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Character development and its effect on gameplay

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Character development in deadfire has seen a major overhaul from it predecessor. Much focus has obviously been put in to make the leveling up more intuitive by having all abilities that the character will ever be able to choose from visible for the user at once, in addition to implementing a tier level structure to inform the user of which abilities the user is currently able to choose among.

There has also been a major reduction of available abilities when leveling up by removing all cross-class abilities while granting a more narrow selection of class specific abilities. This also falls in line with the theme of making game mechanics easier to grasp and making make it easier to make an informed decision in the given situation.

Other major changes for leveling up has also been done to casters in the form of not having the entire repertoire of spells of every unlocked spell level available to them when unlocking a new spell level and will instead choose a single spell as an ability on level up. Example ability trees of the current beta build can be seen in the images below.



This is the priest ability tree.



wizard ability tree



warrior ability tree



While i like the new ui presentation i disagree with the limited ability selection when leveling, the removal of general abilities and i strongly disapprove with the pick a spell at level up approach with spellcasters. Since i find the latter issue the most pressing one i will start by addressing it first.


The gameplay impact of the pick a spell at level up approach with spellcasters


While physical classes use passive and active abilities to enhance their ordinary attacks casters rely on their spells which (normally) acts separately from their standard attack. The standard attack can be modified by changing weapons to better suit the current needs (damage type and other properties) and can be performed an unlimited number of times whilst a spell will maintain the same characteristics and has limited uses. 

Due to the reliance on a limited resource in combination with a lack of malleability of individual spells the caster is entirely reliant on its currently available spell selection. Spells will often unlike ordinary attacks have a very narrow focus and can have a very situational usage. An example of this is grimoire imprint which "steals" spells from enemy casters and makes them available to you. It's a fun and very useful spell if there is an enemy caster with a tactically interesting spell available yet entirely useless against a pack of wolfs, giant machine bosses or dragons who won't even have any spells to steal.

And here comes the dilemma of every caster in the game: Given that a caster will only be given 2 spells per spell level, am i really going to make a spell selection that is very situational and risk eliminating an entire spell level in a game balanced around having all spells available? This negative spiral is further enhanced for offensive spellcasters since they need to vary their attack type(deflection, reflex, fortitude, will) which competes for spellslots and defensive spells which also competes for the same slots. Add to that single-target capabilities vs AOE capabilities for further dilemma.

I had several instances during my first run through the beta of having 2 out of my 3 spell levels all but useless since my caster targeted defenses which the enemies had very strong defenses and in some cases immunity. This despite mainly selecting varied offensive spells that targeted different defenses with different effects. And even after encountering theses types of enemies and learning of their weaknesses and capabilities my character was not able to adapt due to the shear lack of available options given the current situation. As such my request is to have a far larger selection of spells available at levelup for casters, preferably all of them save maybe a select few reserved for character specialization classes.



The lack of general and varied ability choices at levelup


While the former section address more severe gameplay issues this section is far more opinionated. I personally prefer a wider spectrum in terms of customization such as having the option to focus on raising personal defenses or improving/gaining utility abilities in and out of combat. I also prefer to have a large number of abilities available at all times and instead focus on improving or giving abilities flavor/specialization when leveling up. For instance i would rather a fighter starting out with disciplined barrage, knockdown, the taunt/pull attack and fighter stances on level 1 and automatically receive abilities when leveling up and instead choose a specialization for an ability during levelup since i find having alot of options available during encounters more fun to play.



Request: Abilities are (atleast generally) automatically learned at levelup. The player will instead choose between specializations and passive abilities at levelup.



As for character specialization, rather than removing other why not just scrap the base class altogether and instead let the player choose a specialization that they like? This way the cons of choosing one specialization over another will be not having access to the other specializations pros. Because lets face it, bland is boring and choosing a specialized class is far more fun.



Request: Remove baseclasses and have the baseclass features available to all specializations.


Do alot of people think/feel as i do or am i in the minority here? I would love to hear what your thoughts and ideas are about these issues.




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I agree at least that casters need far more options, especially wizards and priests who lack passive abilities altogether. These classes feel like they are only half a class and playing one without multiclassing just feels... underwhelming, boring even. One of the things I loved most about casters in PoE1 was that they had so many tools available to them from the get-go, that they felt like they could contribute in any situation. I also liked that casters played and progressed differently than non-casters, reaching that point where you unlock a new spell level was satisfying in a way that just doesn't translate into the current ability tree. Every level up feels lackluster in comparison.

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