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The disconnection between companions and the overall story.


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I want to discuss a different topic about the companions (as opposed to their ineffective and useless builds). That topic concerns their role in the story.

Admittedly the story doesn't really go anywhere, but it still rubs me the wrong way that companions are so disconnected from it. Disconnected as in *they don't have any part in it*. They kinda feel like Bioware's walking issue dispensers that you play therapist with for a while. Remember most of the companions in KotOR2, especially Kreia. I suppose G0T0, Mandalore, the Handmaiden and Mira/Hanharr don't have an active role in it, but I'll excuse it because the overall story is so beautifully crafted that that doesn't matter. In MotB Kaelyn was the highlight, but Safyia and Gann also had very important roles. One of Many and Okku were baggage, because they were the "choice" companions and they couldn't be very important without breaking the plot.

And now comes PoE... every companion feels like a puppet with dialogue who has no real impact or anything with the main plot. Aloth kinda tries with his ties with the Leaden Key, but it's not his hand that guides anything. Durance *maybe* with his role in the Godhammer bomb, but he feels like he would be more interesting if we were actually playing at the time of that war. It's not because they can all die, because in MotB you could eat all of your companions and they would still be important. It feels like a wasted opportunity, because companions shouldn't be some random people you happen to stumble across while doing something totally irrelevant to them.

Maybe I'm just spoiled with KotOR 2, MotB and the other Obsidian games, but I kind of expect more from Obsidian (in contrast to Bioware, for example). What do you think? Do I just have huge expectations and I should just shut my mouth, because the companions are awesome the way they are? Or have I missed anything and they actually DO have a role in the story?

Edited by Christliar
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Interesting you single out Bioware, as this is one thing they do really really well. Especially in the more recent games like Dragon Age Origins and Inquisition.

I'm not singling them out because of spite, but because they are the only other well known company which makes RPGs on a fairly regular basis. I could say Larian studios too, but their writing is fundamentally different than either Obsidian's or Bioware's and can't really be used as an example. Origins is an awful example of my arguments, because nobody had any impact on the main story (that being stopping the Archdemon and collecting allies). Inquisition is broken on PC and haven't played it much, but according to a friend of mine the story is the usual dross and the companions are just there. DA2 is actually an interesting take on the problem, because that game didn't have an overarching story and it was made stronger for it. The companions were able to shine more.

Edited by Christliar
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I kinda get what you mean.

 

The companions were really well written and the banter was cool, but they felt alittle disconnected with the main story and seemed like a group of people who just got caught up in my wake. Even their personal quests seemed alittle flat to me. maybe I was just expecting more.

 

May well be that we are spoiled after Kotor 2 and Motb as they both set the standard in my mind for great companions. (didn't much like GOTO or Bao dur in Kotor, but I loved my sadistic spirit construct in OoM)

 

Kotor2 in particular came so close to what I felt was the perfect companion system, falling just shy of everything I would have wanted. I'm usually a bit wary of influence systems and alignment in rpgs as I im inclined to ditch roleplaying in favour of pandering to my companions to get the benefits of their approval but Kotor2 almost got it right by alowwing my to mold my characters into evil characters if I went sith, then fell short when, having convinced them to be good little murderes they still bemoaned my own piques of wanton slaughter.

 

In PoE, It felt like I could influence the companions, Durance in particular and Grieving mother aswell, can be fundamentally changed through dialouge responses but to little real affect as they had no real bearing on the mian story. Sure a minor change to the ending description but it felt a little hollow.

 

I also expected npcs to react abit more to companion interjection but maybe this would have been too time consuming to implement, sadly it just felt taped on to the existing conversations.

 

I still really like the characters. Durance, GM and Hiravias where good fun to have along. But I think Obsidian missed an oppurtunity to take companions that one step further after Kotor2 & MotB.

 

Maybe it's something that will get fleshed out in an expansion or sequel. One can live in hope!

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Personally I could go either way on this. I don't mind at all that the companions aren't an *integral* part to the main story and I don't mind it the other way either. I do think one has to be really careful when tying companions to the story though. Kreia is often touted as being a wonderful character, and I like her myself, but there are a lot of things I *really* don't like about how she works in the game, namely that the player is forced into a certain... situation with her and you can't really "talk back" to her in a satisfactory manner because... well, because plot. And that's terrible in my opinion.

 

MotB certainly works really well in that regard though, very well done.

 

But yeah, not a biggie for me in PoE.

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Interesting you single out Bioware, as this is one thing they do really really well. Especially in the more recent games like Dragon Age Origins and Inquisition.

I'm not singling them out because of spite, but because they are the only other well known company which makes RPGs on a fairly regular basis. I could say Larian studios too, but their writing is fundamentally different than either Obsidian's or Bioware's and can't really be used as an example. Origins is an awful example of my arguments, because nobody had any impact on the main story (that being stopping the Archdemon and collecting allies). Inquisition is broken on PC and haven't played it much, but according to a friend of mine the story is the usual dross and the companions are just there. DA2 is actually an interesting take on the problem, because that game didn't have an overarching story and it was made stronger for it. The companions were able to shine more.

Sorry but I completely disagree. In Origins especially, take the fist two companions you get, Alistair and Morrigan; one is the only other member of the order you belong to and shares the same quest as you, can become king and lead the final battle against the archdemon, or can even be the one to kill the archdemon, the other can play a large part in the final decisions you make and the final battle by giving you a choice.

 

Inquisition story is dross, real dross, but again, the companions do all feel a part of the story, that is one thing you can say about it.

 

I agree I prefer it when they do feel more a part of the story and I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a kind of twist concerning any of them tbh. And Aloth's Leaden Key conversation felt a bit forced imo.

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Interesting you single out Bioware, as this is one thing they do really really well. Especially in the more recent games like Dragon Age Origins and Inquisition.

I'm not singling them out because of spite, but because they are the only other well known company which makes RPGs on a fairly regular basis. I could say Larian studios too, but their writing is fundamentally different than either Obsidian's or Bioware's and can't really be used as an example. Origins is an awful example of my arguments, because nobody had any impact on the main story (that being stopping the Archdemon and collecting allies). Inquisition is broken on PC and haven't played it much, but according to a friend of mine the story is the usual dross and the companions are just there. DA2 is actually an interesting take on the problem, because that game didn't have an overarching story and it was made stronger for it. The companions were able to shine more.

Sorry but I completely disagree. In Origins especially, take the fist two companions you get, Alistair and Morrigan; one is the only other member of the order you belong to and shares the same quest as you, can become king and lead the final battle against the archdemon, or can even be the one to kill the archdemon, the other can play a large part in the final decisions you make and the final battle by giving you a choice.

 

Inquisition story is dross, real dross, but again, the companions do all feel a part of the story, that is one thing you can say about it.

 

I agree I prefer it when they do feel more a part of the story and I was a little disappointed that there wasn't a kind of twist concerning any of them tbh. And Aloth's Leaden Key conversation felt a bit forced imo.

 

See, the difference between my examples and Morrigan and Alistair is that the game and the story would've happened regardless of their presence (Morrigan and Alistair's). And you are basically saying "they help you with your quest! See, they matter to the story!" which isn't what I'm trying to say ;d In MotB the story wouldn't even happen without Safiya and couldn't be completed without Kaelyn's involvement. In KotOR 2 Kreia IS the story etc.

Edited by Christliar
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If companions are optional, you can't make them fully integral to the plot. That's the short and long version of it. Especially in PoE where you can solo the game or have a party composed of generic adventurers.
 
Besides, without Morrigan the Warden is stuck in the Korcari Wilds without finding the treaties at Flemeth's place. And she provides one of the important ending choices. So she's pretty important to the plot for an optional character.
 
Plus, you dismissing inquisition is a bit silly, given that

one of the companions caused the entire plot to happen. And happen to be a god.

 

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This is a long and proud tradition with these kinds of games.  I mean, how often could you put plot essential companions in a game before people got tired of it?  It's actually a fairly big risk - the KOTOR series had a *little* bit of a background in it, since Bastila is at least somewhat important to the story, but it'd get pretty tiresome to *always* have a kreia-esq character or always have somebody out to betray you. 

 

In PE you've essentially got a big gaggle of misfits - Aloth is about to get lynched and so is Eder.  So, they may as well join you as stick around or die in the wilderness.  Durance *really* wants to join you because he wants a watcher to help him discover whats up with Magran.  Etc etc.  This is *mainly* how companions were dealt with in all the IE games, excepting a few Torment characters and Yoshimo and Imoen in BG2. 

 

The comedic thing about BG1 in particular is that one of the most popular NPCs, Imoen, was put in the game as an afterthought lol - she was actually a combination of two different NPCs and thrown in the game at the last minute - and lots of people really liked her. 

 

I honestly didn't expect the NPCs to have nearly so much dialogue - I figured we'd be going back to the days of Bg1 or, at most, Fallout 2 where the NPCs talked a *little* and then that was that.  I was quite surprised that they put so much content on them. 

 

It's a different approach.  I prefer for the NPCs to be somewhat muted or to join you in an organic way - because it lets you write your own story essentially.  I mean... Look at fallout 1 and how many people love dog meat lol.  Dog meat doesn't speak, dog meat doesn't really tie into the story, but people love him none-the-less because you end up making your own story organically in your head. 

Edited by Gallenger
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If companions are optional, you can't make them fully integral to the plot. That's the short and long version of it. Especially in PoE where you can solo the game or have a party composed of generic adventurers.

 

Besides, without Morrigan the Warden is stuck in the Korcari Wilds without finding the treaties at Flemeth's place. And she provides one of the important ending choices. So she's pretty important to the plot for an optional character.

 

Plus, you dismissing inquisition is a bit silly, given that

one of the companions caused the entire plot to happen. And happen to be a god.

 

Like I said, Inquisition is broken on PC and I haven't played it much, but

Solas being a "god" came COMPLETELY out of the left field and I don't remember him causing the plot to happen, since that was Hawke in DA2 who freed what's-his-face

Morrigan giving you the treaties and the choice wasn't something Flemeth couldn't have done and even does, because Morrigan was just a messenger.

 

This is a long and proud tradition with these kinds of games.  I mean, how often could you put plot essential companions in a game before people got tired of it?  It's actually a fairly big risk - the KOTOR series had a *little* bit of a background in it, since Bastila is at least somewhat important to the story, but it'd get pretty tiresome to *always* have a kreia-esq character or always have somebody out to betray you. 

 

In PE you've essentially got a big gaggle of misfits - Aloth is about to get lynched and so is Eder.  So, they may as well join you as stick around or die in the wilderness.  Durance *really* wants to join you because he wants a watcher to help him discover whats up with Magran.  Etc etc.  This is *mainly* how companions were dealt with in all the IE games, excepting a few Torment characters and Yoshimo and Imoen in BG2. 

 

The comedic thing about BG1 in particular is that one of the most popular NPCs, Imoen, was put in the game as an afterthought lol - she was actually a combination of two different NPCs and thrown in the game at the last minute - and lots of people really liked her. 

 

I honestly didn't expect the NPCs to have nearly so much dialogue - I figured we'd be going back to the days of Bg1 or, at most, Fallout 2 where the NPCs talked a *little* and then that was that.  I was quite surprised that they put so much content on them. 

 

It's a different approach.  I prefer for the NPCs to be somewhat muted or to join you in an organic way - because it lets you write your own story essentially.  I mean... Look at fallout 1 and how many people love dog meat lol.  Dog meat doesn't speak, dog meat doesn't really tie into the story, but people love him none-the-less because you end up making your own story organically in your head. 

You aren't forced to take any companion in any of these games, but Kreia, Kaelyn, Safyia etc. are still very important. I can't expect all companions to be integral to the plot of course, but some involvement from some of them would be nice ;d Also, now that we've mentioned it NWN2 HAS a forced companion - what's-her-face! The farm girl! And I don't recall anyone hating her or hating that you have to take her with you.

Edited by Christliar
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This is a long and proud tradition with these kinds of games.  I mean, how often could you put plot essential companions in a game before people got tired of it?  It's actually a fairly big risk - the KOTOR series had a *little* bit of a background in it, since Bastila is at least somewhat important to the story, but it'd get pretty tiresome to *always* have a kreia-esq character or always have somebody out to betray you. 

 

In PE you've essentially got a big gaggle of misfits - Aloth is about to get lynched and so is Eder.  So, they may as well join you as stick around or die in the wilderness.  Durance *really* wants to join you because he wants a watcher to help him discover whats up with Magran.  Etc etc.  This is *mainly* how companions were dealt with in all the IE games, excepting a few Torment characters and Yoshimo and Imoen in BG2. 

 

The comedic thing about BG1 in particular is that one of the most popular NPCs, Imoen, was put in the game as an afterthought lol - she was actually a combination of two different NPCs and thrown in the game at the last minute - and lots of people really liked her. 

 

I honestly didn't expect the NPCs to have nearly so much dialogue - I figured we'd be going back to the days of Bg1 or, at most, Fallout 2 where the NPCs talked a *little* and then that was that.  I was quite surprised that they put so much content on them. 

 

It's a different approach.  I prefer for the NPCs to be somewhat muted or to join you in an organic way - because it lets you write your own story essentially.  I mean... Look at fallout 1 and how many people love dog meat lol.  Dog meat doesn't speak, dog meat doesn't really tie into the story, but people love him none-the-less because you end up making your own story organically in your head. 

Tiny quibble: In BG2, Jaheira and Minsc have their own personal quests for vengeance against Irenicus. They're not integral to the plot happening, but at the same time your presence isn't really required for their stories, either; both of them would continue on in their quest with or without you. Minsc perhaps less effectively.

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snipped for brevity

 

Yeah, sorry but it's obvious you didn't play Inquisition. The reveal has a crapload of foreshadowing spread out across all the game, and the post-credit scene explicitely mentions why the Elder One was able to act out his plot and how X person was able to help.

 

If you're going to critique plots, at least critique plots you actually know about.

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Well you can also just leave them trapped - that's why I didn't count them - whereas if you tell Imoen to go away, you still end up saving her eventually. 

The plot says you free her, this is true. At least it doesn't dictate why--her freedom can entirely be a side effect of your quest to learn what Irenicus did so you can gain in power and destroy him. Like I said, *tiny* quibble. On the whole I agree with what you said.

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snipped for brevity

 

Yeah, sorry but it's obvious you didn't play Inquisition. The reveal has a crapload of foreshadowing spread out across all the game, and the post-credit scene explicitely mentions why the Elder One was able to act out his plot and how X person was able to help.

 

If you're going to critique plots, at least critique plots you actually know about.

 

Yeah, you are right. Good, then +1 for Bioware ;p

Edited by Christliar
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(Having only played Eder, Sagani and Durance's quests to their end:)

 

The companions don't turn out to be crucial to the main plot, but they are crucial to the main themes of the setting and the story, and the way the companions' quests resolve just as you understand the main relationship between you, Thaos and the Legacy make them extremely important. It's a different strategy, but one I am really pleased by - and it also makes sense that even though you are a Watcher, you are not some Super Chosen One, so it's not likely you'll end up picking up 8 people who have some critical interest in your mission.

 

What I mean by the themes, as I posted elsewhere:
 

 

 

The point is that the story is very tightly wound so that all the different kinds of problems many different people (including yourself) have in the world, the chickens come home to roost in the final actor as you understand the similarity binding them together. This includes you, Thaos, the ocmpanions, Iovara, Lady Webb... That similarity, of course, is foreshadowed throughout the entire game in the scriptures of Wael you find throughout the world: what is an answer without a question? What does struggle mean - your struggle against Thaos, all of 'humanity' (& other races)' struggle against their own lives and disasters like the Legacy, Thaos' struggle against the 'false gods' - what do they mean when you understand that nobody can guarantee an answer for you? How can people live on if they can never find the answer they seek for sure?
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(Having only played Eder, Sagani and Durance's quests to their end:)

 

The companions don't turn out to be crucial to the main plot, but they are crucial to the main themes of the setting and the story, and the way the companions' quests resolve just as you understand the main relationship between you, Thaos and the Legacy make them extremely important. It's a different strategy, but one I am really pleased by - and it also makes sense that even though you are a Watcher, you are not some Super Chosen One, so it's not likely you'll end up picking up 8 people who have some critical interest in your mission.

 

What I mean by the themes, as I posted elsewhere:

 

 

 

The point is that the story is very tightly wound so that all the different kinds of problems many different people (including yourself) have in the world, the chickens come home to roost in the final actor as you understand the similarity binding them together. This includes you, Thaos, the ocmpanions, Iovara, Lady Webb... That similarity, of course, is foreshadowed throughout the entire game in the scriptures of Wael you find throughout the world: what is an answer without a question? What does struggle mean - your struggle against Thaos, all of 'humanity' (& other races)' struggle against their own lives and disasters like the Legacy, Thaos' struggle against the 'false gods' - what do they mean when you understand that nobody can guarantee an answer for you? How can people live on if they can never find the answer they seek for sure?

 

I think that's a case of apophenia e.i seeing patterns and meanings where there are none. Your interpretation sounds interesting, but it should've been explored more if that was their intent. And even then a theme of "unanswered questions" would be a more valid approach even though only 3 questions weren't answered. Your past self's "Are there gods?", Eder's "Why did my brother fight for Readceras?" and Durance's "Why doesn't Magran speak to me?" (I'm not even sure about the last one, because I ditched Durance since I was a priest myself)

Edited by Christliar
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I think that's a case of apophenia e.i seeing patterns and meanings where there are none. Your interpretation sounds interesting, but it should've been explored more if that was their intent.

 

I'm sorry, but what the hell are you talking about? The companions' stories revolve around the events leading up to and surrounding the main plot. Each of them is directly invested in the immediate setting and its themes, and their quests each draw attention to those themes - e.g. Durance on the nature of the divine, Pallegina with "animancy and social upheaval in the Dyrwood," Sagani on reincarnation, Grieving Mother's ties to the legacy, and so on. It would be difficult for the companions to be more critically tied to the game's worldbuilding and thematic elements.

 

It seems to me that your complaint is, "this isn't KotOR 2." I can understand that. I mean, this game didn't have Visas Marr, and that's just points off. 8/10 - very good successor to BG and PS:T, but missing Visas Marr. But then, it was never supposed to. It does what it sets out to do, and what it sets out to do is essentially different from what other games set out to do.

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I think that's a case of apophenia e.i seeing patterns and meanings where there are none. Your interpretation sounds interesting, but it should've been explored more if that was their intent.

 

I'm sorry, but what the hell are you talking about? The companions' stories revolve around the events leading up to and surrounding the main plot. Each of them is directly invested in the immediate setting and its themes, and their quests each draw attention to those themes - e.g. Durance on the nature of the divine, Pallegina with "animancy and social upheaval in the Dyrwood," Sagani on reincarnation, Grieving Mother's ties to the legacy, and so on. It would be difficult for the companions to be more critically tied to the game's worldbuilding and thematic elements.

 

It seems to me that your complaint is, "this isn't KotOR 2." I can understand that. I mean, this game didn't have Visas Marr, and that's just points off. 8/10 - very good successor to BG and PS:T, but missing Visas Marr. But then, it was never supposed to. It does what it sets out to do, and what it sets out to do is essentially different from what other games set out to do.

 

So, you are basically saying they are walking exposition dispensers? I agree with that completely, that doesn't mean they are integral to the plot ;p I adore what they've done with PoE, I'm just saying there is still some wasted potential that can be rectified in the expansion. Also, companions are a sore spot for me. ;p

Edited by Christliar
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The point I was trying to make is that it's not necessary to wrap all of your NPCs too integrally to the story.  I further went on to say that it would get bothersome if it was something that was *always* done.  I can understand that you may or may not have a personal preference, but would encourage you to try and look at things differently (because games like KOTOR 2 are extremely rare lol). 

 

With fantasy settings like this the *only* thing that's really necessary is for an NPC (it doesn't even have to be a traveling companion, it could just be people you talk to often) *has* to provide exposition to the player, or they'll never really connect with your story/world.  Since, especially when you're not working with established fantasy settings, your player is a fish out of water, and will generally feel pretty overwhelmed by all the stuff going on.  That's the *role* Kreia fills in KOTOR 2 - because they were trying to mess around with the "canonical"  understanding of the jedi code.  If you didn't have her, a lot of the situations that are presented would be really confusing to the player, or if they were familiar with the Star Wars setting, they'd be more likely to deal with them in a black and white manner.  That's the major difference between KOTOR 1 and KOTOR 2.  KOTOR 1 is essentially a star wars movie - a fun adventure story.  Nothing about the setting, lore, etc, is really challenged, and if anything the Bastila character tries to reinforce a traditional understanding of the Jedi code and so forth.  KOTOR 2 of course is entirely about subverting the understanding of what it is to be a jedi - and the Kreia character does this quite well. 

 

I know I felt overwhelmed with PE - particularly during my first character creation - those culture descriptions may as well have been word salad, because nothing made any sense.  But after a playthrough I feel pretty confident with the lore + setting.   

 

All of the NPCs in this game are meant to show/teach the player, in interesting ways, about the setting, so they can become more involved in it + help you in fights. 

 

Eder explains the Saint's war and the history of the Dyrwood from the standpoint of a life-time Dywoodan and also Eothas

Aloth *shows* the player the pitfalls and intricacies of being awakened - Maerwald does the same only in a more extreme way

Durance explains the pantheon and the vagaries of the Gods

Kana introduces the player to Rouatia, their culture, and so forth, as well as some historical bits

Hal (I can never spell his name) gives you a big insight into Glanfathan culture and their history

Pellagina teaches the player about Valian society and also the vagaries of being a god-like

Sagani teaches you about the wheel and also about the mountains by the white that wends

Grieving Mother teaches you about psionics, ciphers, and the hollowborn epidemic

 

Those are their primary functions in the story - and they help to provide grounding in the setting itself.  They obviously have books and stuff you can read in, and out of, game, but typically the most effective way to teach the player things is to tie it into the game itself, and to make it fun, thus you put it into the quests of the NPCs. 

 

It's not necessary to put *any* of this onto your NPCs, but they chose to do it here because they're obviously quite proud of the lore they've written up and they want to expose the player to it so as to enrichen their playing experience.  Obviously, there's the assumption that the players will be interested in the lore to begin with. 

 

The other major problem with tying the NPCs too deeply to the story is the fact that the NPCs can die, permanently, only seconds after recruiting them, and the way the lore is constructed, it'd be difficult for that spirit to move the plot along lol.  They didn't have to worry in KOTOR because nobody could die in that game except the PC lol. 

 

I understand where you're coming from, I'm simply trying to encourage you to enjoy NPCs that aren't plot-integral.  Of all the NPCs I've ever had in various squads, I still remember Ian from fallout 1 most fondly, despite the fact that he spends 1/2 the time trapping you in a corner irreversibly and forcing you to reload, and shooting you in the back.  He hardly says anything in the game, but you go through *so* much with Ian you can't help but grow to like the poor guy lol.  I assume Imoen gets the same love from players in BG1, because you recruit her immediately after the first area, and if you're not a rogue, you'll carry her for a *long* time, and you form this attachment to her simply because she's been in the group so long - despite a complete lack of interaction or exposition, or importance to the story. 

 

I even felt guilty in this game, because Eder is such a nice character, and he saved my bacon early on, but unfortunately, I was playing a tank, so he spent the rest of the game (after I recruited a 6th NPC) sitting in the upstairs of Brighthollow.  My second playthrough's sole objective was to give him space to operate so I could carry him to the end of the game lol. 

Edited by Gallenger
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(Having only played Eder, Sagani and Durance's quests to their end:)

 

The companions don't turn out to be crucial to the main plot, but they are crucial to the main themes of the setting and the story, and the way the companions' quests resolve just as you understand the main relationship between you, Thaos and the Legacy make them extremely important. It's a different strategy, but one I am really pleased by - and it also makes sense that even though you are a Watcher, you are not some Super Chosen One, so it's not likely you'll end up picking up 8 people who have some critical interest in your mission.

 

What I mean by the themes, as I posted elsewhere:

 

 

 

The point is that the story is very tightly wound so that all the different kinds of problems many different people (including yourself) have in the world, the chickens come home to roost in the final actor as you understand the similarity binding them together. This includes you, Thaos, the ocmpanions, Iovara, Lady Webb... That similarity, of course, is foreshadowed throughout the entire game in the scriptures of Wael you find throughout the world: what is an answer without a question? What does struggle mean - your struggle against Thaos, all of 'humanity' (& other races)' struggle against their own lives and disasters like the Legacy, Thaos' struggle against the 'false gods' - what do they mean when you understand that nobody can guarantee an answer for you? How can people live on if they can never find the answer they seek for sure?

 

Yeah, that still isn't true, no matter if you posted it elsewhere or not.

 

Eder has a question and gets an answer, even if it is incomplete and not entirely to his liking.  His brother chose god over nation, Eder chose the reverse.

Sagani fully resolves her quest (which doesn't involves questions or answers) and goes home satisfied.

 

The Watcher also gets an answer to the question.  Are the gods real? No.  (or yes, if you think the fact that they're manufactured doesn't matter).  The Watcher also gets a definitive answer to the question of why Thaos matters to him/her.  Your past self betrayed their friend/lover to him to get a definitive answer to that question.

 

And of course, the only way you can stop Thaos is using Watcher Super-Powers to rip up his soul and stop his serial incarnations to further the insane struggles his creation of gods was supposed to stop in the first place.  So you may not be a chosen one, but you are literally the only character presented in the game (other than Maerwald, who you are forced to murder because railroad plot) who can stop him. And coincidently you have that fully formed relationship with the ghost of the Rebel Against the Gods (or at least Thaos)... so the watcher really is fairly Chosen One, even if by complete accident. Which really just smacks of lazy writing.  It would have been far more interesting without any special powers at all- just falling into a complex plot by being in the wrong place and relying on fantasy game powers (ie, just being a wizard, ranger or whatever) rather than B Movie Shenanigans to force the writer's Really Deep Meaning* exposition on the player.

 

*by which I mean, someone took Philosophy 101 back in college and felt competent to simply recycle all the tropes about souls from BG and Torment yet again.  But strip them of personal relevance, meaning and consequence this time.

 

I agree with Christliar- you're seeing a pattern when there isn't one.  In fact I can't even work out how you see this pattern, since the evidence is completely against it.   Very few of the companions (if any) present answers without questions.  And the purpose of struggle?  You stop the Legacy because soulless (and, often dead) children are bad.  It really doesn't go very deep. 

 

The bollocks about gods and gibberish is all tacked on at the very end, and ultimately doesn't matter.  Literally doesn't matter, from the cutscenes, because nobody cares and it affects no one in Dyrwood in any fashion they are aware of.  Maybe animals eat a few settlements if you don't go along with Magran and company, but the Legacy ends and <random faction> gets more pull in Defiance Bay.  Huzzah.  Celebrations abound, despite dead villages.

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*shrug* it's possible to call anything apophenia. I could just sit here and say, "hey you people are not seeing the patterns that are there". It's an utterly meaningless statement.

 

If I pick one specific point to answer:

 

Eder has a question and gets an answer, even if it is incomplete and not entirely to his liking.  His brother chose god over nation, Eder chose the reverse.

Sagani fully resolves her quest (which doesn't involves questions or answers) and goes home satisfied.

 

You're basically flattening all of the nuance in the delivery and the situation. If you asked Eder whether his problem was 'answered' or whether he was given a full 'closure', his lines throughout his entire quest say the opposite. Eder didn't set out to say, "did my brother fight for X or did he fight for Y?" He wanted to know why, he wanted to know what drove his brother, and so on. Your interpretation is basically like saying "you cheated on me, now I want to know whether you kissed him 3 times or 4 times." 

 

Similarly, you find with Sagani that Persoq was the white deer and so on. But again, focusing on that is completely missing the point. Everything Sagani says from the start shows quite clearly that she begins with unquestioned certainty about this ritual practice / journey and she is looking forward to just finding the guy and getting it done, but as time goes by, she begins to wonder what this journey means at all, what it means to Persoq, what it means to her, what it means to her tribe, and whether finding Persoq will really solve anything or answer anything, and what finding Persoq would be able to give to her at all. We find, from all of her lines at that last encounter, that indeed, finding Persoq could give her no answers on what mattered most. The only answer she did get is the answer that matters the least - that Persoq was a white deer. 

 

Of course, if a reader hypothetically went through those quests and thought, "OK we were trying to find out who Eder's bro fought for and who the hell Persoq was, done and done, their stupid problems are solved", then I'm sure the whole thing will feel rather pointless. I would say that's an extremely impoverished reading that ignores most of the nuance in the writing - and under such an impoverished reading, the only type of plot that would feel satisfactory is a highly melodramatic and explicit "here we are saving the world, here look you see this person die right now, can you save her?" and so on. Sure, everything I said here  is my interpretation, but I found that the themes were weaved quite indirectly and I enjoyed that 'non-epic' approach.

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snip

Even if that was their intent, it still doesn't go anywhere and it's left hanging. Since we aren't doing a harmony analysis talking about nuances in the writing doesn't give any weight to it. I and, I assume, Voss aren't really looking for an "epic" story because those are boring. What you are actually seeing is the companion quests not ending on a "happy" note and that is only with Eder's quest since Sagani does complete her original task, her moping about what traditions mean (hint: nothing) doesn't give credence to an overarching theme of anything.

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The companions being along for the ride is due to the design decision to make them optional and mortal (as in not having plot armor). They could have rewritten the critical path to require certain companions at certain junctures but then you'd get game over screens if they died prior to that point.

 

The companions are more interesting and complex than any of the companions in BG/BG2 or the Dragon Age series (my opinion).

 

I had planned to build my own party on my 2nd play through but I found that I enjoyed having them along for the ride and I like how you can steer their personality through dialogue and it changes how they respond after that point.

 

Each companion's story actually defined the player's character just through how the player responded to the options and molded the companion.

 

Do you tell Eder that his quest is silly and that he should feel bad for killing his God? Do you tell Durance that he went against Magran's will or that Magran failed him? You can point of the futility of Sagani's quest and that she wasted her life trying to tell a story to a deer or tell her that it was worth the journey for even those fleeting moments.

 

So the companions may not be the key to defeating Thaos but that's okay because how you respond to them helps define your character.

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I think SpitefulOne and Tigranes are onto something.

 

And I too see some patterns. Or rather echoes of a few themes. Eder is left without his answer. He'll never know, that's what he had to come to terms with. Kana finds his goal in ashes, and again he can't ever know what was on the tablets, his quest rendered pointless. He too has to come to grips with it.

 

Durance discovers that one way or the other years of his feverish devotion to Magran were either a delusion or an act completely disregarded by his goddess, a revelation that would make a lesser man's head spin and feel as if the rug was pulled from under his feet. His life's work rendered useless, certainty of the teachings of Durance crushed. Same goes for Sagani and her revelation of Persoq being the deer. Imagine her feelings as she was kneeling down to recite all she arrived with, after years of pursuit away from home she misses dearly, to a mute beast who couldn't even comprehend her, in full view of a bunch of strangers either shying away politely or giving her only mockery. She now has to make sense of it somehow.

 

Meanwhile Aloth and Hiravias have to come to terms with who they are. Why were they "cursed" with special powers and what are they to do with those now?

 

Was GM right doing what she did with her good intentions? Mind-controlling people for the greater good? (What a foreshadowing.) Is Pallegina right doing what she's about to do, having next to no clues on the outcome of her actions, just as in the case of GM?

 

As you ponder and resolve all these things (dealing with uncertainty and doubt, trying to find purpose where there seems to be none, accepting who you are, taking reins over your own fate instead of looking to authority to give you direction, and bearing the consequences of your actions) you shape your companions as much as they shape PC, preparing the Watcher for what's in store for him. As act 4 arrives: PC has no idea which deity tells the truth to begin with, PC finds himself without an anchor whatsoever upon meeting Iovara, PC comes to terms with his past and makes a leap of faith with his final decision.

 

I don't think I've ever had to dwell so much on dialogue options in RPGs for a very long time, if ever, so I'm totally at a loss how you find the experience unsatisfactory or can compare these companions to all the daddy issues of Mass Effect 2. GM's resolution had me all in knots about my clashing ideals. Sagani's quest was unlike anything I've dealt with before. Do they really merit contemptuous "puppets with dialogues" and "exposition dispensers in need of therapy" labels?

 

 

The bollocks about gods and gibberish is all tacked on at the very end, and ultimately doesn't matter.  Literally doesn't matter, from the cutscenes, because nobody cares and it affects no one in Dyrwood in any fashion they are aware of.  Maybe animals eat a few settlements if you don't go along with Magran and company, but the Legacy ends and <random faction> gets more pull in Defiance Bay.  Huzzah.  Celebrations abound, despite dead villages.

 

And indeed, the final quest almost might seem pointless as far as big picture goes. Hollowbirths end one way or the other, animancy in Dyrwood is suppressed for awhile one way or the other, consequences of Woedica's possible victory are shrouded*. But cue the line about purpose of the struggle, learn to take comfort from changing fates of all the settlements you visited (no, it's not just Defiance Bay), dealing with Thaos and the Leaden Key the way you wished to, getting to know all your companions, and, yes, live with the consequences of your final action, forever in doubt. I know I did.

 

* That's why making an expansion or a sequel can't be that hard, particularly if it happens outside Dyrwood and no mention to the Legacy has to be made other than it came and went, this and that is happening in Defiance Bay. One more reason to applaud Obsidian rather than bash them?

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Edited by Primislas
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