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#679502 07/10/20 08:06 PM
Joined: Oct 2020
stranger
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stranger
Joined: Oct 2020
So I've been playing through for about 7-8 hours at this point, trying to be completionist as always, and admittedly save-scumming here and there as I try to get to grips with it.

This is an early access game, I know that, and it shows all over the place from tiny bugs to graphical glitches. Some have even been rather amusing - I laughed at loud at when the Mind Flayer dramatically gestured me to the console and had his mouth-tentacles go into the jankiest spasm and glitching all over the place I've ever seen a model do outside Gmod.

I don't care about all that. I really don't, because it's obviously going to get fixed and shored up and better animations will be put in, etc. etc.

BUT one thing in particular has been dragging my experience down repeatedly to the point I've found myself repeating it like a frowning mantra that "this is only early access": the dialogue.

Mostly because it's such a huge part of the game and I wouldn't have thought the actual writing is still draft-level in Early Access as that's not really a "bug". More importantly, it's harder to fix as it requires voice-work... which makes me wonder if they actually will be building on this element through the early access or if this is it?

There are many smaller issues that have already been mentioned like companions not getting to butt in 99% of the time making them feel like accessories of the main character more than living people, to certain tags not really coming up in conversations, and even just some general conversations borking out (normally when space-skipping a line).

My first experience with it that really made me frown (outside of how hostile and hard to like most of my compatriots are) was when I went to the ruins and quite optimistically approached two people arguing outside.

One got all in a bluster that the Nautiloid was claimed as their salvage and to back off -the halfling said to the heavily-armoured Githyanki warrior mind you- and I ended up persuading him that it was full of monsters and not worth the hassle in one line... then he yelled out for his entire party(?) to up and leave. And before I could open my mouth to ask what the hell, the ruins had been cleared out and they'd vanished into the unrendering distance.

Who was that mysterious halfling with balls of steel? Who was he arguing with? Why were they at the ruins? What even are these ruins because the statue plaque is worn by time? Every single member of that party had names, they seemed like characters, like actual rival adventurers investigating a set of ruins and stumbling onto a crashed Nautiloid... and yet they've never felt more like NPCs or mere nameless enemies.

I couldn't introduce myself, I couldn't ask who THEY were, he didn't seem to CARE who we were (rag-tag oddities that we are), and frankly I suck at persuasion and charisma in general and was imagining some hilarious failure that led to more dialogue, instead I succeeded the dice-roll and wow that must give a reward right? So it left quite a bitter taste in my mouth when not only was there no more conversation or information, but there was no real result at all beyond removing content from the game.

I found myself very disappointed to realise I was thinking that "maybe I should've just killed them?", because the raw EXP I would've gained was worth more than that conversation from a roleplaying perspective or lack of new information. That's a bad sign.

Then immediately after I investigate the area hoping I'd learn who they were, there were bedrolls and rucksacks after all! Maybe there's a note or a journal! Nope. Nada.

But there was a door.

Upon knocking on the door I hear more people inside calling out to "Gibbeath-something" (apparently I don't remember the name of an NPC who's conversation lasted 3 lines and a single dialogue option before immediately terminating), I then have 3 options other than leave the door alone. 1 - All your friends are dead, you're next!

Who the hell are these people? Are they actually friends with the party that just left? If so... I definitely didn't kill anyone, why would I say I did? Also why would that random party who vanished into the horizon, immediately run off without their friends or at least yelling that they were leaving them behind? Oh and that these random strangers are just passing through out of curiosity so don't assume they're the devil or anything.

Option 2 is deceive them that "Gibbeath-something" has triggered a trap and they should unlock the door so we can bring him in or they can come out, it was never quite clear. Thus triggering the door to open, us to walk through, and to immediately be shot in the face by a very hostile dungeon full of seemingly non-criminal, non-evil random adventurers I still have no clue who they are. Even if they are definitely hostile, it'd be nice to a get brief bit of "Who the hell are you?!" "That's what I'd like to know!"

Option 3 is to Intimidate these random strangers into opening the door for us... in this ruin we still have no idea why we'd want to enter beyond exploration's sake, being the threatening bad guys in a situation I'm pretty sure could easily be an exchange of "Hi I'm [name], I'm not your friends" even if the reply was "F*** off", and generally any option other than leading to my honestly quite nice warrior being forced to massacre a bunch of ruin-dwelling hobos I still have no clue about.

That was the first situation where I walked away disappointed from a gaping hole of world-building via dialogue.

The second was yet another bunch of named characters who I disarmed with a single skill-check and two lines of dialogue, two tieflings (seemingly siblings?) holding the ironically-affectionately-named "Liz"('zael) hostage in a cage she could've kicked her own way out of in under two seconds. Kudos, they reacted to me being a Githyanki (I think), they also immediately drew weapons and seemed very concerned about the "monster"... tieflings.

I then intimidated them into calming down and releasing her because there was literally no other option to introduce myself and de-escalate to hopefully learn who THEY were. It was quite odd indeed that the least friendly option was actually the only one that averted hostilities down to lack of "nice" dialogue choices.

I was confused enough at the time I assumed, "Oh! Naturally proper conversation and clearing up that I'm not a monster and Liz... mostly isn't, and yes you must be curious about the ship-crash, has to come AFTER I've settled you down a bit with some tough love." Optimistic I know, but I had no choice but to be optimistic at that point, and hopeless optimism in a society of jerks is kinda central to my trying-to-be-nice Githyanki character ironically enough.

Frankly I can understand that proper conversation really can't be had when awkwardly dancing around constant interruptions from the glaring she-beast, so I proceed to warn them there are risks to attacking and caging random strangers and good, you're reconsidering, your sister(?) is the level-headed one and- ...oh, conversations over. Wait where are you going? Guys, we're just letting them go? Did we not want to at least exchange names?

Oh and they're casually sauntering through my party in a very bold way? Can we not ask why you were putting people in cages perhaps? Did you suspect she was responsible for the ship-crash? Did you think she was a demon? Did you get tired of her... *gestures at Liz*? I suppose we'll never know, because I assumed they were going to the nearest settlement and presumably quest-hub, but I still haven't seen them amongst the hordes of similarly-stoic tieflings at our next location.

Silvanus' Glade.

Anyway, to understand why by this point I'm scared of dialogue to the point of save-scumming entire conversations, we should look at the numerous times I've picked an option assuming there would be more to a conversation only to be instantly kicked out into combat or them wandering into that damned mysterious force that abducts them from the world. I suspect they're having a party there, celebrating how enigmatic and frustrating they were to the shipwreck survivors.

This led to a serious consideration that the dialogue in game is there as a brief prelude to combat or wandering around, and hey it's a beautiful world and I like exploring it... I'd just like it a whole lot more if it felt lived in. So far the actual people have about 15 seconds and 5 lines max of time to devote to the people who just saved their lives, which of course makes me miss games like Pillars of Eternity which was packed full of dialogue and branching info-paths.

What they also did was allow you to ask a question and then head back to the screen and ask another question if it was reasonable to have done so... considering I had to save-scum 4 times to get a decent conversation out of a tiefling with some honestly pretty important information and a personal connection to the man I only remember as "gate-whiner", it appears this is not something in Baldur's Gate 3.

Literally, she's standing on the path leading up to the gate controls and you can talk to her with precisely 4 lines of dialogue option. Taking any one of those options gets her to shut down and repeat the same one-liner over and over again ever after.

None of those lines are mutually-exclusive - hell one is exactly "Sorry to disappoint", then there are three important questions: one about "gate-whiner", one - the missing druid, and lastly about the refugees... which means your character has to choose between introducing himself sometimes and getting a single question answered out of someone who is both friendly (my god, the rarity), has nothing better to do literally being standing by the side of a bluff all day, and clearly has a lot more pertinent information to give.

On the topic of "gate-whiner". That's kind of another symptom of "everyone's a jerk" attitude in the game (hopefully it's only early-game). I gave up on diplomacy and cold-cocked him when he decided to get racist and start an actual fight with the leader of the refugees RIGHT after he'd emerged unscathed from a lethal fight he had no right to walk away from. I also like the touch he paid zero attention to those strangers who ensured he didn't die by the way who were awkwardly standing behind him.

Anyway, I've rambled on far longer than planned so forgive the long post, but I'm just sad that I'm actually getting tired of playing this game and it's not because of the bugs, it's because it feels like sapient life hasn't yet evolved there.

I don't care about these people. I'd like to, I'd really like to, and when they exist beyond names tied to a one-line ringleader who vanishes into the ether after a diplomacy check or as meat for the slaughter if EXP is more important than role-playing I will... and it's incredibly sad as a dorky diplomancer roleplayer far more than a min-maxer or someone that approaches this as just a game that that consideration even enters my head.

I should be living in this brilliantly-designed world surrounded by people, interesting vibrant people with a lot to say or little stories of their own - even just told through notes or a throw-away line of dialogue, but when they do exist they simply don't care to interact with the player, leaving tantalizing glimpses into what emotive storytelling there could be, but right now isn't present for me.

Hell, the most interesting bit of characterization so far was a mourning tiefling on top of Silvanus' Glade gate and that conversation turned out to not even be a conversation. It was a simple cinematic with someone who then immediately ran off and the unknown guy who also ran off to follow her.

Long, long post cut short? I'd like conversation that lasted longer than 15 seconds where I wasn't frightened a click would kick me out forever from getting to know this person or dump me into combat without it seeming reasonable. Some branching paths that looped back around to the initial choice-selection would be all it'd take to squeeze more realism and enjoyment out of it.

To sum up, my last conversation before crashing and realising I wasn't enjoying this nearly as much as I should be due to it all feeling like a beat 'em up? I saved a tiefling girl from assassination. Hell, it was actually quite a cool fun moment because I dashed forward and shoved him right back off a cliff while he was surprised by me showing up.

I then proceeded to talk to said girl, who apparently was content to relax and lounge into her old position and let me wander off if I hadn't approached her (I checked). In fairness she did thank me before proceeding to get nasty assuming because we "smell of Avernus" from our Nautiloid flight through there that we're here to kill her and reclaim a "Soul Coin" she'd somehow stolen from a demon woman... to which she tells the heavily-armed party who just trashed a fairly tough bugbear assassin that you'll take it over her cold, dead body.

You then convince her you're not working for said demon and she... goes through a face contortion and gives you the coin? …I legitimately leaned back and tried to process that for a few moments before realising, yes, that just happened. It may make perfect sense from some point I'm not seeing, it may be a cool plot-hook for later down the line or allow a different solution to a meeting with a demon, but what it doesn't do is feel natural or like it didn't come out of nowhere, it contributes yet again to what I'm coming to call the "jerky whiplash" effect in dialogue.

The "jerky whiplash" effect works on multiple levels you see, because it jerks you out of the moment/story, because the people you meet are so frequently jerks (often for little perceived reason), and because the actual dialogue seems janky - instantly kicking you out and them ignoring you, having a stroke and forgetting your conversation happened (lucky Shadowheart suddenly got the same conversation and her own coin), or them lazily wandering off into the distance (hopefully not into that party in the void with those adventurers).

My apologies for the length and bits that get a bit ranty, I've just been waiting on this game for a very long time and was disappointed that one of the core elements of a Baldur's Gate game (to my mind) is poorly done and doesn't seem a priority to improve compared to the actual glitches, missing textures, and imbalanced system adaptations.

So to condense this all down for those who don't want to read my rambling:
I'm scared this will be the dialogue for a very long time to come, if not actually the released game, and that's genuinely scary because I don't think I'd want to play a full game of this.

If anyone has similar gripes or issues, please feel free to comment below, and if I'm being overly harsh also feel free to disagree - it would be nice for someone to change my mind on this as it has only been 7 or so hours and perhaps it does get better.

Joined: Oct 2020
stranger
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stranger
Joined: Oct 2020
i've had some similar problems.

this is EA, and very early in the EA so i'm still an being cautiously optimistic

Joined: Oct 2020
enthusiast
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enthusiast
Joined: Oct 2020
+1

As an aside, as a rogue I was able to unlock the subterranean entrance at the beach (perfect place for an undisturbed crypt, those idyllic, temperate shores, noone would ever notice them there) and the encounter is even more inexplicable running into them from that direction. They are hostile with no introduction or explanation of who they are, what they are doing, and why they are attacking you. You just figure out how to open a door and find yourself immediately in combat. After slaughtering the lot of them you emerge with two dialogue options which result only in combat, or what is left of the band dispersing.


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