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mcjarvis

Nothing I Did Mattered in the End #rant #review (Major Spoilers)

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This is partially a rant, so bear with me.

 

 

I finished my first run of Pillars of Eternity yesterday. I thought while playing that I would end up playing the game again, but now I'm not so sure. After reading through all of the end-game stories, I'm left with a feeling that very few of my decisions mattered in the game or made a difference at all. To top it off, I feel like several of the endings were strangely focused on bad things over good things.

 

Some background on my playthrough:

 

*  I was very thorough in completing every quest I could find until the riots in Defiance bay. After this, I felt it was important to rush to the end since I was suddenly in a "race to the device" storyline with Thaos, and it felt like doing side-quests at that point wouldn't make sense// was against the grain of the plot.

*  I was enemies with the dozens and the mafia-family, but I was strong allies with the paladin order.

*  In general, I tried to take a pragmatic non-interventionist look at morality. If something deeply disturbing was happening as a result of people-in-charge, I intervened. [Eg- Gilded Vale] If these was little moral value in intervening, I did not.

 

I can only assume that these factors resulted in the "bad" ending, though. Additionally, it seemed that my choices throughout the game made very little difference

 

 

1) Early on, I was faced with a moral dilemma of whether to wait for a party member's leg to heal, or to move out without that party member. I decided, "Hey, I'm not in a hurry-- no reason to be a ****". Well, as a consequence the girl I was traveling with decided to go out on her own in the middle of the night and killed herself on some traps. OK--- that's cool, those are consequences. But then I get to the end of the dungeon and the guy I was traveling with gets killed anyway automatically. So all my decisions of whether to save him or not, whether to wait for him or not---- these were effectively non-choices, as the game results in the same state either way.

 

2) Gilded Vale. I decided that such persecution of the townsfolk wasn't something I could sit idly by and let happen. So I decided to intervene, killed the king (I snuck in to do it, so I killed as few guards as possible), and put the other guy on the throne. On the way I helped many people in town with their problems. But at the end of the game the king gets raised as undead and just slaughtered the town anyway. So well, ****--- I guess I shouldn't have even bothered to save the town if the game creators wanted everyone in Gilded Vale dead anyway.

 

3) I took a decidedly pro-science/animancy stance in the game. So, when faced with the sanitarium I decided to save Azo's life and preserve his research, because I really did feel that he meant to do good, and he wouldn't have gone so off track of not for Thaos. That's great, except all the animancers get killed during the riots, so once again a major plot decision point I made was just completely wiped away.

 

4) In the undead portion of the city I decided to safely shut down the ancient machine. After all--- it might be researched and used for good in the future. However, the city of Defiance seemed to not be interested in ever looking into it again. It gets turned on later by the leaden key and all the work I did to reclaim that portion of the city was completely undone.

 

5) In accordance with my stance on animancy, I decided to help the paladin order develop the golem technology. OK, so it went a little south because they were too gung-ho about it. I still advised them to restart the program on a small and controllable level, since ultimately advancement of knowledge is a good thing and just burying every dangerous thing we don't understand is a bad thing. This too seems to be the wrong decision, as this paladin order turns into some kind of tyrannical organisation at the end of the game and takes over defiance bay.

 

6) the animancy trial--- oh my god I was so mad at the game designers for this one. Half the game is me trying to find evidence of the leaden key just so I can convince this duc that animancy should be saved, and at the last second he is assassinated. Why the hell did I even invest 40+ hours doing quests in defiance if at the last second story writers were going to swoop in and make everything I did pointless? This was a ****ty plot decision in Baldur's Gate 1 ten years ago and it's a ****ty plot decision now. Making the player of the game's efforts meaningless and small is the worst possible thing you can do to a player of an RPG.

 

7) The air godlike paladin's quest--- I didn't see any reason why I should care one way or another how the trade route turned out, so I told the paladin to follow her heart. She decided to save the country by negotiating a different contract, but apparently this doesn't save the country at all? Why give players the illusion that they control anything if you're just going to say "no, goddamnit, stop trying to fix things."

 

8 ) All of my companions either ended up alone (the halfling), unsettled(the warrior from gilded vale), committing suicide(durance), or exiled and insecure about her looks(the paladin). Who wrote these endings?!?! And the paladin didn't talk about how her looks made her feel not at home, why was that even a part of the ending? It's like someone decided to write biographies for my party with only the negative attributes of their lives, in the most depressing character-assassinationy way possible. I could do the same with my own life---- "Abusive household, parents divorced, father killed when I was 17"--- but a life is much more than all the ****ty things that happen to people. So why the **** did the endings for my characters just focus on how melancholy/depressed/suicidal they are?

 

Durance's fate in particular really bothered me. I got him very early on in the game, and my steam account says I played the game for 63 hours. Yet somehow I did not "journey" with him long enough to finish his quest, so I got a big "Trials of Durance--- failed" at the end of the game. This facet is really ****ty game design in my opinion, especially since my playthrough took so long. Sure, I didn't do many side-quests after the riots in Defiance, but I basically got no external indicators that I was heading into disaster in the endgame. Hell, I didn't even think the giant pit was the end of the game--- I figured it was like rescuing Imoen in BGII at the asylum, and I would get one final chance to go back and finish NPC sidequests when things were a little less frantic.

 

In conclusion, I feel like there were many major decision points characters were given during the game, but often the character's efforts were completely undone. Maybe I chose the "wrong" decisions, made "bad" decisions, or maybe Pillars is just a tragedy. But the game was pitched as a game without "good" and "bad" choices, just "choices". Regardless, I think game designs should leave the player feeling like what they did really impacted the world. The sum total of my effect on the world seems to be killing Thaos and stopping the hollow-born---- but Thaos indicated he was going to stop it once animancy was in ruins anyway. So I guess me killing him doesn't matter?

 

Most disappointing ending I've seen in a long time.

 

#endrant.

Edited by mcjarvis
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Huh.  See, for me, I said the forge knights were too dangerous because they'd proven to be so in the trial and the Knights went back to their roots, stopped chasing power, and regained the trust of the people.  I killed undead Raedric so Gilded Vale had things turn out well enough.  I was sad about what happened to Heritage Hill after doing the same as you, but hey, it was my choice to free the souls rather than using them to destroy the machine so it could never be used again.  Aloth, Eder, and Grieving Mother seemed to have pretty happy endings in my game.

 

I think what you did certainly does matter in the end, just not always in ways you can predict.  Which is how life works; your good intentions don't always produce good results.

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I didn't even know the king had returned as undead--- when exactly is that revealed? I thought it was just end-of-game epilogue. You'd think that someone would have sent a messenger for me or something--- I'm the hero of the Gilded Vale, after all. And my keep is in a well-known location.

Edited by mcjarvis

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Ah, it's in Twin Elms, in the inn I think; he sends someone to issue you with a challenge.  If you were racing to the end at that point, makes sense that you missed it.

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Ah, it's in Twin Elms, in the inn I think; he sends someone to issue you with a challenge.  If you were racing to the end at that point, makes sense that you missed it.

 

That's kind of a part of the problem then--- If you just happen to never get that quest, then the game is just kicking you in the face for no reason whatsoever.

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As you've guessed, most of this can be prevented:

 

2) During Act 3 certain characters can inform you of this, and you can go back, kill him again, and save the city for good. Siding with him in the first place also doesn't end all that badly.

 

3) If you make a very good case, some animancers get saved (by a member of the Dozens, no less), and they get to rebuild in the ending.

 

4) Those agents are crafty, and only need a brief moment with the control console. But you did save 100s of souls, and made an ally in the undead science lady, something which may come back in the sequel/expansion. (But blowing up the souls would allow the district to rebuild.)

 

5) Agreed here, this ending does come a bit out of the blue. Even weirder, the other ending for the Knights is actually a good one, not a "not strong enough without the suits" one.

 

6) As mentioned, you can affect the fate of the animancers during the riots and in the ending.

 

7) If you use the souls to strengthen people of Dyrwood, they are able to compete competently, and a powerful trading system is created, and the paladin is pardoned. Also, she does complain about her Godlike status, esp. if you let her talk with the sky goddess.

 

8 ) You need to fully explore Durance's dialogue tree (and he only allows you a couple of questions per rest), and have him around when talking with his goddess, and then convince him that she betrayed him. Apparently one stage of his quest also sometimes fails to trigger due to a bug.

Edited by mph

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I didn't find the Knight ending I got, or the other one mentioned here, unpredictable at all; I was actually really worried back in their first quest where you get the research that supporting them in this was going to lead to a hostile animancy doom army takeover.

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I didn't find the Knight ending I got, or the other one mentioned here, unpredictable at all; I was actually really worried back in their first quest where you get the research that supporting them in this was going to lead to a hostile animancy doom army takeover.

 

And this would've worked for the other ending. It'd be a bit boring and cliche, but at least not out of the blue. But we got a sudden "the suits worked OK, and the Knights got drunk with power" instead.

Edited by mph

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Ah, it's in Twin Elms, in the inn I think; he sends someone to issue you with a challenge.  If you were racing to the end at that point, makes sense that you missed it.

 

That's kind of a part of the problem then--- If you just happen to never get that quest, then the game is just kicking you in the face for no reason whatsoever.

 

I actually liked the way it occured, the dude in the inn has an NPC description of  "Frightened villager" and do appear to be sort of afraid in the dialogue from all that occured and not overaly earer to talk with you. And was kinda nice to simply find out about it in manner, no big waving alarm flags or forced dialogues, just a frightened dude in an inn. Made me feel more immersed in the game world.

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Ah, it's in Twin Elms, in the inn I think; he sends someone to issue you with a challenge.  If you were racing to the end at that point, makes sense that you missed it.

 

That's kind of a part of the problem then--- If you just happen to never get that quest, then the game is just kicking you in the face for no reason whatsoever.

 

I actually liked the way it occured, the dude in the inn has an NPC description of  "Frightened villager" and do appear to be sort of afraid in the dialogue from all that occured and not overaly earer to talk with you. And was kinda nice to simply find out about it in manner, no big waving alarm flags or forced dialogues, just a frightened dude in an inn. Made me feel more immersed in the game world.

 

I've read somewhere that the Throne Lady in your stronghold can also inform you of this quest, but I haven't verified this.

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It's interesting to see the different endings and overall experience you had compared to mine. I certainly understand where your rant comes from - the desire to see your choices bring about the consequences you want - but I don't think a game can work like that. In the best of circumstances, you do something that should logically have an impact and it has an impact because the game's programming has already taken it under consideration. And in all the cases you bring up I find that the game's programming has taken my input into consideration and done something with it. The consequences were not always what I had wanted or even foreseen, they were not always a spectacular instant gratification but they were always there at some point, and I feel that really rewarded proper roleplay. An outcome that is not your or my perfect solution is only bad if you can't trace it to the preceding situation without throwing logic out of the window. I can't speak for any ending slide that didn't appear in my one epilogue, but those I did get make sense knowing both what my PC did or said and what other forces were at work.

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Ah, it's in Twin Elms, in the inn I think; he sends someone to issue you with a challenge.  If you were racing to the end at that point, makes sense that you missed it.

 

That's kind of a part of the problem then--- If you just happen to never get that quest, then the game is just kicking you in the face for no reason whatsoever.

 

I actually liked the way it occured, the dude in the inn has an NPC description of  "Frightened villager" and do appear to be sort of afraid in the dialogue from all that occured and not overaly earer to talk with you. And was kinda nice to simply find out about it in manner, no big waving alarm flags or forced dialogues, just a frightened dude in an inn. Made me feel more immersed in the game world.

 

I've read somewhere that the Throne Lady in your stronghold can also inform you of this quest, but I haven't verified this.

 

 

Honestly, I stopped talking to the Throne Lady because her dialogue options were always "What's the status of the keep?" and another option to end the dialogue. I finally just stopped going in that direction entirely, since I never found the stash items to be very useful, there was a shortcut into the endless paths, and prisoners never had anything to say either.

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So, I guess this thread isn't "my choices don't matter!", it's "this game doesn't save me from my bad choices!"

 

But what we should all take away from this is that: a "bad" outcome isn't a bad ending or a bad event. Stop expecting everything to turn out all rosy and warm. It's not a failure to walk away with the Dyrwood in ruins, because the Dyrwood was in ruins when you got there. The outcome is only a culmination of your choices, not a judgement of them. No one is going to think less of you because you let the Valian Republics domination trade, or didn't shut down the tower or didn't kill zombie Raedric.

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What you did mattered, and not only that, your choices had consequences, both foreseen and unforeseen. If you play the game again and make different choices you will get completely different endings, maybe ones you will like better. That is essential to the replayability of these games. Sometimes doing things for what you think are the right reasons causes harm. Sometimes there are no good options. Sometimes things are counter-intuitive and confusing and unjust. I say bravo to the designers for making it so realistic.

Edited by communard
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So, I guess this thread isn't "my choices don't matter!", it's "this game doesn't save me from my bad choices!"

 

But what we should all take away from this is that: a "bad" outcome isn't a bad ending or a bad event. Stop expecting everything to turn out all rosy and warm. It's not a failure to walk away with the Dyrwood in ruins, because the Dyrwood was in ruins when you got there. The outcome is only a culmination of your choices, not a judgement of them. No one is going to think less of you because you let the Valian Republics domination trade, or didn't shut down the tower or didn't kill zombie Raedric.

 

If this were a book, I'd agree with you. But it isn't, and in a game I expect the PC's choices and decisions to make a difference. In my game, my PC had a pretty close to negligible effect on the overall plot, and there were no game elements giving negative feedback along the way. As far as I knew I was playing the game correctly, and at the end I got the news that I wasn't.

 

As far as these being the natural results of my choices--- if this were real life, again, I'd agree with you. But instead what this is is an unseen author arbitrarily deciding that the choices I made would end up with bad results. For a game where there were no "good or bad" choices, I sure did manage to pick all the bad ones.

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What you did mattered, and not only that, your choices had consequences, both foreseen and unforeseen. If you play the game again and make different choices you will get completely different endings, maybe ones you will like better. That is essential to the replayability of these games. Sometimes doing things for what you think are the right reasons causes harm. Sometimes there are no good options. Sometimes things are counter-intuitive and confusing and unjust. I say bravo to the designers for making it so realistic.

 

Making a story which is counterintuitive and unjust while claiming that choices are not good or bad---- this isn't worthy of praise. It just means the game is designed poorly.

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Not the OP, but I was also disappointed with the endings, largely for the same reason as the OP, so here is my take on it:

 

1) As the OP pointed out, one of the bullet points for this game was that there weren't going to be "good" and "bad" choices, just choices.  What we got instead was "There is no way to predict what the outcome of your choices will be", which is (in my mind) worse than obvious "good" and "bad" choices.

2) Setting that aside, the endings are clearly good and bad -- there is no ambiguity in identifying which slides are "good" and which slides are "bad".  If, for example, convincing the Knights to pursue animancy research resulted in them establishing martial law but it also resulted in Defiance Bay having a major trade boon (because everything was safe) then that would be ambiguous.  But that's not the kind of endings that we get.

 

Basically, the implementation of C&C in this game is just...  Odd..

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I do agree that the resurrected Raedric quest is rather bad.  Particularly since there's no reason you couldn't just go kill him after you're done with the main quest, rather than putting everything on hold to traipse back for that one fight.

Edited by Wulfram

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It seriously is your fault for getting bad endings, so yeah, your choices did matter and it ended up biting you in the ass.  

 

If all the choices ended up with good results, where would the impact of your decisions come from? No matter what you would choose, everything would end up all peachy. There wouldn't be any conflict whatsoever - you'd just know "doesn't matter, everyone survives, nobody dies, happiness and flowers for everybody".

 

And the game doesn't even make all of the "evil" decisions have bad endings, because one of the endings for the Doemenels is probably the best ending Defiance Bay can get.

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What you did mattered, and not only that, your choices had consequences, both foreseen and unforeseen. If you play the game again and make different choices you will get completely different endings, maybe ones you will like better. That is essential to the replayability of these games. Sometimes doing things for what you think are the right reasons causes harm. Sometimes there are no good options. Sometimes things are counter-intuitive and confusing and unjust. I say bravo to the designers for making it so realistic.

 

Making a story which is counterintuitive and unjust while claiming that choices are not good or bad---- this isn't worthy of praise. It just means the game is designed poorly.

 

So a well designed game is one in which you choose all the blue options to get a blue ending and all the red options to get a red ending?

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I think it's hubris to think that your character's actions matter all the time and always get the desired result. You don't always get your way even if you did everything right. Also, sometimes, doing something that seems monumentally stupid at the time (blowing up the Heritage Hill tower) actually results in a good ending. We've been spoiled too much by games where our character's main quest directly affects the entire plot and that doing the right thing always results in the right ending. That's not how real life works.

 

Heck, you're not even THE Watcher but rather A Watcher. There are three Watchers in the game that are known to exist at the same time: the PC, Maerwald, and the unknown "fake" Watcher that knew exactly where to send Sagani so she'd run into you. There's even several Watchers mentioned in the collector books, some who even worked for the Sanitarium when it first opened. Watchers are rare, I'll give you that, butk their existence is common knowledge. It's just that the fake con men who pretend to be Watchers far outnumber the real ones.

Edited by Aron Times

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I thought blowing up the Heritage Hill machine actually seemed like a great idea at the time, myself, but my character was not one who'd be willing to destroy souls, even for that.

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The only one I think is a low blow is Raedric. You had no possible way to know he would ressurect due to sheer hatred of your person, and the only way to find this quest is to talk to one generic NPC among a dozen in Twin Elms's in. He should have went and talked to you.

 

The Heritage Hill one, I sorta saw it coming honestly. The machine already sucked souls once, what's stopping it from doing so again if you let it intact? And sure enough, the Key thanks you for your carelessness. 

Edited by Jasta11
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3) I took a decidedly pro-science/animancy stance in the game. So, when faced with the sanitarium I decided to save Azo's life and preserve his research, because I really did feel that he meant to do good, and he wouldn't have gone so off track of not for Thaos. That's great, except all the animancers get killed during the riots, so once again a major plot decision point I made was just completely wiped away.

 

3) If you make a very good case, some animancers get saved (by a member of the Dozens, no less), and they get to rebuild in the ending.

 

I have played Act 1 and 2 two times for that reason, but it seems like animancy can't really be saved.

In my first run, I was with the Knights but I denied to give Nedyn the book. Still, after the hearing, some members of the Dozen saved a few animancers because they liked how I made my case.

In the second run, I thought I'll make my case even stronger by joining the Dozen, basically trying to infiltrate them. During the hearing, it was a big thing that I did not follow my fraction and instead went for animancy instead. I even recovered the book for Nedyn this time. But during the riots, nobody of the Dozen went to save animancers, which I thought was a bit harsh.

Both times, Azo survived, but that did't matter. Likely he was killed during the riots.

 

I can understand that Thaos has the stronger "argument" regarding this, but your influence regarding animancy is really low.

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You're mixing stuff you couldn't figure out with game undermining your decisions. For example, you can figure out Durance and give him a different ending.

However, it's also true that for an Obsidian game, PoE does a lot of surprisingly biowarish stuff. The prologue is the first offender, Roedrick going Ravenloft on your ass is questionable, Act 2 ending is basically throw can of dice into GM's face > leave the room offensive, and the fact that Thaos actually has no skill or stat checks and is just a forced boss fight is also bad.

 

I think side quests and sideboard stuff is not bad. Could be better, as the only quest with really many options to concider is, imo, skaen cult/animancer encounter. But the main narrative is a total cluster**** where you just flow the stream until you get washed onto the ending without a feeling that you actually did anything.

Edited by Shadenuat

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