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Codex Review RPG Codex Review: Pillars of Eternity II - It's Pretty Alright

Discussion in 'RPG News & Content' started by Infinitron, Aug 25, 2018.

  1. Alpan Novice Patron

    Alpan
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    The late-game Splintered Reef/Drowned Barrows fights do feature spongier enemies, but not so much that they stand out. On PotD I actually had the AI play the game for me post level 14 and appreciated those dungeons because it made me counter fampyrs and such manually. Which isn't exactly high praise but at least they offered a modicum of challenge (i.e. they were quite aggressive with Arcane Dampener).
     
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  2. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    Serpent in the Staglands Torment: Tides of Numenera
    Not me. I enjoyed POE a great deal. I view both POE & Deadfire as fun, flawed experiences for buildding characters and blowing shit up. (And I view both games as pretty forgettable & mediocre as story/questing games.)

    Will item degradation really matter when you can rest anytime, wounds don't matter, combat is based around repeatedly using active abilities, money is plentiful, etc? It could introduce an interesting weapon swapping gameplay where every battle you consider which weapons to use from a larger pool. But that's a bit different.
     
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  3. Kit Walker Totally Not Captain Shrek

    Kit Walker
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    Or wielder's of Sawyer's Cigar?
     
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  4. ArchAngel Magister

    ArchAngel
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    So by reading this review it seems Obsidian took SoZ as base, added terrible free resting from NWN2 OC and then balanced the combat around that shit (I still have nightmares about those Orc tribes you fight that are all like lvl 8 and can survive 2 fireballs... and not because it was hard but because it destroyed any storytelling credibility or world building). Also just like in POE1 and NWN2 kept terrible spell effects that make reading combat a chore.
    I did enjoy exploring in SoZ but I also enjoyed combat.

    If PoE2 can only offer nice exploration that is not enough for me.
     
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  5. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Tigranes
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    Not sure what you're referring to by "that shit". If you enjoyed SOZ, you'll probably enjoy Deadfire, unless you thought the entire POE system was completely unplayable (and I don't mean thinking it's inferior to D&D, I mean just thinking all of its abilities and stats and defences whatever are total rubbish). OTOH if you played POE1 and thought "I expect far better writing of Obsidian, the other mechanics are just fillers for me", then don't bother.

    If we use 3rd ed as a base, fireball is 1d6 / caster level, so mundane orcs could easily survive two of them if they're lucky...? I forget the typical orc HP in 3e though.
     
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  6. Aim1ess Novice

    Aim1ess
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    But the game wont TRULY be complete for months! What a terrible time to do a review, might as well review a beta.
     
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  7. ArchAngel Magister

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    I mean resting being free like in NWN2 OC and all combat and encounters being balanced for that shitty design. At least in PoE1 I would not leave dungeons once I enter and only use resting supplies I brought in with me. It did force me somewhat to not use best spells in every shitty encounter (which is similar to how I played IE games where I cba to rest often because of enemies breaking rest often enough).

    As for Orcs, they got like 8 HP or something. These were not normal orcs, Obsidian put a whole tribe of lvl 8+ orcs into the game and made quests around them like you are dealing with normal D&D pen&paper Orc tribes...
     
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  8. Safav Hamon Learned The Real Fanboy

    Safav Hamon
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    Then play without resting.

    Deadfire isn't really a dungeon crawler like the infinity engine games. Locations are typically only a couple rooms and most encounters are interesting and well designed, so it's not like you're carving through trash mobs to get to the boss. When you think about it in that context, the lack of resource management isn't that big of a deal. We only see it as a huge problem because we're expecting something similar to Baldurs Gate or Icewind Dale.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
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  9. ArchAngel Magister

    ArchAngel
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    Play without resting means little when encounters are balanced around always being able to blast with everything which turns into lvl 8+ orc hordes as I gave in my example. The point is that Obsidian is still clueless about encounter and game design as they were during NWN2 era.

    Obsidian compensated this somewhat with good enough stories but now that is also missing.
     
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  10. Delterius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Delterius
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    That's actually how a good game of attrition should be.

    A level 1 Wizard in an AD&D campaign you isn't very useful when fighting dozens upon dozens of encounters. All you've got is 2 spells at most. Enough for a game-changer, like casting Sleep on a bunch of goblins or Blinding an overwhelming enemy caster. But that's it. It lasts you through those two encounters.

    PoE1 for all its problems at release was still designed with attrition in mind. Even when you dislike the Health/Endurance split you can see that. PoE2 went down the streamlining route but without any conviction. Its a pointless chimera of sorts.
     
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  11. Chaotic_Heretic Dumbfuck! Dumbfuck Shitposter

    Chaotic_Heretic
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    Combat is dogshit in both the P:Es no matter how roxxor spins it.

    So is the story a pile of horseshit in both.

    P:E 1 at least had durance and grieving mother. As a bonus you could kill all the other annoying companions.
    P:E 2 all chars are so annoying. And I used to get headaches when the bratty annoying narrator's voice was present.
     
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  12. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    You're supposed to throw rocks at enemies from a safe distance until you really need to use those spells. To use a spell in every fight is blasphemy.
     
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  13. Delterius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Delterius
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    Well, you do end up using one or two spells in every fight that counts. And a single, well picked, spell in AD&D can destroy a challenging encounter. Ideally, those are the moments you remember about such games. As opposed to grinding hordes of xvarts on end.

    After all, its not like a PnP session throws 8 encounters of trash in between Towns A and B.
     
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  14. Roguey Arcane Sawyerite Sawyerist Sawyer's Bride No Fun Allowed

    Roguey
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    Depends on if you're playing as Gygax intended.

     
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  15. Delterius Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

    Delterius
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    That old bastard was always a sadist.
     
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  16. Tigranes Prestigious Gentleman Arcane

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    Deadfire's very successful at reducing trash mobs and increasing the proportion of set piece battles, yes. But I would prefer a multi-leveled dungeon where you have limited resting and other forms of attrition (however easily cheesed away) as well as set-piece encounters.
     
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  17. Fairfax Arcane

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    5/12 for no encounter is high enough, and these aren't trash encounters. IIRC players should be around level 3 or so at that point in ToEE, so most of these encounters can be dangerous.
     
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  18. Darth Roxor Prestigious Gentleman Wielder of the Huegpenis

    Darth Roxor
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    Deadfire is deffo better as a setting than the lions of Dyrwood, but there are still a bunch of things that prevent me from taking it too seriously.

    1. The biggest stinker here is how static everything is, especially the factions. The lack of marked examples of inter-faction conflict is sticking out like a sore thumb, you never come across I dunno Vaillian and Rauataian ships blasting themselves with cannons over a claim to some shithole island, or anything of the sort. Iirc the most you can get on this front is when a Rauatai ship tries to board and search you after finishing some quest, but now I'm not even sure if that's not after you leave the observatory with Concelhaut, so that's hardly faction-related too.

    2. The Principi are stupid and have no reason to exist, especially as a "major" faction, other than "hey it's a game about sailung so we MUST have scurvy pirates". You'd think Rauatai would just permanently blockade fort Deadlight with an ironclad and stop them from ever being a factor.

    3. Various smaller-sized quirks that feel misplaced and grating given the not-Polynesian/Caribbean surroundings, the chief of them probably being fire giant vikings, but "eoten" and fffffffampyrs count too. Or completely retarded scenarios like the koiki fruit village.

    4. Expeditions: Conquistador took a similar settung and IMO did a much better job with it.
     
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  19. BING XI LAO Educated

    BING XI LAO
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    *writes in great detail about exactly why the game is pretty shit*

    "In conclusion, I like this game I guess."
     
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  20. FreeKaner Prophet of the Dumpsterfire

    FreeKaner
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    The problem with combat of PoE2 is it has zero elegance and doesn't at all appreciate negative space and down time. Although it can be circumvented in part by having all your melee characters with as little active abilities as possible. Otherwise it devolves into controlling an entire party of a MMO dungeon.
     
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  21. Prime Junta Arcane

    Prime Junta
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    Finished it (again). Fun ending bugs:

    Show Spoiler

    - Guardian of Ukaizo didn't activate. Talked to me from a pile of rubble, then let me walk right in.
    - Edér's ending was as if Bearn had died, but I saved him. There was a bug where the Vanguard ship re-spawned with everybody on board dead, but I went to check on Bearn later and he was alive and well in Hasongo.
    - Xoti acted like a jilted girlfriend even though I politely declined her offer of a releyshunship when it came up. I am an honourable gentleman, I did not despoil her virtue!


    My feelings all in all, after sinking a good couple hundred hours into this? I'm kinda done with this "IE-style" sub-genre. There's only so many times you can romp through a colourful setting swatting monsters without it getting old, regardless of the twists.

    As to Deadfire specifically, the loss of attrition drives the nail into the coffin, turning gameplay into a monotonous grind of pressing the same awesome-buttons over and over again -- and this, just after PotD in the P1 expansions figured out how to design gameplay so this doesn't happen.

    This game is good for what it is, but what it is frankly ain't worth much anymore. The formula has been wrung dry. This is much better than P1, but that won't cut it anymore: P1 came into a world where there had been almost nothing IE-like in years. It felt new. I was willing to cut it a lot of slack for that. DF isn't new. It's more of the same, only better executed, and while it's improved in a large number of small ways, it's dumbed down in a small number of big ways that hurt it. This is McBaldursGate2, with all the rough edges smoothed out and made palatable to people who can't handle weird curve balls. The setting and a few exceptions aside (BoW being one of them -- it's actually funny in places, and that's saying something!) the writing is predictable, pandering, and dull, and the less said about the story the better.

    So objectively, side by side, Deadfire is clearly much better a game than Pillars 1. But subjectively, I think I'll be replaying P1 a fair few times in the years to come... Deadfire probably not so much. Pillars 1 had a freshness, roughness, and newness about it the same as the original IE games did. Deadfire is a re-tread of safe slam-dunk ideas, kind of like a studio remaster of Obsidian's greatest hits that squeezes all the life out them. It isn't shit. It's just mediocre. And I really am pissed off that the root cause of the mediocrity is so unnecessary: Josh's obsession with fixing what isn't broken and pandering to goons who won't even finish the game anyway, at least not at anything harder than story mode.

    tl;dr fuck Josh, fuck Obsidian, fuck the broken promise of the Kickstarter revival, and fuck this entire sub-genre. And fuck Infinitron specifically for breathlessly updating the Codex on this mediocrity while studiously ignoring the people who are actually trying to do something new to push the boundaries of the genre.
     
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  22. Jaedar Arcane Patron

    Jaedar
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    I am astounded by the cognitive dissonance contained in this post. A marvel to behold, not just neutral positive, but negative positive.
     
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  23. Prime Junta Arcane

    Prime Junta
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    That's not cognitive dissonance, just mixed feelings.
     
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  24. Shadenuat Arcane

    Shadenuat
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    I uninstalled it for same feeling.

    Deadfire seems like a game, not just mechanics, but especially in the plot and faction working, which tries to not stress players as much as possible. If you're afraid to pressure the player in any way though, you are left with emotionally impotent game. PoE1 pressed me to keep going to at least search for another crazy fire religious bullshiter who is not afraid to just walk on to you on the road and begin bullshiting you with his crazy bullshit and press all the right spots thus keeping player awake and somewhat aware.

    Deadfire, in my opinion, does not hold up as just a combat game to continue playing it i.e. I am not going through other DLCs. It was best during clicking on next little island after island; after you know what's on them though, most of the charm of the game sorta dies out.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2018
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  25. Prime Junta Arcane

    Prime Junta
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    There's the rub.

    I understand why Josh got rid of attrition (it makes the level designers' job way easier because they always have a rough idea of what power level the party is at and with it most players just rest-spam anyway), but that's still fucked up. It doesn't make for a better or more interesting game. It just makes it extraordinarily difficult to design a system that pushes you to do anything other than hit the same awesome-buttons over and over again.

    Which is doubly shameful because the moment-to-moment gameplay in Deadfire is significantly -- if not dramatically -- improved over P1.

    As to the rest of your point, I think at some point I said that P1 read like a rush job by a writing team which included genuine talent, whereas DF reads like a careful job by a team of mediocrities. I know which one I prefer.
     
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