Hello devs/others, I just wanted to offer my feedback on the game. I haven't gotten all the way through yet, I'm only about 55 hours in, and level 9 (the next plot quest in my queue is "Undying Heritage"), but I wanted to leave a lot of my initial impressions type feedback now, while it's still fresh in my mind. I normally don't play games on release (I held out until Witcher 2 EE was released to play it at all, despite loving the first), and I'd been planning on waiting till the expansion to play PoE, but my excitement got the better of me. It's been 2.5 years! I've read every kickstarter update, and been checking the forums and dev tracker religiously since last summer, but I almost never post, cuz I'm a Watcher. I was not in the backer beta, and I jumped into the game on hard/expert, without actually reading the manual too much, thinking a modern game should do a fine job of explaining itself.
If it helps qualify my feedback, I'm mostly a powergamer, I've spent hundreds of hours in the IE games, and my top 10 RPGs of all time are:
****************** GENERAL FEEDBACK ***********************
For starters, I love the game. I think my pledge was totally worth it, and I'm glad I ponied up for the expansion and some playing cards as well. I think you guys delivered on what you promised, and the game deserves the 93 metacritic it has right now, and a 9.5 from users. Seriously. I want to be very clear about this, because I'm going to say a lot of things shortly that might seem overly nitpicky or critical, but I only say them in the interests of making a Perfect Game in the future, via sequel or expansion. AND because Jorge said you like every bit of feedback, so blame him.
- I like the music, particularly the main title. I know some people have complained about the combat music, but to be honest I just tried to remember what it sounds like, and I have absolutely no idea. After spending hundreds of hours in BG2 the only music I can remember off the top of my head is from character creation also, so maybe it's just me.
- The slow mo mode is great
- The fast speed mode is even better, but I really want a 4x option, not just 2x. It's still tedious walking back and forth across maps. In the IE games I just enabled the cheats and would teleport my party around city maps, to avoid having to watch them walk.
- I miss party AI a lot
- The graphics and sound are everything I would ask for. The dyrford area is particularly pretty.
- I've found a number of technical issues (most of which are minor), which I've reported in the support forum, but in general the game has been very stable for me and run very smoothly. I'm generally pleased with the level of technical polish. I do have a background in software engineering, though, so maybe I'm more understanding/forgiving of these things than your average user.
- I wish you'd stood strong on the locks and traps xp, and left it in the past where it belongs. The things in the chest are the reward.
- I actually like the bestiary xp, on the other hand. It's a pleasant reward as I fight things (and there are lots of things to fight on hard, apparently), but it doesn't encourage me to wipe every map clean. Plus it makes sense that I gain xp as I learn about a creature, but once I know all of its secrets the xp flow stops. Good good.
- I like the idea of the "accurate" fonts in the almanac, and the notes in the margins and stuff, but I have to really concentrate to read that gothic font
- I know this probably isn't your guys' fault, but it's slightly disappointing my physical copy hasn't shipped yet. Not that it really matters, I don't have the collector's edition and I already have a digital version of the game.
****************** USABILITY/UI ***********************
- I like the general look of the game HUD (I've only used the solid version). Since I'm playing on hard, I've never seen any of the little creature UI bars or anything like that, but I honestly think they're unnecessary. For me, I have all the information I need just looking at my screen. Which is great!
- I wish there were hotkeys to quick cast abilities and to switch weapon sets
- It would be nice if the companion quests had their own category in the quest section, because their names are hard to remember and I keep clicking on them looking to decide which quest to do next. If they don't get their own section, highlight them somehow so they're clearly companion quests
- I like the inventory, journal, and stronghold UIs
- The buying/selling UI is awful. I have to click like 100 times to sell up all the xaurip **** I picked up (which is apparently my main source of income for a while). There should be an option to select all [level of quality] items, or move every item of a certain type into the sell box. It's also tedious to scroll through the vendor inventory, and the sort buttons should actually remove items from the list, instead of just greying some of them out.
- I think not showing spell area indicators on expert mode is a huge mistake. I cannot for the life of me understand why someone would want to play without being able to see the exact AoEs of their abilities. It's not like counterstrike where no-scoping makes you a pro, and not having AoE indicators in the IE games was a failure of UI, not something that should be replicated. This game is about pausing and planning exact movements and strategies. Since I never played with the circles, I had to straight up guess at my abilities when I started playing, and as a result I'm completely unable to carefully place area spells amongst enemies I'm engaged with. All 4 of my friends I mentioned that "feature" to thought it was ridiculous also.
- the links and tooltips to explain game mechanics are very useful
- When I first started making my character, the game asked me to choose a race before ever explaining the attribute system. It would be nice if the char creation screen featured the same tooltips that the rest of the game does, because I had skip forward to the attribute allocation, read about all the attributes, and then go back and start again. I could've minimized and dug out the manual, but to be honest I didn't trust its accuracy, because I know lots of things can change in the last month before release
- The enchanting UI isn't super clear. I initially held off on enchanting things at all until i was level 7 because I didn't know if I could later overwrite or remove enchantments. Actually, I'm still not sure if you can remove them.
- I know portraits are super time consuming, and it's unrealistic to expect a portrait for every 3d face in the game, but the godlike options are quite limited in terms of portraits, at least for death godlikes. Also a lot of the portraits were a little more... happy? than I'd like. I don't make whimsical characters with bright eyes or wide smiles, I make characters that kill whimsical characters with bright eyes or wide smiles. I felt like some of the more serious portraits were kind of over the top with snarling or making angry faces. I actually almost reconsidered my character archetype because I couldn't find a portrait I liked, and eventually chose a helmet with horns that very vaguely resembled my godlike's head.
- If it helps, my favorite set of portraits from the IE games was from IWD2, by far. Actually, does anyone know if you can import portraits into the game? I'll just copy those over.
- I wish the game actually did the dps calculations for me, so I could see EXACTLY how changing armor types is affecting my damage output.
****************** COMBAT/MECHANICS ***********************
- On the whole, I think the new/updated mechanics are great, I think the design team did an excellent job
- Engagement is good. Third ed D&D had engagement in the form of of attacks of opportunity, and I think the ability to control areas makes this game far more tactical, not less
- I think the tactical choices between different spells and damages types is pretty good. I always look for which saving throw type an enemy is weakest against, and cast that sort of spell at it. I don't bother to check enemy, DR values for different physical damage types, but I know that I should. I just don't need to.
- My initial impression of spell diversity is that it's pretty good, in terms of both effects and damage types, but could definitely stand to be fleshed out a bit. A good starting point, though.
- Thank god there is no ammo. Dealing with ammo is ****ing tedious, and there's no point to it.
- Thank god for the stash. Filling every inventory with gems and other **** you're just going to sell so you can pack it out of the dungeon is also tedious.
- I like how some items automatically go to the stash
- There seems to be absolutely no incentive whatsoever to diversify skill selection. Seems like every character should put points into one skill, and only one skill, with the possible exception of athletics, because damn that priest getting tired is annoying.
- As far as I can tell, survival is useless and mechanics is super, super, super important.
- Stealth is useful for stealing some trinkets, but not really important either.
- Lore lets me use scrolls, which is moderately useful
- It's tough for me to tell how useful any of the skills but athletics would actually be in conversation, because expert mode doesn't show me dialog options I can't choose, so maybe some of my perceptions are off
- I wish I could stack bonuses from items. I understand this is hard to balance, but it also lets me customize my character more heavily
- The rest supplies limiting... I understand why it was put in, but ultimately it doesn't actually keep me from just going to the inn, getting some more, and heading back down. It makes rest spam more tedious, but doesn't actually remove it. It might be an unsolvable problem, though, aside from just removing the ability to rest in dungeons, which is far more realistic, but maybe a little too punitive. I don't know. I think the resting supplies was maybe the best possible solution, but that still doesn't make it a great one.
- I really dislike the whole "stealth is scouting" thing, it just makes me creep around the map really slowly so I don't miss anything secret. It's tedious
- I also don't really like how every combat starts with stealthing the whole party in
- Characters should be able to stealth invidually
- I think the general combat and game balance are vastly superior to the IE games, as they should be. I'm going to enclose a ranting digression about why I believe this is so in spoiler tags here, because it's not completely germane
- I think wizards and rangers are by far the weakest classes, just from my experience with the companions
- The wizard's spell selection just doesn't seem to be as good as the druid's, at least early on. Seems like the druid not only has a bigger spell selection because he's not grimoire-limited, but he also has great untargeted (returning storm, anyone?), and single target damage options. Druids also have the summon, which is amazing.
- I couldn't imagine beating the game without a priest, which I think is a problem. I think the buffing and healing should be distributed a bit more amongst the other two heavy caster classes, so you don't HAVE to have a priest. I also think the priest should have a little more offensive capability in terms of spells, but that's just me. Every fight he just casts buffs or heals constantly, unless the fight is easy, in which case he just stands and fires his rifle.
- Ciphers seem to be amazing. I'm totally going to make a cipher as a second character. Three bouncing mind blades at the start of every fight? My cipher OWNS groups of enemies. Not to mention the damage amp spell (hourglass icon, can't remember the name) is fantastic against boss type enemies. She even hits pretty hard with her attacks, thanks to soul whip. I don't think the value of immediately available, limitless, per-encounter abilities can be overstated.
- The chanter seems to be sort of a reverse version of the cipher in that he has to wait a long time before casting one ability, then wait a long time again, and it's definitely for the worse. I think the idea of the class is really cool, and the passive, customizable chanting is good, but it absolutely pales in comparison to my aforementioned bouncing blade salvo at the start of every fight. My chanter will get off one, maybe two spells per encounter, and while some of them are really good, it's just not as powerful. I think the speed at which he sings should be sped up, so he can cast real spells sooner into combat (the first 10 seconds of combat usually determine how things will end), and I think his chanted verse effects should persist a bit longer.
- I think the mage desperately needs more per-encounter abilities. I carried the mage companion until at least level 6, and he was the main reason I had to rest. That, and the stupid priest running out of health constantly. He just doesn't have enough spells on demand to compete with the cipher in terms of damage, particularly since all his damage spells I've found also hurt my party, and he can't sustain damage output. I think the wizard should be able to use one free spell of every level he knows, per encounter. That way he's useful and exciting in easy and moderately difficult fights, without completely blowing his load before things get serious, if you know what I mean.
- I can't speak to the paladin, barbarian, or rogue, because I've never seen any of them. The latter two look good on paper, though. Haven't read much about the pally yet.
- The ranger seems to be bad. Which is really unfortunate, because I like playing them. I think the issue with the ranger is they're penalized so heavily when their pet dies, and the pet just dies like crazy. That thing lives to die. My experience with the ranger (who I carried with me for 2-3 wilderness maps worth of encounters) was that any time the pet is engaged in melee, it is dead. You really need to attack the target your pet is attacking, which means if the pet is engaged you can't focus the same target as the rest of the party, and disengagement attacks destroy the pet immediately. Also any creature actually attacking the pet destroys it immediately as well. Then the ranger is useless.
- I think the pet needs per-level bonuses, if it doesn't get them already, and at least needs its tankability increased greatly. Maybe make it so the pet can't engage targets, or at least not without a talent, but make the damn thing hard to kill. I think it needs to be more like a ranger pet in world of warcraft to be viable. I'm happy with the bowman actually doing all the damage in the background, but since the pet is so important to the ranger abilities, it needs to be able to survive much better.
- I plan to make a custom party next, and carry a tank of some sort, a fighter or barbarian for damage and secondary tanking, a cipher, priest, druid, and maybe a rogue.
- All the character creation options are great - the backgrounds, abilities, all the little choices
- In general I like the attribute system, although I'd rename might to power and dexterity to speed
- Shouldn't interrupt be based on how much damage I do? Having one's arm chopped off tends to disrupt one's casting, after all. Or maybe it could just be based on weapon type, with a % chance to interrupt on the weapon that's checked on every hit, with an increased chance to interrupt on crits
- I don't really get perception and resolve. Like, if I make a high perception character, what have I just done? I'm good at interrupting? Is that a thing? Will that make me master of the universe? Might, con, int, and dex are all very clear, I could see basing characters around those stats, but perception and resolve I sort of stared at for a while, wondering if I should put points into them. Seems like those two stats could maybe be combined, and the saving throw bonuses be redistributed a bit so everything's even.
- I do like how multiple stats influence each saving throw type
- I also like how every stat is actually useful for every character, and I'm not sure how someone could complain about this. No, an int-only fighter isn't GOOD, but it's not ****ing wretched like it would've been in an IE game, either.
- Sometimes leveling up does feel a little bit empty, even though it's more exciting than than leveling up in the IE games. I think the game should show me what passive stats I gained on the level up screen. It would also be nice if I got stat points occasionally, just to spice things up.
- Have you guys played Wizardry 8? Best level ups I've ever had. Lots of stat and skill points to allocate every level, new spells, AND new skills unlocked by maxing out stats. Plus you leveled often, which is exciting too. I also really liked how in that game you'd increase skills by using them, it made every combat important and rewarding, even if you didn't get phat loots. I realize that as an IE successor that sort of thing is maybe a little non grata in these parts, but it was still cool.
- In general, I like how every class can use every item, weapon, and armor, but I feel like maybe they should be differentiated a little more. Maybe certain classes are better with certain armor types, but there's no reason you can't just wear whatever you want. Even after playing all this time, I still have no idea what the best way to build my chanter or cipher would be, partly because the game doesn't nudge me in any particular direction, and their mechanics aren't so straightforward I can just eyeball the best way to increase their dps. Most notably, I'm not sure if they're better in melee or ranged.
- Unfortunately, I think the game is generally too easy. Or maybe just the optional content is too easy (at least so far). I completed all the wilderness areas around gilded vale, then went to Od Nua before completing raedric's hold (cuz I got the bug), so I was without what I have to think was a large chunk of xp. I had 5 chars in my party: my high might, con, and perception death godlike fighter who wears plate and dual wields swords (I call him "the grim reaper" because I took the bloody slaughter trait, I wanted him to specialize in finishing things off), the fighter companion, wizard companion, chanter companion, and priest companion and delved straight down to level 8 of the mega dungeon. I think I was level 4 or 5 when I started? I didn't go to defiance bay at all. I did have to come up and rest and resupply a few times, of course, but there was no point in the dungeon where I ran into something that made me think "ok, I've hit a wall, time to go elsewhere." Which is what I was expecting. Some of the battles were hard, don't get me wrong, but not so hard I couldn't beat them. I'm sure there was no way I could've beaten the whole thing right then, but I expected it to be harder, like I'd only get through 2-3 levels at that point, particularly without a full party.
- In light of the above, I think enemy leashing should be removed, at least on hard and super hard, and all the enemies in a room should aggro if any one of them is. Or maybe they're supposed to, and it's bugged? Yeah, I know kiting and abusing the leashing is cheating, but killing the same group of ogres 5 times gets tedious. It's just a shortcut to something I could've accomplished anyway. Pulling is too easy, and since my strategies all revolve around choke points, I usually don't even know there were un-aggroed creatures until I've already killed the first half, and proceed further into the room.
- I think the hardest area in the game for me by far was the temple in gilded vale. I tried to do it first, before I even had any companions, and then again after I got one, but was unable to beat it until I had 3. Even with three, I had to go do some other things first, because there was one shade fight I just couldn't seem to beat.
- As a result of my doing a lot of the optional content first (I went straight from Od Nua to Dyrford), the critical path is now very, very easy. I can even just run through the encounters with slow-mo disabled, like in the IE games of old.
- I like the quests so far. I've done all the optional content up until defiance bay, and a lot of the optional content within, from what I've found. I've done 3 of the plot quests in the city, also. The absence of fetch quests is nice, and organizing things into quests and tasks is great.
- It's GREAT that there are different solutions to some quests, and a lot of things are not what they initially seem
- On the whole, I'm a bit disappointed with the loot in the game. The fine/exceptional/superb progression is clear, but kinda boring. There seems to be a huge shortage of boots and belts in the game, and I kinda miss having a separate cloak and necklace slot. The unique items are cool, but I feel like there aren't that many of them, and the abilities they give are largely... soulless? I'm not expecting every weapon to be a Lilarcor, of course, and some of the items are really cool, but there's a lot of +1 to a stat, or +25% frost damage, and the like so far. Things that are good, but I haven't seen anything like a vorpal weapon, or a crom faeyr, or a wave halberd, or a belt of inertial barrier, tansheron's bow, heartseeker, blackrazor, the answerer, psionicist's blade, etc. Things with cool extra effects or abilities.
- I do really like the items that improve specific class abilities
- I feel like I have a ton of money, but can't find anything good to buy with it. I've already cleared out the shops in the stronghold, defiance bay (that I've found, and I've been to 4 of the areas), and dyrford village
- The shops in the stronghold are disappointing, also. They didn't sell much I was interested in; I expected them to have some really high level things. Maybe the really cool loot is waiting for me down the road, but I'd rather have it available now, just really expensive.
- One of my biggest pet peeves in a game is not giving me the loot I feel like I deserve. For example, I see that this drake in od nua has a room STACKED with gold and treasures, and I go to an awful lot of bother to kill him. I think to myself that I am now in the money, and rub my palms together with glee. Except the giant pile of gold turns out to be what I'd refer to as a "pittance" of coppers when I actually loot it. Somehow, a group of people in another area whose whole thing is that they're slaves, serfs, and the homeless downtrodden are considerably more wealthy than 7 levels of mega dungeon combined. On average I'd say I got maybe one usable item per level? Some of it was pretty good, don't get me wrong, but I felt like I didn't get much out of some of the levels, except the ability to go to the next level.
- The enchanting system is cool, and I think the crafting system has potential, even though I haven't used it (I'm level 8 now, I think)
- For the mega dungeon, I kinda wish there were more levels that were purely diplomatic, or at least, not super combat-heavy. It gets to be a bit of a slog wading through darguls room after room. I even wouldn't mind some levels that were just one encounter. One unique, tactically different encounter, maybe bookended with some dialog. I love a good hack and slash as much as the next guy, but I think a little bit more level to level diversity would've been a plus.
- Or maybe just weaving more of a story from level to level? I really liked finding the pages of the journal from the expedition, it would've been cool to have the journey downward be a little bit more of an exploration about what the endless paths actually are, and who the master is, as well.
- If I didn't say it already, I do really like how different all the od nua levels feel, in terms of aesthetic and enemy types. Also the giant adra man is still cool
****************** COMPANIONS/PLOT ***********************
I like most of the companions (although I've never had the paladin in my party), but I don't think there's a Minsc, Jan, Morte, or Dak'kon in the group. Meaning the companions are good, but I don't think there are any super-memorable standouts, at least for me. The plot is good, but not great, from what I've seen. In BG2, Torment, the kotors, and the Witchers, some of my all-time favorite plots, I felt a lot of personal investment in the story. There are big things happening to my character, that I can identify and/or empathize with, and I want to figure them out, get revenge, whatever. The bastard stole my soul. I'm going to hunt him down, tenaciously, because I hate him. "You... you live *yet*! You possess less than a fraction of your soul, and yet you continue to oppose me?!" I'll oppose you all the way to hell, in fact, you sorry son of a bitch. Give me back my soul. I need it, for doing things with.
In Pillars, I know that the hollowing is a Big Bad, but I don't feel that personally connected to it. My character isn't even from the Dyrwood, he's from the White that Wends, where I don't think the Problem exists. Yes, the one guy accidentally made me into a Watcher, but I didn't actually really realize that that was apparently another Big Bad until much later, even after the important convo in Od Nua (which I thought was very well done, by the way). I actually thought it was kind of a good thing. Or at least a mixed thing, like being a Bhaalspawn. Maybe I haven't gotten far enough in, and it picks up, but for me I don't feel quite as drawn into the story as I did in some of those other games. Again, the plot isn't bad by any means, I like the writing and I think the plot is interesting, but some of that might be because of the rich history of the world, and the mystery surrounding the gods, etc. I also like the whole idea of souls being important. I think the world was built very well.
- I really liked the ranger companion, but I didn't take her because I thought her class wasn't good enough
- the wizard companion was fine, I didn't get to know him too well before I replaced him
- the druid companion is sort of irritating, but also funny sometimes. I mostly take him because I think druids are good, not for his personality
- I like the fighter companion
- the cipher and priest companions are interesting, I've talked to them and I like their hidden depths (were they the Avellone characters?) I was a huge Kreia fan too, though, and I was always really disappointed I didn't get to find out more about Fall-from-Grace.
- I think the chanter companion is a bit of a boof, even after doing his class quest (his is the only one I've finished). I've not been super motivated to talk to him for fun
- a number of the companion interactions have been pretty funny
I'm sure some of this is a little unclear or verbose, because it's late and I'm very tired, but hopefully it's helpful to the devs. I guess this turned into kind of a labor or love, but I like this game, and I want to see sequels and expansions that build upon the success established here. I'd be happy to clarify or expound on any points, should it please the court.
tldr - I think the content in the game is good, and the systems in the game right now are a great jumping off point to creating more content in the future, either in this game or in sequels/expansions.