One in a million also I have tried the EA build. The game has a solid opening, a great setting, and plenty of positive sides (some are listed at the end of the post). Praising does not make things better, however, and I will focus on the things that can be improved.
People say that BG3 is D:OS3 in disguise - and they are right. In my opinion, there is a simple (but no doubt tedious) trick to make the D:OS3 feeling disappear from the game: darker lightning and colors. The BG games were characterized by an atmosphere that is currently lacking from the EA build due to the use of bright colors. Here are my suggestions:
- In general, make the color palette darker. Hell is supposed to be hell, especially when about to crash-land on a mind flayer ship. Yet, in the EA build hell feels like a jolly place. Use darker colors, make it easier to die (for example by pressing a wrong button, or by going to a wrong room), make the feeling more desperate. Take inspiration from the atmosphere in Diablo 1. Mind flayers are supposed to be horrific beasts. Give the player an understanding of why (for example by placing one in a room where it will kill the player in an instant; make companions warn about going into that room).
- Introduce day and night cycles (you added cutscenes - you can add nights too; "too much work" isn't an argument). Make the crash site occur at night. Take inspiration from the atmosphere in the original UFO: Enemy Unknown (grim, scary, dangerous). Mid-day bright sun crash-landing feels too joyful.
- Changing the brightness of the screen based on character vision is a great idea. Make this concept stronger: humans are not supposed to see anything except lights in the dark. Change screen accordingly (aka. Ultima V). Introduce higher attacking penalties for non-darkvision species. This would allow the tactical use of light to highlight enemies. Introduce opposite daylight penalties for drow and vampires. Introduce screen lightening for these species. If these changes make the game too difficult, supply the player with items that even out the lighting differences (but take a slot in inventory).
With the changes above, I believe the D:OS feeling can be removed from BG3, not to mention that these changes would add tactical depth and a great atmosphere to the game.
What I liked in the EA build:
- The rarity of magical items makes these items feel special similar to BG1. Low-level characters do not deserve epic items. Keep on supplying the player with a wide variety of (increasing) quality non-magical items instead of rare magical items from the beginning. Even a magical +1 item can be made to feel a special treasure this way.
- D&D ruleset was very well implemented to fights and dialog, although the dialog felt too standard in many places. Why not add some sarcasm to the dialog options?
- The variety of classes and races to pick from was nice but also a double-sided blade. Drow are not supposed to be accepted even to the level they were in the EA. Also, the drow are not supposed to like bright sunlight (need an item to counter the effect or that "getting used to" explanation).
- Four party-members is enough for a turn-based game. Otherwise the fights will drag for too long.
- Fights were not too long as often was the case in D:OS games. Some fights were easy (that's nice in between). None was too difficult.