TLDR: Loving it. Awesome implementation, funny, difficult-ish but relaxed to play, pleasant to look at, engaging, goofy but not (as) cheesy (as the first one). You know where to look at, Swen's touches are as plain as day. Thank God ^^
Assuming devs are reading:
Pleasantly surprised (considering previous select examples) and very happy to see it where it is now. Sincerely hoping you won't start 'nerfing' it down to the casual level. You may recall my highlighting this over and over again, but we now have the numbers to show for it; it benefited your sales. Do NOT make it easier down the road.
And did i say thank you?
You did the right thing. Was way too easy as it was in early access, was way too predictable (read: exploitable) once you'd learned the ropes. It's really O.K. as it is now, honestly.
(this has been one of those instances where you read so many negative comments about something, you start thinking maybe you've misunderstood/got it wrong? Check it again and nope, you got it just fine the first time..)
Wits/ini gear still have a role to play, ensuring your team starts first, still have a -significant- role to play, ensuring your select and relatively specced chars have a chance to do their thing/dictate the battle's flow.
All is good in the Shire, so move on.
You did the right thing. Partly due to what constitutes the average "gamer" today, partly due to past misinterpretations and biases, i see this very often.. bloat = evil, period. As with most things, so here too, it's about measure and implementation; and frankly, you play the game as you're meant to, even AI+bloating won't matter, you can still roll through everything. Comes a point where no AI is good enough.. be it because any harder and the game wouldn't be fun, or because with the gear/skills one has, mobs die too quick to have their AI to fall back to. The concept therefore is sound for this game.
Does it need some tweaking? Yes, albeit a minor one (as mentioned, you do your thing right, even bloating isn't a gating factor, so don't start nerfing). Does the need for some select tweaking suffice to mark it as bad altogether? /rhetorical
A noticeable improvement over the first game, congrats to all the new members, you did well
Note to Swen: You hired the right folks, took the right direction, but still have a ways to go:
+ Careful with tropes and norms; just because everyone else is doing it, doesn't mean so can we. Over-elaborating, abundant fanfare, distinctly "classical" accents, etc have the tendency to take the player out of the game and back into spectator mode (unwanted, unless you're watching a Brecht play i suppose and we are not ^^). They scream 'artificial', they promote a sense of 'samey' (like that -other- game that -also- has British accents) which is bad.
+ Lore is a concept you have also expanded, but not necessarily in a way memorable..?/productive..? to the game and studio. Rather than wasting the manhours to produce a backstory to the barber's cousin's friend of his nephew's daughter, it would perhaps be preferable to invest said equal amount of time to "personalising" what is already out there. Distinct, "Rivellon-esque" wording and phrasing (example being "sourcery", it is both verisimilar and lore-centric, that's something yours) exclusive to your setting would be a better focus for the studio as a whole. Plus, it'd be catchy
+ As a follow up to the above, story dumps (aka wall of texts) may technically count as lore, but can have.. diverse effects. Most especially since (see: manhours and who's paying for them) they often result to situations where 'x' Act has a ton of superfluous text, whereas 'y' Act suffers. This can be in quantity, which is easily fixed, or quality, which is not. More is not always better.
Again, though, significant progress and i'm happy to see i'm not the only one that's picked up on it.
While evident you're aware of it and strive accordingly, you've still got a ways to go.. said it before and with all due respect, will repeat it; you waste too much time on the first act, always end up rushing the others (rushing as in comparatively).
This, pacing, is the one aspect that i personally count as.. problematic is DOS 2. Emphasis on problematic, as in i'm not saying it's bad, just.. something you need to work on further.
I do not forget how hard it is to nail it right, i do not forget how studios with ten times your budget fail miserably at it; fair is fair. Just pointing it out here.
- QoL features:
This is extremely subjective a subject for most, but i go at it from a diferent angle; partly the nature of DOS2 itself (type of mechanics, type of loot, etc) , partly your (and congratulations, again) now being counted 'up there' along with everyone else.. you need more QoL features. They are expected from AAA titles, they are expected from games including mechanics/aspects that appeal to.. broader audiences.
I think i have a good grasp on your mentality regarding QoL features, and i do have to say that it needs to change.. you hopped into a different pool of fish; these are no longer a plus, they are by now, for you too, an expectation. You need emphasize this and implement them. Further.
You've reached a point (financially) where their lack will cost you. Luckily, we can agree that barring the time cost needed to add them, they do not affect the quality or depth of the game. This is one blessed scenario where you can add without dilluting the essence; or rather, where you must.
That's it for now, hope someone reads it, lol..
Thank you thank you thank you thank you and thank you once again. It's an amazing game, am happy to know i did my thing helping it get here.
All my love