Players should be getting straight nuked if they roll with fewer than 4 PCs. The fact that the game can be soloed already should give them pause. It means that the challenge for 4 is barely passing. Peeps can already meta game the hell out of the first Act since there's nothing else to do right now, so I think that should be anticipated. They need to start kicking around ideas for their hardest game settings so it can be run through in the EA. I'm really curious how they're going to approach that.
I'd much prefer that selecting a harder difficulty meant more challenging encounters and more enemies, rather than just nerfing the PCs and calling it a day. I also want the world to scale up to meet the PCs, rather than seeing the PCs simply get gimped so the world can stay the same, if that makes sense. It should feel difficult even for the full party proceeding along the standard path, and way harder if you just start skipping off into the woods by yourself. The fact that they didn't seem to really entertain the idea of 6 seriously at the start and decided to just go with what they were used to with 4 is a shame. I don't want lose out on one of the defining features of the earlier games with a large party, tons of companions, and where the combat is challenging enough to make that work, just because someone wants to lone wolf it.
They should start large and design the interface and combat challenges for 6 at the high end and 4 at the low end. Because that leaves room for people who want to meta the thing and make it harder for themselves by rolling with 1-3.
Or similarly if players find the idea of managing more than 4 PCs to be the thing of nightmares under the current scheme, that should indicate that there are problems with the interface and party controls that should be addressed ASAP.
On the harder difficulty scales I'd also like to see a companion get chunked every once in a while in the more intense battles, with enough other companions left around that the game can still proceed to completion with a replacement if the player opts not to reload. I'll also admit that I never touched anything other than the default 'normal' and 'core rules' difficulty settings in BG1/2, but found the playpace enjoyable for 6 or solo there (that was more because of the way XP worked for overlevelling since the old games had the split reward). In Tutu I did opt for the revamped AI mods eventually, but that was like a decade later and well into weidu era. I really don't care much for Ironman wheel of pain settings, but know that some really love those, so it would be nice for them to have that setting so they can give feedback on it specifically, instead of trashing through the default. Give them their horror show ultra death mode setting so they can feedback on it instead of the default difficulty.
I'd much prefer they get this thing dialed for 6 and truly think 4 is stopping short. Though I guess I've made that pretty clear by now.
In the interviews they talked about this consideration, with 4 as something they decided on because they felt they could 'deliver a better experience for the players' with 4. But that felt like a bit of a cop out to me. Sort of like double speak, admitting that 6 was just too hard for them to handle in an elegant way. Like I just immediately find myself asking why they can't deliver for 6? And if the devs can't deliver it, that probably means a simple mod to expand/unlock two more slots by itself will be weaksauce without a massive encounter/inferface overhaul. That's going to take forever with Mods.
I want them to work harder on it so they can deliver. I had really hoped that this would be a thing they patched in sooner rather than later, so they could start building out the difficulty scale at the high end, rather than the low end. I feel like they should be changing the encounters too and getting us used to seeing that mixed up from time to time in the EA, particularly in the earlier areas.
Right now I honestly think they pushed out the EA too early. They probably should have let it cook a bit longer. This is what happens when you share a WIP with too many people. Its like publishing a rough draft or framing a sketch, screening dailies to the public, or selling tickets to premier a play that stops at the intermission. The crits are going to be all over the place and runs the risk of losing the initial vision and dampening enthusiasm by showing it off too soon, which I think is what's happening to some degree. I'd have happily waited till Halloween 2021 to play something more put together, but its too late for that now. What I think they need to do now is demonstrate some serious ambition, and hype the idea that what we've seen far is 'just the begining'
Increasing the party size to 6 with UI and controls to match, along with updated encounters would signal that I think.
I also really want to know if they have plans for Companions that are not Origins characters, and if so what that might look like. If we could recruit a couple companions who weren't Origin PCs that would have me breathing an instant sigh of relief.