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Quillon

Why is everything in this game so bland?

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Dragon Age Origins immediately threw you into fantasy zombie apocalypse with special anti-zombie suicide supersoldiers. It worked on world-building parallel to ab epic story of orc-zombie invasion.

 

PoE has intriguing stuff happening in prologue but then the story has nothing special till the epilogue. You chase the guy. Soul stuff thing is interesting but not terribly engaging. Hollowborn problem feels world-threatening, of course, but it's not a problem you solve with epic battles. The problem is that storyline is bland for most of the game so you don't experience the world itself in an interesting context.

I am reminded of people who complain that The Wire is slow and boring.

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...but I really can't understand how anyone thinks this is more bland than most of the 'worlds' and settings in most other RPGs.  It's one of the better settings, really well thought through, internally consistent and deep.  I like it.  Guess people really do need to cling to stereotypes and clichés to think a world has depth, it may be a bit 'dry' but that isn't a bad thing.

 

Agreed -- the world-building in PoE is heads and shoulders above anything that Bioware has done in any of the Dragon Age games.

 

It is also irrelevant to the questions of "Was I engaged by the game?" or "Is the game bland?"  After all, real world history has a better back story / consistency, and depth than any piece of fiction ever written -- that doesn't mean that everyone would categorize world history as "engaging" or "not bland".  The two are totally unrelated.

 

To give another example: Portal 1 / Portal 2 (to take an obvious example) has the most superficial excuse for a storyline that could be imagined -- there is zero depth, little in the way of consistency, and certainly doesn't have a through backstory -- but is widely regarded as being a highly engaging game due to the story.  In fact, I watched (because I wouldn't enjoy the mechanics at all) both games and regard these games as being among the most engaging stories that I've seen in any video game.

 

Now you may disagree -- personal tastes differ, after all -- but surely you can conceed that a game can be bland / unengaging irregardless of whether or not it has a rich backstory / complex characters / and the like.

 

And, for the record, I think that PoE has too much (way, way) voice acting -- I would much prefer to see the amount of voice acting reduced by 50-75% and the funds applied to adding additional reactivity in the existing conversations.

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This is so subjective that I don't even know how to formulate a response.  Walking into the first village and seeing a bunch of people hanging from a giant tree is "bland"?  Finding out that babies are being born without souls?

 

This game is text heavy and not visual heavy; so if you favor cinematic cut-scenes and the like you'll be disappointed.  This game is for book people, not movie people; it's reading the Lord of the Rings, not watching it.

 

I played Expeditions: Conquistador which was more text-heavy than Pillars but I didn't find the experience in that game, bland.

 

I believe this may be a prime example of a layer 8 issue, otherwise known as User Failure.  I suggest turning yourself off and on again, perhaps also resetting to factory default by taking a long sharp implement and inserting into one of the holes on either side of your head unit. :p

 

Just joking, but I really can't understand how anyone thinks this is more bland than most of the 'worlds' and settings in most other RPGs.  It's one of the better settings, really well thought through, internally consistent and deep.  I like it.  Guess people really do need to cling to stereotypes and clichés to think a world has depth, it may be a bit 'dry' but that isn't a bad thing.

 

People citing Dragon Age (any of them) as an example of good world-building immediately discounts your opinion to me, I find it to be the complete opposite and full of stock clichés and even ripped off ideas.  Of course, this can be argued to be subjective (except for DA ripping others off, but BioWare have always taken things from others as 'inspiration'), you can think DA is a ripe setting just as I can think Pillars is, it doesn't really make any difference in the end as I will no doubt destroy you all and wipe your spawn from the face of the universe as part of my ascension to power anyway.

 

 

Why do people think that I find the universe of this game bland? I don't. I think it's a better world than DA's and more mature and serious/dark which I like. To clarify myself for the second time: I don't think story or setting is bland, I found the experience bland from "gameplay perspective". The game lacks flavor. It fails to deliver different kinds of quests/mysteries that would make you excited other than the main issues(hollowborn, gods) in the story. There was only two high points in the game otherwise it went slow and steady. Even some events like Aloth's revealing his past to us couldn't make me really care about it. I got the feeling that devs tried too hard not to make big deal out of some things which sometimes should have been a big deal. It felt like everything I did, I did to learn more about the lore or the setting and my characters goals - purposes wasn't the thing that drove the game. It was like game was telling "just play and get familiar with the world, eventually enough things will be revealed so you'll make sense of some things and you'll be ready for what comes next". Well at least this last part was accomplished; I'm eager to see what comes next in hopes that I don't find it as bland as this one.

 

ps: I acknowledged from the start the amount of cliches DA's universe contains but the execution of it was just right.

Edited by Quillon
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Pillars is overrated

 

only the beginning of the game I'd rate 9/10. Rest is watered-down


"There once was a loon that twitter


Before he went down the ****ter


In its demise he wasn't missed


Because there were bugs to be fixed."


~ Kaine


 


 


 

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Yeah, beginning was very atmospheric and promising, right until you hit tree with hanged people. After that it's all downhill.

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I'm really not going to wade in here, because it's just subjective opinion and I don't really wanted to engage with that - because I found Dragon Age's world to be a bit of a let down, but it was still fun.

 

I'm going to talk about the *role* of cliches. Most of the time, people talk about cliches as if they're a bad thing; they are not, inherently, bad. If you're an author or creator who is trying to make interesting content, you can effectively use cliches. In very fantastical, or heavy sci-fi, settings cliches are actually helpful. They provide the reader or observer with a predictable formula, that allows them to immediately understand the cliche (provided they have the necessary background to establish the cliche) - so as not to become overwhelmed by the content. When you throw people into a setting or world they know very little about, feeding them cliches for an extended period of time is actually a fairly helpful writing tactic, because you can explain a lot more about your setting without confusing people. Nearly every decent story, in any strange setting, feeds you a few cliches so your brain doesn't overheat.

 

It's why nearly every fantasy RPG starts out with a "kill the rats" quest - it helps you center yourself in the world and work out the combat mechanics. It's why most RPGs with races stick to the tolkeinish races, if they have races, because the player automatically understands what an "elf" is and what they are like. You can layer on additional content - which they do in this game - but the fundamental cliche is still there to keep the player from being overwhelmed by the content. You can also create a "thrilling" situation where the reader/observer *assumes* the cliche is going to occur, and then reverse their expectations - which happens fairly often in Pillars.

Something is only cliche if it is overused. Cliche = banal and boring. Tropes and archetypes can bring some comfort and familiarity to an otherwise unfamiliar setting, but cliches are inherently overused.

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lol Madhatter your sentence gave me a Wittgensteinian moment lol. 

 

Yes, something becomes cliche through repeated use.  Tropes and Archetypes are themselves cliches - if they weren't they would not be tropes or archtypes lol.   You essentially used 3 words to describe the same thing; hence my brush with Witty. 

 

The purpose of the cliche is that it is alienated from independent meaning  - so you don't distract your audience with the existence of the cliche and its details, and let them focus on learning about your setting.  At least that's how you'd try to utilize a cliche if you were not an unoriginal hack who only had cliches to offer. 

Edited by Gallenger

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I kind of got the creeping impression that, with the setting and story, the writers WANTED to do something more unique but were afraid of offending all the people clamouring for Baldurs Gate 2: The ReBalduring and it resulted in a fairly bland locational choice and low key, somewhat indistinct culture and design choices. The games story shone with things like the Dunryd Row stuff and the Asylum mission (both reminded me a little of Arcanum) but it would always slip back into something more generic just as it was getting interesting. I'm thinking (and hoping) that now the IP is established and seemingly doing well as it's own beast that further content will be more creatively daring.

 

 

Disclaimer: I played BG2 years after it's release after endless claims that it's the best RPG ever. I disagree.

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I'm imaging that your greater connection to DA:O's character's was a combination of your 3D preference, massive budget, and 100% voice acting. As to setting, PoE is far richer than DA:O, which was just LOTR lite. My only complaint with PoE's setting and lore would be that much of it feels too reactionary. It's basically not-D&D. Arcanum did a significantly better job of creating a unique, yet in many ways, familiar fantasy world. They should have started with Arcanum's world as a template and incorporated all the soul bits. That would have been much better.

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The problem for me is that in Pillars you just don't care about the world and the main quest.

 

I've read everything in game and I still don't know much about the world, and the things I do know I don't really like. It is all pretty basic. Few historical figures, few events, few nations, few gods.

 

Then, there is the story. Good idea about souls and hollowborn...but game never lets you feel it. It is just something talked about. No emotions involved.

 

Watcher (witcher, warden) is going mad, but again you do not feel it. few short dialogs and that's it.

 

And in the end you finish with some quick "twist" having little in common with the rest of the game.

 

It all feels terribly rushed and half-done. Devs were just following the formula, had a deadline, some general idea, and this is the result. Not good, not smart, not involving, not epic...just ok.

 

I can agree that it doesn't exactly FEEL like the Watcher (i.e. the PC) is going mad.  But then again, how does one do that without making the character useless?  If anything, maybe too much was made of the Watcher going mad (or people are making too much of it).

 

As for the world, I think that you might be asking too much.  The world of the BG and IWD series was built up over more than a decade, which means that the creators of that world had a LOT of time to be building its foundations and adding tons of background that became the history and lore of that world.  It's a bit much to think that PoE's creators to even come close to that much background in the short amount of time they had.  After all, it's not like they can take a decade to build up a world and its background before creating the game.  Real life does have deadlines and budgets, and the devs have to deal in the real world when it comes to those things.

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The problem for me is that in Pillars you just don't care about the world and the main quest.

 

I've read everything in game and I still don't know much about the world, and the things I do know I don't really like. It is all pretty basic. Few historical figures, few events, few nations, few gods.

 

Then, there is the story. Good idea about souls and hollowborn...but game never lets you feel it. It is just something talked about. No emotions involved.

 

Watcher (witcher, warden) is going mad, but again you do not feel it. few short dialogs and that's it.

 

And in the end you finnish with some quick "twist" having little in common with the rest of the game.

 

It all feels terribly rushed and half-done. Devs were just following the formula, had a deadline, some general idea, and this is the result. Not good, not smart, not involving, not epic...just ok.

 

I wholly disagree.  Best crpg story in years for me, and I found the setting a breath of fresh air in the genre of high fantasy.

 

 

I agree, but.. the problem is.. that's not a hard thing to beat. I agree, I enver felt the whole Maerwald thing. I *did* feel the hollowborn thing though, but I still think they should've pushed it harder, I got the feeling they held back a little on it. And like I've said before, by the time I reached Defiance Bay, I had idea why I was still doing this, why I was treating the Leaden Key like antagonists for no reason, and why I went to investigate those three things I plucked out of the priestess' head.

 

It was just like.. "Uhm... alright? I guess I'll just.. be off?".

 

 

The problem for me is that in Pillars you just don't care about the world and the main quest.

 

I've read everything in game and I still don't know much about the world, and the things I do know I don't really like. It is all pretty basic. Few historical figures, few events, few nations, few gods.

 

Then, there is the story. Good idea about souls and hollowborn...but game never lets you feel it. It is just something talked about. No emotions involved.

 

Watcher (witcher, warden) is going mad, but again you do not feel it. few short dialogs and that's it.

 

And in the end you finish with some quick "twist" having little in common with the rest of the game.

 

It all feels terribly rushed and half-done. Devs were just following the formula, had a deadline, some general idea, and this is the result. Not good, not smart, not involving, not epic...just ok.

I can agree that it doesn't exactly FEEL like the Watcher (i.e. the PC) is going mad. But then again, how does one do that without making the character useless? [...]

 

If you truly feel that you have to make the character useless in order to convey the increasing sense of unhingement (yes, I made that word up), then do so. Punish me. Make me feel the pain.

Edited by Luckmann
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It is bland, the OP is right. There is just no "pre-history" for me as a Player to "fall back" on. I have no emotional attachment to the IP! And neither does my character, which is plainly bad.

 

There is no "spice" that comes to flavor it up, either.

 

With FR, and other D&D settings, I am intimately familiar and emotionally attached. There is no denying this.

 

DA at least took the time to immerse me into their IP with the background adventures (which served their purpose well).

 

Hells, even Wasteland 2 got me better immersed in the IP than PoE!!

 

PoE starts out (imho) extremely well. And then simply kills it. Dead. First disappointment; with ever more to come. Then some tired ol soul crap that has been done ad infinite - since BG (Bhaalspawn, to SoA and the whole soul thing, to NWN2 and the whole spirited ter (another word for soul) until it just sticks in my throat.

 

The first village had me as a player thinking "totally depressing-go-somewhere-else" and like I give a Damn what happens to some place I have never heard of before. Not to mention some rot about some god blown up!

 

That pretty much blew it for me, storywise. I only finished the game because I backed it.

 

The Stronghold is the best example of what the OP is saying - it is just there. It matters little what you do with it - there are no consequences at all. You can invest in it - makes absolutely no impact on the world about you.

 

What a WASTE of resources! So many zots and it is just fluff. Now, don't get me wrong, I had my fun with it. But after it was finished (made easy with bounties and resting for free in mah bed), it went rather fast and...made absolutely no difference to either the game world or plot.

 

Bland, really.

 

There will only be a handful of peeps playing this game in the years to come, and it won't make it over into the PnP crowd.

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The problem for me is that in Pillars you just don't care about the world and the main quest.

 

I've read everything in game and I still don't know much about the world, and the things I do know I don't really like. It is all pretty basic. Few historical figures, few events, few nations, few gods.

 

Then, there is the story. Good idea about souls and hollowborn...but game never lets you feel it. It is just something talked about. No emotions involved.

 

Watcher (witcher, warden) is going mad, but again you do not feel it. few short dialogs and that's it.

 

And in the end you finish with some quick "twist" having little in common with the rest of the game.

 

It all feels terribly rushed and half-done. Devs were just following the formula, had a deadline, some general idea, and this is the result. Not good, not smart, not involving, not epic...just ok.

I can agree that it doesn't exactly FEEL like the Watcher (i.e. the PC) is going mad. But then again, how does one do that without making the character useless? [...]

 

If you truly feel that you have to make the character useless in order to convey the increasing sense of unhingement (yes, I made that word up), then do so. Punish me. Make me feel the pain.

 

agreed i kept forgetting that i'm supposed to going nuts, which killed one of the main reasons to chase the bad guy in the first place

i apparently have the same disease a maerwald where his past lives come back to haunt him and drive him crazy, but i only see one past life and very little of it so theres no urgency to find a cure. in fact i thought being awakened was a good thing

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^ Exactly! I also thought being Awakened was a positive thing - that it would eventually drive you bonkers (also extremely poorly explained, basically 'because you have a conflict that must be resolved'- say what?) Was not really apparent and one also hears that perhaps not, no - one is really sure...and I certainly didn't have any negative effects from it.

 

There were strange screens when sleeping but I clicked through those quickly (build - rest to past time for Stronghold because Obsidian didn't include any other way to past time).

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The problem for me is that in Pillars you just don't care about the world and the main quest.

 

I've read everything in game and I still don't know much about the world, and the things I do know I don't really like. It is all pretty basic. Few historical figures, few events, few nations, few gods.

 

Then, there is the story. Good idea about souls and hollowborn...but game never lets you feel it. It is just something talked about. No emotions involved.

 

Watcher (witcher, warden) is going mad, but again you do not feel it. few short dialogs and that's it.

 

And in the end you finish with some quick "twist" having little in common with the rest of the game.

 

It all feels terribly rushed and half-done. Devs were just following the formula, had a deadline, some general idea, and this is the result. Not good, not smart, not involving, not epic...just ok.

I can agree that it doesn't exactly FEEL like the Watcher (i.e. the PC) is going mad. But then again, how does one do that without making the character useless? [...]

 

If you truly feel that you have to make the character useless in order to convey the increasing sense of unhingement (yes, I made that word up), then do so. Punish me. Make me feel the pain.

 

agreed i kept forgetting that i'm supposed to going nuts, which killed one of the main reasons to chase the bad guy in the first place

i apparently have the same disease a maerwald where his past lives come back to haunt him and drive him crazy, but i only see one past life and very little of it so theres no urgency to find a cure. in fact i thought being awakened was a good thing

 

The thing is, it's not a disease. Everything at Maerwald, everything about the situation, suggested to me that his circumstance was at the very least somewhat unique. He had been reborn at least three times into closely inter-related personas, of which at least two of them were incredibly close to eachother's horrific personal tragedies.

 

There is, as far as I know, nothing to suggest something similar is happening to the Watcher, especially not around that point. Yes, he sees dead people, yes he sees previous lives, but that's what watchers do, it's their thing. You can even express doubts yourself as to whether this will even befall you at all.

 

Yet you just sorta keep going because... why? Up until Caed Nua, the story had me hooked. By the time I reached the Temple of Woedica, suddenly found myself thinking of the Leaden Key as antagonists to be infiltrated, and I realized that.. no, wait, why am I even doing this? And then I get into the Temple and I'm.. reading the priestess' soul, and.. have to go to three places? But.. that's.. why would I do that? Didn't I come here to investigate my condition, ask them what is going on? And now I'm suddenly reading minds and infiltrating, trying to stop them or something?

 

I feel as if something was cut somewhere and then they took the frayed pieces and stitched it together, because I'm just not pulled in half as much as I should. I feel there's an exposition or "the reveal" missing, or a hook, or something that pushes me a bit onward, or makes me motivated to investigate for the sake of investigating.

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Yeah, I was a bit nonplussed by the sudden shift in journal entries/dialogue options to "I'm trying to stop them" when as far as I knew, I was just trying to get information about what they'd done to me and potentially how to stop that.  I mean, why would I want to stop them more generally before I even knew what they were doing?

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To be blunt - I didn't want to stop The Leaden Key : I wanted to take it over!

 

Suck up the souls myself and then kill all the "gods" and return things to how they originally were before the Egwithians decided for all after that they needed gods to exist purposefully (what rubbish).

 

Sadly did not have this option.

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For me, Heritage Hill (or Clîaban Rilag [spelling]?) re-kindled the motivation to go after the Leaden Key because it became apparent that they were the cause for the Hollowborn, and that seemed a tragedy that should be stopped if at all possible.

The slowly going mad thing was, well, secondary. I recognised that the game obviously wanted me to care about that, so I kind of went with it, but the Hollowborn actually provided some motivation for going after Thaos.

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Therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium. -W.B. Yeats

 

Χριστός ἀνέστη!

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Why were you concerned about the hollowborn?

 

Never understood the connection there.

 

Personally, I wanted to keep the machines running (until I have enough souls to kill the gods with. What That's and the Engwithians can do, I can do better!

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I think the problem I have with both PoE and Dragon Age is that for the most part they are very one note emotionally, DA:O especially. I think that by going for gritty realism where the world is very nihilistic and there are no answers, both games end up beating you over the head with nihilism. I get that Obsidian wanted to create a world where it's difficult to tell if your moral choices actually resulted in the conclusion you wanted, but for me the results too often leave me feeling conflicted. The entire game I just felt uncomfortable with most of the quests and when that's the only emotion I feel the entire game it just starts to become grating towards the end. There are a few good moments that evoke different strong emotions, like the Temple of Skaen left me feeling disturbed in a unique way. It was  unsettling that worshipers of Skaen lead such desperate lives that they would happily undergo the horrors of becoming The Effigy. Well written quests evoke strong emotions and PoE is well written, it just unfortunately evokes the same emotion over and over again. The game just feels like a depressing slog through a grey amoral world which is fine to a degree, but there needs to be bright spots. There needs to be some hope.

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It is bland, the OP is right. There is just no "pre-history" for me as a Player to "fall back" on. I have no emotional attachment to the IP! And neither does my character, which is plainly bad.

 

There is no "spice" that comes to flavor it up, either.

 

With FR, and other D&D settings, I am intimately familiar and emotionally attached. There is no denying this.

 

DA at least took the time to immerse me into their IP with the background adventures (which served their purpose well).

 

Hells, even Wasteland 2 got me better immersed in the IP than PoE!!

 

PoE starts out (imho) extremely well. And then simply kills it. Dead. First disappointment; with ever more to come. Then some tired ol soul crap that has been done ad infinite - since BG (Bhaalspawn, to SoA and the whole soul thing, to NWN2 and the whole spirited ter (another word for soul) until it just sticks in my throat.

 

The first village had me as a player thinking "totally depressing-go-somewhere-else" and like I give a Damn what happens to some place I have never heard of before. Not to mention some rot about some god blown up!

 

That pretty much blew it for me, storywise. I only finished the game because I backed it.

 

The Stronghold is the best example of what the OP is saying - it is just there. It matters little what you do with it - there are no consequences at all. You can invest in it - makes absolutely no impact on the world about you.

 

What a WASTE of resources! So many zots and it is just fluff. Now, don't get me wrong, I had my fun with it. But after it was finished (made easy with bounties and resting for free in mah bed), it went rather fast and...made absolutely no difference to either the game world or plot.

 

Bland, really.

 

There will only be a handful of peeps playing this game in the years to come, and it won't make it over into the PnP crowd.

 

WebShaman, I completely agree with you on this point.  Some can complain that the FR DnD setting is cliched, but the fact remains that a great many players are extremely familiar with the setting.  And any game in that setting doesn't have to spend a lot of effort in getting people invested in it.  It's all set up in their minds, and the game's story only has to be "plugged" into the setting to get things started.  And if one is or was a DnD player, one's probably fairly familiar with the underlying rules set, even if how the game presets those rules may require a little time to adapt to. 

 

In fact, a lot of me wishes that the game had been set back in the FR so that we'd have that familiar setting to jump back into once again.  Of course, setting the game in FT would have required licensing it with the owners of DnD (whoever that is these days), might have cost an arm and a leg, if they'd even been willing to agree to doing a game that wasn't strictly 3D in the first place.  So in all honesty, I can understand why placing PoE in a completely new setting was probably necessary.

 

Regardless, as far as I'm concerned, it's impossible to compare the depth and breadth of the FR setting which was built up over more than a couple of decades or more to a setting that was only created fairly recently.  Mind you, I happen to think that the devs did a pretty good job creating the PoE setting, given the limited time.  But it takes time for a new setting to seep into the consciousness of the players, and if the setting is strictly within cRPG's, it would take a few games, years, and more development of said environment for that to happen.  It seems to me that it's something that doesn't happen all at once.

 

As for the Stronghold, I don't care that it had no impact on the region around it. All I want out of a "stronghold" is a place to rest for free.  A place to hang my helmet and kick up my boots after a long week's adventuring.  I don't care about playing lord of the manor borne (or rather, conquered).

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I kinda agree - just that as PoE didn't emotionally involve me at all (outside of some of the more humorous things like Eder getting bit by Sagani's fox).

 

As a result, I really didn't care much one way or the other as it made no difference at all what one did.

 

For example, whether or not you kill Raedric or not makes no apparent difference (aside from your reputation).

 

Same goes for the girl and the Lord ib Dry Ford - all the different choices just affect your rep with one faction or another (not that that matters, either).

 

Without rewards for efforts, why bother?

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Yeah, I was a bit nonplussed by the sudden shift in journal entries/dialogue options to "I'm trying to stop them" when as far as I knew, I was just trying to get information about what they'd done to me and potentially how to stop that.  I mean, why would I want to stop them more generally before I even knew what they were doing?

 

I didn't really care about Leaden Key and their plots in one way or another on my first playthrough until they decided to destroy everything that I had carefully build up in Defiance Bay after that point there was only one thing that I wanted to do and that was to kill every single one of them especially their leader, just because their actions made me feel that I had wasted tens of hours of playtime.  :)

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I think the problem I have with both PoE and Dragon Age is that for the most part they are very one note emotionally, DA:O especially. I think that by going for gritty realism where the world is very nihilistic and there are no answers, both games end up beating you over the head with nihilism. I get that Obsidian wanted to create a world where it's difficult to tell if your moral choices actually resulted in the conclusion you wanted, but for me the results too often leave me feeling conflicted. The entire game I just felt uncomfortable with most of the quests and when that's the only emotion I feel the entire game it just starts to become grating towards the end. There are a few good moments that evoke different strong emotions, like the Temple of Skaen left me feeling disturbed in a unique way. It was  unsettling that worshipers of Skaen lead such desperate lives that they would happily undergo the horrors of becoming The Effigy. Well written quests evoke strong emotions and PoE is well written, it just unfortunately evokes the same emotion over and over again. The game just feels like a depressing slog through a grey amoral world which is fine to a degree, but there needs to be bright spots. There needs to be some hope.

 

I think that's a good point worth repeating.  PoE is pretty relentlessly grim, and as a result it doesn't take long before everything just blends into one depressing lump.

 

This is reinforced by the lackluster main plotline.  The way we learn that we're a Watcher - using our newfound powers to talk with the dead woman on the tree - is fantastic.  But the next step with Maerwald was terrible; rather than give me a sense of excitement at new possibilities or a sense of urgency at potential danger, it just confused me about what a Watcher was.  The way Maerwald was presented didn't really match what had happened to us thus far, nor wouldt really match what happens later on, either.  So the main plot stalled right out of the gate.

 

I was stuck with some vague goals and confusing threats in a dark and gritty world that shrugged off my attempts to make it better.  The only things that really interested me at that point were Eder's backstory and the Hollowborn, and there wasn't much I could do to explore those topics at the time.

 

I think that's why a lot of the early game felt more like a chore than like fun, at least to me.

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For me, Heritage Hill (or Clîaban Rilag [spelling]?) re-kindled the motivation to go after the Leaden Key because it became apparent that they were the cause for the Hollowborn, and that seemed a tragedy that should be stopped if at all possible.

Sure.  But the problem is, Thaos was going to hand over the collected souls to Woedica and then... stop the hollowborn epidemic.  It was, essentially, a one time thing for his own purposes and you come in at the end of it when the project is already over.  So regardless of how tragic it is, it is done.  Loads of the kids are already dead, and most of the rest are running around feral with animal souls in and eating people.  You probably killed a couple dozen of the kids yourself along the way.  

 

As far as the whole thing goes, the prologue NPC's sister will almost certainly have a Hollowborn baby (since she's close enough and near enough to term) to the start of game event, but Dyrford and the epilogue exposition make it pretty clear that they'd given up on having kids already, so the Cliaban Rilag reactivation (which you can't stop because... railroad plot) doesn't matter much anyway.   The tower at Heritage Hill did something different.... not even sure what the point of that was, other than probably another badly conceived plan to discredit animancy (which probably worked because Dyrwoodans are stupid and gullible).  

 

I think the problem I have with both PoE and Dragon Age is that for the most part they are very one note emotionally, DA:O especially. I think that by going for gritty realism where the world is very nihilistic and there are no answers, both games end up beating you over the head with nihilism. I get that Obsidian wanted to create a world where it's difficult to tell if your moral choices actually resulted in the conclusion you wanted, but for me the results too often leave me feeling conflicted. The entire game I just felt uncomfortable with most of the quests and when that's the only emotion I feel the entire game it just starts to become grating towards the end. There are a few good moments that evoke different strong emotions, like the Temple of Skaen left me feeling disturbed in a unique way. It was  unsettling that worshipers of Skaen lead such desperate lives that they would happily undergo the horrors of becoming The Effigy. Well written quests evoke strong emotions and PoE is well written, it just unfortunately evokes the same emotion over and over again. The game just feels like a depressing slog through a grey amoral world which is fine to a degree, but there needs to be bright spots. There needs to be some hope.

I agree with some of this, especially the one note idea.  But... honestly the 'moral' choices in PoE all seem fairly straightforward (if, ultimately, rather meaningless since everything effectively resolves itself and nothing changes).  Mostly I felt irritated by the railroad plot and increasingly smaller area to explore with each chapter.

 

As for the Temple of Skaen, I disagree entirely.  Maybe it was the entrance I used, but it was a inexplicably gigantic dungeon filled with red mobs (that out-populated the nearby town by an order of magnitude).  I just killed everything (because there was zero choice for anyone except the high priest, and he was a jerk) and sent the girl on her way.  It was pretty cut and dry, really.  Hostile enemies and a  transparently obvious villain chewing the scenery with no apparent reason (or motivation).  So, kill him, kill the local contact guy (unsurprisingly, no one cares, and the world doesn't react one iota), and kill the incestuous lord because the game seems to think I should be vaguely outraged by what the Evil Priest claimed was going on. Which may or may not have been honest. 

 

So it didn't evoke much emotion in me at all, other than a minor irritation at not having a <sell junk> button because there was a lot of useless crap for loot. 

 

 

I think the biggest problem of the grey world was that Dyrwood is apparently the worst place in it, filled with irredeemably stupid, wretched and worthless people who aren't worthy of sympathy or interest.*  Everywhere outside of the Dyrwood sounded really fascinating with interesting cultures, scholarship and history.  Inside, they just kill anything different for the sake of being Rebels without a Clue, and then burn down places of history, culture and learning. Sometimes without even looting it first.

 

*plus, they're also really boring, which is probably the worst crime imaginable after being inefficient (which is also true). 

Edited by Voss

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