Just got to the end of EA content. A lot to love here so far. There were however a few things that bothered me, and I feel like I can't be alone in this.
1. Some of the deviations from 5e are good or even necessary calls, some are not. And vice versa.
The big one in the spell department is Detect Thoughts. At the table, you are always supposed to be able to hear surface thoughts, and the save they make is for you to probe deeper. Detect Thoughts as currently implemented feels like its not worth my time, and the same is true of the rest of the social spells (as well as adjacent abilities like guidance). This is tied in with one of the vice versa issues: the reliance on dice rolls in social situations. So, rarely in dnd is a dice roll pass/fail when it comes to social situations and role play moments. It's about degrees. But the amount of them combined with the dramatic swings they often are attached to makes the game feel so capricious and also a little unfun. A DM can interpret die results and use them to help the player tell the story they are going for while also incorporating that failure. A video game cannot, and it feels like the die rolls as they currently exist are a relic of trying to "be dnd" without understanding the spirit of the thing. More emphasis on player choice and less on die rolls being the end all and be all, while still having a roll to play, would be welcome.
2. The Companions
If I can be glib for a moment I would like to suggest the good writers at Larian get some knew tabletop groups going. This is because, generally speaking, dnd does not consist of a bunch of assholes sitting around a fire being shitty to each other, and it worries me that they seem to think it is. Comradery is one of the core experiences of dnd, and when it is absent it is usually a special circumstance. The lack of it felt very jarring and really disinterested me in engaging with what seems like a pretty big part of the game. Character conflict can be interesting, but so can actually enjoying being around these characters. And I feel like "writing interesting female characters means making them incredible shitty to the player and every other character no matter what" has been demonstrated over the years as a generally bad look, but here we are. And truthfully, while I liked being around Gale and Wyll more, they were just as one dimensional in behavior. It felt like I was interacting the with the description of a character but not the character itself, if you follow. Weirdly the character I liked the least at first, Ast, was the one I enjoyed the most simply because his reactions felt dynamic, like he actually changed depending on how he was treated and the things that happened, even if he isn't the deepest of wells in terms of story.
Also, I feel like larian is gonna hear this a lot, but please, I'm begging em, tone down how romance works. If I had expressed interest, flirted with, or indeed had at least some sort of moment or time spent with a character I could see it, but just having every character walk up and be like "so who ya gonna bone" on the same night was some of the clunkiest shit I've ever seen.
3. More characters allowed in party please
So, there is no way they don't know what the action economy is in terms of 5e and how important it is, but for anyone who needs clarification, the "rule" is this: "if the players and the enemies are of comparably equal power, the side with the most actions generally wins". And that feels pretty true in this game as well. Whenever my party was outnumbered, the game went from fun to "keep resurrecting the same person so the enemies can keep dogpiling them" and I only made it through because of luck, meanwhile someone who could be helping is back at camp sipping red wine and curling up with the 16th copy of A is for Azuth I found. It made combat feel arbitrarily swingy and I often won feeling like I didn't really outthink my enemies, and it made losing feel just as capricious.