Collaborative Storytelling In Pillars Of Eternity

I take roleplaying seriously. That’s not to say I have a cupboard full of lucky dice or a handcrafted elven tunic – what I mean to say is that when I play an RPG, I try to make all of my decisions based on my character rather than the systems. I’ll pass up a huge pile of loot if I don’t think that taking it would be in-character. Roleplaying is a performance of sorts and Pillars of Eternity [official site] encourages my particular approach to the genre by combining a huge, tightly scripted plot with systems that go some way toward mimicking the best qualities of a human Dungeon Master.

Pillars of Eternity is a free-form game. It’s heavily scripted of course, as much about story as RPG systems (and story IS, perhaps, the ultimate RPG system), but it offers a model of “open” gaming that runs against the trend of open world adventuring. There’s plenty to do in Obsidian’s latest and you’re likely to end up with a sizable log of ongoing quests, but the emphasis is always on your approach to those tasks and side stories rather than the sheer quantity of them.

It’s an open character game rather than an open world game, and where the structure of many modern RPGs might ask “Which of the 5,000 available quests do you want to tackle next?”, Pillars is usually asking a more ambitious follow-up question: “How do you want to tackle it?”

I spoke to Josh Sawyer a couple of months before the game’s release and we spent a few minutes discussing the influence of pen and paper RPGs. Now that I’ve played the game – although I haven’t finished it – it’s easy to see how those influences have been translated. One of the design objectives that Sawyer mentioned involved enormous charts tracking the instances in the game when each skill, ability or trait could be utilised, or affected an encounter. The goal was to ensure that the game was inclusive, in the sense that every choice would be rewarded rather than leading to regret.

Characters in a party-based RPG can sometimes feel like keys on a ring. Reach a certain point in a certain dungeon and you might realise that you need a rogue to disarm the traps and pick he locks. Later on, you might need a wizard to defuse some arcane mystery. You’ll definitely need a cleric to bandage your wounds.

In Pillars, the player character is a skeleton key. The game constantly contorts its scenarios to ensure that your choices are the RIGHT choices – not necessarily the BEST choices, but decisions that will be rewarded in some way. You should never feel that you picked the least exciting option when levelling up because the game is moulding itself around the role you want to play rather than demanding that you bring a specific toolset or bag of tricks to the table.

Implemented successfully, as it is in Pillars, it’s the kind of systemic design that doesn’t draw attention to itself. We’re much more likely to notice a dead-end than a doorway.

The charts that Obsidian drew up, tracking the relevance of each ability, are more than abstract checklists. True enough, the mathematical data proved useful when working on balance. The charts helped the developers to introduce new solutions to some scenarios that used previously underutilised skills, and if two similar abilities both appeared rarely, the charts provided evidence to support a decision to merge those abilities. But Pillars of Eternity’s number-crunching is more than simple box-ticking – it’s a weird simulation of a human being.

By contorting itself to accommodate the player character’s whims, Pillars of Eternity is attempting to mimic the improvisational qualities that are the mark of a good Dungeon Master. Behind all of the checklists and quotas, Obsidian’s RPG ethos is focused on the freedom of roleplaying within a narrative. It’s a game in which breadth is as important as length and depth, eager as it is to accommodate all play styles.

“Play styles” aren’t limited to combat, or difficulty settings. If you want to test every conversation choice and aim for an optimal outcome, Pillars supports that. But if you’d rather take the cultural background and lore around your character to heart, and develop his/her personality as you play, the game is designed to respond to that by allowing you to stay in character as much as possible.

Of course, it isn’t really responding at all. Every outcome is scripted rather than dynamically generated, and that’s the thing that I’ve found most impressive. Sawyer told me, before release, that he didn’t want the game to be like a bad Dungeon Master. As he described what makes a social pen and paper RPG session work well, I was reminded of improvised comedy – you take what your partners throw at you and you run with it. Never shut the conversation down and always roll with suggestions, incorporating them as best you can.

A tightly scripted singleplayer epic like Pillars of Eternity will never be able to respond to every possible player input but that it can even come close to approximating a social experience is wonderful. I’ve become accustomed to equating collaborative storytelling, between a designer and a player, as a thing that’s best achieved in games that either show without telling or string together procedural phrases. In the former category I’d place everything from Cities: Skylines to Euro Truck Simulator, and the latter includes both Dwarf Fortress and Football Manager.

Pillars of Eternity is the rare example of a game with a strong authorial voice and enormous script that still leaves space for many player roles. It’s that, more than any nostalgia buzz, that’s likely to keep me playing for another forty or fifty hours, and then replaying to tell the same story with a different voice.

Pillars of Eternity is available now – here is our review.

53 Comments

  1. sixsixtrample says:

    What has amazed me with this game so far, and I’m only a few hours in, is that I have had to make very difficult choices in these quests.

    I won’t spoil anything, but there are multiples quests in the first town alone that I sat and stared at the dialog options, wondering not only ‘What would I do?’, but ‘What would my character do?’. There never once was a black and white ‘good’ or ‘evil’ choice. These were things that actually had me thinking and really caring about characters I would be affecting with my choices.

    I frackin’ love this game.

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      heretic says:

      sounds amazing, really want to pick this up but working on my backlog first :)

      • znomorph says:

        I’m in the same boat. I think it deserves a :) and a :(.

        :P

    • iucounu says:

      It doesn’t feel like a boring old binary morality system, does it? You get points in about eight different things like ‘Benevolent’, ‘Honest’, and ‘Aggressive’, and even if you choose to be a lying asshole, it gives you the credit a good DM would for role-playing it.

      What’s nice is that it’s a complex enough system that it feels you couldn’t easily min-max it using a guide somewhere, but also the decisions seem like they have weight. Maybe they don’t, in the long run, but the writing always feels like they might, and it’s hard to tell otherwise, so you just have to role-play. That’s the neatness of it.

      You can role-play two distinct characters on autopilot in any given Bioware game, but that’s it. In an Obsidian game, the narrative feels more open-ended and more cleverly engineered. That was most of the fun of Alpha Protocol, I think.

      • PandaPants says:

        Oh man Alpha Protocol! Loved the feel of that game narratively and dialogue wise.

  2. toshiro says:

    40 hours or so in, I wholeheartedly agree. Will definitely be playing with another character some time, probably a more selfish, evilish person, but playing the good savior is still satisfying, in particular because of the good story writing. So much so, that I almost would feel appalled by myself if I had taken some of the answers.

    • toshiro says:

      A rare and exquisite thing, to have good writing in a game.

  3. Philopoemen says:

    120 hours down, game completed completed as the archetypal “good guy” cipher, second run through as a monk, simply for the different type of combat. That run put on hold as I got sucked into “proper” roleplay as a Bleak Walker Paladin…and even though I prefer the monk combat, the Paladin game is just so much more fun – I’m not interested in being a completionist, so I’m literally telling questgivers “too bad, so sad”. It fits the character, it fits the ethos of the Bleak Walkers, and it’s liberating as hell to ignore quests :)

    I haven’t had this much perceived player agency since Fallout 2

    • Marblecake says:

      Okay. THIS has got my attention. To this day, I regard Fallout 2 as the best RPG ever made. I have never been a fan of party-based RPGs (because immersion), so I’ve remained sceptical of PoE. Especially since Divinity:OS didn’t really manage to keep my attention.

      But to see this compared Fallout 2…inspires hope.

      • Juke says:

        You may already be aware, but just to restate for the common good, the Black Isle influence is strong over at Obsidian, as in some of the people who made your favorite game (Tim Cain/Chris Avellone) are making this game also. Plus a bunch of their respected peers. It was always favorable odds that comparisons to the Fallout classics were likely to be favorable for this new game. These guys know how to make ’em.

      • inf says:

        It’s a great game with some choice and consequence here and there, but nowhere near anything like Fallout 2. Not even as much as Fallout 1, which was a lot smaller and more linear and focused, thus limiting C&C.

        Some people are blowing this game a bit out of proportion i’m afraid, sometimes so much so, that it makes me wonder if these people even played the games they are comparing them to.

        Pillars is a HUGE step in the right direction conceptually, and i really hope it makes them a lot of money so they can expand on it and build it into a great franchise. But i’m afraid in my opinion it’s not quite op to scratch to the classic Black Isle or IE Bioware games… yet.

        My advice is to curb your enthusiasm going in, at least if you’re gonna compare it to the Fallouts.

        • Philopoemen says:

          Seeing as I made the comparison, let me qualify the statement. You have multiple options as to how you play the game, you can complete quests non violently, your reputation matters, and is commented upon. Play as an honest character, and NPCs in conversations remark on it and give your opinion weight, play as a deceitful liar and that is noted, nd other options are available to you.

          I used the term “perceived player agency” deliberately, and this quote from iucounu explaims this perfectly.

          What’s nice is that it’s a complex enough system that it feels you couldn’t easily min-max it using a guide somewhere, but also the decisions seem like they have weight. Maybe they don’t, in the long run, but the writing always feels like they might, and it’s hard to tell otherwise, so you just have to role-play. That’s the neatness of it.

          I have I’m guessing a 1000+ hours across FO1, FO2 and even FOT over nearly twenty years, and they are a constant on any computer. I finished WL2 and then started FO2 game to remember what I was missing. About the only thing that FO1/FO2 does better than Pillars is allow you go where you want from the beginning. Pillars restricts your movements with story gates, which doesn’t ever feel like an issue though.

          To be clear, the game isn’t perfect, the last act could do with some work, as it feels like a sprint to finish line narratively, the story gets very convoluted very quickly, and I’m sure I missed some important bits. Some classes are worse than others, its easy to over level etc. But its a bloody good effort, and I’m confident that the replayability is there that it will join the likes of FO1/2 as a permanent fixture on my hard drive.

        • Czrly says:

          I agree. PoE is alright but it is nowhere near perfection. The stream of “10”s it is getting from the media and the community is nonsense and comparing it to masterpieces like Baldur’s Gate 2 or Fallout 2 is laughable.

          It is a step in the right direction and SHOULD be received positively in the hopes that there’ll be a much needed resurgence in this genre but I really wish the community would raise their standards.

        • Marblecake says:

          Hey, wow, these responses are really helpful.
          Question: can I play this game without having to focus on my party members? I.e. as in Fallout, where I had them along for firepower and lugging my stuff around, but I didn’t have to give a damn about their development?

          • Philopoemen says:

            The plot NPCs obviously have some interactions, but you can choose to not have them join you, and if you just want bodies to take with, you can hire additional NPCs that you create yourself. Want a monk on your team? Just hire one. Unless I’m misunderstanding you, and you want the game to level up the NPCs for you, in which case, not sure.

          • Czrly says:

            Not at all. This game is all about micro-managing your party. There is no Party AI to speak of – you are always controlling your whole party. This is fine in the meaningful encounters, where winning the battle is somewhat worthwhile, but there are vast hoardes of trash-mobs to plough through and most of those encounters are really dull and boring.

          • Zenicetus says:

            Just backing up what the others are saying here, it’s fairly intensive micromanagement with your companions.

            There is a small amount of party AI in battles, to the extent that you can tell a companion to attack a specific enemy target, and they’ll auto-switch to another enemy when that first one is killed. On Easy difficulty that’s probably enough for melee characters like Fighters and basic arrow attacks from a Ranger. But for the other classes and higher difficulty levels, you really need to hand-select spells and abilities to fire off during each and every battle. It can get a bit tedious for the trash mobs, but it’s the whole point of tactical party combat for the more significant fights. If you don’t enjoy that kind of thing, you probably won’t enjoy this game.

            Also, there is no auto-leveling, so you have to do at least basic research into what all the abilities and skills are for the different classes. You can probably just select stuff at random on Easy level, but understanding the class builds, and how to manually use all the abilities during a fight, matters more on the harder levels.

          • Marblecake says:

            Thanks for all your answers! I guess this means I’ll pass on this one.
            If I roleplay, I want to *roleplay*, i.e. have one character and *be* that character…not ten other characters as well :/

            I just wonder…why have the two good Fallouts and DX1 been the only games so far that managed this well?

    • WaytoomanyUIDs says:

      How do you get XP, since the primary XP source seems to be completing quests (and the secondary opening locks and traps for some bizarre reason)? Or are you not worrying about that?

      • Philopoemen says:

        Main quests and side quests that fit the theme provide more than enough. It’s very easy to hit the level cap when playing as a completionist, like really easy. In my first game, I did the Endless Paths with my party between levels 5-10. I largely only did the main plot in order to level up to get through the megadungeon. Doing that, I hit the level cap early into Act 3, and for the rest of the game, the only reason to do sidequests was for reputation, and maybe some loot.

        I’m not sure if that’s because they added extra content after deciding the level cap, or they expected people to properly roleplay it, and therefore miss some stuff. Definitely not under leveled telling some side quest givers to go jump.

    • pund says:

      I’m playing with all information on, it’s really nice to see that a lot of the dialogues have options specifically for certain races/backgrounds/classes/char attributes… (I can’t see what they’re saying and I can’t select them but you can see that they’re there if you want)

  4. v21v21v21 says:

    Ok, I ‘ve got one for you:

    approaching Pillars with respect, ’cause of the good word this establishment had put in, decided to “roleplay” it, i.e. didn’t explore maps if wasn’t justified by circumstances, stuck to the path when going from a to b, that kind of thing. Resisted collecting 5c junk, even though “stash”. An’ that says a lot. All in all, having a rather good time. Running a tight ship, exclusive club kinda thing my party. No open memberships, had to be recommended by at least three members to be accepted. No riff raff (so, essentially just me and one other guy, plus the one you get shoved down your throat and am to scared to turn away. See, roleplaying). In character. Anyways… cruising along fine, on lvl two -or three- until the “bottleneck”. Hadn’t been died, nor my other guy, although had a close one or two. And then died; a lot. Bottleneck, see. Quit. Disappointed. Next day got the itch. Came back, died some more.”Sod it” exclaimed. And went back to lvl up some. Vacuumed well, vacuumed good. Chased the black stuff away from every map, recruited like the u.s. army, no standards, just a willingness to die… Re-visited the Bottle’s Neck. A whole village we were, with torches and pitchforks an’ everything, a mobby mob of five. Piece of cake. Walk in the park. Stealing candy from a baby. Still jolly good fun -cause it is a friggin good game- but… same as it ever was. The attitude. Almost, anyway.

    • Unclepauly says:

      wut.

    • amateurviking says:

      This is where the inn follower recruitment thing comes in. You could have dropped some cash on some rando’s to help you splot the incorrigible hump and then sent them packing with a fistful of copper.

      • WaytoomanyUIDs says:

        That’s what he did in the end. But he didn’t want to have to do that and it ruined his fun.

  5. Darkz0r says:

    I really hate to be “negative” but I’m level 9 atm and while the game IS great in most aspects, I really don’t see player choice as a big gamechanger.
    Please don’t get me wrong, but I don’t see my choices making a huge difference. Sure I can be honest or diplomatic, or cruel, and maybe get a different answer from an NPC, but that’s it. Maybe in my 2nd playthrough I might notice something more but while I HAVE A CHOICE, it doesnt seem to change much (I might be wrong ofc)

    • Zenicetus says:

      I haven’t done any save/reloads to test different outcomes, but I get the sense that you’re right about many choices being not all that consequential. Aside from a few branching things like the Kolsc/Raedric conflict early in the game, maybe.

      It’s probably necessary to avoid huge amounts of coding and writing for alternate branches. Also, as a role-playing game, I think we’re expected to imagine the follow-on consequences of a choice, rather than have it explicitly presented every time. At least for the minor side quests.

      • Darkz0r says:

        Indeed, programming lots of different branches is very resource consuming for devs and scripting all the different choices is impossible.
        But I guess since we have the freedom to choose how to react I was expecting more in terms of consequences. The choices are already a good step forward though…

        Early on the game, as someone already mentioned, you have a choice of dealing with a “ruler” in different ways, and it seems to be a major decision. Later on it doesn’t seem to make much difference what you choose to do. Just to cite and example with minimal spoilers, there’s more important breakpoints which lack reactivity in my opinion.

        I’m still enjoying the game though, just to be clear.

        • Foosnark says:

          Even before that, your supposedly casual conversational choices with a very early companion character affects how she treats you after a certain early event, and can cut off your access to a relatively minor but interesting encounter and loot. Which you can’t appreciate until you’ve done it different ways.

          I’ve found myself making hard decisions based on my character’s moral evaluation of situations, and I’ve also put my foot in my mouth and wound up in unnecessary fights, and I’ve missed some opportunities, and taken sides that might or might not be for the greater good. And I’ll be playing it through again for certain.

    • Sonntam says:

      The article is more about how every quest can be done in different ways, not about how doing this differently changes things.

      I personally adore little choices like this one, when one can choose to tell the hard truth or lie to spare someone’s feelings. I love how sometimes you can spare people, sometimes you can betray them and sometimes there is a third way.

      Sure, this won’t get called back later in game, I won’t see those people again. But they died or lived because of my character’s actions and that is what matters to me.

    • jrodman says:

      Interesting what works in video games vs table top rpgs. Giving players a choice like this in a table top is great, even if you have NO plans for it to affect a current situation or plot. It pushes the player define their own character, which can have lasting ramifications. But a computer game is in some sense a closed space, and we want to see “what it does”, so it feels different.

    • iucounu says:

      The payoff is all in the storytelling, not necessarily in the effects you see in the world or in your party. This is a game where you feel able to pick the best line in dialogue, not the ‘best’ line. You know in a Bioware game, where you think ‘that’s a great line, but it’s clearly going to give me dark side / renegade points, and I’m not about that?’ So you end up saying, yeah, please don’t reward me for saving the puppy? I like that the consequences for taking an attitude in PoE are difficult to divine, so you get to stop thinking about the metagame and just go with what you enjoy.

  6. Zenicetus says:

    Some of the choices I’ve been offered have been interesting, and I’ve had to think more than in most games about what I wanted to do. That’s good. These are usually the dialog options that don’t relate to your stats.

    On the other hand, the conversation options that do have stat-related options, have an annoying tendency to restrict my options…. at least if I want to use the “special” replies. My PC has high stats in Might and Dex, so I’m getting a lot of options for aggressive and threatening responses in those conversations. I’m not allowed to be persuasive in other ways, just because it goes against my base stats. I’m not thrilled with being railroaded like that, although I know this is a traditional way of handling dialog options in RPG games like this.

    It’s not game-breaking or anything, just a minor annoyance with the design. Also, I’m not that far into the game yet, just a little into Act 2, so not much has kicked in for the various faction Reputations yet. Maybe that will alter some of this later on.

    • Foosnark says:

      Yeah, I’m thinking I will probably play a tanky character for my second run-through, so I have different stats to call on during conversations,.

      • Wulfram says:

        I think it’s a flaw that Resolve, which seems to be very much the Charisma stat, is effectively purely a tank stat in terms of mechanical impact.

        • Josh W says:

          That actually sounds good to me; even if it still has clever talky mage/thief, insightful cleric etc. seems good to have a stat for hand to hand characters that isn’t just about threats.

  7. rawrty says:

    Having backed this and wasteland – I bounced off Wasteland after the first zone. Not really sure why, but it didn’t pull me in. Pillars however wa just the opposite – I can’t get enough. Whether it’s due to the design decisions mentioned I the article, the writing, the mechanics or some combination I’m not sure, but I do know it’s one of the best RPGs I’ve played in a long while.

  8. derbefrier says:

    I have yet to really do anything past the aquisition of the stronghold( restarted a couple times playing with differnt party setups and min/maxing builds). Now that i have finally settled on a party i like its been so much fun and i agree. The way the story is presented and told i dont feel like i have to either be all good or all bad or even that there really is an obvious good or bads choice so far. I approach each problem induvidually and go from there. While i am playing the good guy some of the choices i have made and the people i have decided to trust over others have left me wondering if i really did the right thing. For instance When i fwent to confront raedric in his keep we had a nice little chat i still dont know if i made the right descion there or not.

  9. Wulfram says:

    Eh, I find myself feeling like a second playthrough would offer less than in the average Bioware game, to make the obvious comparison. At least unless I wanted to an unpleasant jerk playthrough.

    Though maybe that’s just because I didn’t end up caring about the world and characters all that much, aside from Eder. Too many “choose between two jerks” quests.

  10. Emeraude says:

    (ENORMOUS spoilers peppered throughout this post; read at your own risk)

    Having clocked a good 80 hours of play by my own estimation I must say I’m having a hard time with this game, because for each thing I thoroughly enjoy, there’s one I find terribly disappointing.

    For one, coming from the people that did Alpha Protocol, having a NPC ask almost at the start if my Godlike had given birth to a hollowborn child was really disappointing – or at least I would have been satisfied with being able to answer it’s an idiotic question and he knows I can’t have children (especially since I made being barren a central element of the character – on that front the game offered me plenty to use I have to role-play. Was great.).
    I know it’s nitpick-y of me, but that’s the kind of lack of internal cohesion in the established narrative that really can kill the mood. I mean, I can shrug it off and rationalize the man is deliberately trying to antagonize me (which I did) but every-time you have one such happen, it kinda leaves the machinery suddenly apparent.

    Another thing is, the more I think about it, the less I’m liking what they’ve done with the set up (which I do enjoy tremendously, there’s a lot of potential in there).

    I mean, what does it matter that gods have been manufactured if functionally they happen to be exactly what can be expected of them ?

    There was something fairly interesting to explore there, old questions of theology (monotheism vs polytheism takes a totally different turn in that context for one), things to import raw from ethnology and misuse in that alternative world (the things you could do from the way we know communities subsume themselves into religious icons)… and all we are left with is that relatively childish”ZOMG the gods aren’t real gods” platitudes…

    System-wise, I just can’t understand what motivated to suppress per-enemy kill XP gain, with the justification that the players wouldn’t feel compelled to kill everone for XP’s sake, but leave XP per-unlocking which gives you incentive to avoid taking keys so that you can rack a bit more XP. Not a complaint per see, can’t say I care that much, but it feels odd to say the least.

    Oh well, would have too much to say for a single post.. Still If I have to compare it BG1, we have a solid groundwork here that I think is much stronger.

    Hopefully they can build from there.

    • Zenicetus says:

      I think they made the right decision with eliminating per-enemy kill XP gain (aside from the small amount you get from the Bestiary). It helps avoid the problem of over-leveling the party and hitting the level cap too soon.

      That was a problem in New Vegas, for players who did a lot of exploring and side quests. Your main character could easily become an uber-powerful death machine from kill XP, long before reaching the end of the main campaign story line.

      I think maybe Obsidian learned from that design issue, although there are still some problems with too much XP from disarming traps and picking locks in Pillars. Besides, there is at least some incentive to kill monsters that no longer give XP, because Crafting uses a lot of body parts. Think of it as harvesting.

      • Emeraude says:

        I’m all for the way they dealt with XP as far as combat is concerned, I just don’t really understand what kind development process lead to one per-task reward being excised and the other being left in, when to me they pose exactly the same problem.

        Again, not a huge issue, but it really feels like an uncohesive approach at best.

        • NotGodot says:

          But… the game does have combat XP. It’s just handled differently.

          • Emeraude says:

            Not exactly.

            It has XP for filling the bestiary. Once filled you get nothing.

            No such limits for lockpicking, which is a direct XP reward, not one by proxy.

        • NotGodot says:

          To be more specific, there’s just a hard cap on how much XP you can get from a given enemy type. Check your bestiary.

        • NotGodot says:

          There are limits on lockpicking though. It requires a large investment of skill points to keep up with, and a cash investment to get the picks. Most combat, on the other hand, doesn’t really have a resource cost. Big fights use potions, camping supplies, etc, but those are relatively rare and not what you’d use to grind.

          • Emeraude says:

            It requires a large investment of skill points to keep up with

            Not really pertinent when you can make a dedicated lock-picking character. Always going to be on top, never going to use a single lock-pick. There’s a hard limit on the number of locks to be picked for sure… which is just added incentive to NOT take keys when you find them and instead lock-pick.

            Most combat, on the other hand, doesn’t really have a resource cost

            Time. (Especially if you play the game the way it’s meant to be played in my opinion, without free access to the item stash – the stronghold makes a lot more sense design-wise if you do).

            Which is besides the point though.

            What I find strange is that the justification for limiting combat XP is that the designer wanted to avoid giving incentive to combat for the sake of XP (the usual resolve quest peacefully then kill everyone for max XP meta shenanigans). Which to me directly should lead to doing the same for lock-picking (or really any single per-task XP reward that is not the completion of the objective) for reasons I already gave.
            And I find it weird (and probably indicative of a trial-and-error creative process that yet lacks mastery), but that’s about it.

      • Czrly says:

        I really disagree with this. Obsessive exploring SHOULD make you O.P. and give you that feeling of being awesome. This neurotic focus on balance and restraint is boring.

        This is the same argument I throw against worlds that “scale” with your character. You never get that feeling of being incredible. That moment of catharsis when you obliterate a thousand level-1 mobs with a single, perfect fireball never happens. The PoE world is “status quo” and I like that but I still don’t feel these moments of power in the game.

        The key is balance: you need moments of extreme challenge AND moments of catharsis.

        • inf says:

          This game throws thrash mobs at you left and right my friend, and the combat is generally (at least when compared to the old IE games) pretty easy. Maybe you just don’t like tactical combat and hate the fact you have to go through some effort to make yourself feel powerful? I can’t tell you how many times i have CCed a group of thrash mobs followed by a fireball, just to watch them instantly explode in a pile of gibs.

  11. brotherthree says:

    Extremely strong contender for Game of the Year, and we aren’t even into Summer yet.

    I haven’t enjoyed an RPG this much since Dragon Age Origins, and Baldur’s Gate 2 before that.

    If you enjoy immersive cRPG’s with challenging but rewarding combat and an excellent soundtrack to boot, you are doing yourself a huge disservice by not buying this game immediately…
    Priced at 20-30$, and with almost certain expansions coming to add even more to this wonderful world, it’s a bargain to get in early.

  12. Czrly says:

    My experience with the game has been dramatically different. To me, it feels like certain “builds” work extremely well and certain builds do not work at all, certain party structures work and others fail abysmally. You do have to collect all the loot, everywhere, and you do have to take every companion that you find. Role-playing or playing it “your own way” is simply a recipe for endless frustration and tedious running back to town to buy yet more camping supplies.

    Why? Because you have to be O.P. to avoid the tedium. Anything else is just plain boring.

  13. sharkh20 says:

    I love the storytelling in the game. I enjoyed every quest as the writing for even minor characters is well done. I am still not loving the combat. Just like with Baldur’s Gate, I have trouble with it. The skill usefulness is all over the place. Getting my individual party members do what I want them to never seems to work quite right. Selecting skills for each individual person is quite a chore. It might just be that I don’t like that style of combat. If they took the exact same game except with the Fallout 2 turn based combat system, I would be in heaven.

    I enjoyed the Wastelands 2 combat for this reason, unfortunately the quests were such chores. I didn’t care about any characters. Everything was just generally boring.

  14. mactier says:

    Something I don’t like so much about this game is how it forces you to meta-game (if you care in any way to be good at it instead of just being who you think you are). Maybe in an unprecendented degree it becomes extremely important to think about how stats might open you certain possibilities in the game. It’s a mostly specualtive endevaour and might turn out wrong, but deciding to put one or two more points into a stat can be purely determined by whether you hope it increases your chances at a good dialogue option, rather than because you think it matters to your build. There can hardly be a pure roleplaying rationale behind it that is not itself based on the considerations about the system. So far this has hampered my enjoyment of the storytelling insofar as I have mostly been concerned with balance deliberations…