There you have it, folks. I got lucky on EVERY SINGLE FIGHT, can you believe that!? RNG must really love me!
This video is definitive proof that proper character building can and WILL succeed every time. Ofc, you don't really have to go crazy like I did, with an uncut ironman game just to prove a point. I believe giving yourself something like 2 reloads per city is pretty "fair", if you consider that getting insanely unlucky is not that hard.
My build was nothing surprising, it was centered around the 4 skills that are, IMO, the best combat skills in the game, namely: Axe, Dodge, Crafting and Alchemy. I went full combat with stats: 10-9-9-4-4-4. I started going with 10-10-8-4-4-4, but I realized 11 AP armors are simply much better than their 12 AP counterparts. The 1 extra AP isn't really worth it.
And now that my game is finally up, I wanna share some thoughts on AoD's combat system.
About combat in general
I LIKE the combat system. For a game that is supposedly "not about killing people", AoD sure boasts a pretty strong and fun combat system (once you use the oh-so-important $pref::Video::animationSpeed = "4" console command). The people insisting that the system is simply about whacking the guy in front of you and praying for a merciful RNG simply never bothered to explore all the options the game gives you.
There are tons of different and fun things you can set out to do in AoD. Cleaving people with an axe, like I do in the video, is pretty straightforward and effective. You can also grab a spear and kite everyone to death. Crossbows and liquid fire? They are a hybrid's best friend. Bombs? I had tons of fun during a playthrough on which I maxed out alchemy before Haran's Pass, winning that fight simply by spamming bombs while my allies enjoyed 100% THC against every single Ordu warrior. I saw Shadenuat posting about killing Agatoth with throwing knives, gotta try that too.
The bottom line is: there is a LOT you can do in AoD combat. It may not be as rich as say D:OS (because it's a low/no-magic setting), but it sure as hell is richer than Fallout.
About RNG "lolrandom"
RNG was there from the very beginning, playing a part on every single RPG in the history of forever. AoD got singled out because, for the first time in a long, LONG time, the odds are stacked AGAINST you. You're usually outnumbered, your enemies have a lot more dice rolls than you do. And that's when bad things happen. I should know.
I lost one of my ironman runs because Dellar scored two criticals in a row against my guy, dropping him from 55 to 15 hp in a single turn. What did I do wrong? Nothing, really. I simply won the RNG lottery in that fight. I could've given up right there since I had "proof" that RNG can screw you. In fact, I was really pissed off when it happened. But then I cooled down and realized that none of that would've happened if I never tried to tank Dellar in the first place. Next Kingslayer fight I used bolas against Dellar. Success. By the way, the playthrough on which Dellar fucked my game was the last failed attempt at recording this video.
So, yeah, RNG gonna RNG. If you wanna preserve your sanity, I suggest saving regularly and reloading when your 75% THC attack against Dellar misses 5 times in a row. But here is the thing: you can ALWAYS avoid the RNG lottery. Dellar can't crit you if he is attacking your ally, or if he is immobilized, or if you're attacking him from outside his range (diagonals FTW!). As I said, there is a LOT you can do in AoD combat.
Personally, I admire the resolve involved in sticking to a TRUE RNG system. VD could've saved himself some pain and criticism by either adopting a pseudo-random algorithm instead of a truly random one OR simply by making the game a bit easier. None of those things happened and I applaud the AoD team for not caving to pressure and sticking to their guns.
About BALANCE (yes, really)
"Balance" is an ugly word here in the Codex. This forum is full of people who believe Josh Sawyer invented the notion of balance. Not only are they WRONG, they are also giving that hack a credit he doesn't deserve. Balance has been an important consideration in every game you've ever played. It should be noted that balance should NEVER be the "end goal" of game development, but it IS an important thing to consider.
AoD is VERY well balanced. I know I said dodge >>>> block and the character in my video is obviously a dodger. But from what little I messed around with blocking, I noticed IMMEDIATELY that bows and crossbows are no longer the WMD I always considered them to be. I think AoD's balance feels good because they clearly chose asymmetrical balance of going for that same-ish symmetrical bullshit. Axes and swords in AoD are more like apples and oranges rather than green apples and red apples.
Weapons in AoD aren't meant to be just a cosmetic consideration, each and every one of them brings a passive to the table and every single one of these passives gets to shine in a particular situation. THAT is how RPG balance should be done. There are no "trap" options in AoD, but that doesn't mean you can't make wrong choices. Learning from your mistakes is part of the fun in AoD.
When you compare AoD to PoE the difference of "balance philosophies" becomes obvious. In PoE you have tons of different weapons, but they all end up doing the exact same thing. Weapons from different classes have the same damage and speed factor. In the end, the "choice" boils down to choosing whatever you think looks best. In AoD weapons from the same AP cost have the same damage, but different stats and completely different passives and move sets.
Choosing between Axe and Sword is not about deciding which looks best, but rather whether you want a STR or a DEX based weapon and whether your fighting strategy relies on direct damage or DoT. And after that, you have to decide if you're going for one handed + consumables or two-handed. One handed? OK. 4 or 5 AP? Regular attacks to the body or aimed arterial strikes? CS or no CS? Decisions, decisions! And every single one of them MATTERS. A lot.
And then you add crafting, alchemy, nets, and bolas to the mix. Crafting and alchemy are amazingly good. They reward the player's investment properly. There is nothing worse than investing a lot of time and effort into a skill (say, Crafting 10) only to realize "WOW, my legendary blacksmith guy can make a sword that deals 10% more damage than a regular sword! 10%!!!! Thanks Obama!". That's not how AoD works.
When you invest on something in AoD, you WILL get your investment's worth. A regular iron gladius deals 8-13 damage for 4 AP at maximum STR. At minimum STR? 5-7. A maxed out DEX character has 12 AP, while minimum DEX investment results in 6 AP. Maximum CON gives you 60 HP, while 4 CON gives you 30 HP. Every character building decision MATTER. Every investment pays off.
The end result of all that is a HUGE discrepancy between a good player and a bad one. A good player will consistently choose correctly, and in the end...well...just look at how my guy Maximus Murderus one shots Crassus Legionaires near the end of the video. A bad player will choose poorly, resulting in 1/5 game reviews by butthurt morons, who complain about getting killed too fast while their defensive skills all rest neatly at skill level ONE (yeah, there is a review like that).
I really enjoyed AoD. I have more than 200 hours of gameplay and I really need to get around to writing a review in the lines of "the game is not that hard, you're just dumb". Someone gotta counter those butthurt Frenchies...
As for the video, I uploaded full HD footage. It took literally four days to upload (1mb upload FTL ) and it's also taking some time for youtube to process and publish the 1080p version of the video. But I hope full HD will be available in another 24 hours or so. I'll be adding some timestamps later this week, for people interested in "that one fight against X that is REALLY hard and impossible to beat without LUCK".
Well, I hope you guys enjoy the video!
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