Yep my first forum post and it's a review/ suggestions. I was advised by my viewers to post here rather than the steam review page so here goes.
First, a bit about me: I've been playing DND since the early 80's, often as a DM. I played BG1 to completion, BG2 most of the way, and I extensively created and developed mods for Neverwinter Nights. XCom2 remains one of my favorite CRPG's, and I've played it as well as DOS2. I did not like DOS2 for a variety of reasons I'll lay out below. Presently I am a part-time streamer where I play games and run sessions of Dungeons and Dragons 5th Ed on stream. That's where I'm coming to this from.
First, I want to say there is a LOT I like about this game. In fact I really want to like ALL of the game so I can devote all of my nonRPG stream time to playing it and exploring it. However as I played it on stream, people could easily see I was not enjoying it. It became the game I loved to hate. I finished the Early Access and thought "okay... so.. that's that". I've flirted with going back to play it again with a new character (I played through as a wizard as my personal character of choice) but each time I'm about to run an actual game stream (which is rare) I find I'd rather stream something I'm genuinely passionate about.
In particular I've found I have no real complaints with Solasta: Crown of the Magister. For a small indy studio, it's a solid game, running on a dated engine with modest graphics that gets DND "right". The story is solid, believable and the PC's behave in the cutscenes with a certain level of authenticity given the limits of the engine and the budget used.
I give Solasta a Hard Buy as a review for fans of DND and CRPGs. As of now I give BG3 a Soft Pass - it's great for huge fans of Larian games or people who adored the type of challenge in DOS2. For fans of DND they should avoid it.
So here goes with the why of that:Elevation = Advantage.
No. That's not how it works with the ruleset you're allegedly following. Giving such a massive boost to probability of hit (often upwards of 80% hit prob) when firing down and such a massive kick to firing up (ranged combat characters getting a 30% hit prob) makes most encounters nearly impossible if one side or the other has height. It makes "taking the high ground" the single most important part of a combat. And it creates other issues with difficultly balancing.
I appreciate that are some who like this but this should be an easily found difficulty switch to toggle off as it does not fit the combat mechanics at all from the table top game. Shove = Bonus action
This also breaks the game immensely and ties to the above. Most fights are "get to the high ground and push people off". It's not about much else other than watching your moves and your bonus actions. Add to that the fact that a character can Dash (Action and Move action) across the field, then execute a shove to push an enemy off the map makes the fights laughably trivial on either side. If I can get a push on a big bad, that's that, no muss no fuss. At the game table I would never let an enemy kill a PC in the first combat round this way.
At best, the shove action should be a full combat action or a move action. In either case it would move combat to be much more invocative of DND as it is played at the table and less like a video game "based loosely on".Combat Cheese
This is what I call the practice of splitting the party, using stealth, etc to ensure that one character "starts" combat, while the other characters are free to move about, position, launch alpha strikes, etc. It creates a system by which, while exploring, I am encouraged to find a combat encounter, reload, split the party and then stealth into the combat encounter and ensure that everyone gets a free shot on the enemies. I found in my play through (with a fairly well built wizard as my main) that some encounters were impossible without this cheese. Walking the party into the encounter meant, quite often, that I had two characters bleeding out before ANY of my characters had a single combat action.
I saw this extensively in DOS2. I turned to FB groups for help with the difficulty on "standard" and found the advice was to split the party, have one person initiate dialogue and then, while the NPC's were frozen in place, use the rest of the party to go in, move barrels, set up ambushes. The game was "laughably easy once you figure that out" I was told. This was why I quit DOS2 about half way through it. On "Story" mode it was laughably easy; on "Normal" (whatever it was called) it was "oh look.. everyone's dead before they get an action" hard. After a few days of that kind of frustration it was uninstall territory.
Using the title of Dungeons and Dragons implies that a party shouldn't have to "break" the game to be successful. I don't have a great fix here other than to take a deep look at your stealth mechanics, your encounter set up, and maybe even something about how "surprise" is actually worked. I think that may mean dialing back some factors on "classic difficulty" and encouraging those who complain the game is too easy to instead ramp up their settings, rather than asking others to turn theirs down.Importance of Clairvoyance
This ties to the point above. In one encounter, the reasonable thing was to enter a town. As I did my party was ambushed and everyone killed within the first two combat rounds. The enemy had high ground and there was no cover to use to approach them. I did this a few times, had a few laughs and then gave up. Instead I went around the side, and told myself that SOMEHOW my party just KNEW there was an ambush there and ambushed the ambushers.
This. Was. Lame.
In all fairness this encounter is enough to move the game into the Hard Pass review status. Why should I have to fight an encounter, lose, and then reload and go "oh... I need to KNOW that they're there". I found that the rest of the game I was wasting hours finding ways around the paths because I assumed every pass, every road was another ambush I had to somehow pre-know was coming. It sucked most of the fun out of the game.
And it did not feel like DND. At all. At the table, when the party sits and says "I check the next 10x10 square for traps / Rolls/ I check... / rolls" I start to say "I'm not having fun, let's move on". Camp Supplies appear un-splitable
I sent all my camp supplies to camp. I went to get them out of the box at camp but couldn't split the stack and couldn't pick up the stack because of it's weight. So all of my camp supplies were wasted. If there was a way around this, I don't know. But it was like 'Oh wow... another major bug they left in the game".Rogues don't work
Rogues get back stab damage on any target that is also engaged with an ally of the rogue.
Beginning at 1st level, you know how to strike subtly and exploit a foe’s distraction. Once per turn, you can deal an extra 1d6 damage to one creature you hit with an attack if you have advantage on the attack roll. The attack must use a finesse or a ranged weapon.
You don’t need advantage on the attack roll if another enemy of the target is within 5 feet of it, that enemy isn’t incapacitated, and you don’t have disadvantage on the attack roll.
I imagine this isn't how it works because that might be hard to code, or it might "feel wrong". And frankly, it DOES feel a little wrong. Why does the rogue do all this damage just for being near a friend? But that's how DND5E is balanced. It puts some power back to the rogue when finding a hiding spot over and over again is simply time consuming. When controlling the rogue I kept finding myself trying to get hidden, and pop back out again to get the appropriate bonus damage that I would have NATURALLY gotten if this had been coded correctly.Summary
If I wrote a review for Steam today it would be "Soft Pass" as my recommendation, with a clear note that fans of DOS2 will enjoy it, fans of BG1,2 NWN, Neverwinter and DND Table Top likely wouldn't. Things like the Shove as a bonus action, and the massive benefit to elevation feel completely unbalanced and out of sorts for a $60 AAA title that claims to be DnD. If this was from an Indy studio that was asking $20 to keep the lights on while they work I'd be far more forgiving; but this isn't. I'll keep watching this (I bought it on Stadia as my computer won't run it on Steam well enough to stream it), but if some of the above doesn't change by official release I would consider it a "Hard Pass" review.
It just breaks too many tenants of Dungeons and Dragons 5e design and balance to bear the name.
If this were Divinity Original Sin 3 I'd be much kinder and the more I think on it, the more I wish it was.