Just finished my 1st playthrough(Lich/Core difficulty) few days ago and unfortunately the final confrontation and ending left me disappointed. Battle with Areelu was underwhelming and there are both gameplay and story reasons for that.
Gameplay - she was just a very high level mage with ridiculous AC(like many mobs on Core), dropped her hp to 0 with few Maximized Exsanguinates. It wasnt a multi phase fight like Xanthir and certainly not epic like battle against Lantern King(also 3 phase fight). Honestly it needs a serious rework.
As for story reasons - Areelu has some similarities to Nyrissa from Kingmaker or even Irenicus from BG2 but shes nowhere near as cool, charismatic or intimidating.
- Show, dont tell - thats the main gripe i have with Areelu. She barely does anything throughout the story, nothing interesting at least. She mostly just shows up from time to time, dumps some exposition, tries to act all mysterious with boring statements like “you have flawed understanding of the situation” or “answers are yet to be revealed” and then teleports away. Yawn…
Well made villains do all sorts of stunts to make them appear threatening, cunning, powerful etc. This applies to Nyrissa which was first introduced as friendly “Guardian of the Bloom”, then betrays us, tries to kill us multiple times, uses Tristian as her undercover, unwilling agent, prepares all sorts of calamities on player’s kingdom etc. Likewise Irenicus is guilty of many crimes against various factions, people and player’s character as well.
Fricking Minagho was more interesting than Areelu and finally killing her in Act 4 was very satisfying.
- Speaking of mystery - we already know quite a bit about Areelu right from the start. Half demon Sarkorian witch who opened the Worldwound, traitor of humanity etc. All of that however is just 100 year old lore, we dont learn much about her through our journey until the very end when it was too late to make me care about any of the big revelations(about her son for example).
Again, its the opposite of Nyrissa, Irenicus and other memorable villains - at the beginning we know next to nothing about them and gradually learn more about who they were/are, their motives, goals etc.
Some other issues:
Demons who are the main baddies of WOTR are just not interesting in Pathfinder. They are inherently evil, destructive, scheming, trechearous and so on. No lasting deals or treaties are possible with demons. Their whole society is so ridiculous it just doesnt seem feasible even for a fantasy setting. Its not believable demon lords would get many followers. Why would anyone outside of few crazy psychos(like Cammelia) want to be a cultist when chances of survival(let alone some meaningful reward) are almost zero whether demons win or lose?
Honestly Devils would make much more interesting enemies.
Nenio - awful, obnoxious, immersion breaking, meme character. Also theres nothing scientific about her approach.
Ember - her banal speeches not only converted lots of genocidal cultists but Nocticula herself… Come on!
I still liked the game though. Mythic Paths are great addition which boosts replayability, tons of content, improved graphics/animations, loading times, awesome music etc. but in terms of story/characters/companions - Kingmaker > WOTR