To get closer to the combat pacing that RTwP provided in the late 90s while still maintaining what they've got, I think they just really need to rescale the encounters especially in these lower lvl starter areas.
I think TBS is suffering from the decision to cap the party at 4. If I'm routinely facing a ton of monsters at once, it would make sense for parity if the party was larger. I'd rather have some Mercs getting chunked along the way, and some fodder when facing the horde. I mean if they're throwing mass combats at us right out the gate, to me it makes sense we recruit a larger crew.
The Goblin Camp and the Druid Grove each feature combats that can easily have like 20+ participants and grind to a complete halt if the character makes a wrong left at Albuquerque. I think my sd card is about to cast a fireball of its own half the time lol.
Surely there is a way to make this combat system hum, and I don't think it needs Real Time with Pause, it just needs to get closer to that kind of gamepace. Or basically just finding more effective ways to scale in the TBS combats so they aren't so time consuming.
I know for my part I'm having some PTSD thinking about parallels to Troika's TOEE when it first dropped, moreso than I am thinking about unboxing BG2 for the first time haha. The shift to Turn Based combat from RTwP is significant for a game with this title, so much so that I wish a lot of other BG looking stuff was in here like comfort food to ease it in with change to combat style.
I think the UI could be used in that way, even down to the iconography and organization of menus. The design (by which I mean the actual borders and textures of the UI menus) is beautiful here. Looks clean. But I wish some familiar icons and menus were in place. Or that the basic layout looked a little closer to BG1/2, vertical portraits along the side, stuff of that sort. The little spellcasting icon for example, crescent moon with 3 stars, that guy was a classic! Something to hold onto from BG1/2 UI-wise, while settling in for the return of TBS gameplay after the era of Diablo dominance. Its clear that if what people are after is gameplay almost exactly like BG1/2, Torment, or IWD, then the game to get is probably Pillars over this one. Obsidian has that style of play down. The only bummer there is no Faerun, so if thats the fix you're jonesin' for then the world of Eora probably doesn't do the trick.
This one is basically a 3D version of the old Gold Box games. Its almost identical in feel. It still plays way more like those or even Might and Magic than BG1 for the mechanics. Without a Divinity touch stone to compare it to, since I haven't played those, this one makes me remember the very first D&D games I ever tried to play on the computer. I'll say the Gold Box games were pretty tough, and not just cause they were almost certainly beyond my reading comprehension level at the time. The mechanics of combat were just way more involved than BG. Baldur's gate was like an action game. It had more in common with RTS combat from games like Dune II or Warcraft or obv Diablo than its immediate D&D CRPG predecessors.
I feel like what Larian is doing here has the potential to be a really killer page turner for the genre. In the same way that BG1 was back then. I really hope its badass enough that we get Baldur's Gate III "Thrilling Expansion Title" and then Baldur's Gate IV. Using the same system carried over, to be followed by an expansion of its own. Just to cement the playstyle and give it the broad sweep and epic scope that the franchise deserves.
Anyhow, I'm on board with Turn Based as the model, but I still think they have work to do so that the pacing doesn't break down like this, or overshadow what's fun with what's tedious.
Since this is the great ragin debate, I'm curious, for the proponents of the current Turn Based system what you think about the scale of these first EA combats?
The initial battle in front of the gate to the Druids Grove, that one felt pretty cool to me. Just nearly pushing the edge of the limit. But man, trying to raid the Grove at the end is insane, and this is still only act one? I think fewer mobs and more bosses would help. Smaller groups with more powerful enemies for the most part.
An example of a good combat I think is the one at the entrance to the Forgotten Ruins. There you got a Enemy party roughly matched with the Player's own party. there's cool trap with the hanging stone and an environmental effect with the tangling vines. Some differences in elevation, cover, and terrain obstacles to play around with. It immediately reminded me of some of the better crew vs crew punk outs in BG1.
That encounter is scaled well for the party of 4 I feel. I think the game should feature a party of 6 ultimately, because this is Baldur's Gate, but that doesn't mean we need to run into 6 companions immediately or all at once. I'd actually prefer it if the combats in the first act were designed more around an incomplete party with a couple slots still open. But eventually would be nice to get 6. I think many of the later battles that involve more mobs would just scale much better that way. More PCs means a faster clear out. Right now it can be a real slog when Skynet is commanding a small army, and you're out there trying to make it happen with just 4 corners.