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Tactical combat is a big reason for me to play party based RPGs. Combat in PoE is quite good but I feel like there is a lot of room for improvement as well. Here are some thoughts after a few playthroughs.

 

1. Overall feel of combat. PoE combat feels very mathematical. Characters move into their positions and execute their attacks at an even pace based on complex timers. I want to feel it more - feints, dodging and blocking animations, staggering under heavy hits, being knocked down by fireballs, randomness... Longer attack and casting animations would be much more exciting to watch than a dead recovery time with a shrinking bar. I would gladly give up some of PoE's mathematical precision to have combat look and feel more like fighting for your life. Combatants also tend to clutter up in a messy ball of melee to the point where you can't even see your party members which is quite frustrating.

 

2. Stats and afflictions.. oh boy. The accuracy vs. defenses and damage vs damage reduction is simply brilliant. I wish all RPGs had a system like that. But the myriad different afflictions and their durations in tenths of seconds? Too many, too often. Checking for afflictions kind of makes you pause every 2 seconds on slow speed which implies a turn based system would have been better since the flow of combat has to be disrupted too often anyway. I think a real time system with enough tactical depth that also looks and feels intense and exciting is the optimal way here.

 

PoE combat involves a lot of buffs and debuffs usually with really short durations. Some spells or abilities affect combat stats directly and some indirectly by affecting ability scores instead, overlapping with the former. The miss/graze/hit/crit system seems good but it also makes it much more difficult to get a feeling how good your defenses actually are against a particular foe, since very few attacks are clean misses. And then you have action speed / recovery time math that you can't see from your character sheet on top of everything. It's all just really hard to keep track of (or even understand) with a party of 4-6. It's like BG combat with 3 extra layers of complexity when 1 would have sufficed (damage reduction).

 

The Priest class needs their own entry here as their spell list best manifests the problem with stats and afflictions. They have a buff and debuff for everything and spells against individual afflictions I can't even name after several playthroughs. It feels like a complete redesign for the Priest class and ruthlessly axing the number of buffing spells would make it more fun to play. They should get a few cool unique powers based on their deity instead of an expansive faith universal list of boring spells.

 

And why is Prone duration determined by attacker instead of how quickly the defender can get back up? It's silly seeing someone stay prone for 7.4 seconds instead of just getting up. ,-)

 

3. Feedback. Visually, it's very difficult to tell who is under what affliction or where it came from. Or how well someone is doing in melee against a particular opponent other than inspecting the damage numbers - miss / graze / hit / crit isn't clear from visual feedback.

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I mostly feel Deadfire needs better animations. Point about animations for status effects is spot-on, add some animations for swordfighting (KOTOR had these cool, albeit repetitive, animations where the combatants would actually parry and counter their attacks, that was nice), add some sync-kills (instead of regular blow, enemy will get his neck arteries cut by a short sword, dagger plunged in his heart etc.) - I feel little changes like these would do wonders to liven the combat up without actually changing much in terms of functionality. I'd prefer avoiding pure RNG elements as much as humanly possible, but they're already present in the original, so ... Eh.

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On that note, I hope they remove the elemental enchanting for weapons. When everyone in the party has a glowing/burning/freezing weapon with vfx it becomes more mundane and annoying than cool and unique. Or at least have alternatives in that enchanting category without the vfx.

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On that note, I hope they remove the elemental enchanting for weapons. When everyone in the party has a glowing/burning/freezing weapon with vfx it becomes more mundane and annoying than cool and unique. Or at least have alternatives in that enchanting category without the vfx.

 

Unlikely. That's a common motif among fantasy cRPG games.

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4. Per encounter powers.

 

Could encounter powers have an Endurance cost instead of getting X uses for free every fight?

 

It gets a bit repetitive using 2x knockdown, 2x arcane assault, 2x Flames of Devotion etc. in every encounter just because they're free. And what if you need a 3rd or 4th knockdown to free your Wizard from attackers? You just can't do it.

 

If encounter powers would cost Endurance instead, using them would involve more of a choice. You wouldn't feel forced to "use them up" every fight for optimized efficiency and you also wouldn't be limited to an arbitrary number of knockdowns in a fight.

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On that note, I hope they remove the elemental enchanting for weapons. When everyone in the party has a glowing/burning/freezing weapon with vfx it becomes more mundane and annoying than cool and unique. Or at least have alternatives in that enchanting category without the vfx.

 

Unlikely. That's a common motif among fantasy cRPG games.

 

Sure, but on every single weapon? Sometimes less is more.

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