First off, just to make it clear: I love P:E. It's a fantastic game. It's the cRPG I've had the most fun with since the Golden Age, no question, and stands proudly among the games that inspired it. 10/10 GOTY and all that commotion.
There are three mechanical systems in it however that I thought were weak enough to detract from the experience, and I hope Obsidian addresses these in the expansion and sequels: crafting, the stronghold, and stealth.
Stealth needs a complete overhaul in my opinion. It is way overpowered. Being able to sneak with even 0 points in it means you always get the drop on your enemies. With detection circles rather than sight cones there's no real gameplay involved in it, beyond switching it on and off, and with the possibility of double-speed, there's no disincentive to exploring maps stealthed.
I believe it would be a lot more fun if:
- It is individual, not party.
- Characters with 0 ranks in stealth cannot sneak. (Or, rather, they can try, but there's no advantage to it.)
- Higher ranks do not change the detection radius, but only the time at which detection trips.
- Detection is based on a cone + circle rather than a circle. Different types of enemies could have different size cones and circles; oozes for exmaple could have circles only.
- Rogues get a per-encounter special ability that lets them re-stealth in combat, to replace Shadowing Beyond.
- Casters get Invisibility spells with the same effect.
My problem with the crafting mechanics is that it's too easy. It takes much of the interest out of itemization, and it feels wrong to be able to apply enchantments while dungeon-delving. I've just started Witcher 3, and it has a much more interesting crafting system, and it's more interesting because it's more restrictive.
I believe the following changes would make crafting more enjoyable:
- Require a recipe and an NPC specialist to craft. These specialists could be stronghold hirelings also.
- Remove the "Fine/Exceptional/Superb" property from "enchantments." Instead, make it a base property of the item, and make it determine the number of enchantment slots the item has. However, also make it possible to craft fine/exceptional/superb items from scratch.
- Have different NPC specialists have different skill levels (maybe only one legendary swordsmith can craft Superb swords?) know different crafting recipes, and also let us discover recipes as we adventure.
As to the stronghold... as it currently stands, it just feels tacked-on and superficial. Sending Kana on a Major Adventure to get 10% XP and a Medium Magic Item just feels dumb. A bit of writing would've gone a long way to fix that -- a descriptive title and a short paragraph. There aren't an unlimited number of these adventures available anyway as the Turn clock is based on quests which are a finite resource. The same applies to most everything else in it: the mechanics themselves are serviceable-enough, but there's just no flesh around those bones. Ideally, all those stronghold events -- the Major Adventures and visiting dignitaries -- need to be grounded in the main narrative. So:
- Flesh out stronghold events with better descriptions. No more Minor Adventures!
- Ground them in the narrative.
- Stage events relevant to the narrative in the stronghold maps. As it is, there really was no motivation to visit at all; even the Brighthollow bonuses were anaemic compared to inn bonuses.
I realize that this -- more so than the others even -- is very much a resource issue. However, as it is, the game would IMO have been better off without the stronghold altogether.