don't need them.

 

BG wasn't really tactical no. There was the overall strategy of kill dangerous targets first, then mop up the rest, although later on it was usually just a slaughter. In PoE, moreso than BG, party composition is important. Sure, you can build a party that focuses primarily on damage, with one or two characters tanking everything. However, such isn't fun for everyone. Some prefer to rely on a more balanced party where the fights take longer, and there is more micromanagement, as you are attempting to outlast the enemies rather than burn them down in seconds.

 

From my experience with PoE so far the game isn't balanced too well towards the latter of the above. This becomes evident when pre-buffing isn't possible, and monsters are omnipotent.

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