I like the 4 man party. The limitation makes you think of more creative solutions to problems and perhaps your own unique character. Want to fill that rogue role but like rangers too? Play an urban ranger. It's flavourful as well. Wizards can open locks too.
In battle, you have to use your classes to their full extent. No party member is just there as a skill monkey. Makes you chosen companions matter more since you really depend on them for success. The cleric is not a healbot, it is a Cleric with a capital C.
I wouldn't say its evil, just an opinion, kind of like flat earthers are entitled to their opinion even in the face of all logic.
The problem here is that while on the surface your argument sounds reasonable enough, like flat earthers, when you look at the details it falls apart. What really ends up happening is either you create artificial difficulty increase by making your party really bad at handling entire aspects of the game (one of the two main attractions to solo runs in BG 1 and 2, which I have also enjoyed once or twice) or you end up building several of your characters to multi-role, which in higher difficulty play can often be a big problem without a DM helping you to do this. As I've said before this is why the wonky 4 man parties work in PnP, or even 2 or 3 man parties but not on pc or consoles where combat is much much more common. Without that outside intervention, you will encounter things you're party just cant handle without resorting to cheese mechanics (because you have no real frontliner your "interesting rogue" frontliner or whatever fun build you do gets annihilated because it is just sub par), much like you had to on solo runs in BG1 and 2 even though multi-role was much more effective due to differing xp rates between a 6 man party and a solo run as well the xp rates of different classes. Overlapping traps, resting every fight, stacking potions, dragging enemies to other encounters that interfere with each other. These "interesting solutions" more often than not, tend to be abusing mechanics that were never meant to be used in that way.
People complain about cheese being optional (I have no issue with optional cheese or sometimes making the game purposely harder because it is exactly that, optional), yet advocate for it being a necessity if you don't want to use the 4 "must have" classes.
With 4 characters you either run the standard setup (frontliner, rogue, wiz/sorc, cleric/druid) or artificially boost the difficulty, that's fine if you want that difficulty, or if you want to rely on kiting enemies or cheesing broken mechanics. Personally, I don't necessarily want that, I might choose to at some point, but I know I WANT to play with a different setup, i like warlocks, bards and rangers. Of course, with a 5 or 6 man party, there's nothing to stop a player from artificially boosting difficulty by taking 4 instead, leaving the other slots empty.
You say wizards can open locks too, this is advocating for resting far more than intended, because your using spells to open locks, which is abusing rest mechanics aka cheesing that aspect of the game. Cleric isn't just a heal bot he's a cleric with a capital C, i don't think i've seen a healbot cleric in 5e at all, i know it can be done, but its not needed because WotC went out of their way to remove the healbot requirement and instead make it viable to act as proper support caster handling buffs and debuffs, healing is only part of their job for most cleric, for many it isn't part of it at all and is a role that can be filled by potions and resting The thing you need and miss most without a cleric is utility spells. In the standard setup I mention above, cleric/druid is the most flexible slot, but if you take bard instead, its gonna be harder. You don't need a rogue to handle traps, just buff your fighter and have them run over them all then rest and rebuff for the encounter. Cheesing. Avoid fights by having a character really good at deception, intimidation and illusions to bypass encounters or whatever, ok, sure, so umm, what about the fights you can't avoid? Which are going to be much more frequent than PnP because in reality there's no way every encounter is going to be setup to handle that kind of input, the amount of workload increase for devs to make this work in a balanced fashion is simply staggering and unrealistic to expect. There is no DM in a singleplayer cRPG campaign, Deus Ex tried this approach and managed it pretty well, but they had a fraction of the potential approaches to consider compared to D&D. What about luring the enemies in that encounter back to that big trap i encountered earlier, well that trap was put there for me and my party and i'm pretty sure there was no thought put into the notion that players would lure their enemies down a hallway for 5 mins so they could "inventively use the environment" when the devs designed the encounter. I'm sure all those enemies dying on top of the trap they supposedly laid because the ai isn't setup to to work with it. Again, this is cheesing the game. What if my rogue lays out a massive line of traps and i pull all the enemies through them all. I know it only kills one but when they catch up with me the rest just reset because its encounter can only be dragged so far before they stop chasing. Again this is cheesing.
"Inventive solutions" are 9 times out of 10, cheesing the game in some way, so the idea that a smaller party forces you to come up with inventive solutions, is forcing people to cheese in some way or another.
If you were to try and make the "interesting and different approach, inventive solutions" thing work in a singleplayer campaign without cheesing or live manipulation (aka a DM) of circumstances and events, it would be a truly colossal undertaking for a cRPG dev. Very few cRPGs have aimed for larger party sizes, yet despite all the years since BG2 and ToB, despite all the well written plots and dialogues of so many that have come since, they are still considered some of the best RPGs (not even cRPGs) of all time and one of the large contributors to that, is the vast array of companions and the larger party size which lets players experiment massively with their approach to the game. Bigger party means more player agency.
The freedom to experiment and the impact that party size has on that specific aspect of gameplay is one of the major reasons why BG1 and 2 are so highly regarded compared to their fancier, more modern competitors. I can name quite a few cRPGs that when looked at honestly are better written, better voice acted, more visually impressive, and still less beloved than Baldur's Gate and only difference remaining, is the party systems they used and the resultant difference in player freedom and agency.
TLDR: The idea that a smaller party is better in a game with well defined classes, is nonsense plain and simple.
Last edited by Malkie; 08/10/2012:50 AM. Reason: TLDR