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RPGCodex Review #1 - Hŵrpa Dwrp

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Engagement is probably one of the worst systems in the game and should be gutted.

 

Agreed, but I think it's recoverable. It needs to be more of an attack-of-opportunity and not a death-grip.

 

Sadly the review in the OP chooses not to look past faults and posit solutions.

 

Agreed AoO's would have been better where you still have the 5 feet of movement you can use.

 

I don't know if tank and spank was a intended design choice, but it appears that most engagements boil down to this because of the engagement glue system.

 

 

The AI is fairly terribad in general and only slightly better in encounters with balanced kith parties, so munchkins with 3 might tanks can just bait and hammer. It's not the engagement glue so much as the fact that two tanks can and will stop far more enemies than they can ever engage, even in an open field.

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"Plus, some of the complaints are just mind-boggling. The writing is bad? Compared to what, Baldur's Gate or freaking Icewind Dale, to say nothing of D:OS's borefest? The oh so clever ''not-D&D'' tripe that could easily be leveled at any fantasy game on the market? Obsidian's worst game to date? This is clear attention whoring."

 

\Thew riting is bland and unspriring most of the time. (sometimes it hits the mark). BG's writing was not espcially deep but it was effective. I mean your adoptive father played sucha  small role yet he's memorable. Do you think people are gonna remember the early characters in PE? NO. IWD's story while not deep as well is wellw ritten. DOS', I agree, is worse. No doubt abotu it. In fact, I'd say PE is a better written version of the DOS story. L0L Worst game to dat? I wouldn't go there but that's his opinion so why whine about it?

 

 

Gorion(you didn't use his name I noticed...) was memorable? He had almost no dialogue- he tells you to leave Candlekeep soon, then runs into Sarevok and dies. 

 

I think most of the people praising Baldur's Gate 1's characters are not quite seeing things clearly due to:

 

A. Nostalgia glasses

B. Liking BG1 for other reasons (combat, exploration etc.) and mentally connecting these positive experiences to the characters

C. Having characters blank enough that the player can project personalities onto them which the game didn't actually write

 

I just don't get how BG1 characters can be 'full of personalty' and 'memorable' and all that other stuff people attribute to them when their character consists of a few lines of introduction dialogue and some random phrases in combat or when you click on them. No future exploration of their character, reactions to anything, banters...just nothing. More writing does not necessarily make characters better, but BG1 companions (and Gorion) have so little writing and characterization I can barely consider them characters.

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For example, he complains about The engagement mechanic. But the engagement mechanic isn't broken. It's working as designed. So what is there to fix? Nothing. There's nothing to fix. It can only be changed or removed.... And that would go counter to the intended design.

If you go down the list of this reviewer's talking points you'll find that they're almost all about developer design decisions, and not really about "broken mechanics" or "things that need number tweaking".

 

  I understand your larger point but I think you can fix this particular example with number tweaking. The cost of disengagement can be dialed in as anything from instantly fatal to zero damage with number tweaking. In addition, the items and abilities to mitigate the disengagement costs (such the 'cloak of ability to ignore the engagement mechanic' - whatever that was called) could also be tweaked to make engagement a smaller (or bigger) consideration.

 

 I could imagine some adjustments to this if, e.g.,  the devs watched some players and noticed that nobody moves in combat ever they might want to dial it back to make movement cost less.

 

 Similarly, I wouldn't be surprised to see some of the CC spells get 'turned up' a little bit if the devs notice that players just ignore them and wait a few seconds to to regain control of their party members. I would put that in the category of a little bit broken currently, but fixable with number tweaks.

 

 Really, I think it's one of the strengths of the design that turning a few knobs can change the importance of something in a smooth way. For example, the petrify ability in PoE freezes a character and makes them take (health) damage much more quickly. The devs get two knobs to turn  (how long does it last? and how much extra damage does the victim take?). There is a smooth function that makes petrify anything from a minor hiccup (or even, literally, nothing) to an 'I win' button (or, rather, a one hit kill).

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-Fights could use a bit more variety. When you fight fampyr enemies, they're plagued with charm effects, and they very wisely seem to charm all of your heavy hitters as though it were a rule of thumb for them. Charm and domination actually get their own special little problem-child category in that the player is provided absolutely zero way to counter these effects, (I think the priest EVENTUALLY gets a spell to provide resistance vs these very late game) but aside from that...?

You are under-stating the absurdity and hilarious irony of this.

 

There are 2 major gameplay philosophies that Josh Sawyer voiced and made crystal clear to everyone before developing PoE's combat systems:

 

1) Save or else - will not be in the game because it is a dreadfully Non-fun, non-tactical, binary gameplay hangover from the IE games and should die by fire.

2) Hard counters and pre-buffs - will not be in the game because they are apocalyptic designs that promote metagaming, instead of reaction based tactical gameplay

 

Now Fast forward to the finished product of PoE. What did we end up getting? Yeah, Rule #1.... violated right off the bat. We have Whole races of monsters spamming the exact same Save-or else effects from BG1 against your party. But unlike BG1, we're not given any tools to tactically counter such attacks because they decided to hold fast to rule #2....for no reason. Because they ended up giving us spells that still require metagaming in order to be even marginally useful against these Save Or else attacks. (the entire line of "Prayer against ____" spells that priests get. They all have two effects: 1. to increase your saves against the Save or else" effects, and, 2. to reduce the duration of those afflictions if you fail your saves.

 

But how are you going to benefit from the save bonus of those effects without metagaming and casting that spell before you get hit by the effect? Answer: You don't. Because you can't. (no pre-buffing). So basically the only legit function of those spells is to reduce the duration of the "Save-or-Else" effects after they've already afflicted your party. This, of course, assumes you got lucky and it wasn't your priest who got nailed with those effects, because if he has, then you can't cast that spell. Not until the effect wears off, at least... But by then, casting it will be pointless since the fight will either be over, or the enemy will have already exhausted its per encounter instances of those Save or Else attacks.

 

Absurd.

 

 

The joke's on you!; opponents in PoE have infinite uses of their spells and abilities! It only seems to be limited by the AI.


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Spot on review by RPGCodex.

 

My conclusion: This game was made by bureaucrats.

 

I lost a little bit of faith in obsidian, I was hoping for something better.

 

 

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Baldur's Gate or Arcanum are a totally different league. Even the world map in these games is twice as large. I have quickly counted locations on the world map and there are (I may have missed a few):

 

30 in PoE

50(55) in BG(expansion)

64 in Arcanum

 

And BG2:SoA has just 23 world map locations.

 

So what? It's not a very good measure of a game's scope, let alone quality.

 

 

Of course it's not a measure of quality, just saying that these game worlds alone dwarfs PoE's. Not bringing into discussion the amount of writing.

 

However more wilderness locations for PoE wouldn't have helped much because what would they have to offer? More trash mobs to kill for no experience and more generic uninteresting loot?

 

The length of PoE is actually right as by the end it was starting to drag, the amount of filler combat becoming a choir. I gave up exploring the dungeon under my fort at level 11 below because of boredom. The three underground levels of Durlag's Tower are infinitely more interesting and atmospheric that the 100 levels made of four rooms and three mobs in PoE.

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"Gorion(you didn't use his name I noticed...) was memorable? He had almost no dialogue- he tells you to leave Candlekeep soon, then runs into Sarevok and dies."

 

Yet people still remember him. That won't happen to the characters you meet at the beginning of PE.

 

 

"I just don't get how BG1 characters can be 'full of personalty' and 'memorable' and all that other stuff people attribute to them when their character consists of a few lines of introduction dialogue and some random phrases in combat or when you click on them. No future exploration of their character, reactions to anything, banters...just nothing. More writing does not necessarily make characters better, but BG1 companions (and Gorion) have so little writing and characterization I can barely consider them characters."

 

You are thinking C&C. Xan has no depth but he is very memorable despite being largely one note.  I like dwarves but Sagani is just plain boring despite all the text she gets. That's due to poor writing. The writer for Xan got his personality and made him memorable despite not using a blocks of text. Same with Khalid, Montaron, and a host of others.

 

You are assuming because PE has lots of info dumps that is what makes characters memorable. NO.

 

P.S. PE does plenty better than BG but memorable characters isn't one of them. I mean Sarevok came back as a joinable party because he was memorable. I doubt that will happen with PE's main villain (unless to spite me now lol) and I say that despite actually thinking his last convo was pretty solid for the most part.

Edited by Volourn

DWARVES IN PROJECT ETERNITY = VOLOURN HAS PLEDGED $250.

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"Gorion(you didn't use his name I noticed...) was memorable? He had almost no dialogue- he tells you to leave Candlekeep soon, then runs into Sarevok and dies."

 

Yet people still remember him. That won't happen to the characters you meet at the beginning of PE.

 

 

"I just don't get how BG1 characters can be 'full of personalty' and 'memorable' and all that other stuff people attribute to them when their character consists of a few lines of introduction dialogue and some random phrases in combat or when you click on them. No future exploration of their character, reactions to anything, banters...just nothing. More writing does not necessarily make characters better, but BG1 companions (and Gorion) have so little writing and characterization I can barely consider them characters."

 

You are thinking C&C. Xan has no depth but he is very memorable despite being largely one note.  I like dwarves but Sagani is just plain boring despite all the text she gets. That's due to poor writing. The writer for Xan got his personality and made him memorable despite not using a blocks of text. Same with Khalid, Montaron, and a host of others.

 

You are assuming because PE has lots of info dumps that is what makes characters memorable. NO.

 

P.S. PE does plenty better than BG but memorable characters isn't one of them. I mean Sarevok came back as a joinable party because he was memorable. I doubt that will happen with PE's main villain (unless to spite me now lol) and I say that despite actually thinking his last convo was pretty solid for the most part.

 

I think Sagani is an interesting character- she balances the struggle of leaving her family with her desire to see the world. The latter is wearing thin due to years on a seemingly pointless journey but the Watcher gives her a ray of hope. Maybe she wasn't your cup of tea, but I dunno about poorly written.

 

BG1 characters are basically just one personality trait since they have almost no room to express anything else. I suppose I can concede that they can be memorable in their one-note ness, but characters with no depth seems like bad writing to me.

 

I thought Sarevok was a decent villain, my beef is mainly with the companions. Well and Gorion, people only remember him because he was important to the plot.

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I'm going to piggyback on Stun's comment about hard counters, save vs effect, etc. One issue I have is that a large contingent of spells are AoE in order to make good use of intellect. This compounds the issue of spells not being save vs effect. If I have a scrolls of paralasys why would I use it on any encounters other than the tough boss battles? In the current game these tough encounters are trivialized because the effects occur unless you miss. So, you boost accuracy and guarantee victory with solid AoE CC. These CCs should be single target, some enemies should be immune (or have such high saves to really make them pointless), and so on. Enemies need limited resources as well.

 

We also need dispels. The Priest's protection spells vs charm do nothing once a party member is charmed because buffs, heals, etc don't work on them once they are charmed. These dispels shouldn't be AoE either.

 

I feel we have too much AoE in order to justify intellect. It needs dialing back, and would go as far as to say many issues in the game are repercussions of trying to make all 6 attributes useful to all classes. Which IMHO means we also need to look at attributes again.

 

To sum up:

 

I think hard counters are good.

I think We need less AoE.

We need CCs and how they work to be reevaluated.

Attributes need work still.

Engagement needs to be scrapped or toned down.

AI needs work.

Enemies need limitations on ability/spell uses.

I personally think tankiness vs squishiness should be less pronounced.

 

There are probably a few other things I would do, but my lunch break is at an end.

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"Gorion(you didn't use his name I noticed...) was memorable? He had almost no dialogue- he tells you to leave Candlekeep soon, then runs into Sarevok and dies."

 

Yet people still remember him. That won't happen to the characters you meet at the beginning of PE.

 I certainly will.  The only BG characters that made any real impression on me were Minsc, Yoshimo, and to some extent Jaheira (in BG2).  That was because Minsc was a cute running joke.  The others: I'd mostly have to look up their names.

 

Just because something doesn't appeal to you, it doesn't follow that it doesn't appeal to me.  I genuinely liked Eoder by the end of the story, for example; Durance and Grieving Mother were really interesting; Aloth was funny (and the dialogs between him and the other party members after his split personality was revealed were priceless).  Kana and Sagani were really alive to me.  The ones who had less of a presence for me were the druid (he's comic relief, but his link to the watcher was weak for me) and the paladin (in fairness, she wasn't that useful to me as a party member).  And the culture and world engaged me far, far more than whatever was supposed to be happening in generic Faerun-like BG.  If you want story development gone right, PS:T is a far better argument.

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1) Save or else - will not be in the game because it is a dreadfully Non-fun, non-tactical, binary gameplay hangover from the IE games and should die by fire.

2) Hard counters and pre-buffs - will not be in the game because they are apocalyptic designs that promote metagaming, instead of reaction based tactical gameplay

 

Also, if I remember right, the whole "miss-graze-hit-crit + DR" system was advertised as a solution for preventing the "miss fests" that allegedly plagued the IE games.

 

Yet in those games I have never experienced such hopeless stalemates as in situations in PoE when tank-Eder and random-enemy-boss were the only ones left standing. Miss after miss after miss, with an occasional graze for single-digit damage. Could sometimes have probably gone on for fifteen minutes if I hadn't been impatient and reloaded.

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"Some ideas are so stupid that only an intellectual could believe them." -- attributed to George Orwell

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I don't like hardcounters. I think they're stupid. They are based purely on luck. They have no place in any well reasoned RPG.  I'm so very happy they're not in this game. 

Edited by RushAndAPush

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1) Save or else - will not be in the game because it is a dreadfully Non-fun, non-tactical, binary gameplay hangover from the IE games and should die by fire.

2) Hard counters and pre-buffs - will not be in the game because they are apocalyptic designs that promote metagaming, instead of reaction based tactical gameplay

 

Also, if I remember right, the whole "miss-graze-hit-crit + DR" system was advertised as a solution for preventing the "miss fests" that allegedly plagued the IE games.

 

Yet in those games I have never experienced such hopeless stalemates as in situations in PoE when tank-Eder and random-enemy-boss were the only ones left standing. Miss after miss after miss, with an occasional graze for single-digit damage. Could sometimes have probably gone on for fifteen minutes if I hadn't been impatient and reloaded.

 

 

It is ACC-DEF system that makes such thing to be possible or maybe more accurately the fact that defenses can rise so much higher than accuracy.

 

There was bit same problem in some of the IE games where you could get your AC in negative numbers. But they also give player ability rise their THAC0 such that they usually were able to hit even such characters in high level. Although low level fights suffered quite much from "miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss, miss" syndrome. In IE magic usually helped to solve stalemates as it spells always hit, but their target could save against their effects, where in PoE spells use same ACC-DEF system than weapon attacks.

 

So miss-graze-hit-crit system only gives larger variety of hit types.

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I don't like hardcounters. I think they're stupid. They are based purely on luck. They have no place in any well reasoned RPG.  I'm so very happy they're not in this game.

You mean Save or else. Because Hard counters aren't based on luck. They're the opposite of luck. They're spells that guarantee immunity to the effect that the enemy is trying to afflict you with.
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1) Save or else - will not be in the game because it is a dreadfully Non-fun, non-tactical, binary gameplay hangover from the IE games and should die by fire.

2) Hard counters and pre-buffs - will not be in the game because they are apocalyptic designs that promote metagaming, instead of reaction based tactical gameplay

 

Also, if I remember right, the whole "miss-graze-hit-crit + DR" system was advertised as a solution for preventing the "miss fests" that allegedly plagued the IE games.

 

Yet in those games I have never experienced such hopeless stalemates as in situations in PoE when tank-Eder and random-enemy-boss were the only ones left standing. Miss after miss after miss, with an occasional graze for single-digit damage. Could sometimes have probably gone on for fifteen minutes if I hadn't been impatient and reloaded.

 

And that could be also avoided if Obsidian in their infinite wisdom didn't forbid using items that are not in quickslots before combat starts. If Obsidian wasn't obsessed with ruining fun you could have used some accuracy or faster speed scrolls or potions and made it finish faster. Edited by archangel979

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Am I the only person who did not have a problem with the engagement system? I never really felt like it was a huge disadvantage because of it especially with the abundance of effective AoE crowd control. The only enemies that regularly were able to harass my back lines were ones who could teleport in. Generally it was easy to maneuver my party members when necessary to properly use their abilities.   

 

I played through the game with 1 tank (eder) on hard with the rest of my party using ranged weapons (the whole party consisted of the provided companions: Aloth, Hiravias, Grieving Mother, Kana, and my pc which was a priest).

 

What I found most annoying was how confusion worked as it would cause my buffs/heals to be applied to enemies when they were under the status effect (confusion should not = domination). In the end I never bothered with the confusion abilities as they were inferior to other forms of CC. Also how my party would auto attack dominated companions, which felt really weird and to me was immersion breaking.

 

I wish I could prebuff against status effects before entering combat as it would they would often be the first spell cast against my party with a faster cast time than I could buff against them. The lack of prebuffing felt more pronounced as time went on and there were more spells available making it so many spells simply never got any use (fights were too short to stack). I suppose it does add some strategy, though I did miss being able to feel more prepared for an encounter. Then there is that one fight where your whole party can get wiped from one AoE even at the level cap. 

 

I agree that the story was a bit underwhelming given the high bar set by other obsidian titles, there were some memorable moments though. Hopefully the expansion content will be better in this regard. Obsidian tends to do a very good job with their DLC. 

 

PoE has been the best new RPG I have played in quite a while and does a good job of setting a foundation that can be improved upon in the future (especially when it comes to the story). All in all I had fun with it and it was well worth the money. 

Edited by Trius
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What I don't understand is why people that don't like a certain game insist on going on the forums and whining about it. Just go play something you like. Why waste time on something you don't enjoy?

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In IE magic usually helped to solve stalemates as it spells always hit, but their target could save against their effects, where in PoE spells use same ACC-DEF system than weapon attacks.

 

So miss-graze-hit-crit system only gives larger variety of hit types.

The IE games also had a solution to the stalemate problem for NON-magic battles. They use the D20 system, where 1 is always a miss and And a 20 is always a hit.

 

Personally, though, I've come to terms with the Miss--Graze---Hit--Crit system that PoE uses. I like it. My only issue with it is how....universal it is. It applies to everything. Which means we'll never see those dramatic high level magic battle moments from BG2 and IWD2 where a heated, intense battle could end suddenly in a nail-biting moment due to, say, a Finger of Death, or a Wail of the Banshee. After all, what's the point of scoring a critical hit with your death spell? or a Graze with your Destruction spell?

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Eh.  There are problems in the game.

 

Most of the criticism in the review and thread are so negative that getting valid problems out of them requires separating a lot of chaff.  

Examples of chaff:

 

1.  It's not exactly like the Infinity Engine.  - Judge it on its own merits.  And I really don't like the bull**** tribalism that's building up around PE vs. BG1.  I happen to think both are good games.  I like PE's combat and writing better than unmodded BG1, but like BG1's exploration better.

 

2.  I don't like Josh Sawyer so I'll mention his name and philosophy every time the system hiccups. - Tough ****.

 

3.  Nitpicky ****.  Writing a thousand word post on a minor flaw the game has.

 

4.  Combat is boring, that's why I played it for hours and can offer in depth discussions of it.

 

5.  I thought I was a developer, but then it turned out that they made decisions I don't like against my express permission and now I'm super butthurt about it.

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What I don't understand is why people that don't like a certain game insist on going on the forums and whining about it. Just go play something you like. Why waste time on something you don't enjoy?

 

It's attention grabbing. Honestly, I'm more surprised that people are concerned about a group of players disliking a game; this is true for every game, even the BG series. POE is a commercial success, that's all that really matters. 

 

The set of posts about "writing on the wall" is pretty funny though. 

Edited by View619
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You can spit your poison, oh PoE backer-haters, but this is where this poison will stay- for your voices of vile and outrage are just drops in the ocean. The latest Obsidian rpg is a success, whether you refuse to acknowledge the fact.

 

If you want Baldur's Gate, play Baldur's Gate. Same with IWD and Planescape.

 

This is PoE.

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Matilda is a Natlan woman born and raised in Old Vailia. She managed to earn status as a mercenary for being a professional who gets the job done, more so when the job involves putting her excellent fighting abilities to good use.

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It's called Feedback. Complicated concept to grasp, I know, but lets roll with it anyway.

Edited by Stun
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I have to say I love this game. These days it's closest to those great IE games that I'll always remember -- esp. BG 2. And the graphics & music, oh.. I could stare that gorgeus sea and just do nothing, listening to that track with the bells.

 

My main problem with this game, however, is that it's low on surprises. If PoE was D&D, it'd be 4th ed. Way, way more balanced than AD&D with many many extra books -- but at the same time a bit boring. It's most evident in magic items and spells (no time stop + gate / imprison or magic blocking capes or gender changing magic items here, lol) but it's not only about mechanics -- everything seems rather tidy and safe even if discussing the quests and encounters. BG2 -- your party members get taken away from you, they turn against you, they matter because things that can happen to them can surprise you. PoE? Once you get them, they'll stay in their compartment and cause you no trouble. Quests have this same problem: oh how I have waited for that moment when I have fought some enemy in their lair and when I'm leaving the place feeling safe I encounter some real trouble that doesn't like what I have done. Thus far no such surprises.

 

But I hope this is just the first episode and many good things are waiting in the future. :)

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