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At first I was a pretty staunch defender of this game and it's changes to the IE style, but the closer I get to the end, the harder it becomes for me to even want to boot this game up and complete it.

 

There have been many people suggesting that the combat quickly becomes formulaic and follows a flowchart of - Sneak -> Position -> Tank and Spank and win

 

This is pretty much the case. Once you get a full party and get into the mid game, this is what every combat encounter becomes. Sensuki said it best in another topic that there is no dynamic shift or any strategy involved, it's just a set of motions that you go through almost every fight, you don't have to adapt to combat at all, because once your Tank is engaged with the mob of dumb enemies up front, you simply lay down all the AoE CC you have and you move onto the next exact same group battle. It's the same thing, over and over again.

 

I started to get a little concerned with this combat system in Act 2, and I never ran into a situation where combat became different or engaging. You level up and get new spells and abilities but early game spells remain really good for most of the game, and there are a lot of priest, Wizard and Druid spells that are never really worth casting in battle. The fact that you can't pre-buff in this game also reduces strategy and combat dynamic IMO.

 

So I keep trucking along because of the story, but even that is nowhere near the level I was expecting to get when I pre-ordered the game. I have a couple well written characters and fairly simple fantasy story going, with a pretty boring Antagonist. It just doesn't grab me and keep me moving like Baldurs Gate or BG2 did, and it's nowhere near as impressive as Planescape: Torment.

 

I don't expect PoE to be at the same level of those games but it just doesn't seem like they put enough heart into the story. I don't know how else to describe it. 

 

I like certain things about this game, I really do, but when I tally up all the things I dislike, such as the combat, the attribute system and some parts of the story, overall I just find myself struggling to finish and I don't think this will be a game I start up again after completing it like I did with Baldurs Gate 2, and Planescape.

 

Bring on the flames!

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Fixing combat difficulty is easy. 

Add a random roll to creature behavior when combat starts. For example:

Targeting: Will target closest (high chance), Will target weakest endurance character (medium), will target random (low chance)
Re-targeting: Will stick to selected target (high chance), will change target at 50% hp (medium), will change target if X conditions etc.

By setting a high chance on the current behavior, but adding random behavior scripts which has their own chances to activate - combat would become more unpredictable. 

In short - forcing you to adapt to every fight. And every fight being different. Dynamic. 

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I think that would be fine but they would have to abandon the Engagement system entirely. It's not a simple fix of an enemy deciding to target your squishy mage. If they did that and left engagement intact, you'd basically be screwed. Engagement pretty much negates any kind of tactical strategy in combat, if you're engaged you're put in place until you can either use an ability or spell to CC that enemy so you can actually move away without getting completed demolished by disengagement. 

 

Another thing I forgot to add was the complete lack of party AI in combat and the massive amount of pausing that I have to do really starts to wear thin in a 50 + hour game. I never paused this much in the Infinity Engine games. 

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No flames from me, AT, it's your opinion. I find the combat slightly repetitive too.

 

The exploration element is interesting, but where are the battles like the Drow bridge in IWD or the goblin siege from IWD2?

 

Good point. I miss the interesting combat situations that those games brought. I haven't seen that yet in PoE

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The engagement system is fine.  It's great, in fact.  The problem is that the AI treats all PCs and CNPCs identically in terms of disengagement (i.e. NEVER disengage).  Changing AI behavior to evaluate whether or not to disengage is required and will help mitigate the static playstyle so many people choose since having a shielded tank with a blunt hatchet won't work when the enemy doesn't care about the piddly damage and low accuracy of the disengagement attack.  That in turn will make people think more about defense on non-tank characters.

 

But in regards the trying to finish the game: yeah, I agree.  It becomes a bit of a chore in Act III since there's nowhere else to go but the eventual slide toward the end.  Character development essentially stopping halfway through is the main cause, in my opinion.  Even if the combat were more interesting it would still be a tedious and ultimately fruitless effort once characters become static.

Edited by durbal
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In agreement here, the game has lost it's appeal after the third restart for me; every time I get into Act II the interest dies off. Honestly, if there are no dev plans to improve the AI and encounter difficulty\variety in some way I may just drop it until the expansion. Maybe it will be a jump in a similar vein to Shadowrun Returns -> Dragon Fall.

 

Great ideas all around but bogged down by the fact that this is a first attempt, imo.

Edited by View619
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I know my view is inchoate (in that I can't put my finger on it), but all the time my nagging suspicion is in an attempt to make everything so different, it's all ended up very much the same.

 

BG2 had trolls (need fire to kill) it had mind-flayers (could suck your brains out after stunning you) it had spiders (fast poison and those teleporting nasties), it had hobgoblins with poison arrows and it had human NPC parties will mad skills.

 

The DR / resistances system exists in PoE but it doesn't feel as impactive / granular in combat. Those resistances might be going on under the hood, but I ain't feeling them.

 

Engagement is also a pain. I like the idea of AoEs and engagement, just not the implementation / reality.

 

I'll keep on saying it, though, all the elements are in place to make PoE something exceptional, it just needs some more loving and changes. I think Obsidian will do the necessary McGuyvering as the sheer level of feedback now the game has been released will give them some ideas about what people want to see ---- there is a lot of crunchy common ground between folks who like the new systems and people like me who would prefer a more IE feel.

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Gotta agree. The Engagement system is a good idea on paper. In-game it doesn't shine. At all. I also find the combat to be rather boring, which is a shame, seeing how there could be a lot of potential here. And I also tend to agree with the assessment of the story. It's almost like they put so much effort into the combat that they forgot there should be a great story attached as well.

 

And yeah, I guess Monte Carlo summed it up pretty well: I ain't feeling it.

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I agree the combat can get repetitive in Act 2, although if you take on new scripted companions as they show up, you'll at least get some new spells and abilities to play with. 

 

I am finding a difference in Act 3, mainly the frequency of enemies attacking with Charm, Dominate, and Petrify spells. Tank 'n spank doesn't work so well, when Eder is the first one to get petrified and taken out of action. Suddenly the situation is fluid, with a large group of enemies infiltrating around the sides and rear. I have to continually alter the attacks, as party members move in and out of being Charmed/Dominated/Petrified. I know some people find takeover spells frustrating, but I like the challenge of managing a fluid situation. Well, as long as it doesn't turn into a full wipe!

 

It may fall back into a more standard pattern before I finish the game, once I figure out how to deal with it better than I am now. More +Will buffs and trinkets, focus-fire on the main dominators, etc. At any rate, the combat did change a bit once I got out of Act 2. 

 

As for the main story, yeah... it's not all that compelling. The only aspect of it I find interesting is the personal survival bit ("Am I going slowly mad?"), which maybe isn't played up as much as it should have been. The "save the world" part of it just isn't grabbing me, because the game hasn't given me much reason to care for the towns and the people I'm meeting. Could be better, but I'll give it a 7 out of 10 so far, about average for CRPG's, and that's enough to finish the game and see how it ends.

 

 

 

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Hmm, I'm unconvinced that the main problem is that the AIs tend to stream forwards and merrily just attack you tank. I am unconvinced because this was also broadly the approach of the AI in the IE games (the typical melee AI was "If see nearest enemy, then attack last seen") and this didn't feel at all like PoEt. I'm not yet sure what I think the main problem is. Perhaps it is that, after a few levels, your tank is very good at defending? Like, significantly better than every other character. Or perhaps it is that everything is a bit samey, I'm not sure. I'll need to play more. Maybe it's that there wasn't really such a tank/dps divide in the IE games, except for edge classes like Kensai.

Edited by NathanH
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The main problem with engagement is that it's so passive. And, shy of "I blatantly knock you down, then jog around you," it's really hard to make decisions on when to break it/move without getting screwed over.

 

I do think the majority of problems with the combat are that the enemies pretty much always act in the same manner. As was already said in here, even just additional, random enemy decision-making would be better than virtually no AI-decision-making at all (other than the basic "be constructive instead of standing around doing nothing" decisions).

Should we not start with some Ipelagos, or at least some Greater Ipelagos, before tackling a named Arch Ipelago? 6_u

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I'm still really enjoying combat (only about 30 hours in), but agree that tanks (Eder) seem a bit too strong.  I never, ever have to worry about him (in the middle of Act 2).  Maybe a squishier tank and/or nerfing ranged attacks would help?

 

[At the same time it's worth remembering how easy it is to over-egg a game....sometimes by fixing every 'problem' in a game you wind up with something wholly uninteresting to play]

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The main problem with engagement is that it's so passive. And, shy of "I blatantly knock you down, then jog around you," it's really hard to make decisions on when to break it/move without getting screwed over.

It's also damned frustrating that if you decide to eat the disengagement attacks (like trying to save your wizard from shadows, for example) as soon as you pass a mob while heading somewhere, you're automatically engaged and the character stops moving. Several times, I've tried to run my tank or DPS back through the crowd to help out my Cipher or mage which involved running by three or four mobs. The engagement stops them cold every single time. By the time I finally get the bloody character disentangled the Cipher/mage is pretty much floor polish.

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The fact that you can't pre-buff in this game also reduces strategy and combat dynamic IMO.

 

Buffing before combat, especially buffing before every combat, was one of the things that made the IE games more tedious.  Once you got into ToB, for example, if you weren't resting and then fully buffing before each battle you were probably dying and restarting until you did rest and buff.  Limiting rest and removing pre-combat buffing were two changes that were made in the design of this game to try to eliminate that tedium.  Permitting pre-combat buffing (or eliminating rest restrictions) would make the game more tedious, not less, because all of the encounters would have to be rebalanced to account for the increase in the party's power level as a result of not being limited - which would mean that one would then have to spend the time pre-buffing in order to be able to face the encounter without a severe disadvantage.

 

The encounters are balanced around the idea that you are not pre-buffing, so pre-buffing should not be necessary.  If you are finding yourself unable to win an encounter, and the only way you can think of to win it is to be able to pre-buff, then either you need to try a different tactic or you need to come back later and face the encounter at a higher level.

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Yep. It's as if in the attempt to stop 'degenerative game-play' they kinda stomped some of the fun out of it. I mean, there must be a half-way house between kiting abuse and the engagement / dog-piling system we have now.

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The encounters are balanced around the idea that you are not pre-buffing, so pre-buffing should not be necessary.  If you are finding yourself unable to win an encounter, and the only way you can think of to win it is to be able to pre-buff, then either you need to try a different tactic or you need to come back later and face the encounter at a higher level.

 

 

OK, I get that, but no pre-buffing. None? It's like my point about kiting / engagement... to stop tedious mechanic of yore you replace it with a tedious mechanic of now.

Edited by Monte Carlo

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It's also damned frustrating that if you decide to eat the disengagement attacks (like trying to save your wizard from shadows, for example) as soon as you pass a mob while heading somewhere, you're automatically engaged and the character stops moving. Several times, I've tried to run my tank or DPS back through the crowd to help out my Cipher or mage which involved running by three or four mobs. The engagement stops them cold every single time. By the time I finally get the bloody character disentangled the Cipher/mage is pretty much floor polish.

 

Two ways I've found for protecting a squishy caster when the back line is infiltrated:

 

1) Use a Rogue, either melee or ranged (ranged will be closer to the casters). Rogues have special disengagement skills like Escape and Fast Runner. Combine that with trinkets like Cape of Withdrawal, and it's easy to break out of combat, unless actually stuck in place by a web or some other attack. Since the enemy will already be engaged trying to kill your caster, the Rogue will get the sneak attack bonus.

 

2) Or... use a Druid in the back line along with your other casters. He can instantly turn into animal form as a strong melee defender. 

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From a point of encounter diversity (or rather how the different encounters play), early-mid act 2 has so far been the low point in the game for me.

Which is funny considering that's also the point where the player has the biggest amount of content at his/her disposal.

 

Anyway, esp. in act 3 and the lower levels of the Paths, the amount of encounters where the simple "tank'n'spank" strategy won't work so well is higher again.

 

If (or when) Obsidian decides to do another balancing pass, I'd like them to adjust the game a bit such that

a) AI smartly uses some of the more nasty abilities, esp. to make the above described strategy more difficult

b) enemies have higher resistances in some cases where it makes sense (both DR and defenses)

c) health (not endurance!) and defense of fighter classes is reduced to make them more vulnerable; currently Edèr often will barely get a scratch despite being attacked by multiple enemies.

d) make buffs and debuffs a bit more varied and more effective to counter higher resistances (and in turn making them more useful)

f) just a small adjustment to the engagement system: make it a bit more forgiving to movement before triggering an attack and make the disengagement-abilities effective

 

A few more words about the engagement system: I'm fine with it and found it far less limiting than some people say. Ok, it prevents a certain playstyle favoured by a certain prolific poster.

But for the most part, it's an interesting mechanic. There are also several ways to deal with it (decisions!):

  • Suffer a disengagement attack - largely inconsequential for fighters, but dangerous for squishies
  • Use an ability (e.g. escape talent, currently a bit wonky and ineffective, unfortunately) or spell (e.g. Withdraw, 1st level priest), give characters perks that give defense against disengagment attacks
  • Use another character to disable the attacker (e.g. knock him down, confuse him, etc.)
Edited by El Zoido
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Gotta agree. The Engagement system is a good idea on paper. In-game it doesn't shine. At all. I also find the combat to be rather boring, which is a shame, seeing how there could be a lot of potential here. And I also tend to agree with the assessment of the story. It's almost like they put so much effort into the combat that they forgot there should be a great story attached as well.

 

And yeah, I guess Monte Carlo summed it up pretty well: I ain't feeling it.

 

Always been the problem for me. I always liked the idea of the Engagement system, and the pitch still gets to me, but it's just not.. good. It's easy to say that it's the implementation that is lacking, but during the course of the long beta, everything was discussed back and forth, and at the end of the road, I'm just not seeing a way it can be made good.

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Two ways I've found for protecting a squishy caster when the back line is infiltrated:

 

1) Use a Rogue, either melee or ranged (ranged will be closer to the casters). Rogues have special disengagement skills like Escape and Fast Runner. Combine that with trinkets like Cape of Withdrawal, and it's easy to break out of combat, unless actually stuck in place by a web or some other attack. Since the enemy will already be engaged trying to kill your caster, the Rogue will get the sneak attack bonus.

 

2) Or... use a Druid in the back line along with your other casters. He can instantly turn into animal form as a strong melee defender. 

 

This, of course, presumes I have a Druid, which I don't. As for the Rogue, that's an option, certainly, and can work in some situations. But sometimes it's not possible to use her. That specific situation aside, the fact that if you pass by any hostile critter then you're suddenly stuck in an engagement web and stop moving completely, is annoying as hell.

 

*edit* As a note, I feel the Attack of Opportunity in D&D was a decent mechanic. You could still suffer a penalty for moving past a critter in combat, but you weren't tethered to them.

Edited by Ink Blot
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Near the end you get some encounters where you're attacked from every angle.

 

But.. that's about it. It's mostly just getting your tank in place and using your offtank to catch any straggles... for as much as there are any, as these enemies just love to gang up on the single, nigh indestructable tank.

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I agree with the OP. I'm struggling to finish this game and still in Act 2. I've gone back to Od Nua to do some levels (at level 9) to break up the repetitive combat in and around Defiance Bay and thought some Od Nua levels would be a change but it's all very much the same. I did do some bounties and it was the same winning strategy - tank and spank.

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