Hi Larian (eventually), and everyone on the forums (presently),
Here's my feedback. Before I dive into it, a couple of general comments and disclaimers.Warning : versions and accuracy
I played mostly in November on Patch 2 and then spent time compiling the notes I had taken while playing. Patch 3 invalidates some of the points I initially wrote (and that's great !). I'll play a bit of Patch 3 this month, so I'll update and clean up my entries before finalising this.
In the meantime, if anyone in the forums notices things that are incorrect, or can be solved using a game feature that I simply didn't find, please let me know and I'll edit the entries. This first version of my posts aren't meant to be final.This is an almost-entirely negative list.
I suppose this is linked to the nature of the exercise. I'm reporting on the current experience. In theory, this includes things that work, don't work so well, or don't work at all. But like trains on time, some of the things that work may go un-noticed. Also, I see less point in listing things that don't need change, unless there is reason to believe they may go away. For now, what is listed are those things that I found problematic.
As for the tone, on the one hand, I prefer being bluntly honest. If I find that a thing is poorly done, stupid, ridiculous or makes no sense, I'd rather phrase it that way. It doesn't mean that I think that anyone working on the game is stupid. It's just the thing I have played with that currently is.
On the other hand, you have let us walk in a very early version of the game. I cannot tell for sure when a thing has merely not been implemented yet, when a thing is simply bugged, when a thing is just in a very early version of how it is intended to be, or when a thing is exactly how it is intended to be (and is possibly a bad idea). I have to take everything as is. And many things are rough around the edges, to say the least. Which is bound to cause much frustration and facepalming. As developers you are designing an experience. If some things cause irritation or bewilderment in players, those are things you probably want to look at.
Speaking of player experience, I have often tried to formulate problems more than solutions. That being said, saying "X should be like this" makes for shorter item titles than "in such and such situations, feature X and mechanism Y combine to create negative experience Z". But I'm sure you can read though the solutions and focus on the underlying problems.Communication.
I wish you had communicated a bit more and more precisely on what your core vision is, what is currently not known to you, what is already on your roadmap and will be implemented at some sooner or later point, and what problems are already known, being looked at, and possibly being worked on. It would most probably increase the signal-to-noise ratio in the feedback you receive.
As it stands, I believe that 2/3 of this feedback will be somewhat useless to you, but I cannot predict which parts will be useless and which parts will not. So I had to keep all of it.Non-exhaustivity and "popular issues".
I almost-certainly forgot to list some of the things I thought about. Even some things that bothered me (which is an indicator of their large number).
But I've been hanging out on the forums these past weeks, and I found many other people reporting similar lists. See for instance those of Alice_Ashpool
), to name but a few. There is a high number of things that keep coming up in most of these reports, as well as topic-specific threads.
To be clear, I'm definitely not asking that you make the game by popular demand. You have your vision, you'll choose what the core gaming priorities and genres of this game should be, where the combat balance should be, etc. But when there are issue with the UI or controls which frustrate so many people, you are clearly still a long way from the best version of your vision of the game.How this is organised.
I have divided my feedback in sections. Some items that have found their way in one section might have reasonably be filed in another, but it made sense to group some closely-related items together.
A) User interface, controls, quality-of-life, etc (things that are not the real game but can make playing it a real pain) : Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
, Part 4
, Part 5
B) Roleplay, story and immersion : Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
C) Mechanisms : Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
, Part 4
D) Bugs (will be posted in a different sub-forum).
E) Longer term considerations.
I have listed the sections by order of importance and urgency, from my point of view. Within a section, there is no such ordering. Summary of my opinion so far.
Baldur's Gate 3 looks pretty good at first (ignoring the animation bugs). But now that my eyes have grown accustomed to looking past the nice graphics, my oh my ... this is still extremely rough. I feel like we are kids playing in the construction site of what will become a play-ground. So many systems are yet to be developed. Not content, but systems, like the UI, the controls, or the rules (and, well, the story also needs to be developed).The current UI and controls are bad. They are cumbersome, tedious, and frustrating.
It feels as if much of the current UI and controls were not thought up with the late game in mind. They can handle a single, low-level character trying out a few things for a couple of hours, but they become horribly impractical when doing a playthrough with a party of four adventurers, each having many spells and abilities
Also, I feel that the game tries to be too many things at once
. There might be a problem of expectations here. In my view (that of a player with gaming experience who can read the key words on the box and infer what's going to be inside), this is a story/roleplay-heavy, tactical roleplaying game. As a result, I expect and hope the core game to be :
- Roleplaying : choosing what to say, how to handle situations, trying to get the overall story to unfold a certain way, etc.
- Exploring : walking around, reading books, talking to people, discovering hidden areas, solving puzzles, etc.
- Strategic and tactical combat : how to build my characters throughout the game, what actions to do on my turn, etc.
I expect the game to challenge me along these core gaming priorities, and to simplify my life as much as possible on things that are not priorities. For instance, this is not an Adventuring Party Management game or Survival game, and it does away with ammunition and the possible buying of food supplies or hunting-gathering mini-games.
On top of these priorities, BG3 seems to want to be a bit of a Platform game and a Stealth game as well. The problem is that it does so without having the smooth controls that these games would have, and would have spent a significant amount of development time polishing, seeing as in these games, moving around is the name of the game
. As a result, while jumping to reach certain areas isn't exactly challenging my dexterity, it is incredibly tedious, due to the jump mechanism being under-developed. And moving around in certain areas is rendered surprisingly involved and difficult due to the absence of some basic movement abilities and mechanisms that Platform and Stealth games have.
The writing, roleplay and immersion have a huge amount of improvement to receive as well.
There are a number of strong immersion-breaking elements. If I'm frequently pulled out of the game world and made to think "yeah, well ... <shrug>, I'm just playing a video game", the story suffers.
Some story paths are not as well-written and motivated as others. They just feel badly written.
Also, while the story-telling encourages me to play as the PC only
, unless I want to expose myself to yet more immersion-breaking elements, the conversation mechanisms encourage me to play as Wyll or Shadowheart
, depending on who I have in my party. The game mechanisms should support and incentivise the intended behaviour, not go against it
There are some issues with a number of combat mechanisms and the casting of spells.
I was not able to consistently and successfully perform ambushes, despite the game having a Surprised mechanism calling for it.
The current balance seems to devalue melee combat, class specificities and party composition, contrary to what a loading screen says about the need for having a balanced party. Indeed, the use of the high ground makes ranged combat far superior. When a strategy is so clearly dominant, sub-optimal strategies become much less employed, even if they are viable. And the abundance of consumable makes everyone able to do the same things, which doesn't encourage us to play each character to their role.
Also, spells were too often a source of bad surprises. Spells that affect several creatures are currently not doing very sensible things. Not all spells with 18m range seem to work at the same distance. Some don't seem to be very compatible with the 3-dimensionality. It was a lot more frustrating that I expected.
Trying to take one further step back, I would say :
- Please make the UI and control become so little an obstacle between us and the game that they become invisible, so natural that we forget about them. This is issue number 1.
- Please choose your core priorities, regarding the gaming experience, and make sure they are strongly delivered. As Yoda said, "do, or do not". If you want to add a Platform/Stealth game flavour to this RPG, then make sure we have the controls and mechanisms that go with it.
- Please try to make the game strong on what you advertised, and thus created expectations for (verticality, feeling like we are role-playing through a TT DnD campaign with you as GM, playing an evil character, etc). When some mechanisms, UI or controls work against what you claimed you were bringing to us, the game suffers more than if something you didn't advertise is a bit lacking.
- Please avoid having self-contradictions and blatant breakers of immersion. It's a fantasy world, but it's still a world, and it's meant to be believable.
I feel this game has some potential for being awesome. A lot of potential. I wouldn't have written all this otherwise. But there's a huge amount of work to do before getting there. And I'm not talking about content, but improving the enjoyability of a given hour spent in the game.
The FAQ says "It’ll be ready when it’s ready". That's all fine with me. If the game can be great, it would be sad if it's merely good. Take as long as you need !
Finally, I have read about the changes of Patch 3 while finishing the writing of this report. I'm very happy to hear that you have started making changes to some of the biggest issues. How many changes are a direct consequence of players complaining almost-unanimously about the same things (e.g. follow on jump), or you being able to notice such obvious problems by yourself, is not the most important. What's important is that the game sounds like it just became less frustrating to play. It's only the first step of what will surely be many steps before you reach the full release version, but from glancing at the Community Update 11, I feel this step is definitely going in the right direction !