(just sharing my thoughts to the core Larian community - hopefully we have a more civilized audience here than on steam and you guys will understand my point of view even though you may disagree, the same way I'm trying to understand the opposite view)
The BG/IWD franchise I also grew up with (I was 14 when BG1 released and I still have the box with its countless CDs somewhere) introduced me to the genre. I am not a DnD hardcode gamer, I concede that, I have not read any of the DnD edition books either but BG is a cherished memory I'll have for the rest of my (gaming) life, that's for sure, it's a reference that will never disappear given the impact it had at the age I was. Since then I've always secretly hopped for BG3 for the past 25years (yes I'm a boomer). I gladly bought the EA, the price is right, I'm glad of its success and the view it gives to the gaming community on Larian, who I see as one of the best gaming company in terms of quality, dedication and communication to their players. I've bought and played DOS1/2 though I haven't finished any of them (mostly due to combat mechanics and time constraints - but not my point here), I can tell those games are top of the genre but I've always had the biaised thinking of comparing to BG/IWD (I apologize for that - you always keep a thing for your first love).
That being said, I am clearly and greatly impressed by the work Larian did for BG3: the visuals and graphics, all the graphical technologies are just astonishing. What has concerned me rapidly upon waking up in the nautiloid was the feeling of déjà vu, namely DOS déjà vu. I've almost instantly felt like what prevented me from diving in to the end of the Larian original franchise would be similar or related in BG3. This feeling strengthened when I met the first pack trash mobs, the good looking and funny imps.
I concede and now understand, after having read countless threads on steam forums, that it seems the turn-by-turn style is a requirement and a necessity from the 5th edition of DnD (bare with me as I said I haven't read nor am I a harcode DnD ruleset scholar): but I feel like for players like me, who didn't need to be DnD scholars to enjoy BG/IWD to the bone, this is an existential clash with our memories of BG1/2.
See, for players like me, I feel like the story telling and immersion is much more important and entertaining than having to optimize combat tactics on every single trash mob packs. Therefore, combat has a need for dynamism, which I hope you would concede that turn-by-turn doesn't have as opposed to real time with pause (also this can be argued depending on the meaning of the encounter - imps who cares, story turning point encounter is very important; so you'd pause at every action). I used to save constantly before an encounter in BG1/2 and many times RTwP would be my defeat, the very reason I would die because as some say it can be "chaotic". However, this was part if not most of the fun. I would do and redo many encounters, in a dynamic way, and when I felt real time was too hard, I would then pause for each action (now in TbT mode) and take the time to think of my strategies. In a meaningful story encounter, during story turning points I would basically be so careful I would pause every single time, those fight encounters needed my full attention, I was sucked into the story and the fight because of that immersion.
What I'm trying to say (it's hard to nuance all these feelings) is that it's ok to fail and die and retry in an RTwP approach, you get cocky and run into the fight, sometimes it does work out, sometimes it doesn't. When it does there is a rewarding feeling too, when it doesn't, well you try again and be more tactical, you pause and think. In a de facto TbT approach you gotta think all the time even for meaningless encounters (I'm referring to a pack of trash imps for ex.). This, to me, hurts the replayability and takes way too much time: I've started maybe a few times my character but after a while spending 10min on the same imps pack it is not so entertaining anymore, I wish I could just bash and pass through them when I've understood how that encounter works. In fact, it's almost like a way to speed things up to resume to the story point I want to reach or to the point which I haven't done yet (for ex: explore this part first and this other part with another character): it's always about the story and the immersion in my opinion. This is why I find the TbT only combat style too slow in terms of replayability (first encounter, if I'm cautious I would pause) but after getting a feel of the game and fight mechanics I would want to have more fun and just bash my way through. To me this is a fondamental part of the immersion into the story. I play RPG first and foremost for the story, I want to play a role, mostly singleplayer (I'm old school), I'm pretending I'm this or that and I would want the game mechanics to support that need, this is what entertains me. As currently it feels like the other way around: the combat game mechanics support the story. I find the most fun when I'm kept immerged into the story and the game mechanic helps me stay that godly warrior (or whatever class you're playing), for that to stay immerged there's gotta be a dynamic. On top of my head, if RTwP is not implementable (for some technical reasons), I would still think there might be ways to mitigate this, although I have no pretention to suggest other than auto combat for party members. Keep in mind I'm a single RPG player.
Finally, I'm not criticizing, I'm already grateful of having EA BG3 but I already know I will not be able to throw more than a dozen hours into BG3 because of that combat mechanic, I will probably never see the end game and will end up watching youtube videos to get a taste of what the story is and try to find any well explained spoiler article and then just move on. It feels sad, but at the end of the day it is only a game. This will not impact me as BG1/2 have done. However, BG3 has the potential to leave a mark in the gaming community psyche that will still be alive in 30 years from now, as BG1 has done, every gamer from the 90s has played it and if they didn't, they know the power behind the name. This power comes from BG1 and there is a reason for that.
I hope some at Larian will read this and that I will be understood. I'm not asking to change the game if it cannot, just only to understanding how some players (I'm sure I'm not alone, it can't be) approach an RPG, especially one of the reasons BG1/2 IWD1/2 and countless clones (PoE1/2 Tyranny and others I forget) have had so much success. BG1 is and will always be the one true icon of its genre for players who discovered what an RPG looks like when we were teenagers.
I wish Larian great successes and still have high hopes for BG3 even though I just cannot immerge myself into the game as it is currently.
Thanks for reading
That is so well written, mate. Kudos!
If it's what it's takes to save the world, then the world doesn't deserves to be saved - Geralt