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Inadequate Differentiation of Depth, Length, and Complexity of Companion arcs

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Companions in past Obsidian games worked well mostly because their dialogue boxes were designed as puzzles where spreadsheet values, Influence meter, and flags hit by exploration or events in the critical path 'unlocked' dialogue choices that allowed you to develop a deeper relationship, a relationship which surfaced during critical moments to produce a divergent outcome to a quest, cut scene, or scenario that wouldn't have existed otherwise. Often you got special items, knowledge, or stat boosts. That kind of complexity and interactivity is missing from Pillars of Eternity. 


Even worse, they went with the Bioware structure where each companion's character development is compartmentalized into two-three conversations worth of development split between a companion quest. Their motivations are present in a summary and straightforward way, usually with them explaining what they want and what needs to happen in the relationship right away. 


Real life groups and cliques don't work like that, with the members of each clique varying in terms of their standing and personal interaction with the alpha male/female, and not every companion should start by having a quest. Some of them should never have them at all. 


For example, in Planescape: Torment, you do Grace's "companion quest" in advance of her joining your group; she joins you out of curiousity if your spreadsheet checks manage to unlock the proper dialogue options. Dakkon doesn't have a quest until you unlock it through conversation, and Annah and  especially Morte are mostly critical path dependent characters; they have no quests apart from their need to help the Nameless One. 


Rather than having every companion have a goal that they "announce" near the outset of them joining the party, Obsidian should go back to their older, celebrated style where companions are well differentiated in terms of why they are there, how you interact with them, and what you get out of them. 


So in Pillars of Eternity 2, maybe one companion starts as a mercenary you meet at an inn who you pay installments of gold. In Pillars of Eternity, this would be a Goldpact Knight. Instead of having a conventional quest, the writers should make it so the Goldpact Knight knows a lot of the factions and NPCs you do work for in the game because he's been employed by them before; you learn about his character and develop a closer relationship with him through conservations stimulated by his commentaries and insights, which may also unlock new ways to interact with those factions and resolve their quests. If he comes to like and respect you, he teaches you something about X to make your character stronger. On the other hand, if you fail to pay him he'll allowed himself to be employed by your enemy and you have to fight him later -- if you have low Influence, he'll attack without a word. If you have high influence, he will tell it is nothing personal, and you can use Resolve to convince him that it IS personal and that by allowing past relationships to affect his choice of employer he has forsaken his Goldpact vows, which results in him abandoning the field. 


They should do more stuff like that. I know they did this a little bit, especially with characters like Durance or Grieving Mother, but it really wasn't up to scale. 

Edited by Morality Games

May Kickstarter be with you and all your stretch goals achieved. 

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Well, the initial companion arcs are pretty familiar; you, your dog, and three friends you met (and Durance) are traveling down the same road together, seeking answers from a powerful Wiz... err, Watcher, who lives in a castle with this whole green rock theme.

As for your own reasons, well, you got smacked by a windstorm so hard you're in a completely different world (sort of), and you want to go back home, metaphorically. A kindly wi... err, animancer points you in the direction of the Watcher as someone who can help.

But the Watcher turns out to be a disappointment, blah blah blah, and you learn that the all-powerful entities you encountered and sought aid from are actually a sham concocted by a guy from the same nation you came from back in the day, and everyone learns a valuable lesson about looking inside themselves for answers/strength/whatnot.

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