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PotD and Trial of Iron Completed (general feedback, long post)

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First of all I just wanna say how pleased I am that this project turned out so good. You guys at Obsidian have done an amazing job so far on delivering as much as possible. I had been looking forward to this game since it had been announced and have been playing almost non-stop since it came out.


I started with a Wizard on Hard at first but gave up less than half way because the game was too easy for me. So I decided to start and PotD + ToI game. Suffice it to say I died many, many times on my first few tries. My fifth attempt with a Wizard worked out very well, however.


I. Party Composition


For the most part my party was composed of (including my character of course): Eder, Aloth, Durance, Pallegina, and Sagani. That's right, I didn't use any custom guys (wanted more challenge). I also traveled through the different areas without doing anything to pick up as many followers as I could (so their levels would be as low as possible). I won't go into the small details of the builds, actually, since this is more general feedback.


Anyways, Eder and Pallegina both act as tanks and with good formation and deliberate movement you can protect your entire party on two fronts (their damage is irrelevant). My Wizard was build as a glass cannon with some support skills and Aloth was built with support and damage in equal measure (getting rings of Wizardry is very important and should be obtained as soon as possible). Having two Wizards scales really well, I found, because several critical spells have twice as many casts allowing for tons of control and damage. Durance, being a priest, was used a lot more for his buffs, de-buffs, and control abilities whereas his healing was secondary. Having healing as a secondary function rather than primary allowed me to deck him in heavier armors for maximum survival with as many +intellect gear as possible, ensuring that he could endure the length of hairy fights and provide ample coverage with his defensive and offensive support abilities. Originally I did not plan to have Sagani in the party because her class did not seem to offer much synergy with the group, however, as I examined possible builds I realized that along with her pet (and bounce attack) she could dish out a lot of damage with her pet also providing two knockdowns per encounter as well (along with Eder's knockdowns for over four knockdowns, very handy for bosses).


II. Thoughts on the classes I used and their usefulness


First I'd like to comment on the difference between spell casters and their counterparts. Warriors, Paladins, and the like bring very little micromanagement for each additional member whereas Wizards, Priests, and etc., add quite a lot. Seeing as this is a party based game (yes I know there are achievements, and actually I'm starting to attempt Triple Crown achievement) the disparity is welcomed, otherwise the micromanagement would get too tedious over time. However, despite the aforementioned statement, i feel that Warriors and Paladins in particular are a bit too auto-attacky. Outside a couple of useful active abilities most of their power is provided passively. This works to make the classes useful, yes, but ultimately bland and uninteresting. Hunters might seem close at first but they also have a pet that you need to manage to get the most out of them.


Spell users are on another level, really. You have tons of options (especially when it comes to support, not as much on damage) at your disposal which will ensure that most of your time spent while paused goes towards identifying the best spells to be cast for the moment. Granted there will be fights where the entire party will auto-attack and win, but for the fights that really matter this is where almost all your attention will be at. Not only does this make casters the most interesting classes, but it also makes them the characters that are the most critically dependent on having the correct specific items, build, and skills to ensure battlefield success. Of course you can't equip and build your Warrior willy-nilly and expect it to tank, but the choices of items and skills are quite obvious and transparent.


Each class was useful, yet the fun factor was not. Ranking the different classes that I used for this play through based on how much fun they were to use: Wizard/Priest>>Hunter>>>>>>>>>>>>>Warrior/Paladin


III. Quests, world, and leveling in general


Plot, stories, and writing is something that game excels at so this feedback is not going to be a critique of them, rather I would like to focus on the implementation and the game play surrounding them. Now I did not complete every single quest in every area (some areas like Defiance Bay I did scour, however) but I did explore all areas completely (a couple of places were inaccessible due to choices made) and had a fully upgraded for before act three.


Quests are something that really shine in this game. The thing I enjoyed the most was how my own intention to play the "right way" was used against me. Sometimes choices that seemed like the "right" choices had unexpected consequences, but because they were well thought out and reasonable I could accept them. I found myself often wondering and questioning the morality of benevolent and cruel actions (one would think their locations on the moral spectrum is clear), weighing their consequence in the present against the possible consequences in the future. It's quite possible that an act of benevolence can console a person in the present but then later drive them towards ruin. Was I being benevolent to satisfy a selfish desire to be liked by others and/or to avoid the discomfort of upsetting someone I like?  Ultimately a lot of decisions that you make are actually inconsequential or unaccounted in the outcome of the game and yet the actual process/journey when you are presented with choices is not diminished. It did not matter to me that a certain decision or consequence was isolated, it was memorable and enjoyable because when I was presented with the choices the situation was interesting enough by its own to make me pause and think.


The world is definitely gorgeous, but there is a lot left to be desired. In many ways the areas (excluding cities, and towns) made the game feel smaller than it is. Most outdoor environs were small enough to feel cramped and had very few interesting features and variety. Another effect of the small zones was that I found myself staring at loading screens enough to feel annoyed. It's not only annoying it also unpleasantly disrupts the flow of the game. I feel that a lot of this could have been prevented by having building interiors and floors on the same map as the exterior (dungeon floors all on the same map, separate from over world). Many games like this have such a thing in place (most recently Divinity: OS). The most painful example of this is Caed Nua, I really don't think I have to say any more than that..


Aside from fixing the excessive prevalence of the loading screen wilderness areas were almost entirely disappointing in scope. Yes there were some gorgeous things to look at but over all they served as pit stops for a handful of quests and/or a pickup point for a follower. Not only is each area quite small its also peppered with packs of enemies in fashion of a MMO. In fact a large portion of encounters were neither challenging or rewarding. At a certain point (and quite early on, actually) you being to amass a ridiculous excess supply of many materials and ingredients. This renders many encounters in the wilderness as useless time sinks to artificially extend the time it takes you to complete the game and traverse areas (only initially). Dungeons, on the other hand, contrast wildernesses as if they were respectively black and white. Dungeons were very enjoyably and I had tons of fun exploring them. Despite the fact that there is a lot of total area to explore in the whole game, the diminutive over world depreciates the scope of the game very unexpectedly and significantly; that is to say, I am aware the game is actually quite big when you add all the dungeons together, yet when I add everything together the perceived sum feels much smaller than it actually is.


So I started off with something that I found really good, then I delved into something I did not like, and now I'll share my thoughts on leveling. I'm going to sandwich the bad between the good(s). Yes, I thought the pace of leveling was good. I suspect that I might differ on this issue compared to most people, but I would like to explain myself. I actually liked reaching maximum level halfway through the game. It compliments the first half of the game with building your character quite well. You have ample time and opportunities to play the game using the full ability of your build, thus allowing you to experiment and discover new things, combos, and play styles; when compared to a game that has you struggling to reach maximum level until the very end I find that discovering the aforementioned possibilities become meaningless and only impact the final hour or two of the game. If the game would have had more diverse and interesting items, coupled with competent crafting/enchanting, I definitely feel that the current system would significantly benefit. I'm all of higher level caps and whatnot, but I think the point at which (around halfway) we reach maximum level is very good to my over all enjoyment of the game.


IV. To be continued (will try to type down some more later)



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First of all :

Completing this for first time on POTD+TOI ( yes you had other attempts but still first time finish on this mode ..  ) Gratz your true champion of this game :D this is a great achievement !

i bet it required a lot of attention to fights especially when encounter is unknown for you + this difficulty . I Myself started with playing Normal with Trial of Iron and i didnt had enough patience to replay tutorial that many times so i tried hard without ironman which seemed kinda pointless tbh ( no challenge on hard if you can reload every time it was always do it from 2nd try thing even on hardest fights and i even got this bad habbit where you engage try the fight and reload to execute it properly.. ) so i reroled PotD. Playing on PoTD right now ( the fights are really hard i got seriously scared about having to reroll again when saw the ghosts in Caed Nua yard.... ) and i really cant imagine how i could ironman this difficulty without knowledge of encounters so once again really nice job !!! 

Edit : also using only story companions just disapproves half of rant topics on this forum 

Edited by Exoduss
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Nice post and congratulations on your victory! I look forward to reading the rest of your feedback. 


I am considering a similar challenge (PotD/ToI first play through) and was wondering how you felt reaching the level cap so early affected the difficulty of encounters for you for the rest of the game? Did it trivialize combat or did combat remain challenging due to it being on PotD/ToI?

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