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Will Path of the Damned be back (and will it be hard this time)?


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I'll be brief(ish):

  • Pillars was great - not in dispute
  • Path of the Damned (PotD) was sold as a challenge for masochistic IE (SCS) veterans
  • PotD came up short for the majority of the game
Reasons?

  • AI scripting was poor, most encounters were "tank and spank" (push/pull mechanics sound like a good start)
  • "Kith" enemy parties were noticeably bad at using their abilities, fights like this feel like they would take a lot more scripting effort to be good. I think you probably notice this moreso because in the encounters vs creatures all the enemies from every difficulty level were there whereas it might just be a set party of kith so it's tough to make them much better without scripting proper PotD AI.
  • The creatures you came across generally had a very limited set of abilities - while 1-2 abilities is fine for lower level stuff it does make for somewhat repetitive/easier combat - why does EVERY orge druid have the same script? Phantoms had the daze/stun on hit which was pretty good against low lvl parties but we need more of these pain in the arse abilities to deal with.
  • I think if you are going to make a mode like this it makes sense to just err on the side of making it too hard rather than trying to get it spot on and perhaps being a bit cautious. I can always go play on hard with my tail between my legs if I fail.
Please:

  • Put some time into good AI scripting - I sound like a broken record but I really like the way SCS went with this - I agree some of the precast stuff maybe doesn't look good on a shiny new release but good scripts with more variety would be most welcome (appreciate this takes lots of effort)
  • Err on the side of more difficult when attempting to balance
  • Give more varied abilities to enemy creatures
  • Allow for some options to e.g. reduce XP gain, force high level scaling etc.
I backed at the 99$ tier but not sure I want to Beta test as I don't want to spoil the excitement so gotta do a plea here! Looking forward to it, thanks for reading! Edited by ComplyOrDie
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I agree with you that PotD badly needs a difficulty boost for POE2.  After you learn the system, and particularly if you play many of the optional quests, you end up without much combat challenge.  WM 1&2 made that somewhat better than the base game did, but still... we need a PotD worthy of its name, and which stays hard from start to end.  PoE1 difficulty ramped down quickly after act 1.

 

It's a tough thing, to balance a partly open game for a widely diverse set of play styles, class mixes, player abilities, and quest-completions.  I never tried the lower end of the difficulty scale, but assuming people who wanted story mode were happy with where that landed (I haven't seen any complaints about it, anyway), then the overall difficulty scale range would be better stretched out.  The lack of difficulty was the major thing keeping PoE1 out of 10/10 territory for me.  I loved most everything else about it.

 

One thing I did appreciate is that the harder ranges were not just "give the monsters 4X the HP so you're in for a long grinding fight".  You got a different mix of monsters, some harder sub-species, and more of them.  I liked Obsidian's approach better than what many games do.  That, plus some kind of balance for players who do many side-quests so we don't end up over-leveled, and maybe some AI improvements, and I think it's all good.

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On the issue of erring on the side of too much difficulty, I think the difficulty should then be adjustable once the game has been started; In PoE1, PotD could not be disabled once a game had been started. It's a cold comfort that you can restart at a lower difficulty if you run into a critical path encounter you can't surmount 50 hours into the game.

 

On my last PotD playthrough I inadvertently ended up triggering the Crögholdt Bluffs bug a dozen times over, and ended up with enemies with DEF > 200 who killed everyone in my part with a single blow. I managed to pull through that, somehow, but needless to say it was a rather mauling experience. I think if such a thing occurred on the critical path, by design or otherwise, it'd be liable to turn people off the game entirely, rather than prompt them to try again on a lower difficulty.

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I'll be brief(ish):

 

  • PotD was great - not in dispute
  • Path of the Damned (PotD) was sold as a challenge for masochistic IE (SCS) veterans
  • PotD came up short for the majority of the game

Reasons?

 

  • AI scripting was poor, most encounters were "tank and spank" (push/pull mechanics sound like a good start)
  • "Kith" enemy parties were noticeably bad at using their abilities, fights like this feel like they would take a lot more scripting effort to be good. I think you probably notice this moreso because in the encounters vs creatures all the enemies from every difficulty level were there whereas it might just be a set party of kith so it's tough to make them much better without scripting proper PotD AI.
  • The creatures you came across generally had a very limited set of abilities - while 1-2 abilities is fine for lower level stuff it does make for somewhat repetitive/easier combat - why does EVERY orge druid have the same script? Phantoms had the daze/stun on hit which was pretty good against low lvl parties but we need more of these pain in the arse abilities to deal with.
  • I think if you are going to make a mode like this it makes sense to just err on the side of making it too hard rather than trying to get it spot on and perhaps being a bit cautious. I can always go play on hard with my tail between my legs if I fail.

Please:

 

  • Put some time into good AI scripting - I sound like a broken record but I really like the way SCS went with this - I agree some of the precast stuff maybe doesn't look good on a shiny new release but good scripts with more variety would be most welcome (appreciate this takes lots of effort)
  • Err on the side of more difficult when attempting to balance
  • Give more varied abilities to enemy creatures
  • Allow for some options to e.g. reduce XP gain, force high level scaling etc.

I backed at the 99$ tier but not sure I want to Beta test as I don't want to spoil the excitement so gotta do a plea here! Looking forward to it, thanks for reading!

 

So drop a dragon into every encounter on PoTD? Got it.

 

In all seriousness, I'll pass along the request to the system designers so you can be properly punished this time around. Many of the encounter changes we are making should vary up the tactics needed this time around as well.  

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So drop a dragon into every encounter on PoTD? Got it.

 

In all seriousness, I'll pass along the request to the system designers so you can be properly punished this time around. Many of the encounter changes we are making should vary up the tactics needed this time around as well.  

 

Are you guys considering addition of saving throws into PoE2 similar to say Bg2SoA?

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So drop a dragon into every encounter on PoTD? Got it.

 

In all seriousness, I'll pass along the request to the system designers so you can be properly punished this time around. Many of the encounter changes we are making should vary up the tactics needed this time around as well.  

 

Are you guys considering addition of saving throws into PoE2 similar to say Bg2SoA?

 

 

Isn't that the Fortitude, Will, Reflex checks? Or are you talking about old school saving throws like Save vs Wand or Save vs. Dragon Fart?

Edited by Rolandur
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Regarding AI:

You should watch the video in the latest update of Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Meet our new AI). The devs said that their new AI did things even they did not expect and most players say that the game is much harder and better now (except the ones who die every few minutes). Enemies buff themselves and defuff you. After debuffing you they cast spells that exploits your debuff (like first they slow you down with oil and then they set you on fire). They take care of positioning (to hit all your chars with a spell or stay out of your line of sight) and they walk around dangerous areas if you cast a spell between you and them.

 

This sounds good for the hard and very hard difficulties, but in easy and normal mode you should not overdo it so that not so good players have a chance to finish the game.

 

2 more things:

- I know it is hard to balance this. There are new players who must still learn the basics of CRPG, there are average players like me who had no problem to finish the game on hard but I had to skip some optional battles (alpine dragon) or come back when I am overleveled and there are hardcore players who seek the ultimate challenge. It looks like the hardcore players are most active in the forums. But does it make sense to make the game so hard that only a few elite players have a chance to succeed?

 

- I admit that you did improve the AI of PoE1. In the beginning enemies attacked the first thing they saw, so one untoucheble tank and 5 glass connons were a good choice. After some later patch enemies acted a bit more intelligent and I liked that change. But I see that enemies are still quite dumb and good players can easily exploit this.

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So drop a dragon into every encounter on PoTD? Got it.

 

In all seriousness, I'll pass along the request to the system designers so you can be properly punished this time around. Many of the encounter changes we are making should vary up the tactics needed this time around as well.  

 

Are you guys considering addition of saving throws into PoE2 similar to say Bg2SoA?

 

Can you elaborate what you mean by that? Apart from how unintuitive and needlessly complicated the saving throws in ADnD were, how would it add anything to challenge?

Edited by mumbogumshoe
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Hope Bobby still has eyes on this thread :)

 

My .02 on PotD: One of its biggest flaws, in my opinion, was that it seemed to be balanced around "casual" playthroughs like the other difficulty settings—just with more monsters that had buffed stats.

 

What I mean by this is that PotD did not take for granted I would make a completionist playthrough—thus leveling at the fastest pace the game allows—and I would optimize my every build in a full party of six. By "optimize" I mean carefully selecting gear and talents/abilities; not necessarily min/maxing attributes.

 

Now, I do understand the need for the game's being generally balanced around casual gamers who won't do completionist runs or spend a lot of time learning the mechanics and optimizing their characters—that's what the majority do. However, PotD's being the hardest mode the game has to offer, I'd expect it to be geared toward non-casuals. Completionists deserve some love too.

 

 

That said, of course, I agree better A.I. and tactically challenging encounter design should definitely be part of what makes PotD harder. I vastly prefer those to artificial stat boosts.

 

 

On a personal note, I get the most enjoyment in a game when my character maxes out and has end-game gear; when it is totally badass and powerful and the best it can be. When that state is only achievable right before the game ends or, as is the case with Pillars 1, it's achievable early on but nothing's left to challenge you afterward, it's a bummer. I'd want encounters that can positively challenge me when my character's realized its fullest potential.

Edited by AndreaColombo
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"Time is not your enemy. Forever is."

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"It's the questions we can't answer that teach us the most. They teach us how to think. If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question, and he'll look for his own answers."

— Kvothe, The Wise Man's Fears

My Deadfire mods: Brilliant Mod | Faster Deadfire | Deadfire Unnerfed | Helwalker Rekke | Permanent Per-Rest Bonuses | PoE Items for Deadfire | No Recyled Icons | Soul Charged Nautilus

 

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Of course everyone prefers difficulty to come from smart AI, but I doubt obsidian isn't trying to make the AI as smart as they can already, its just a fairly hard problem and there's a limit to how much resources its worth throwing at it and if they do succeed I doubt they'll make the AI 'dumber' on lower difficulties.

 

As for PotD compared to PoE, I think its at the right level of challange in the early game but gets progressively less challenging the later in the game you get (to the point where even I beat every boss in WM 1-2 on the first try and I'm not one of the hardcore players here), which might be related to what AndreaColombo said above about being balanced around non-completionist.

 

Now I guess one problem of actually making PotD hard enough that a full party played by someone who actually understands how the game works will still be seriously challanged through to the end is that it might make something like a triple-crown-solo run actually impossible. Personally I'm ok with that because I don't enjoy playing solo but others might disagree.

Edited by limaxophobiacq
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Regarding AI:

You should watch the video in the latest update of Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Meet our new AI). The devs said that their new AI did things even they did not expect and most players say that the game is much harder and better now (except the ones who die every few minutes). Enemies buff themselves and defuff you. After debuffing you they cast spells that exploits your debuff (like first they slow you down with oil and then they set you on fire). They take care of positioning (to hit all your chars with a spell or stay out of your line of sight) and they walk around dangerous areas if you cast a spell between you and them.

 

This sounds good for the hard and very hard difficulties, but in easy and normal mode you should not overdo it so that not so good players have a chance to finish the game.

 

2 more things:

- I know it is hard to balance this. There are new players who must still learn the basics of CRPG, there are average players like me who had no problem to finish the game on hard but I had to skip some optional battles (alpine dragon) or come back when I am overleveled and there are hardcore players who seek the ultimate challenge. It looks like the hardcore players are most active in the forums. But does it make sense to make the game so hard that only a few elite players have a chance to succeed?

 

- I admit that you did improve the AI of PoE1. In the beginning enemies attacked the first thing they saw, so one untoucheble tank and 5 glass connons were a good choice. After some later patch enemies acted a bit more intelligent and I liked that change. But I see that enemies are still quite dumb and good players can easily exploit this.

It's definitely a fair question to ask how many people want this (and how much, and to what extent) but it does feel like there's an increasing desire for it as per Divinity example. I would never suggest that it's hard mode or no mode, some people don't play the game for the combat, whereas I see it as integral. For me it's always odd to craft all these cool abilities and spells and then have a game where it doesn't really matter what use you make of them - that's an exaggeration for pillars but was the case far too often for my taste.

 

I laughed at the dragon every encounter comment but in all seriousness if you have made the conscious choice to play path of the damned you are probably hoping for some form of challenge in each fight. Of course sticking a random lich among the wolf pack or increasing the number of wolves to two and a half million/ upgrading them to cyber death wolves of doom isn't very immersive or engaging but I definitely felt there weren't enough punishing encounters in pillars. I did my first run through on path and got to the last battle at lvl 8/9 and was just enjoying the story while the fights felt lacking , so while the final fight was a nice surprise I was pretty sad I'd been able to get through the game so quickly. Probably should have gone to Od Nua but I ended up wanting to save it for next playthrough.

 

I have also seen the argument tough encounters should be reserved for side quests but I think that's completely untrue for path (buy the argument completely for normal difficulty, maybe that's why these encounters in particular didn't scale well for path), obviously the path players wants the main quest to be sodding difficult as well!

 

Thanks for the responses it's always a difficult one to get right and impossible to please everyone.

Edited by ComplyOrDie
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​This sounds good for the hard and very hard difficulties, but in easy and normal mode you should not overdo it so that not so good players have a chance to finish the game.
 
 It looks like the hardcore players are most active in the forums. But does it make sense to make the game so hard that only a few elite players have a chance to succeed?

 

Agreed - there is a wide range of desired challenge that people want, and different levels of knowledge about the combat system.  ​I think almost everybody who wants an increase in the upper end difficulties still supports having the lower to middle ones available as well.  I'm one of the folks who'd like to see Hard land about where PotD is now, and PotD move up by a comparable amount, but I absolutely don't want to deny anyone a level that suites their personal tastes (at least approximately, which is all you can really do with 5-6 options).  The trouble is that right now, people who want easy to moderate modes have them, and people who want hard modes, don't.  We can play with artificial restrictions such as just using one character instead of 6, but that isn't very satisfying.

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Regarding AI:

You should watch the video in the latest update of Divinity: Original Sin 2 (Meet our new AI). The devs said that their new AI did things even they did not expect and most players say that the game is much harder and better now (except the ones who die every few minutes). Enemies buff themselves and defuff you. After debuffing you they cast spells that exploits your debuff (like first they slow you down with oil and then they set you on fire). They take care of positioning (to hit all your chars with a spell or stay out of your line of sight) and they walk around dangerous areas if you cast a spell between you and them.

 

This sounds good for the hard and very hard difficulties, but in easy and normal mode you should not overdo it so that not so good players have a chance to finish the game.

 

2 more things:

- I know it is hard to balance this. There are new players who must still learn the basics of CRPG, there are average players like me who had no problem to finish the game on hard but I had to skip some optional battles (alpine dragon) or come back when I am overleveled and there are hardcore players who seek the ultimate challenge. It looks like the hardcore players are most active in the forums. But does it make sense to make the game so hard that only a few elite players have a chance to succeed?

 

- I admit that you did improve the AI of PoE1. In the beginning enemies attacked the first thing they saw, so one untoucheble tank and 5 glass connons were a good choice. After some later patch enemies acted a bit more intelligent and I liked that change. But I see that enemies are still quite dumb and good players can easily exploit this.

 

Problem with the new AI system in DOS2 (although better) is that you can exploit it like most other AI systems (even moreso now). Since the new AI refuses to walk through hazards you can just lock down a whole area, let the AI path around it and then pick them off one by one. Most of the difficulty in DOS2 comes from limiting YOUR access to gear and spells atm. There is still a long, long way for enemy AI to use "delay turn" and buffing/debuffing properly. So in order to even get into a real fight they have to be a little more "suicidal".

 

In PE1 on the other hand the "let's all gank up on aloth" AI made the game easier for me. I just respecced my squishes to have more defense spells/abilities and made my tanks "fake" tanks that actually dish out all the damage now through disengagement.

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