Hello Larian! Big fan of your first game, such a big fan of your second I actually created an account here to come share my feedback. Hands down the best early access I’ve enjoyed on Steam. Keep in mind these thoughts are my FIRST play through. I’m not criticizing or praising things that would take someone several times to realize.

Overall impression (aka bottom line up front) – combat feels fantastic; the atmosphere of the game is a huge improvement; the combat armors are close to right, but ultimately work to pigeon hole your gameplay; attributes feel like pit traps from a by-gone era of RPGs, look to your own talent system for how it should be done – civil too; overall I skipped work for a damn alpha, that should tell you how much I love your game! Well done to Larian!

The good:
I personally love the grittier, greyer world you’ve created. Less villains twirling mustaches, less heroes sharing their butt chins, and just more people of all shades trying to get by. I loved DOS:EE and I recommend it to anyone that will listen, but I tell them all “don’t play it for the story, but the combat ranks up there with XCOM.” For DOS2, I would tell them “And the story is superb!”

The combat! I thought “how could they bump this up when they already set the bar for environmental interaction?” and then you brought in elevation and positioning as well! It felt rewarding without feeling broken or overpowered. I thought the AI played to the best of their ability (frustratingly so at times). I really have nothing more to say here, you nailed the overall feel of it.

You're not afraid to kill NPCs. It sounds dumb, but even just giving names to many of the NPC Magistrates made them more "real" in the sense that I didn't just want to kill everyone in my way. It also made me more invested when one I liked died.

The bad:
The issue seems to be with the dual armor systems. Originally this was in my “good” column because I thought “oh neat, another element to add to the equation!” but, well, here’s how it came to me. About halfway into act 1, deep into the swamp, I was getting frustrated. My mage was about useless. I realized she was my only real source of magic damage and she had to start fresh on any given target, so all the CC goodness was never going to be realized. So I went back, flipped her to full support, and stripped all minor magic damage from the other 3 and fully committed to physical damage. Voila! Suddenly I was in stomp town again, very happy.

I thought I must be misunderstanding the way this works, but a couple hours reading online, I realized two things. People will argue endlessly which is more powerful, magic or physical, and people will agree that you pick one or pick the other, not both. My impression was that I was penalized for trying to “balance” my team. As a strategist or “power gamer,” I’m kind of ok with it … but as a RPGer, it’s like … man all those sweet swords/armor, all those awesome staffs/robes … no matter what I commit to, I’ll miss out on half of it. It just doesn’t feel rewarding to adapt to the system, and it feels punishing to conform to it.

And here’s maybe the worst part (or possibly the part you intended, I realize as I write this) – it reduces interesting strategies. With physical/magical, you can analyze your best approach and take that strategy! You feel rewarded, like a genius general who just overcame all odds. But as you cheat towards full magic/full physical, you start finding yourself using the same 1-2 strategies over and over, regardless of the engagement designed. You are practiced at forcing it into your win condition, and you just repeat that win condition until the game is over. This is criminal for a combat system designed so well in the early stages.

-- How to fix? From what I've read, you're already well aware of the issue, and others have given lots of good (and terrible) ideas to improve this. I only wanted to share my feedback that it was my most negative part of the playthrough. So much so that I'm not putting anything else in this section.

The please improve:
Speaking of rewarding, let’s talk attributes! Games keep doing this and I can’t understand why. Static increases to damage are not interesting or meaningful. Because they always win, and you’re locked in for life. Talents are awesome because they change how you’ll play the game – 25% bonus to sneak damage? That’s becoming part of my strategy. Resistance to fire? Human fireball incoming – I’ll bathe the battlefield around that person! Heal from poison? Got it, I will make that part of how the fight works, that’s interesting and meaningful. You get the idea. They change or compliment how that character plays.

5% bonus to damage? I mean …. Yayyyy … I guess? Here’s the thing, if I needed that 5% more damage bake it into the class. Don’t make me take it. Or worse, leave me the pit-trap of not taking it and being punished for it. See? You either balance for people min/maxing, in which case you punish casual hybrid spreads, or you balance for someone going a bit wider/shallower, in which you trivialize for power gamers. It’s why static bonuses just never work out.
They’re not interesting/meaningful to the player, and they’re not easy to balance around. If someone need X% more damage, tweak the numbers so they have it.

Otherwise you leave yourself open for more OP/UP builds. OP builds are great for epeen, but terrible for game balance and fun. UP just feel so frustrating and punishing. All because the people who are the most intimate with what is “balanced” for a given level (the developers and play-testers) left the decision to you to increase the right stat, which you won’t know until well after the fact.

- How to fix? I feel like memory and wits are examples of "right" here. Putting a point into memory feels like a decision that reflects how you're playing. Need more slots? Choose memory. Need this person to go earlier more consistently? Choose wits. Those are interesting decisions. But with static bonus damage stats, instead of feeling interesting, they feel like stat taxes - I have to curb my intended power curve because I need more memory/wits.

Somewhat similar to the civil abilities. The FIRST decision is huge – is this person going to be sneaky? My loremaster? Possibly my face, with a high persuasion? Cool! This is interesting. After that? I put that same point into the same stat until the end of the game. No longer interesting. More, possibly punishing. You stick 5 points into Thievery wondering “is that enough? Can I branch out yet?” You maaaayyyyybe try one into sneaky – well guess what, now you can’t pick locks at your level anymore. Now I feel regret for trying to make it more interesting. Or, I can still totally pick locks. How overkill is my thievery? Now I feel regret for not branching out sooner! It’s a no-win scenario there.

You clearly grasp the idea – Talents are perfect examples of “this is powerful, if you play this way. If not, choose another.” It’s an INTERESTING and MEANINGFUL decision.

Last edited by Vignarg; 11/07/17 01:20 PM.