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[PotD] Difficulty - What to Choice for a First Run


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Hello there. I just finished the game + exps on PotD difficulty + NPCs only party + High Level Scaling, Blind (first run).

 

Before starting the game I spent a lot of time searching for the right difficulty for a first run: everybody said something different (too easy, too hard etc...), and my fear was to not find the right balance between a "challenging" difficulty or ending in a "cheesy" hell. 

 

Now, given that difficulty is subjective, here is my opinion for helping people in the same situation. I'm speaking to "veteran" people (BG2 etc) who know the "basics" (tanks + caster + healer + doors + stategic position etc...) but don't like to cheese the game too much:

 

Expert Mode and Iron Mode: Expert mode seems to me an artificial difficulty mod, a little extra for hardcore gamers, it doesn't add anything (fun) to the game, expecially for the first run. Perma-death on PotD is also probably impossible for a first-run blind, avoid it!

 

- PotD difficulty: pretty balanced after 25% of the main game. Initially the game is VERY VERY unforgiving and unbalanced without a party of six people. After that, it is the "right" difficulty. Probably on "HARD" I would be happier and less annoyed at the beginning of the game, but then extremely bored.

 

- High level scaling: Enable it: At the ending of the game everything is pretty easy with an optimized party, with some difficulty spike only on the "main" battles (boss, dragons etc...). It is better like this: trash mob battles are very very repetitive after a certain point.

 

- Full party: Completion people usually leave a zone only after they have cleaned everything: please DON'T. Game on PotD is clearly balanced for a six member party, so it is probably a good idea to make hirelings in the taverns or (better) avoid extremely hard zones until the party is set up. Quests don't expire, and just following the main story for a bit will get you soon a full party.

 

- Gold and Exp: Reaching the level cap (lv 16) is very easy. Gold is also pleanty (more enemies, more loot), the real problem is that after 60% of the game you do not know WHAT to buy, actually.

 

- NPCs party only: totally doable, also recommended story-wise for a first run. Their stats are bad, but not SO bad, and the items with +3 stat are plentiful in the game.

 

Party composition: Expecially at the beginning: the more TANKs the BETTER. 4 of 6 party members MUST be able to take a hit. Enemies are everywhere :p

 

Stats: To keep it easy: The most important stats are ACCURACY (for nuker) and DEFLECTION (for tanker). Everything else is secondary and there is time to understand the mechanics, but these two must bump as soon as possible for surviving at this difficulty. Tip: shields and enchantments are nice. Respect is also a gift.

 

- When to start WM1: Lv 10 / 11.

 

That's all for a spoiler free guide, game is awesome! Have fun :)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Nice post Dewos.

​Feeding into your note about everyone's experience being different: you note "hard early", but for me the difficulty started low and ramped up once I got to WM1.  I'm going to guess this is partially down to the order in which each player tackles various zones; you can be under or over leveled, making it seem harder or easier than someone else's experience in the same place.

 

On PoD with story NPCs I steamrolled the early game, but when I got to WM1 I found the fights much more challenging.  I think I got to WM1 with a party of level 7 characters, and I was just barely able to do the first area.  (Which is how I like things - challenge makes it fun!)  I started WM2 around level 11 or 12 I think, with level scaling enabled, and there is challenge there too.

​Anyway, agreed with you that PoD is a good level for much of the game.  My first play in 2015 (pre-WM) was on Hard, and in hindsight I really wish I had picked PoD.  As you say, hard makes the combat too easy outside of the difficulty spikes of boss fights.

​Agreed about there being more money than you could dream of using.  I don't even buy equipment from vendors since I find large amounts of high end (unique) equipment as I explore.  I almost wish the game balance was tilted more towards high end equipment being rare, so it feels a bit special when you find it rather than "yawn... yet another unique item to add to my growing stack over in the corner".

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Nice post Dewos.

​Feeding into your note about everyone's experience being different: you note "hard early", but for me the difficulty started low and ramped up once I got to WM1.  I'm going to guess this is partially down to the order in which each player tackles various zones; you can be under or over leveled, making it seem harder or easier than someone else's experience in the same place.

 

On PoD with story NPCs I steamrolled the early game, but when I got to WM1 I found the fights much more challenging.  I think I got to WM1 with a party of level 7 characters, and I was just barely able to do the first area.  (Which is how I like things - challenge makes it fun!)  I started WM2 around level 11 or 12 I think, with level scaling enabled, and there is challenge there too.

​Anyway, agreed with you that PoD is a good level for much of the game.  My first play in 2015 (pre-WM) was on Hard, and in hindsight I really wish I had picked PoD.  As you say, hard makes the combat too easy outside of the difficulty spikes of boss fights.

​Agreed about there being more money than you could dream of using.  I don't even buy equipment from vendors since I find large amounts of high end (unique) equipment as I explore.  I almost wish the game balance was tilted more towards high end equipment being rare, so it feels a bit special when you find it rather than "yawn... yet another unique item to add to my growing stack over in the corner".

 

Hi demeisen, thank you for the reply.

 

Surely the order of the quests matters for the difficulty, but I think that you steamrolled the early game on PotD because it was your second run, and you were accostumed with the game mechanics. Anyway I played WM at level 10, after a good portion of the Act III, and the game was challenging at the right amount. I find that some EPIC battles are very funny, but when ALL the battles are "Epic" (you know, when you barely escape death :) ) every 2 minutes, the game becomes tedious very fast.

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your post seems very accurate and reflects on overall difficulty of PoE PotD.

 

I am planing to start new playtrough with 3.02 , havent played since before WM 1 .

 

I was wondering what is the best way to explore Main game Acts and Expansions so i keep the difficulty as high as possible ( im even thinking to turn on high level scaling on all places from the start of the game as this does not need cheats to be on and u can still get achievements after ) . Only concern i have is that Act2 cant be scaled so i kinda have to do it right after act 1 or it will become too easy , and by the time majority of act 2 is done characters become very powerful

Also im wondering if Obsidian did any changes to act 1 , the true hard part of this game ( not that i mind tho ) , i remember it being kinda linear , and very limited

Edited by Blunderboss
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Thanks for your post Dewos,

 

I am planning on starting a new run somewhat soon and have some questions.

 

You said start WM1 at around level 10ish. Do you then mean follow up and complete WM2 right after and then do act 3?

 

I want to do all the expansion quests but not be incredibly over powered for act3. Any suggestions?

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Thanks for your post Dewos,

 

I am planning on starting a new run somewhat soon and have some questions.

 

You said start WM1 at around level 10ish. Do you then mean follow up and complete WM2 right after and then do act 3?

 

I want to do all the expansion quests but not be incredibly over powered for act3. Any suggestions?

 

Honestly, I wouldn't even worry about Act 3/4. Both those acts are so short compared to the rest of the game that by the time you do everything and then get to those acts (if you do them last) you'll be over 90% done with the game. Sure, you'll be overpowered, but if you do everything you're well over 100 hours at that point and I felt is was good to wrap things up quickly (even if it was easier than the content before it).

 

Also, to the original post, I would recommend 'expert mode' - it really should of been renamed to BG nostalgic mode.

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Also, to the original post, I would recommend 'expert mode'

I wouldn't. Some of its elements add difficulty only through inconvenience, which isn't a real challenge in my opinion. What I do recommend is going through the options and adjusting them manually according to your preferences.

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I too, would NOT recommend "expert mode" for a first run play through. Hiding relative defences just makes it harder to learn the meta data you need to make sound tactical decisions in the game. But most annoying IMO, is the no AoE highlighting in "expert mode". It's one thing if spell AoE are consistent throughout the game, but spells in PoE are affected by intellect. The difference in AoE on the same character using the same spell between a starting 18 intellect vs a fully buffed end game character with ~36 intellect is huge.

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I think your assessment is good. About the PotD difficulty, in the early 1.0 patches I did start on Hard and then found I was pancaking everything with a follower based party and so since have played on PotD going solo (I've still not completed the game for one reason or another, I guess after completion I'll go PotD with followers as desert to my grueling solo main course). Once you hit act two and get some decent levels under your belt, the combat to me feels tough but rewarding.

 

Your completely right about leaving the tougher areas, which I think is a concept which is alien to most people (and was to me at the start, used to exploring every inch of a map as soon as I see it). Now for the sake of convenience I leave most areas largely unexplored (maybe doing all of Valenwood, but that's literally it) until I get to the second act - only dipping into a map to complete a quest or get a nice item to sell (Fulvano's fine crossbow, reaching Raedric but not dealing with him and looting the castle, etc.). Then I do all of the easier Defiance Bay quests, then I clear out all the old maps and fully explore them, then I do the harder Defiance Bay quests - then move onto Searing Falls and Pearlwood Bluffs.

 

After this every other map will be pretty easy up until you reach Elmshore with the level scaling, I got down to level 13 of the Endless Paths before even doing Cliaban Rilag - had to stop as the combat never stops on that level when you get to the boss fight and tackling him and the Adragans is too damn hard without beefy defenses.

 

I do think Expert Mode is fine even on the first run - stuff like AoE radius can be learnt intuitively after a little play.

 

As I said, a decent guide for a new starter. I think they'll now be slightly more hardcore gamers coming Pillars who missed the original boat and now have arrived on recommendation, this guide is perfect for them.

Edited by Jojobobo
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Thanks for your post Dewos,

 

I am planning on starting a new run somewhat soon and have some questions.

 

You said start WM1 at around level 10ish. Do you then mean follow up and complete WM2 right after and then do act 3?

 

I want to do all the expansion quests but not be incredibly over powered for act3. Any suggestions?

 

Hi.

 

Ok, lets see. Roughly for the max difficulty I suggest:

 

(lv 1) ACT 1

(lv 4) ACT 2

(lv 8) ACT 3

(lv 10) WM1 Scaled

(lv 14) WM 2 Scaled

(lv 16) ACT4 Scaled (note: after the expansions the ending boss will be VERY easy anyway, but you can't play WM after ACT4, so...).

 

Like i said, with a high quests' exp count (completition run) plus an optimized full party, the game blind is like:

 

ACT 1: VERY HARD then HARD, 

ACT 2: HARD, then NORMAL and finally EASY (expecially with the bounties done),

ACT 3: HARD then NORMAL (expecially with endless path and optional quests done)

WM1 Scaled: HARD then NORMAL.

WM2 Scaled: (VERY?) HARD then NORMAL (monks are crazy :D but at the ending you are overpowered :p)

ACT4 Scaled: HARD *OR* NORMAL *OR* EASY (it depends on how much optimized your party\loot is, and by your level).

 

This is for the "standard" battles, The "boss" battles (usually the optional one... bounties ,dragons, castels..) are "+1" on difficulty in any act: and yes their are the most fun :). Like you can see WM is HARDER than the base game, expecially in WM2. But let me repeat: VERY MUCH  depends on your level in this game!

 

+1 or +2 levels make a whole world of difference between an almost impossible battle even for a skilled player (yes... winnable but with MANY many attempts and a big RNG luck) and a normal one battle. So, if the game is still too much easy for you, do less quests or use -1 party member.

 

Have fun.

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Maybe you could have a word about classes too : for me, having a Priest for the first run greatly help.

 

Having a wizard and/or a druid will greatly help too.

 

Dude c'mon, this "guide" is for veteran BG2 people, not noobs :)

True, Pillars changes much, but the funny is indeed to experiment on the first run.

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