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Divinity Is Fort Joy well designed? And if so, is it the only DOS2 area to feature interesting design?

Jezal_k23

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While DOS2 has a host of unfortunate issues that have never been addressed by Larian (although thankfully modders have made attempts to fix the most serious issues), it has just occurred to me that one area the game excels at happens to be the overall design of Fort Joy.

Although the rest of the game fails to hold up to how well thought out Fort Joy is, demonstrating Larian's usual MO of putting the best content in the first 20-30 hours of the game (followed by about 70 hours of commonly uninspired content), I think Fort Joy excels at much of what it set out to do: offering you tons of options on how to resolve the situation and escape.

I can think of several escape routes right now:
  • Fighting through the magisters, leading you to the docks, or to the drawbridge that takes you to the swamps, or to the Hall of Penitence and escaping through the broken ladder found there.
  • Teleporting yourself to the docks leading to the swamp.
  • Entering the dungeons through the cave on the secluded beach featured in Gawyn's quest, or through the shortcut revealed to you during "Withermoore's soul jar" quest, or through getting arrested on purpose, and from the dungeons you can either:
    • Go back to the surface and take any of the previously mentioned routes stealthily if need be.
    • Take the boat to the swamps.
    • Fight Kniles or persuade him to let you through the tunnel to the swamps.
So, maybe that is to say that if DOS2 has one positive thing going for it, it is Fort Joy. But I don't think the game ever comes close to replicating this success again.

What does everyone else think?
 
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I can think of several escape routes right now:
  • Fighting through the magisters, leading you to the docks, or to the drawbridge that takes you to the swamps, or to the Hall of Penitence and escaping through the broken ladder found there.
  • Teleporting yourself to the docks leading to the swamp.
  • Entering the dungeons through the cave on the secluded beach featured in Gawyn's quest, or through the shortcut revealed to you during "Withermoore's soul jar" quest, or through getting arrested on purpose, and from the dungeons you can either:
    • Go back to the surface and take any of the previously mentioned routes stealthily if need be.
    • Take the boat to the swamps.
    • Fight Kniles or persuade him to let you through the tunnel to the swamps.

In the cathedral part there's a painting you can move to get behind it and there's a way to drop down
think I remembered that right, anyways.
 

Sweeper

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Compare it to Cyseal. Even the fucking location and quest design is worse in D:OS 2 than 1.
It's literally a step back in every single aspect compared to the first game, which wasn't that great to begin with.
And don't even get me started on how they gutted the already poor character building.
 

overly excitable young man

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No! It sux horribly, is incredibly boring and gives you a great introduction what the game is like.
 

Darth Roxor

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Fort Joy is terribly overrated. That place feels like an attempt to take the old camp from Gothic 1 and recreate it in a vacuum. The design is all over the place, including the general theme and its plausibility given the way the entire thing has been structured. Lukaszek already mentioned my primary grievance, which is that Fort Joy is supposed to be Auschwitz and yet you can escape it by accident.

There's more to it though, and while my memory atm is hazy, I think it also kept showing the magisters as patently incompetent (I clearly remember "best prison guards" was a common reaction we had with a friend when cooping through it), while the prisoners are secretely armed to the teeth and know all the ins and outs of the prison. And then when you finally break out and kill all the guards the prisoners still slouch about in mud and complain about their woes.

Nothing in Fort Joy makes sense. If you ask me, there are many signs which point that it used to be different but was repurposed to something else later in development, and I'd say the primary piece of evidence is the way it looks. It has that ruined appearance that would fit an old, crumbling structure being taken over and fortified by a vanguard force or whatever, but it definitely doesn't look like a damn high-security prison established specifically to keep extremely dangerous people locked up.
 

lukaszek

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deterministic system > RNG
 
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NJClaw

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I really don't like being the one defending Larian, but the general low security of Fort Joy makes sense for two reasons:
- the island itself is the only "fortification" needed to hold the prisoners. Even if someone manages to escape the structure, nobody can leave the island without a boat (still, this is true only if we assume that those "source-collars" are able to stop the most degenerate forms of magic like long-range teleportation);
- the Magisters really aren't administering Fort Joy as a prison, but as a laboratory. They don't care about their guard duties, because they don't care about their role as prison guards: they just want to keep their experiments going.
 

Tigranes

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1. Fort Joy is the only decently designed 'level' in DOS2. Everything else rapidly slides down incoherent themepark slope.

2. Fort Joy's weird poronousness can be explained away as others have said - but gameplay wise it would have been so much more interesting if it actually worked more like a penal colony. The physical barriers and the attempt ot escape, the low morale and desperate attempts of other prisoners, the hope of using caverns or the main fort building basement etc to bypass tight security. Instead, it's deflating when you realise it's just a free entry theme park filled with a few interesting things to do.

3. For these reasons, Fort Joy ends up being a pale shadow of DOS1 Cyseal as well.
 

OldNorseSaga

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Well, both yes and no, Fort Joy is both well designed and designed poor
The others has said it before, you're not supposed to escaped by chance, but that's the grieveance of choices matter... especially when devs think they thought of something clever in game design.
 

sullynathan

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I do believe there's far too many chances to escape and also give xp. By the second playthrough when I already knew every route to freedom, it's funny going back to areas I could've taken simply because the game will reward my character with xp for doing so.

The Island of Ascension to godhood is also like this too, but getting to the location where you can skip all the content and immediately ascend to godhood is a bit too easy in itself.

There's more to it though, and while my memory atm is hazy, I think it also kept showing the magisters as patently incompetent (I clearly remember "best prison guards" was a common reaction we had with a friend when cooping through it), while the prisoners are secretely armed to the teeth and know all the ins and outs of the prison. And then when you finally break out and kill all the guards the prisoners still slouch about in mud and complain about their woes.

Nothing in Fort Joy makes sense. If you ask me, there are many signs which point that it used to be different but was repurposed to something else later in development, and I'd say the primary piece of evidence is the way it looks. It has that ruined appearance that would fit an old, crumbling structure being taken over and fortified by a vanguard force or whatever, but it definitely doesn't look like a damn high-security prison established specifically to keep extremely dangerous people locked up.
I was surprised to find that the entire thing has been going on in universe for many years, and I wouldn't have known that if I didn't read the lore book that came with the game.
 

Luckmann

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If you ask me, there are many signs which point that it used to be different but was repurposed to something else later in development, and I'd say the primary piece of evidence is the way it looks. It has that ruined appearance that would fit an old, crumbling structure being taken over and fortified by a vanguard force or whatever, but it definitely doesn't look like a damn high-security prison established specifically to keep extremely dangerous people locked up.
It is my understanding that Fort Joy was supposed to be substantially harsher, but early alpha/beta-testers bitched too much about it. It was actually supposed to be quite hardcore, with more of a "prison island full of bad people" rather than "an actual prison but not really". You were supposed to be dumped there and then prison-shiv your way through it, more or less.

This is still the vibe you get very, very early on when arriving to the island (before you make it to the fort) and it's the reason there's all these recipes for making makeshift equipment.

All of that was thrown out because Larian are visionless hacks that cannot take criticism.
 

DraQ

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There is a lot of good deign to the Joy, but yeah, it's severely undercut by just not being nearly as limiting or reactive as it should be.
It's the most damning flaw also seen in open world design that the player can just have their way with everything without any pressure.
And it's only exacerbated by the use of XP-based systems that encourage backtracking and milking everything for the precious chardev currency.

It is my understanding that Fort Joy was supposed to be substantially harsher, but early alpha/beta-testers bitched too much about it. It was actually supposed to be quite hardcore, with more of a "prison island full of bad people" rather than "an actual prison but not really". You were supposed to be dumped there and then prison-shiv your way through it, more or less.

This is still the vibe you get very, very early on when arriving to the island (before you make it to the fort) and it's the reason there's all these recipes for making makeshift equipment.
Why the fuck do people hire testers who can barely breath unassisted due to how complicated it is?

All of that was thrown out because Larian are visionless hacks that cannot take criticism.
OTOH they stuck to their armour system, bloat, initiative and item rollercoaster with completely unreasonable tenacity.
 

Tigranes

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It is my understanding that Fort Joy was supposed to be substantially harsher, but early alpha/beta-testers bitched too much about it. It was actually supposed to be quite hardcore, with more of a "prison island full of bad people" rather than "an actual prison but not really". You were supposed to be dumped there and then prison-shiv your way through it, more or less.

This is still the vibe you get very, very early on when arriving to the island (before you make it to the fort) and it's the reason there's all these recipes for making makeshift equipment.
Why the fuck do people hire testers who can barely breath unassisted due to how complicated it is?

Because they wanted testers representative of their market?

Mixed Steam reviews "IMPOSSIBLE TO BEAT THE VERY FIRST FIGHT WITH THE ASSISSIN OMG WHAT A SADISTIC GAME" would really have crimped the sales.
 

Serious_Business

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I also remember that in the original version, one of the protagonists was painted as some kind of sordid drug addict - who became a more generic rpg guy later on (with the revenge story, I think). The drug addict character would have been quite amusing if it forced the player to make seriously questionable decisions for no power gain whatsoever. Honestly Fort Joy to me seemed like it revolutionized the tone of Larian games in general, I was pretty optimistic about it at first ; I thought they would subvert what they did previously - and they did to an extent of course, as the antagonist is more or less the protagonist of the first game. However I'm not sure if there is much to subvert in Larian games, as they tend to be too light tone to allow a subversion ; the best they can do probably is to go light all the way and not pretend at seriousness. In a Larian game character death effectively has no tonal impact because every character feels like a puppet being played by a amateur comic actor - but this can work to their advantage if they decided to step away from all kind of gravitas.
 

The Wall

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It is my understanding that Fort Joy was supposed to be substantially harsher, but early alpha/beta-testers bitched too much about it. It was actually supposed to be quite hardcore, with more of a "prison island full of bad people" rather than "an actual prison but not really". You were supposed to be dumped there and then prison-shiv your way through it, more or less.

This is still the vibe you get very, very early on when arriving to the island (before you make it to the fort) and it's the reason there's all these recipes for making makeshift equipment.

All of that was thrown out because Larian are visionless hacks that cannot take criticism.

Gamers are fucking terrible game designers! We would have exactly:0 classics and only one genre, if games were designed by Steamtards from the beginning. Devs should ignore cries and drink tears of Steam babies. God, I hate gamers!
 

The Wall

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Since games started being designed by Bureau of Steam Babies, all hardcore, innovative, new game designs were lined up and shot. Give them their own difficulty, that should make Steam babies shut up? WRONG! They want to play game on hard and never lose. They are allergic to thinking. They know only two repetitive phrases: Balance.TM and Quality of Life Improvements.TM. Translated: make sure game bows down before me and sucks my unwashed dick

Is all criticism from Steam gamers always invalid and is there such thing as wildly inbalanced gameplay and UI design which could use QoL improvements? ABSOLUTELY! But 9/10 times all complaining is code for: I suck in real life, I gave you my last 10$, please make game give me constant blowjob, cause my wife refuses

Almost every game that had some unique design style, was creatively castrated by Bureau of Steam Babies and made into exactly the same bland, easy and predictable game as rest of Steamtard's owned games list. I hope that in that regard DoS2 and BG3 won't share the same fate. I hope Larian hires some Japanese game designers, because they seem to have found balance between listening to feedback and knowing when to shut up gamers with their game's giant horse cock. Now you are my game's bitch
 

The Wall

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If Baldur's Gate 2 entered Early Access today, one year later it would come out as Dragon Age: Origins. And that's if we're lucky. Just fuck most people's opinions (and Codex ratings). Most people, most of the time, are retarded.TM
 
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Codex Year of the Donut
If you ask me, there are many signs which point that it used to be different but was repurposed to something else later in development, and I'd say the primary piece of evidence is the way it looks. It has that ruined appearance that would fit an old, crumbling structure being taken over and fortified by a vanguard force or whatever, but it definitely doesn't look like a damn high-security prison established specifically to keep extremely dangerous people locked up.
It is my understanding that Fort Joy was supposed to be substantially harsher, but early alpha/beta-testers bitched too much about it. It was actually supposed to be quite hardcore, with more of a "prison island full of bad people" rather than "an actual prison but not really". You were supposed to be dumped there and then prison-shiv your way through it, more or less.

This is still the vibe you get very, very early on when arriving to the island (before you make it to the fort) and it's the reason there's all these recipes for making makeshift equipment.

All of that was thrown out because Larian are visionless hacks that cannot take criticism.
the release version on tactician is harder than the beta was
 
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Codex Year of the Donut
Fort Joy is terribly overrated. That place feels like an attempt to take the old camp from Gothic 1 and recreate it in a vacuum. The design is all over the place, including the general theme and its plausibility given the way the entire thing has been structured. Lukaszek already mentioned my primary grievance, which is that Fort Joy is supposed to be Auschwitz and yet you can escape it by accident.

There's more to it though, and while my memory atm is hazy, I think it also kept showing the magisters as patently incompetent (I clearly remember "best prison guards" was a common reaction we had with a friend when cooping through it), while the prisoners are secretely armed to the teeth and know all the ins and outs of the prison. And then when you finally break out and kill all the guards the prisoners still slouch about in mud and complain about their woes.

Nothing in Fort Joy makes sense. If you ask me, there are many signs which point that it used to be different but was repurposed to something else later in development, and I'd say the primary piece of evidence is the way it looks. It has that ruined appearance that would fit an old, crumbling structure being taken over and fortified by a vanguard force or whatever, but it definitely doesn't look like a damn high-security prison established specifically to keep extremely dangerous people locked up.
Fort joy isn't the prison, the island is you dumbshit.

And it's not meant to look like a prison, it's meant to be an exile for sourcerers, magisters even imply they (believe) they're doing it for your own good. It's a penal colony.
 
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Konjad

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The Fort Joy is great only if you compare it to the rest of the game, because otherwise it's shit. I enjoyed DOS so much I played it 4 times (completing only once, later after Cyseal game gets bland), and yet I couldn't even bother to play much DOS2. I finished Fort Joy thinking something like Cyseal awaits me afterwards...


boiii, was I disappointed.
 
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The Fort Joy is great only if you compare it to the rest of the game, because otherwise it's shit. I enjoyed DOS so much I played it 4 times (completing only once, later after Cyseal game gets bland), and yet I couldn't even bother to play much DOS2. I finished Fort Joy thinking something like Cyseal awaits me afterwards...


boiii, was I disappointed.
Don't worry, you'll praise DOS2 for being great in another 5 years when it's old enough to be trendy for the codex.
 

Konjad

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The Fort Joy is great only if you compare it to the rest of the game, because otherwise it's shit. I enjoyed DOS so much I played it 4 times (completing only once, later after Cyseal game gets bland), and yet I couldn't even bother to play much DOS2. I finished Fort Joy thinking something like Cyseal awaits me afterwards...


boiii, was I disappointed.
Don't worry, you'll praise DOS2 for being great in another 5 years when it's old enough to be trendy for the codex.
Can you name a single game I disliked at first and posted about it on 'dex, then changed my mind few years down the line?

I don't remember ever doing anything like this, so please, share it and remind me.
 
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Fort Joy is not really a prison, the whole island is !
Why do people behave like it is then ? You even have some famous prison clichés thrown in there, with the big boss smuggling shit etc.
Why do you get XP for escaping it, if it's not to be escaped in the first place ?
Don't you have camps of people who "fled fort joy" out in the wild ? What are they hiding from if they're still captives ?

It still makes little sense, really.
 
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Why do people behave like it is then ? You even have some famous prison clichés thrown in there, with the big boss smuggling hit etc.
Did you ever consider that most of the people there don't want to leave the fort?
Yes, there's prison cliches, because the island is the prison and the fort is on the island.

Where the fuck are they going to go? Get eaten in the wilds? Used as a necromancer's playtoy? The docks -- The one that's guarded by fucking shriekers? Oh right, there's the heavy security at the actual exit. To escape from the island it took a bunch of experts that (mostly) purposely got themselves imprisoned working together, along with Gareth and his companions.
Why do you get XP for escaping it, if it's not to be escaped in the first place ?
Don't you have camps of people who "fled fort joy" out in the wild ? What are they hiding from if they're still captives ?
You either didn't play the game or you're an ESL, maybe both.
 

NJClaw

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Don't you have camps of people who "fled fort joy" out in the wild ? What are they hiding from if they're still captives ?
They are planning an attack on the magisters, and they are hiding because they are not ready to face them yet.
 

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