A general comment about playtesting games:
-It is the job of the designer and/or developer to create a set of rules and then pose a problem to the playtester.
-It is the job of the playtester to try anything and everything allowed within those rules to try to solve the problem and then report on what happened. This helps the designer to understand what is working well and what isn't.
-"I found this thing that you can do (or are incentivized to do, because it's good at solving the problem) and it feels bad" is useful feedback. A good designer should be trying to avoid situations that make their players feel bad.
-Telling people that their feelings are invalid because they can choose to not do that thing isn't helpful. They're doing what they're supposed to be doing and giving feedback on it.
My feelings with regards to exploits:
Combats in this game (from what I've seen) are pretty simple - if you want to progress in the game, you have to win the fight. There is no notion of failing forward; if you lose the fight, you die and have to load an old save. Therefore, winning the fight is paramount and it is expected to do anything that you can within the rules to kill your enemies. If I find a tactic like this that works, but feels like cheating, it makes me think less of the game. It isn't fun to be torn between progressing the story and feeling like you are exploiting an oversight in the rules. If winning at any cost weren't ingrained into the structure of the game, it would feel less necessary to rely on exploits. But stumbling on a tactic that works, even if it feels bad, usually means that I'm not searching for better tactics to use - a local maximum is often good enough. That's not fun. It's easy to say "just don't use that exploit," but I want to feel like I'm struggling to solve the problem, not holding back because an obvious answer feels like cheating.
My feelings on a larger, related issue:
Like many of the other exploits that have been pointed out in the past (e.g. bonus action projectile shove, hide shenanigans, attack advantage from height, etc.), this is an exploit that (nearly) every character can take advantage of. Some of the most powerful things in the game have nothing to do with the choices you've made about your character. Class features are severely diminished in the face of a toolbox of exploits that anyone can use. I want my character to feel powerful. I want to feel like the choices that I've made about how my character grows are important. But time and again it seems like my character is overshadowed by what pieces of fancy gear they have collected and how good I am at flogging the same loopholes in the rules over and over again. It feels really bad and makes me not want to play the game. I really don't care about how pretty the graphics are or how many voiceover options I can choose from if the gameplay feels bad.
Yes. To all of this.
Oh, and welcome back, by the way.
It's been a while but I still have vague memories of your contributes earlier (...) in Early Access.