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Codex Review RPG Codex Review: Divinity: Original Sin 2

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Mar 6, 2018.

  1. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
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    Tags: Divinity: Original Sin 2; Larian Studios

    Ah, Divinity: Original Sin 2. It's our RPG of the Year for 2017, and a game that really, really pissed some of us off. Above all, it's a hugely successful title, with some 1.2 million copies sold to date. Which is why it's unusual that we've heard so little from Larian since its release in September. Last month's controversial combat mechanics interview with Original Sin 2's systems designer is the most recent of their very few media appearances. After reading it, I knew we had to finally publish a review - even if our reviewer couldn't bring himself to finish the game. I do wonder whether that interview might be a hint that Larian are working on some sort of big systems overhaul. Regardless, I think it's high time we unleashed Darth Roxor on them. Gentlemen, without further ado:

    However, armour is by far not the dumbest aspect of DOS2. That award goes to the initiative system. This game is perhaps the first RPG I’ve ever seen where initiative is a dump stat. That is because the initiative queue functions as a round robin, where both sides take turns on a “you go, I go” basis – the initiative score only influences the queue arrangement within a specific side. Combatants on the same side can only move in succession if there’s more of them than the opposition, and this will nevertheless occur only at the bottom of the queue. So, in other words, if you have four characters with initiative 15, and you fight two monsters with initiative 5, those monsters will still take their turns before two of your characters. Even worse, the queue reshuffles itself each turn if a combatant dies. So if one of the initiative 5 monsters were to die, the other would now act before three of your characters. This gets particularly bad for big brawls, where strong monsters with low initiatives that you leave for last, in order to first dispose of their faster but weaker buddies, will keep climbing the queue with each turn, until they finally get to act first and bust your balls.

    I have no other words to describe this other than that it’s pure distilled stupidity. You will run into numerous occasions where finishing off an enemy is a bad idea, because in that way you will empower its stronger ally that is further down the initiative queue. Instead you are better off either ignoring them, or leaving them stunned as “initiative block decoys”. Before killing anything in DOS2 during harder fights, you always have to check the initiative queue and consider whether you will not be sabotaging your own planned courses of action for subsequent turns that way. This is not how it’s supposed to work, goddammit. Also, you can now scroll back to the attributes section of the previous chapter, and realise just how useless is the Wits stat – there is no reason at all to raise this, except maybe on one character that you’d want to move first among your own party, or to have a chance to open a fight instead of leaving that to an enemy.

    But Wits and initiative are not the only things that suffer from the jumbled mess of oversimplifications that plague the systems in DOS2. Another is character archetype identity and skill “coolness”. I’ve sort of mentioned this already for the armour discussion, but it deserves repeating. When the mechanics are more or less reduced to “do damage”, “heal” and “debuff once armour is broken”, you significantly limit the breadth of skill functionalities, and also remove a lot of the craziness that made the combat in DOS1 so fun (which is further amplified by the big reduction of damage for all sorts of explosive barrels and other environmental hazards). It also doesn’t help that action points are very limited – base is 4 while the max you can hope for is 6, and that’s only with haste effects that are very short and hard to come by. In practice, this more or less limits you to doing 2 meaningful actions a turn at best.

    To put it bluntly, the majority of abilities in DOS2 are boring, repetitive and samey. For example, take the “ranger” and the “warrior”. In DOS1, they had a number of stances, support and damage skills, and the ranger also had elemental arrows with various uses. In DOS2, the ranger is reduced to having more or less the same damage skill repeated ten times with slightly different flavours, while the special arrows are hardly more than generic magic projectiles to bust through some idiot’s magic armour. That’s it. As for the warrior – his bread and butter is a ranged multiple target nuke, a charge with multiple target damage and knockdown, a cone-shaped stomp with a knockdown, two suspiciously magical-looking teleports… and so it goes. When playing a warrior, I found myself casting more area damage spells than I would in most other games as a mage, with barely any chance to do regular attacks, which anyway were all inferior to the constant spellspam.

    [...] I think everyone can agree that the story and its presentation in DOS1 was the game’s worst aspect. The story was bland, the writing was boring and the characters were kind of stupid. It also employed Larian’s trademark tongue-in-cheek style, but this time, without actual quality writing to support it, it ended up dumb instead of funny.

    The studio promised to improve this by hiring a bunch of new writers and promising to make the game “less whimsical”. I’ve always been sceptical of this, because to me it looked like acting on wrong feedback. It wasn’t the whimsical style that was the problem in DOS1 – after all, the same style was fine in all the other Divinity games. The problem was that it was just not good. Unfortunately, my scepticism proved well-founded.

    I don’t think it’s fair to complain or go too deep into the story itself here, because it’s near-identical to every other Larian game in existence. That is, your character, a Special Person, turns out to be an Even Specialer Person, and embarks on an Epic Quest to change the Fate of the Known World™©®. The reason why this particular iteration of the story comes out bad is in the presentation and, again, in the lacking writing quality.

    The chief problem is that despite the writing team switch, the writing remains largely the same – boring, long-winded and without flair, complete with my favourite boast of “over one million words of voiced dialogue”. The only major difference is that the dumb whimsical aspect was replaced by a dumb maturegrimdark aspect, plunging it even further into generic fantasy crapola territory. Not to mention that the writers appear to have some concerning mental issues related to various deviations.

    One is the alarming ubiquity of all manner of sexual content. It’s like every second character just can’t wait to pinch, lick, kiss, smell, caress or have other questionable interactions with your protagonist, or describe said interactions with other people, to the point that it makes you imagine the writer as some sort of overly excited dog trying to hump your leg all the time.

    Although likening the writer to a dog might be risky given the second, much more disturbing deviation, which is the rampant animal abuse in this game. I swear there is not a single animal in DOS2 that wouldn’t be subjected to torture, torment, mutation or madness, and probably half of those either die after your conversation with them concludes, or beg to be mercy killed.

    Also, when it comes to the main plot, there is one thing I can’t really understand. The game gives inexplicable importance to Braccus Rex, an early game boss monster from DOS1, whose characterisation was limited to laughing a lot and throwing fireballs around. Out of all the bad guys in the Divinity series, they really had to pick someone as featureless as this? It’s roughly the equivalent of having The Butcher as one of the main villains in Diablo 2, although even that would make more sense.​

    Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Divinity: Original Sin 2
     
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  2. Delterius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Delterius
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    So you're saying Larian is so forward thinking they already made the Div:OS equivalent to Diablo 3.

    Well done.
     
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  3. Jacob Obviously Arcane Patron

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    some member i don't even remember the name wrote that dos2 dialed down the environmental and elemental hazard, i.e. the things that made dos1 combat good. i stayed away from this game based on that post alone and it seems i made the rite choice (even though i don't really think that alone is enough to shit on a game.)
     
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  4. vivec Self-Ejected

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    Fire the writers and the AI coders.
     
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  5. Infinitron I post news Patron

    Infinitron
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    Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Serpent in the Staglands Dead State Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Wasteland 2 Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Hah but that's the one thing the review doesn't say.

     
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  6. Abu Antar Tweet, tweet Patron

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    Shadorwun: Hong Kong Divinity: Original Sin 2 Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    [​IMG]
     
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  7. AwesomeButton Cut a deal with the authorities Patron

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    PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Make the Codex Great Again! Divinity: Original Sin 2 A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire
    I know I am going to like this.
     
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  8. Jacob Obviously Arcane Patron

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    I admit I didn't read the full review :M But the OP has excerpts like this which is the basis of why I wrote my previous post
     
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  9. Chad J. Thundercock Cipher Patron

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    Posting just for autowatch thread.
    The rat did it, the absolute madman.
     
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  10. Projas Information Superhighwayman Patron

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    One thing that I think they improved on from the first D:OS was the quest design. Most of the quests have multiple ways to solve them, even if the choices are sometimes somewhat trivial, it's definitely a step up. Otherwise I have to agree with the review though, the mechanics and itemization killed it for me.
     
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  11. Sacred82 Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

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    O rly, I totally didn't see that coming after the first two tiny paragraphs on the character system.

    It begs the question what exactly is the problem here. Are the attributes not interesting enough if you look at the game as a combat simulator (which isn't a problem for many people but for you)? Or is it that the attibutes are entirely gamey and not simulationist (which isn't a problem for many people but for me)?

    Speaking of fantasy chess vs. simulation, how does magic fare this time around? Just poison gas and water puddles, or things that manipulate the environment similar to the telekinesis skill? Did you use magic to solve any puzzles, and if yes how frequently, and how obvious was this solution?

    You know you're reading a Roxor review scribbled on toilet paper when skills are written off with a few sentences. Well at least you kind of picked up the subject with a few more words further down the line.
    Show Spoiler

    Just what is so terrible about a hidden mechanic remains unclear though, I mean you could make the connection between Strength and intimidation after all. If you take the game to be simply a combat simulator and resource management game, well, maybe then you can't accept missing out on a possible advantage due to obscure mechanics.

    You don't even give a list of what 'civil' skills there are, contrary to your detailed run-down on combat skills. Bro if you don't intend this to be a review but an analysis of the combat system with some half-baked, arbitrary judgement about the game's other merits thrown in, you should tell Infinitron to put that in the header, you know. So we all know it's just shits and giggles and Roxor being Roxor.

    All Larian games have always had unbalanced abilities and, before D:OS, shit combat, so those must be fine too.

    A lot of people took offense to the pure silliness of D:OS, whch was so whack out of place with the whole supposed epicness it caused you seizures trying to reconcile the two in your head. Jerry Lewis playing King Lear in a Dan Aronofsky film couldn't be half as cringey.

    Btw I don't know if you've ever played Divine Divinity, high fantasy but still down to Earth flair, not even remotely the later Larian goofiness, on par with Ultima VII for homour.

    Uuuhhh, excuse me? I know it's acceptable on the Kodex to dismiss any writing with the words 'it sucks' and gain 50 Kool Kredits in the process. But just for the off-chance you want anyone else to read this crap, as does happen nowadays, you may want to lay off the edge a bit... a lot, and actually share some details about the writing.

    I mean I own the game and could simply load it up, but that's not true for everyone reading a review. Also your opinion means nothing without context. A question I've asked people who have played the game is "could you identify any MCA in the game, and how much of it is there?", for example. I mean you had someone like Chris working alongside wet-eared nu-humans, it should be possible to see some stark contrasts.

    Just what is grimdark and in what way, and why doesn't it work? Right now it just seems you were one of the retards who thought "the man with many cheeses" was a great fit for a Larian game.

    Dude, I didn't know you're that kind of prude. Or rather, you come across like the classical conservative, who doesn't give a shit about ethics but simply doesn't want to be bothered with things he doesn't want to think about.

    If this is what you mean by 'grimdark', that sex and violence are treated in prose form rather than as 'tasteful cutscenes', bro, that's actually a good thing.




    This review didn't really tell me anything about the game except that Roxor doesn't like it (what a surprise) and has identified problems with the combat system, which I'll just accept for the moment.

    OTOH ham-fisted reviewing using broad strokes offers a great opportunity to re-re-re-review the game after it has received the updates and expansions that have already been confirmed by Larian. I'm holding my breath for a "it's slightly less shit now but still shit, you could enjoy it if you're dumb, I sank 100 hours into it but it was a pain" Roxor verdict in the coming months. :salute:
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
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  12. Crispy LG4lyfe Undisputed Queen of Faggotry

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    Here at RPG Codex, first we shit on the game. Then someone shits on he who shat upon the game. Then more people shit upon the shitters, and so on, and so on.

    We are buried in nothing but shit.
     
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  13. Humanity has risen! Arcane Patron Repressed Homosexual

    Humanity has risen!
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    I don't understand the point of making "official Codex reviews", when every single time we know it's going to be a bitchfest of every single way the game sucks and rantings about why the developer is retarded and a "traitor" to "hardcore gaming principles".

    You might as well call them editorials at this rate.
     
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  14. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

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    You know you're on the Codex when someone's complaining that an 8000 word review isn't thorough enough. :cool:
     
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  15. Sacred82 Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

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    You could try to describe a human being by analyzing their feces in 8000 words, it's just that that kind of myopic autism isn't really relevant to people not into coprophilia.
     
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  16. Brancaleone Learned

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    Is the hell-hamster trying to tell me that my hopes for another DOS1 with non-random loot, a solid story, non-idiotic writing and less of a drop in content-quality in the second half of the game were indeed rather foolish?
     
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  17. Pizzashoes Educated

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    If the initiative system is dumb and counterintuitive, why did Roxor try to game it? Just change playstyle.

    Overall, the combat is so fun that it makes the game good. Picking up a two-hander, hitting the whirlwind button, and getting juicy crits feels great. The teleport metagame looks stupid, but dropping a story and landing some fire on a guy does not feel stupid. Maybe Roxor should try some different builds to find one he likes. The writing, quest design, and itemization are still weak points, though.
     
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  18. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Elemental shit is amped up, with the result that your enjoyment & utility of it is dialed down. Because surfaces are now so touchy and will curse and spread at the drop of a hat until every square inch is filled with 3 different effects, it becomes less of a precise tactical tool and more like fighting in radioactive waste. The positive is that at least now there is some danger to the player, the negative is that the entire map is on fire twice over all the time.

    Sacred82 the problem re. charsystem is that
    1. there is almost nothing in the entire system that adds any qualitative changes, and so character 'building' is limited to increasing your numbers;
    2. the quantitative changes themselves are outright broken, so that there are no choices and only idiotic ones like everybody putting Warfare up to 60 because it's nearly always better for your weapons than the actual weapon skill;
    3. you get enough points to have everything you'd ever want, unless you wanted the absolute top tier spells from every school (which you don't need).

    Your gripes about writing, I don't really get. I agree there should be more information on the writing and why it is bad, but (1) roxor explicitly said whimsy vs serious is not the issue, the quality is; (2) sex is not the issue, the presentation is. I played DOS2 explicitly not giving a shit about what the NPC liked or disliked and just answering whatever I liked, until you get to a random point where the dude is literally "So shall we HAVE THE SEXOR?!" ... partly because he liked me so much for helping him chase his one true love that he is still chasing, you know.
     
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  19. Sacred82 Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

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    Deciding on which numbers to ramp up and then ramping up those numbers happens in games with primitive systems too, that may or may not be a problem for people. In D:OS, deciding e.g. on making a character a Lone Wolf or Glass Cannon (or neither) was already a substantial difference between characters, but Rox doesn't even mention any of those talents, so what do we (those who haven't played yet) know.

    So muh balinse is bad across the board, ok, noted, but those may be things that can be tweaked, for better or worse.

    And I explicitly said that, yes, the goofiness was very much an issue that needed to be adressed. Wether that change was done skilfully or not, I can't really draw that conclusion myself from the review.

    Yeah that definitely means someone just has a problem with sexual content (any amount of it >0 could already be too much), not with the presentation of it. You already did a better job of commenting on it.
     
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  20. MicoSelva Prestigious Gentleman Monstroterratum Furiosum Patron

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    Codex 2012 Codex 2013 Codex 2014 PC RPG Website of the Year, 2015 Codex 2016 - The Age of Grimoire Make the Codex Great Again! Grab the Codex by the pussy Serpent in the Staglands Divinity: Original Sin Project: Eternity Torment: Tides of Numenera Divinity: Original Sin 2 Bubbles In Memoria A Beautifully Desolate Campaign Pillars of Eternity 2: Deadfire Pathfinder: Kingmaker
    Farewell, Larian. It was nice knowing you. Good luck with your new life in the mainstream. :salute:

    Thanks for the extensive review, Darth Roxor . :bro:
     
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  21. TheSentinel Magister

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    Got a laugh out of me.
    I agree with the review, but ultimately I didn't really give a shit about DivOS1 either, so I wasn't too affected by DivOS2, although I had hopes that it'd improve on the prequel and not throw itself off a cliff.

    Regardless, 2nd Darth Roxor piece I read. His texts are always entertaining. Hope he keeps contributing to the Codex.
     
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  22. Sacred82 Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

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    Tigranes

    I actuallly care about character building, because it's equally important to roleplayfags and combatfags.

    So, two more things:

    1) It's a party based game and you have four characters. Ok, let's say not least due to balancing issues, individual character building is somewhat limited. You still have 4 chars, and apparently you can respec and fully customize them. That's already a layer of strategy and variety that you wouldn't have in a single character game. So, one obvious question would be how much the game supports diverse parties, or if you'll want to end up with the same setup on every playthrough.

    2) For roleplayfags, even if my stats are limited, I still want to know if there's a variety of ways in which I can use them to influence the gameworld. Is intimidation the only skill that has any synergy with an attribute, for example? Are there attribute/ skill checks in dialogue? For combatfags, the actual combat mechanics and setup are usually even more important than the character building. I can make out that Roxor is not a fan of any of what D:OS2 offers here, and as I said, I'm just gonna accept that judgement for now.
     
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  23. mushaden Educated

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    Good read. I think saying

    is incorrect and should be "likening."

    I'm glad I'm playing the first one first (although it is the EE). Hope mods will fix it
     
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  24. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    I don't understand what you mean. The point is that you very rarely have to make any kind of meaningful choice after initial chargen in DOS2, and that this is not a good thing for an RPG.

    I agree the talents system is a bright ray of light. My personal take is that they were cool in DOS1, but suffered from the fact that only some of them were useful / noticeable, and those useful ones tended to be overpowered; that trend has continued in DOS2, so it's a case of a pretty good system making no real steps forward or backward.

    I think it was a mistake to go to 4 characters. I don't think more characters = more strategy. To be absurd, having 60 members in BG2 wouldn't make it more strategic; leaving aside the fact that that's unplayable, it would tax the character system beyond its limits, so that you end up with a party of munchkin clones, right? That's what happens in DOS2. Because the ratio of available skills/spells/abilities to character levels/SPs/XP is so low, two characters is enough to basically be good at everything in the system & have points left over.

    What you end up with is a 4-man party that isn't necessarily more diverse than 2-man (you just double up on skills), and then you roflstomp everything because of the sheer flexibility.

    To be clear, that doesn't mean that 4 character is what makes it bad. Obviously, the real problem is that the character building is so limited, which is a factor of both (1) limited ways to specialise, and (2) the poor design of the skills and traits that means you are never having to make any hard choices anyway.

    Sure, it's valid to ask the review to expand on that and not just tell you it sux.

    What I would say is that the aspects roxor has chosen to criticise are indeed the things that really make the game inferior to DOS1 and frustrates the seasoned RPG player.
     
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2018
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  25. Sacred82 Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck

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    Yeah, I kind of answered to that in my second post. Still, the point is it's not clear where Roxor's coming from. If he's not missing any simulationist aspect to attributes, but simply different ways of dealing and avoiding damage, hoo well, to a lot of players that is certainly a secondary aspect. Certainly in a turn-based game with destructible environments and what not, where you have a lot more factors to tactics than attributes.

    ummmmmm

    why do you think it's less biased if the reviewer describes the writing in the entire game with a few adjectives, without giving you anything to judge? There need to be examples here because it's more subjective than saying if the combat system works well or not. If the reviewer claims at high levels resistances make a type of attack obsolete, it certainly demands less proof than simply saying a game's writing is 'generally crap'. Holy shit, there was an army of writers on this game. There must be discernible differences to the writing, and Roxor couldn't see them through the passive-aggressive rage descending over his eyes. Unless they had an editor-in-chief whose job it was to drag all writing down to the same level of shittiness.
     
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