Not sure if this has been mentioned already (there are a lot of pages to this discussion), if so I apologize.
Let me start off by saying that I would like at LEAST a 5 party member band, but 6 would be phenomenal. That said. Anyone who has DM'd their own PnP game know that the party size influences A LOT of what happens in the game. Everything from encounters to loot to gold gained for those encounters. If an encounter is easy, you don't want to reward the group for just walking through your campaign. The more players you have, the more modifications you need in an encounter to balance it out. If that encounter is overcome, then the more experience, loot and gold that is gained from said encounter.
An example of this would be the owlbear. Right now, that is a challenging encounter. Add 2 more players, and that challenge rating drops exponentially. So in that case, the encounter would have to be modified with the owlbear doing more damage, having increased hit points, possibly even including more enemies in the encounter, just to balance it out. This would also mean more experience for your characters, which means they level up faster, which means every other encounter in the game would need to be modified so that when you are reach further in the game, you are, once again, not walking all over the enemies and getting handsomely rewarded for it.
Can this be done? Of course. But it requires planning, coding and modifications to the game which they need to be able to focus on. Larian may very well be doing just that, but it's going to take time. In essence, it's a wait and see what happens scenario. I have a feeling that even after launch there will still be more tweaking and modifications made by Larian themselves, simply due to sheer scope of what D&D is.
Very true what you said. I’ll offer a counterpoint even though I agree with you.
Expanding the party size to six will work IF Larian starts removing most or all of their nonsensical homebrew systems like backstab, height advantage, surface effects, barrelmancy, action economy. Because all those things are in place, our four characters act like 6-8.
Why? Take height advantage which is two rolls and taking the best roll. If we didn’t have that, you’d roughly need two characters to achieve a similar result. I say roughly since it’s not exactly the same but hopefully you understand my point.
Backstab is the same. All the explosives act like AoE which again can damage multiple monsters with one attack.
Remove them and then you can have more party members with less impact on balance. And having more party members also means spreading out magic items and more expenses to equip each member.
I thought Larian wanted players to have more actions. You can with more party members without resorting to breaking 5e rules. And more party members means more roleplay banter and diversity in party composition.
I wish there was just a "Like" button. I agree with you 100% on this. The environment affects were pretty cool in DOS:2, but WAAAAYYY overdone. (In a fantasy setting where do all these bad guys get their hands on that much oil and what do they use if for, other than to be waiting bombs for their enemies?!?!) Some environment affects, sure. Water on the ground? Cone of Cold is cast, yea, it'll turn into ice, and make it dangerous for anyone moving through, very cool concept. Just don't have water, then everywhere. It's a unique system and can be implemented well.
The height advantage thing is also something that can be implemented in certain situations, but not all. Ranged weapons, sure, I can see incurring a small bonus (small reduction in AC similar to reverse cover), but not advantage. Magic, however shouldn't have advantage in this case. Wizards, clerics and the like aren't strategically trained enough to gain the benefit of high ground, so it should limited to martial type, fighter, ranger, etc. if implemented at all. (High ground advantage is not present in PnP for a reason) Advantage and disadvantage should be doled out sparingly.
Sneak attack from a rogue, yes, that incurs advantage, as it does in PnP. BUT, only if the rogue is striking from an unseen position or invisible. If there is a friendly within melee range, then extra damage is incurred, but not advantage on the attack. So the rogue would still need to hit to get the damage.