UI, Controls, QoL : Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
, Part 4
, Part 5
Roleplay, Story, Immersion : Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
Mechanisms : Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
, Part 4
COMBAT : START, IN VS OUT, SURPRISE, TURN ORDER
Currently, I have the greatest difficulties in doing a very simple thing : ambushes. That is to say, I want all of my team to have a turn before any single enemy can take a turn. It might be that the current mechanisms are sorely lacking, that some bugs are to blame, or that I'm stupid and didn't figure out how to do it (these alternatives are not mutually exclusive).
A character on their own can easily-enough take up to 3 actions before enemies can do anything (a shot before combat is official, an action during the first round with surprised enemies, and a third action if they got first place in the initiative track). But as soon as I have more than one character, some enemies will sometimes play before some of my ambushing characters ! In what is possibly my worst example, I wanted to ambush Gimblebock's group. Lae'zel fired an arrow. Thanks to the use of Sleep, the 4 enemies proceeded to play 2 fulls turns before the game would give me a chance to do anything.
This is an extremely frustrating experience. When achieving such a simple thing is so hard and my attempts sometimes result in diametrically opposite effects, I feel something is very wrong. Surprise. What are the rules for creating surprise ?
Sometimes I manage to surprise enemies, sometimes not. And I can't really tell why.
I would tend to say that a neutral creature who can perfectly see me walking around, but has no reason to suspect that I will attack, should not be on their guards and thus should probably be surprised.
I would tend to say that a creature who cannot see me and receives an arrow should certainly be surprised. (Whether that creature was neutral or hostile, it does not matter.)
Yet, that doesn't seem to happen systematically. Who gets surprised ? Why is it not everyone or no one ?
Sometimes, not all enemies are surprised.
Example : I ambushed a large group of hostile creatures who couldn't see me (in the hall of Priestess Gut, with the goblins having turned hostile). When the fight started, some got surprised (those close to the target of my first arrow), but some didn't.
Suggestion : if one enemy is surprised, they should all be surprised. How come a party member can be surprised when I am the one triggering the fight ?!
This has happened to me a couple of times. Needless to say, it makes my palm fly to my face. In fact, it might be at the top of my Epic Facepalming Scoreboard. This make zero sense. As in, absolute-zero sense.
I wrote earlier that I'd like my party members not to behave like free-riders when somebody is talking. I would also like them not to be completely utterly incompetent. If we discussed a plan to ambush the enemies, and they don't have 3 in Intelligence, they should remember our plan by the time the first person to act triggers combat, as per the plan. Out-of-combat party members, joining the fight. When a fight starts, all party members should be in the fight immediately.
At the beginning of a fight, some of my ambushing companions are included in the fight, some are not. Some enemies then get to play before the party members that were included in the fight. I have wait until the turn of one of those, then select an out-of-fight character, and only then can they finally throw their ambushing arrow.
This is part of a family of situations (a family which is way toe large) where the way things turn out in the game can be miles away from what I meant to do, not because of ball rolls or any other sort of randomness, but because of the UI or mechanisms. This case might not be the most blatant one, but it's pretty close to the top. And it's never a good thing.
I cannot tell the criteria for who is included in the fight or not. I hope that this does not have anything to do with the chaining : unchaining is the only way to dispatch the group in some specific locations, and the current combat inclusion mechanism should not penalise us for doing something that we are forced to do given the (poor) controls you gave us.
Below are other remarks, but they all become mostly irrelevant if it is simply made impossible to have out-of-fight party members, which I very much hope will happen. When there is a party-member in a fight, the rest of the world should be turn-based.
Examples of ridiculous situations that otherwise arise :
- My squishy warlock comes across a bugbear assassin, while the rest of the party is still near a tiefling smith. Combat starts. Oh no, poor warlock ! Wait. My mistake. Not a problem at all. The rest of the team can finish their shopping, pick up a free meal and come to reinforce my warlock at a leisurely pace, since the rest of the world is not turn-based and the combat is on hold so long as my warlock doesn't play.
- A rogue who didn't get noticed at combat start can circle the whole battlefield and come in from behind an enemy for the sneaky backstab, in what would have taken 5 rounds. Transition from turn-based mode to fight mode.
If I have activated turn-based mode before a fight, I would very much like all my team to have their turn before the fight starts. All of them. My party's turn should not be interrupted by the world or combat. Companions walking into a fight and missing a turn.
When an out-of-combat companion enters the fight, they lose their first turn.
If have selected an action before the fight (typically a ranged attack), they lose the rest of their turn (bonus action and movement). Even if they end up being ranked after my "currently playing" character in the initiative track, they don't have a turn when it should be their turn (i.e. when the active creature progresses to where their portrait is in the initiative track).
Everything would be way simpler if everyone was drawn in the fight at the same time. Some summarising suggestions.
- If a fight starts and at least one enemy is surprised, then all enemies are all surprised.
- If a party member is included in a fight, then they are all in the fight.
- If I trigger a fight by an attack-like action, the character who triggered the fight is automatically first in initiative among the members of my team.
-- If the enemies don't have the Surprised status, then all my team is grouped in the initiative track and will thus play before any of them.
-- The action or bonus action that I used to trigger the fight is counted as consumed. Otherwise said : my first action was part of the fight and the fight continues from that point, with the guarantee that all my teams plays first. Turn order. Consecutive characters in the initiative track are not always freely playable.
This issue seems to occur a lot more frequently when creatures are added to the initiative track (usually my companions) or removed from it (usually dying enemies). Two companions that may well have been in the fight for a few turns and are now consecutive in the initiative track are sometimes unable to mix-and-match their turns. I have seen a creature play before another creature ranked above in turn order.
I don't know how to trigger this at will, but it has happened more than once.
COMBAT : ACTIONS AND MOVEMENT Actions.
Quick note here : I have not played 5E and I'm not asking for BG3 to religiously follow the 5E rules, and certainly not out of any supposed superiority or absolute perfection they might possibly have (emphasis on supposed). When I happen to suggest some 5E rules, it's just because it makes sense from a realism, quality-of-life or tactical point of view. Please allow us to expand an Action to take a Bonus Action.
If we can cast a long spell and cast a short spell, surely, we should be able to cast two short spells. Likewise, if we can drink a potion then Attack, we should be able to drink a potion then Shove. No ?
Also, we can consume higher-level spell slots to cast spells requiring lower-level spell slots, so why can we not consume higher-level actions points to perform actions requiring lower-level action points ? A Ready action would be nice.
Typical example : if an enemy comes into shooting range, then loosen arrow/cantrip.
Obviously, the tabletop range of possibilities for Ready is immense, while allowing too many options in the video game might lead to a cumbersome system (for context, I find Hex cumbersome already). But a (very) short selection of basic things could be interesting. Mostly the example above. Another possible idea : if the character/an ally's HP drop under 25% and I have spell slots, then cast a Healing Word. Please add an action to Delay a character's turn.
On their turn, a character could simply choose "play after combatant X", where we would choose X by clicking on the portrait in the initiative track. Doing this may have a cost (e.g. Bonus Action), just as it may not, since letting enemies play before me is already paying a tactical cost. Shove should probably cost an Action.
It is an attack. It functions like an attack. Throw is an attack, and it costs an Action. Please add a Dodge action.
Sometimes, we don't have a good action to take. Dodge would be useful. And tactical (taking a low-chance long shot vs settling for Dodge). And realistic (if I don't actively do something then I can focus more on not being hit). Movement.
The battlefield is not as easy to read as it should. I can often see some perfectly sensible plans with my eyes, and the game tells me "no, you can't do that" because it considers that all creatures are larger than they appears and are made of rock so they can't move past each other like normal people would.
I often find myself thinking that the tactical game around positioning (however little there is at the moment) would be easier done on a grid. Of course, the grid would limit what moves are possible, compared to what is possible in a continuous battlefield, but at least it would convey to me, player, in a very clear way, what I can and cannot do. And honestly, I would take a set of transparent and readable movement rules over a set of finer and more realistic but obscure ones. The space taken up by characters is too big compared to how large they actually are.
I've already mentioned this when talking about the Jump during exploration phases, but it's also a problem in combat. I can see with my eyes that there is space. There should reasonably be space. But the character refuse to go because everyone is too big and so, according the game, there is no space. Allies should be able to move through each other's space (in combat, and even more out of combat).
This could be difficult terrain and thus cost twice as much movement, to make sure that positioning retains some tactical importance.
But at the moment it's just unrealistic, and it's not clear there is a gain in terms of tactical gaming. With the difficulty to sometimes get a character in the precise position I want, the not-always-very-smart auto-pathing, and the un-intuitively large character exclusive areas, it is easy to find myself blocked for no real good reason.