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Common arguing whether 'party-play' is better than 'solo-play' or vice versa, is wrong in my opinion. Both should be respected and made to complement each other in a good story. It's almost like there is (or at least was) this unwritten rule where solo-play in serious party based RPG is perceived as pure blasphemy. However, I think this is a nonsense, as in truth each one has its strengths and weaknesses.

Biggest advantage of solo-play is full, undivided control over the combat and various item strategies, and real chance to see how well can main character stand on it's own. To me, it is also somehow, relaxing and refreshing to suddenly have only one character under control for a little while. On the other hand, the biggest advantage of party-play is a lot more choices in combat, chance to experience different classes and party members, and various party interactions in dialogues and the story.

I think that, if some part of the story makes most sense to be played solo, then it should be designed as solo-play. In Baldur's Gate 1, I believe that whole second visit to Candlekeep should have been either solo-play or two-people party (main character and Imoen). In Pillars of Eternity, I think that whole fourth chapter of the main story should have been solo only and designed with that in mind, perhaps even for each class of the main character, individually. That way, it would have been more intense, more interesting, and would overall fit better in the story and its general mood. Further more, perhaps there wouldn't be need to offer player that, rather annoying, choice of upscalling foes in White March (whether AI would be allowed to cheat or player would be a tourist) if only Zahua, Devil and then Maneha in part two, were available companions for White March campaign. That is party of 3, then 4... but so what. If more is needed due to unexpected difficulty, one could always create custom character or two in Stalwart tavern and there also wouldn't be a need to spend resources writing somehow vanila companions into that campaign.

I would say, for PoE2, don't stick to party size as some sort of dogma. Sure, most of the time, it should be party of five, but when it makes sense to be less or solo due to story, then it should be made so. And before offering OOC choices like upscalling, factor in first if player's party has to have five members to begin with.

Edited by Stef
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Solo makes total sense if you want to have a bigger challenge. Once you figured out all the machanics and tricks even PoTD gets too easy with a full party - at least in PoE1.

 

And there are several achievements for soloing. That means that OBS also considers it to be an important (not necessarily a big) part of the game.

Deadfire Community Patch: Nexus Mods

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am not seeing anything "blasphemous" 'bout solo-play.  however, am pleased obsidian does not lose sleep over solo-play gameplay, story and balancing concerns. can make a good party-based game.  can make a good solo game.  is hard enough to do one or the other.  try and do both is asking too much of the developers.  if folks find enjoyment with poe as a solo experience, then am happy for 'em.  however, we do not want obsidian to spend valuable development time on solo.  

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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No, no, I am not suggesting that the whole game should be played solo. Vast majority of the game should be designed for a party of five, of course. But sometimes there are some parts during the story (like, in my opinion, that final, fourth chapter of PoE main story) where party looks more forced upon than it makes sense to be present. Thus game should switch to solo-play (or smaller party) during those parts, since solo-play has certain advantages over party-play that would simply make gameplay and immersion better at those points, if designed well.

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Solo vs Party

I have probably missed the question. But if you are asking for personal preference, I would say: party. I like fiddling with character builds such that they perfectly complement each other. When the party acts as a well assembled single unit. Plus there are bonus interactions, banter and it is also less tedious (in PoE at least; in Tyranny for example it's less tedious to solo).

 

But solo'ing also has pros of it's own. Greater challenge. Curiosity. But mostly it's fun to check and see if you can solo that <x> boss.

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*Suddenly, the Obsidian Pearl bursts into the thread, its mighty prow cutting through the sea of posts, while its Captain, the indomitable Jazz, Bringer of Tea, stands with one foot upon its bow, pointing the way with one arm held aloft holding a cutlass, the other holding a pistol, yet another cutlass held betwixt his teeth, and a brace of pistols holstered across his might chest, vengeance gleaming in his eye as he sets his deadlights upon the OP*

 

Yarrr!!!  Pull her around lads and give that OP a full volley of iron to his face and then keelhaul the scallywag!

 

On the topic on hand, me and the lads think nay!  Nay we say!  Ye might want to leave yer mates at home and be Billy No-Mates when yer set blades with yer nemesis, but I have the lads wit' me fer a reason: so we can stand together, and fill them with lead from twenty paces and then cut down with cold steel what is left!  Now, where be the rum??!

"That rabbit's dynamite!" - King Arthur, Monty Python and the Quest for the Holy Grail

"Space is big, really big." - Douglas Adams

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No, no, I am not suggesting that the whole game should be played solo. Vast majority of the game should be designed for a party of five, of course. But sometimes there are some parts during the story (like, in my opinion, that final, fourth chapter of PoE main story) where party looks more forced upon than it makes sense to be present. Thus game should switch to solo-play (or smaller party) during those parts, since solo-play has certain advantages over party-play that would simply make gameplay and immersion better at those points, if designed well.

the only situation where we can see a switch to solo being appropriate is when gameplay significant changes to solo-specific.  kotor 1 space battle mini-game?  sure.  the spirit maze in watcher's keep from tob? yeah. poe1 were gonna have some kinda "memory dungeon" involving grieving mother and durance and the watcher.  perhaps such woulda' been an ideal place.  otherwise...

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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No, no, I am not suggesting that the whole game should be played solo. Vast majority of the game should be designed for a party of five, of course. But sometimes there are some parts during the story (like, in my opinion, that final, fourth chapter of PoE main story) where party looks more forced upon than it makes sense to be present. Thus game should switch to solo-play (or smaller party) during those parts, since solo-play has certain advantages over party-play that would simply make gameplay and immersion better at those points, if designed well.

the only situation where we can see a switch to solo being appropriate is when gameplay significant changes to solo-specific. kotor 1 space battle mini-game? sure. the spirit maze in watcher's keep from tob? yeah. poe1 were gonna have some kinda "memory dungeon" involving grieving mother and durance and the watcher. perhaps such woulda' been an ideal place. otherwise...

 

HA! Good Fun!

 

Omg

 

 

A memory or dream or vision where you quest alone... but get joined by Aloth Eder or Palegina IF THEY DIED in poe1.

 

 

Would be a nice touch for those that lost 1 of those 3

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No, no, I am not suggesting that the whole game should be played solo. Vast majority of the game should be designed for a party of five, of course. But sometimes there are some parts during the story (like, in my opinion, that final, fourth chapter of PoE main story) where party looks more forced upon than it makes sense to be present. Thus game should switch to solo-play (or smaller party) during those parts, since solo-play has certain advantages over party-play that would simply make gameplay and immersion better at those points, if designed well.

the only situation where we can see a switch to solo being appropriate is when gameplay significant changes to solo-specific. kotor 1 space battle mini-game? sure. the spirit maze in watcher's keep from tob? yeah. poe1 were gonna have some kinda "memory dungeon" involving grieving mother and durance and the watcher. perhaps such woulda' been an ideal place. otherwise...

 

HA! Good Fun!

 

Omg

 

 

A memory or dream or vision where you quest alone... but get joined by Aloth Eder or Palegina IF THEY DIED in poe1.

 

 

Would be a nice touch for those that lost 1 of those 3

 

well, the problem is there is a good chance all three is alive for many players.

 

even so. we do believe a solo jaunt in the "mind" o' eothas with durance and grieving mother as your virgil and beatrice could be fun.  make durance play beatrice?

 

HA! Good Fun!

"If there be time to expose through discussion the falsehood and fallacies, to avert the evil by the processes of education, the remedy to be applied is more speech, not enforced silence."Justice Louis Brandeis, Concurring, Whitney v. California, 274 U.S. 357 (1927)

"Im indifferent to almost any murder as long as it doesn't affect me or mine."--Gfted1 (September 30, 2019)

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In Baldur's Gate 2 solo parts were dreams for example. And I quite enjoyed them. However, those parts of the game, were more player controlled cutscenes than the real game. No encounters, no foes to fight (unless we count half-serious fight with manifestation of Bhaal), nothing. It is like whenever solo moments come up, designers want to rush player though them as quickly as possible so that game could switch back to party-play. Almost like they have some OOC fear of the very idea of solo-play (such being reserved only for Diablo and other less serious, action RPGs). Such train of thoughts is wrong in my opinion. They should spend time, designing those parts for real solo gameplay, since solo gameplay has a set of serious advantages over party gameplay, that should be put to use. As I mentioned in the OP, solo-play and party-play complement each other rather than exclude one another.

I remember Dragon Age Origin, having a seriously designed solo part, that took place in the mage tower. And I liked it. I remember, I was hoping for more such moments through the game. Turned out, it was the only one.

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In a game like PoE, I have full control over all combat abilities of every party member. That's not a difference.

 

I disagree that there should be substantial parts of solo gameplay. Least of all during the finale. Itr's a party based game; it's the story of the Watcher and his/her companions. Sure, they take a lesser role, but they're part of the band, as well.

Now, if you want to go solo for a challenge or because you just don't like a party, that's fine. But I wouldn't want to be forced into it except for rare and short segments that don't have major gameplay. Dream sequences are fine, if they're not too long. As for DA:O, there are mods to skip the Fade, and I liked that the second time around. ;)

Being a party based game, characters are meant to complement each other. I can safely skip abilities that are vital to gameplay on my Watcher because some other character has them; I can have my Watcher be not really all that good in combat, or at least solo combat (which isn't that rare for support characters). Solo parts would need to be tailored to very different ability levels; while you can safely assume that at least one party member will be able to deal with traps and locks (even by walking through them) or hold themselves in combat or be able to use scrolls, you can't assume that when you rip the Watcher out of the party to let them go solo.

Also, for these occasions, PoE can make extensive use of scripted interactions. Having the Watcher do something alone, is better suited to dialogue based challenges, and the Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style interactions are perfect for that.

Therefore I have sailed the seas and come

To the holy city of Byzantium. -W.B. Yeats

 

Χριστός ἀνέστη!

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People really don't like being forced to take certain companions. It's less annoying to be forced into solo play, but I don't really think it adds a whole lot, as opposed to having solo be an optional thing people do.

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As for DA:O, there are mods to skip the Fade, and I liked that the second time around. ;)

Being a party based game, characters are meant to complement each other. I can safely skip abilities that are vital to gameplay on my Watcher because some other character has them; I can have my Watcher be not really all that good in combat, or at least solo combat (which isn't that rare for support characters).

 

Well... I also heard that there was a mod for Baldur's Gate 2, used for skipping the Irenicu' dungeon at the beginning of the game. All that I can say about reasoning behind this... it's completely alien to me.

 

Party members complementing each other, is a big advantage of party-play, indeed. However, well crafted solo parts should take that in consideration as well. Vast majority of game is about the party-play anyway, and I doubt that player can create a character so incapable of standing on its own, especially considering all the equipment stuff (bloat) that is present in usual Obsidian's RPG (this is something I would like Obsidian to finally address too, but it's entirely different topic).

 

Big advantage of soloing in bg series is that you level up much faster than partying, therefore, it's grant your 1) single class to access their HLA and high level spells earlier. 2) makes your multi class to pass their early period of weakness more easily.

 

Actually I consider that a disadvantage of solo-play, unless gameplay is carefully tailored for solo in mind (EXP distribution and so on). There's risks of gaining too much power too early which may lead to disbalanced gameplay for a while or loss of leveling fun. In my experience, power gaming is bad business and I don't like it the least. It may be good only as corrective mechanic (i.e. player makes EXP-related mistake and then fix it though power gaming)

 

Just to add, this is why I think that PoE 4th chapter should have been solo:

 

- All story narrative up until the pit ("You will be granted favor...", "Watcher may descent...", etc... nobody mentioning anything about companions) made me think at one point that final part of the story might actually be a solo part. And I thought that would be cool as it really made most sense. It was totally personal matter and gods hesitated enough to grant passage even to Watcher, it is kinda bleh that they would just like that allow some other five people to follow and learn world-changing secrets. I was slightly disappointed to see that wasn't the case, but not really surprised.

- Six people, armed to the teeth standing in front of monk-like old man, ready to whack him is less impressive than Watcher standing alone. Sure, Theos is more than meets the eye, but still... solo thrill is just better at that point.

- In the end, party goes back to surface through some, apparently third exit from Sun in Shadows, just like that. It really cheapens the whole point of Court of Penitence.

- It was a chance to add more IC weight behind Watcher's class or perhaps even original Watcher's background, if events through the chapter were slightly different depending on all that.

- Finally, 4th chapter (Sun in Shadow) in many ways resembles finale of Planscape: Torment (Fortress of Regret). What would have been better? Nameless one, storming fortress with his companions until all of them stand before Transcedent one? Or the way it was done? I don't dare to speak for others, but to me, the way it was designed (which was solo or almost-solo), was far superior.

 

If, devs behind 4th chapter, didn't think at all about solo-only and was thinking all the time about party, then it's alright. But if idea about solo-only was floating around, yet some sort of OOC feeling like -- finale without party!? Preposterous! -- overrid it, then it was wrong call to follow. And missed opportunity for even better finale, in my opinion.

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