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Divinity Divinity: Original Sin 2 Armor System Discussion

Desiderius

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I think when I actually played through all of DOS2 I had three physical attackers running around and one elemental one to lock down the stuff with minimal magic armor

That’s a good way to tackle the early-midgame, but soon after that no reason not to give everybody everything.
 

Desiderius

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just mod it out then

The are mods that do that. You could just avoid going back the the ship before every fight too - that seems unbelievably tedious - if you’re convinced that’s the end all and be all (it isn’t).

There’s also a mod which changes all the temporary CC (the truly broken stuff) into debuffs.
 

Sharpedge

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Heh, it seems someone else did the screenshot thing as well. Here is a short image montage which illustrates exactly why phys damage is the "no brainer" in this game.

Obviously, it doesn't actually matter in the grand scheme of things since the game is so easy that you can win it with pretty much anything at all, someone even one turn killed the final boss with grenades, but it does illustrate the point quite nicely that in the, "physical vs elemental" debate, physical is quite clearly the winner.

In one of the comments the uploader says most enemies had their resistances lowered in the definitive version that was released later. Any idea how much they changed?

I can't say from memory, although I did replay the game after the DE launched. If you have a party which has in it any elemental specialists (as opposed to elemental builds that generalize), you will still encounter scenarios where the specialist feels very, very useless. Tbh though I would recommend playing the game this way, not because its optimal (its clearly not), but because it makes encounters more fun when you need to get creative to find solutions to them. Creative solutions is where the DOS games shine, in my opinion the way the game is "intended" to be played is something akin to this, where you try to find inefficient ways to finish combat which are satisfying to pull off. I think Swen has even said as much before, as one of the reasons they never fixed stuff like barrelmancy even though its easy to patch out.

Heh, it seems someone else did the screenshot thing as well. Here is a short image montage which illustrates exactly why phys damage is the "no brainer" in this game.

Obviously, it doesn't actually matter in the grand scheme of things since the game is so easy that you can win it with pretty much anything at all, someone even one turn killed the final boss with grenades, but it does illustrate the point quite nicely that in the, "physical vs elemental" debate, physical is quite clearly the winner.


Clearly, obviously, factually -> all words for missing arguments. If the bad guys never get a turn, there is no objectively better way. The end.

The whole discussion was about whether the armor system encourages sticking to a single damage type or generalizing. In theory such a system is capable of encouraging having a party which is more generalized, provided that in some situations you would want elemental damage over physical. For that to be true, there would need to be some enemies which either have high physical resistance, or a high physical armor but low magical armor, or a combination of both. This is not the case however and enemies both have high elemental resistances and usually have higher magical armor than physical armor. In theory it would also have been possible to offset it by giving magical abilities much higher multipliers, but for the most part, this is also not the case. There is also the weird caveat that buffs multiply with physical damage but add with magical damage (who knows why), which also further skews things. Basically, if optimization mattered in this game, then the game would skew heavily towards physical damage. Optimization does not matter in the game, you can beat it doing pretty much anything if you have the time, patience and creativity. Here is a guy beating the final boss using the cat summon for example.

There is 1 good argument for optimization in this game however, it is very good at telling you what to avoid if you want to have a fun experience. If you know what breaks the system, its very easy to avoid it and tailor the experience of playing the game to your wishes. I personally think that the most fun experience you can have with the game is solo non lone wolf with a specialized mage, either aero + hydro or pyro + geo. It forces you to be much more creative during encounters because there will often be occasions where 1 of your spell schools is a complete dud. You also need to avoid using any of the 2 or 3 source point skills, because the game was clearly never designed with using them in mind.
 

Desiderius

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I ended up building generalists and finding there were times where I wanted the physical and other times where I wanted the magical. They could have done a better job fleshing things out but IIRC different mobs had a different mix.

Instead of being useless there were always three or four things I wanted to do with each toon and it was an interesting puzzle sometimes to figure out how they fit together with what the next one up was planning.

Considering that I rarely even got attacked let alone hit though I find any talk about my approach being suboptimal bizarre, but I got the same thing in P:K until I started posting pictures.

I think there’s a whole generation who grew up on tank, spank, and heal that they have difficulty seeing things any other way. I mean I guess if you’ve got an I win button you can use that but:

(a) that’s missing the whole point of playing the game

(b) it doesn’t make other approaches that also end up never wiping or risking it sub-optimal
 

Desiderius

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Thanks man.

Played it last time through and really enjoyed it.
 

Sharpedge

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I ended up building generalists and finding there were times where I wanted the physical and other times where I wanted the magical. They could have done a better job fleshing things out but IIRC different mobs had a different mix.

Instead of being useless there were always three or four things I wanted to do with each toon and it was an interesting puzzle sometimes to figure out how they fit together with what the next one up was planning.

Considering that I rarely even got attacked let alone hit though I find any talk about my approach being suboptimal bizarre, but I got the same thing in P:K until I started posting pictures.

I think there’s a whole generation who grew up on tank, spank, and heal that they have difficulty seeing things any other way. I mean I guess if you’ve got an I win button you can use that but:

(a) that’s missing the whole point of playing the game

(b) it doesn’t make other approaches that also end up never wiping or risking it sub-optimal
I think the way the different elemental damages individually were balanced against each other was fairly well done. There were problems with some powers (for example, pyroclastic eruption) doing too much damage, but over all if you played with a caster heavy party, there were times where you were definitely rewarded for specializing in certain elements and other times where you were punished. I think if they had given enemies physical resistance akin to how they had given enemies elemental resistances, it would have gone a long way towards improving the situation. For some reason that escapes me it seems almost as if the developers were afraid of creating situations where it felt bad to play a physical fighter. There aren't any bad party compositions in divinity, pretty much everything works, but in my opinion the system would have "felt better" if there were encounters with physical immune or heavily resistant enemies, similar to how there are such encounters for the different elements.

Going into an encounter where you know you are at a disadvantage and then figuring out how to overcome it makes for rewarding gameplay. It also makes it so that when you do encounter situations which are clearly tailored towards a physical party, its much more impactful. Thats the big difference between elemental casters and physical builds, if you specialize in 1 or 2 elements, lets say fire and earth for arguments sake, there will be fights where your specialization shine, like against oil oozes or undead. There will also be times where your specialization is severely gimped, for example against the fire witch Alice. There isn't really any equivalent to this for physical builds, the strategy you use for fighting 1 enemy will work against pretty much any enemy in the game, which makes it much less satisfying to play.

I am not sure if any of those mods address this, but that would be 1 of the things I would change were I to modify the game.
 

DraQ

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> You see: retards fighting autists (and not in a good way).
> Both sides seem to be on the defensive.
:avatard:
Even by (relatively lax lately) codexian standards this thread is one hell of a spectacular smooth brain moment.
It starts off by rusty_shackleford being a complete brainlet and conflating people liking game with game's mechanics design being infallibly perfect and then it keeps getting better.

Anyway, to the point:
The problem with DoS2 armour system isn't it:
  • making the game too hard
  • making the game too easy
  • encouraging cheesing the game with homogeneous party
  • encouraging cheesing the game with heterogeneous party
Anyone engaging in back and forth over those specific points is just being fucking retarded.

The problem is that is a wonderful fractal of shit.

This guy gets it:
The problem with the armor system in DOS 2 is that it makes hardly any sense in principle and it creates way more problems that it solves.
Discouraging mixed sources of damage (which it factually does, it doesn't matter if you can work your way around it) is only the tip of the iceberg. There's also the fact that makes a certain amount of utility skills/spells utterly useless (not "unreliable" as much as literally 100% pointless to even attempt) until a certain threshold of damage has been passed, etc.

Basically it's a system of HP bloat (now in three different flavors!) that favors direct damage dealing above any other strategy. And conversely once that threshold of damage is surpassed the exact opposite becomes true, and some of these crowd controls become 100% reliable.

I mean, sure, you can learn to live with that. We all did.
But holy fucking Christ if it doesn't go straight in the bottom tier among all the countless attempts at "simulating damage mitigation" I've experienced across the years in different rulesets.

The system is simply bad. It splits combat into two phases:
  • One where you avoid using most skills to not waste status effects.
  • One where everyone is spamming staus effects, or at least those characters who aren't currently stunned, knocked down or polymorphed into poultry while bleeding and on fire.
It also fails to have any semblance to anything.
Ablative HPs are generally not particularly good armour mechanics.
Ablative armour over entire battle duration is just singularly awful and being combined with cooldowns and stupidly abstract and highly segregated damage system (odd chloroform notwithstanding) doesn't do it any favours.

Smaller split pools depleted and replenishing on per turn basis might actually be quite tolerable both in terms of gameplay (encouraging more tactical approach than non-status alpha strike followed by status alpha strike) and in terms of making sense (overwhelming combatants defenses by concentrating attacks on them), but the system as it is is just a huge clusterfuck of concentrated derp.

There is a lot to like in DoS2 including sizable chunks of combat system, but there is no denying that large parts of it are just inexplicably bad. This includes armour system, damage system, ease of traversing terrain with everyone having jump, flight or teleportation abilities trivializing all those nice area layouts Larian lovingly made as well as lesser things such as nearly inconsequential initiative.

But no, let's discuss how to optimize damage output like it's motherfucking special Olympics.
 
Last edited:

Sharpedge

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Smaller split pools depleted and replenishing on per turn basis might actually be quite tolerable both in terms of gameplay (encouraging more tactical approach than non-status alpha strike followed by status alpha strike) and in terms of making sense (overwhelming combatants defenses by concentrating attacks on them), but the system as it is is just a huge clusterfuck of concentrated derp.

There is a lot to like in DoS2 including sizable chunks of combat system, but there is no denying that large parts of it are just inexplicably bad. This includes armour system, damage system, ease of traversing terrain with everyone having jump, flight or teleportation abilities trivializing all those nice area layouts Larian lovingly made as well as lesser things such as nearly inconsequential initiative.

I was thinking of something along these lines, but if not done carefully it encounters a similar problem whereby an enemy is still somewhat bloated because of the replenishing armour. Building on the idea however, you could potentially avoid the problem by doing the following.

1. Have smaller, split pools of armour that replenish every turn (as you suggested).
2. Offensive abilities have their damage split into 2 portions, the first always ignores armour and just directly damages the enemy, the second normally deals no damage to HP, but if an enemy has armour it reduces the armour.
3. If the enemy is CCd, the 2nd damage portion is then applied to HP.

This helps to curb any potential HP bloat through armour, while also providing somewhat of a "boost" when the target is under the effect of a CC.
 

Desiderius

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Why are all you brain geniuses from on high ignoring the abilities that bypass armor altogether?
 

Gibson

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being a lazy fuck, I'll just ask here:

for a couch coop with controllers: OS1 or OS2? in which title does better fun lie combat-wise? We'll just ignore the Larian(TM) cringe when it comes to "humour" and their shitty story.

so far OS games are the only ones for PC that allow for 2 player offline coop with controllers, rite? we just wanna play a turn based game with offline coop and controllers.
 

Cryomancer

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All of this talk about encouraging or discouraging min/maxing, easy or hard... The problem of the armor system of DOS2 is simple. IT IS NONSENSICAL!!! Armor works deflecting blows, simple as that. From earlier roman lorica hammata/lorica segmentata to modern tank warfare, the armor is designed to deflect blows. D&D 2e with THAC0 and Armor Class did it right.

Now, lets imagine that I an trying to knock an enemy prone. On D&D, is a "roll" with randomness, is not guaranteed that I can knock him down. I can try maximize my chances, but never be sure. Now, with DOS2. The same "maneuver" would fail if the secondary hp bar >= 1 and succeed if secondary hp bar = 0.
 

anvi

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The problem with the armor system is that to remove the armor you have to build towards a damage build so that you can remove the armor in time for control magic to even be worth using. But the enemy HP is so low and the armor is so high that by the time you removed the armor, there isn't usually much point even messing about with control spells. You blasted all the armor off, you may as well just blast a bit more and finish the guy off. So in a good game I would have a damaging spell caster and then a control spell caster, in DoS2 I just ended up having 2 damaging spell casters and completing most battles including the final one on first attempt. So they failed at making control magic more balanced is my point, they just made me rarely use it at all and the game was shallower and boring because of it. The rechargeable super-spells were a stupid idea too. So was taking away your characters with all the items you gave them... And so was making it so damn linear. And so was the auto-gen loot, and 1000 other things that are all so amateurish and unnecessary.
 

Anonona

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I'll follow your advice and quote you here to avoid derailing the other thread (again).

Tuco's post in that thread best illustrated the problem in a succinct manner.

Excuse me that I only quote this part instead of Tuco's post fully, I do it to avoid making the post too long (it is long enough already).

Tuco point out quite well the issue of the armor being in a way an extra HP bar that must be erased before being able to do CC, and that once is broken CC is pretty much all that matters. My response, I'll be honest, is going to be considered quite poor. While I can see how you and Tuco may consider it a flaw, I actually find the system fun in its own way. Putting aside balance problem with the power of the skills, I find that the systems encourages both to maximize damage and to make a "responsible" use of your skills. This is because many of the same skills that deal damage also are used to perform CC. Due to the cooldown system, this creates a choice of when to use each skill and to consider the risk and benefits of doing so; "Do I cast Electric Discharge to damage my opponents, or wait until its armor is off to Stun them?" Then you have to add many skills that either target armour itself, feats that allow you to inflict certain status effect on enemies despite having armour, and skills that outright let you hurt enemy HP despite having armour. Then you have more powerful spells like Equalize and Exchange Vitality, so there is more nuisance and strategies than just damage. I know this answer pretty much amounts to a "I like it", but the same issue Tuco points out I didn't find it that problematic simply put because I enjoyed the idea of maximizing damage while protecting yourself. Is not a system I want in every game, but I did find it to be unique and fun and wouldn't mind the idea being more worked upon in future Divinity titles (if BG3 doesn't end up ruining the company).

The thing is, because of how unbalanced the system is, the fact that it encourages stacking a single damage type (to be specific, physical is heavily favored), isn't really that noticeable. There are many powers which will outright 1 hit enemies (its surprising this game isn't Victor's wet dream considering how OP the necromancy spells are) and in order to bring any semblance of balance to the system, you either need to avoid whole swaths of abilities, or you need to mod the game a bunch.

From memory, there were only 2 or 3 enemies in the entire game which had physical resistance, the player clone during a dream sequence, the bat voidwoken and some of the creatures in the consulate. In contrast, most enemies in the game had resistances to 1 or more type of elemental damage and the resistance values were not low, sometimes going to values which would cause the powers to heal them. Yeah, it ultimately did not matter because damage values even post resistances to all damage types still far exceeded HP totals, but that doesn't mean the problem was not there, just that the system disguised it.

I agree with this, but I think it was more of an issue with the balancing of the game and the enemy design than of the armor system itself. Probably by balancing the HP and Armor Values and the resistances of the enemies and trying to reduce the power creep of later levels you could solve these issues. The problem lies with the stats being just increments of damage and being able to gain so many as the player levels up. Yet again, I agree, the game had balance issues specially on the later half of the game.

To play a bit of devil's advocate however, there are ways to work around this in the game with skills like Flay Skin which reduced enemies resistances a 50% and destroyed Magical Armour, which was great on Martials as it scaled with STR, and you could use it to support the casters. As well as skills like bleed fire allowing you to reduce even more resistance to fire spells. Also to the damage of spells, things like the burning and poison status effects should be taken into account, as well as surfaces, which mages were the masters of creating and controlling, which added to the overall damage potential of mages. Talents like Elemental affinity and Torturer further improves mages damage potential, allowing, as I said before, to inflict damaging status despite the enemy having magical armour, while Elemental affinity reduces the AP costs of casting spells, which is incredible valuable and greatly increases your damage per turn.

Also a lot of these claims also seem to ignore the fact that you have to go through the first 2 acts first before reaches those levels of power. I had seen people said that you should go full magical at the beginning and then full physical after a certain chapter or level. This I find an indictment more on the players than of the game itself. Not so different, for example, of building your Pathfinder KM team to deal better the enemies of an specific chapter and then using the respec option to change them to another specific build better suit for the next one. It requires meta knowledge of the game and it works so well due to the easiness of respecting characters in the game instead of any flaw on the system itself.

Despite this long rant, though, I agree with this point of your post and I too would had liked for Larian to adjust the stats and enemies to avoid this issue.
 

Nano

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Is still astounds me that D:OS2's armor system is a thing that happened. It completely sucks any fun out of their combat system. Why would anyone ever think it was a good idea?
 

Shrimp

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Is still astounds me that D:OS2's armor system is a thing that happened. It completely sucks any fun out of their combat system. Why would anyone ever think it was a good idea?
Swen Vincke said in a GDC talk that it was their attempt at preventing combat from ending up like in D:OS1 where whichever side got their stuns out first were in a heavily favourable position. I assume this also is why they decided to go with a forced you-them-you-them turn system instead of a regular initiative order, but I don't think he mentions this.
He admits that in hindsight it wasn't the right thing to do, but I have no idea whether he genuinely believes this himself or if it's just something he says since it ended up being one of the most common complaints about D:OS2's gameplay.
 

gurugeorge

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Is still astounds me that D:OS2's armor system is a thing that happened. It completely sucks any fun out of their combat system. Why would anyone ever think it was a good idea?
Swen Vincke said in a GDC talk that it was their attempt at preventing combat from ending up like in D:OS1 where whichever side got their stuns out first were in a heavily favourable position. I assume this also is why they decided to go with a forced you-them-you-them turn system instead of a regular initiative order, but I don't think he mentions this.

Which is completely stupid because everybody and their mother loved DOS and thought it was a fun game. And it really put Larian on the map. Also, it brought fun and a sense of power back to CC. DOS CC was the best CC fun I'd had since the almighty Controller in City of Heroes (a game that got the balance of mechanics and interdependency of roles between "CC," "support," "tanking" and "damage" nigh perfect).

DOS2 on the other hand, was just a chore. We all bought it, but who actually finished it or even got a third of the way through it? And we were back to "damage is king" - which is the most boring videogame trope of them all.

Why change a winning formula?

smh
 

Asymptotics

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I assume this also is why they decided to go with a forced you-them-you-them turn system instead of a regular initiative order
I hated this so much. Not only does it punish having high initiative on all your party members, but it also rewards ignoring it at all on most of your party. You can basically just have 3/4ths of your party in a wheelchair and they'll still go 3rd/4th because an enemy just had a turn. Same also applies backwards.
Honestly feels like this just takes away even more depth from the game. I always enjoyed the idea of having some fast flanking characters that get in behind the enemies to disable them or lay some traps. But combine this fucking armor system with the retarded-robin initiative system - and you got yourself the recipe for a relatively boring combat system. Even if you go first - you can't do shit but buff or attack someone to remove their physical/magic armor so someone else could disable them later down the line.

Now about the armor system.
I never really felt like a mixed party was unviable in this game (it's a really easy fucking game to be honest). My main gripes with it come from the fact that a free respec system is a part of the base game. Pair this with the undeniable fact that the first part of the game clearly favors magical damage, while the other part favors physical damage and you find yourself in situations where your forgotten once-legendary undead mage suddenly decides he's Legolas midway through the campaign. From a role-playing perspective this is absolutely ridiculous.
Now of course, this is easily avoided if you just use a mixed party, but I feel like min-maxing happens naturally to a lot of players even if they don't go out of their way to do it.
Other than that, the system is just way too simple. Sure there's spells/abilities that ignore armor, but still. Even if the target has 1/500 armor - it will still shrug off the stun or w/e. It would've been a much better system in my opinion if 100/100 armor provided 95% (or something like that) resistance to disabilities and it went down gradually as you lost armor.

Now having said that, I still enjoyed the game a bit, though not nearly as much as the original D:OS.
 

Seethe

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Is still astounds me that D:OS2's armor system is a thing that happened. It completely sucks any fun out of their combat system. Why would anyone ever think it was a good idea?
Swen Vincke said in a GDC talk that it was their attempt at preventing combat from ending up like in D:OS1 where whichever side got their stuns out first were in a heavily favourable position. I assume this also is why they decided to go with a forced you-them-you-them turn system instead of a regular initiative order, but I don't think he mentions this.

Which is completely stupid because everybody and their mother loved DOS and thought it was a fun game. And it really put Larian on the map. Also, it brought fun and a sense of power back to CC. DOS CC was the best CC fun I'd had since the almighty Controller in City of Heroes (a game that got the balance of mechanics and interdependency of roles between "CC," "support," "tanking" and "damage" nigh perfect).

DOS2 on the other hand, was just a chore. We all bought it, but who actually finished it or even got a third of the way through it? And we were back to "damage is king" - which is the most boring videogame trope of them all.

Why change a winning formula?

smh

I finished it. I finished it because I didn't want to feel like I wasted my money. The armor system just turned the game into nothing more than a DPS race. Also by the way it's not just the armor system that was designed to prevent using CC as a tactic, but also the encounter design (you got ambushed 90% of the time from what I recall) and IMO even worse than the armor system: initiative being useless due to round robin turns. It just felt so railroaded, the developers really really wanted players to play in a specific way which is especially idiotic in an RPG
 

Artyoan

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I had two main issues with it:
1. Combat became too predictable and rigid in how it plays out. Strip armor via damage, CC if necessary, or just burst it. That is the general approach to almost everything. Its too controlled in the end. You end up with those rare but memorable 'unlikely' CC attempts filtered out because they have no chance.
2. Having a character incapable of physical or magic damage can result in situations where there is no reason to damage a remaining enemy who has the associated damage type still armored, but the other is stripped. If my 'mage' has no reason to cast a spell because the enemy has magic armor still full, but no physical armor, it is deeply unsatisfying to just waste the turn from a realism standpoint. He's near death but my fireball will do jack shit.

Better to create a system that is quite a bit more dynamic than extra health bars and binary CC. That said, I don't hate this system to the point that it ruined anything for me. The game has bigger problems like the bloat loot and +5% damage stats imo.
 

Desiderius

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Having a character incapable of physical or magic damage

Why do that?

It was trivially easy to offer multiple angles of attack by mid-game. If anything that ease was the primary flaw which they tried to remedy through exponential level scaling which led as always into tedious item chasing. What mystified me, and the first game had the same drawback, is that you stop getting new skills and abilities halfway through the game. So you're mindless vendor shopping to find new items without any hope of getting to new abilities to add variety to gameplay... that was the point in both games that I couldn't get beyond.
 

DraQ

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Is still astounds me that D:OS2's armor system is a thing that happened. It completely sucks any fun out of their combat system. Why would anyone ever think it was a good idea?
Swen Vincke said in a GDC talk that it was their attempt at preventing combat from ending up like in D:OS1 where whichever side got their stuns out first were in a heavily favourable position. I assume this also is why they decided to go with a forced you-them-you-them turn system instead of a regular initiative order, but I don't think he mentions this.
This.
This is what happens when you try to think like a :balance:.
It's shameful what it is.
 

Stavrophore

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Is still astounds me that D:OS2's armor system is a thing that happened. It completely sucks any fun out of their combat system. Why would anyone ever think it was a good idea?
Swen Vincke said in a GDC talk that it was their attempt at preventing combat from ending up like in D:OS1 where whichever side got their stuns out first were in a heavily favourable position. I assume this also is why they decided to go with a forced you-them-you-them turn system instead of a regular initiative order, but I don't think he mentions this.

Which is completely stupid because everybody and their mother loved DOS and thought it was a fun game. And it really put Larian on the map. Also, it brought fun and a sense of power back to CC. DOS CC was the best CC fun I'd had since the almighty Controller in City of Heroes (a game that got the balance of mechanics and interdependency of roles between "CC," "support," "tanking" and "damage" nigh perfect).

DOS2 on the other hand, was just a chore. We all bought it, but who actually finished it or even got a third of the way through it? And we were back to "damage is king" - which is the most boring videogame trope of them all.

Why change a winning formula?

smh

People abused it with charming mobs.
 

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