Will Wotr flop like Pillars of Eternity 2?

I suddenly had a “vision” about good game design.

Games with extremely good design are Nintendos Mario and Zelda games and also Portal.
The controls are simple and the rules are easy to understand. You need your brain to figure out how to use the abilities of your char to overcome the obstacle in front of you. At first you say “Oh crap, how am I supposed to get there?”, then you feel clever when you find a solution for the problem and later you feel super clever when you find out how to avoid the problem in the first place. You learn new things, discover new places or beat new enemies all the time and you enjoy doing it. Basically all of Portal is a tutorial how to play the game but its still lots of fun to play it.
These games give you relatively few tools or abilities, but all of them are useful, though sometimes it takes some time to find out what they can be used for.

I know this is a different genre.
But these games are easy to get into, you learn a lot while playing and you enjoy doing so.
On the other side pathfinder puts a huge entrance wall in your way. First you have to understand the very complex rule set in order to enjoy the game at all. Until you understand the rules playing is just super frustrating.
And once you understand the rules you realize that you can totally ignore half of the classes, feats and spells at all.

I finished both PoE and PoE2. I think PoE2 had a lot of solid elements, and was in some ways an improvement over the original.

But the ship-to-ship battles were awful, despite being the main new feature of the game. The UI was largely text based and felt like a placeholder. The combat mechanics were easily gamed so you never lose. I either used the starter boat until the end of the game (fewer cannons but much quicker, more maneuverable and more attacks per turn than any other boat in the game) or I charged at the enemy and boarded them, breaking out of the ship battle and going back to the typical combat mechanics.

The equations were easier to understand. I don’t think that’s the same as understanding how to build a character or a party, though, because you need to know things like how much accuracy do I need end game, what sort of defenses are common vs uncommon, what sort of defenses do I need to build a competitive tank, can I even build a tank or will the AI just target my squishies, what sort of damage profile do I need for most encounters (evenly spread aoe, priority damage on single target within a crowd, ranged damage, high sustained damage for bosses vs lower sustained but higher burst), what penetration do I need to overcome armor, how carefully do i balance resource Limited vs resource unlimited sources of damage, what’s the trade off between attacking 3% faster vs 2% more chance to hit vs 3% more damage, etc.

Personally, if I were to design CRPGs, I would give new players a few goals for party design, like end game, you need accuracy or to-hit numbers of X to hit s typical enemy and potentially 10 more to hit a boss. You’ll need X armor/defense to reduce your chance to hit to 10% of less. The typical hit will deal Y damage, etc.

Or I’d allow free respecs so people can adapt their party overtime if their builds don’t work.

Asuming I was a new player, I am not sure how much it would help me to know that end game enemies have 40AB and 50AC (just random numbers as example).

Even now as someone who has medium knowledge about the game it is hard for me to predict what values I get in the end.
You have to consider that at lv 20 you have:
22 base str
+6 stat improving items
+5 weapon, armor and rings
The following buffs (legendary proportions, haste, bulls strengh (does not stack with items), and some more
You are enraged
There are some unique items (such as ring of circumstances in Kingmaker)
and some more stuff

This is too much for me to calculate right now and new players have no chance to understand all of this when they start the game and make their first char.

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^This, and especially if said unfamiliar system is also a complex and sophisticated system.

D&D 3.5/Pathfinder 1.0 are very complex for sure, and even obtuse and dense, but a great many gamers out there are very familiar with them. So any videogame using those systems automatically has a solid base of customers happy to at least give the game a try, hence P:Km’s good sales.

PoE1&2 are complex and also unfamiliar. This is the worst combination, as many of today’s gamers are turned off by a seemingly complex system that is also very unfamiliar to them. So they won’t even give those games a shot (even though if they had given the games a shot they would’ve more than likely found them to be well within their ability to understand and handle).

D:OS’s systems are simple, unsophisticated, and very easy to understand and figure out. So even if someone is unfamiliar with them, they don’t feel turned off or intimidated by them, and will therefore give the games a shot. This explains D:OS2’s popularity.

There may be another problem with PoE:

The devs of PoE changed some abilities often when players found an OP combination.
Many chars stopped working because of this.
For example good bye retaliation cipher: You could make a char that makes a counter attack every time you are attacked and this would generate focus so you could cast infinite spells as long as you are attacked in melee. This has been removed.

As for pathfinder, this could mean the devs say that monks get only 1 wis AC per class level (similar to sword saint) because they do not like that so many chars use 1 monk lv for a large defense bonus.

I am not sure what to think of it. On one side I can understand if players are angry when devs take things away from them.
On the other side I like it that devs look at what players are doing and change things when the devs think they are broken. Rules are there to allow gameplay, they are not a sacred object that must never be touched.
Personally I think the ultimate final edition of PoE1+2 is better than the game at release. Not just bug fixes but also regarding gameplay elements.
But I am not a DnD fan. I do not care what rule set a game has. The rule set should be consistent, relatively easy to understand the basics and still give you lots of interesting choices.

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I played both Pillars of Eternity.

The reason I think the second one failed is mostly because they departed in big parts from the more classic formula they had in the previous game.

I do not think it was all bad, but since they tried to innovate, it is not surprising the system was not perfected for the release. It is still not perfected to this day, mind you, but it is slightly more enjoyable now.

Regarding Owlcat Games, the chances are quite low for it to fail in the same way. First, there is no big changes in the core mechanic. Second, there is not so much of a genre fatigue as there was at the time of release of Pillars of Eternity 2 for CRPGs. Third, the game was kickstarted rather than going on a more obscure crowdfunding site.

In any case, it is a bit hard to exactly pinpoint the causes of failure. The game was not bad by any mean. But Wrath of the Righteous is in a much better state to succeed.

The only problem could be a messy launch that replicate what happened with Kingmaker.

Charles Hoskinson, owner and creator of Cardano recently had a YouTube video with plans for the future. He wants to create video games in the Forgotten Realms setting using the Pathfinder ruleset. That would be the best of both worlds.

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It’s exactly what I’ve been wanting, because when it comes to D&D it is the FR setting that I love, and not so much D&D mechanics. But if I have to take D&D mechanics, give me 3.5e/Pathfinder any day.

Yeah, 3.5/PF1e is the way to go if you want a system that challenges players to carefully think through character creation/development. Disagree completely with those who say Deadfire’s overly simplistic system wasn’t a factor in its sales performance, which is a shame because I actually thought the storyline was decent despite being too short.

There’s a lot of focus on what deadfire did wrong, but you should be looking at what owlcat is doing now. Even in a beta state, it’s far better than POE in my opinion.

The only way that wrath fails is if it comes out in a horrific state. The problem is, we have about 3 months left until release. We likely aren’t getting a beta build with the remaining mythics, 2 acts, or any or the bugfixes we’ve been waiting for before release. And, if it releases in the state that kingmaker did, where the last two chapters were so riddled with bugs that you couldn’t complete them, it will get review bombed. Much like cyberpunk for its last gen console releases.

We’ve got mechanical bugs from alpha that are still a problem in the beta. If this game fails, it’ll be due to a lack of polish on owlcat’s part. Everything else has been a massive improvement over kingmaker.

Certainly that would be very bad for WotR’s prospects, however I think there is a second issue: the complexity level has gone up significantly from Kingmaker what with all the new classes, mythic paths and whatnot. For someone who is not familiar with Pathfinder it is bewildering, more so than Kingmaker.

Of course that’s exactly what devoted Pathfinder fans adore. If you look at discussons around builds, such a there are as yet, you see almost all of them involve complex multi-classing, feat selection etc that mean nothing, absolutely nothing, to folks who are even quite experienced playing cRPGs.

They are faced with a starting party three of who’s characters are a shaman and two witches, classes they have never met before and have no idea how to build or use, plus a Paladin tank who, the cognoscenti sniffily inform them, should obviously be built as a Bard and that the first feat to take on this bard-tank-sword-and-shield-type-whatever-type-thing, you idiot, is plainly “Unarmed combat”. Duh!

I don’t think the automatic leveling pre-built character template system is going to cut much ice either 'cos folks don’t play cRPGs to have their characters automatically leveled up for them with abilities they don’t know how to use for reasons they don’t understand.

At the moment is doesn’t help that there are very few good build guides out there, seriously few. The danger here is that the game gets a reputation of having too many choices that are too difficult to choose between and if you make mistakes, which you almost certainly will, the game will punish you mercilessly for it.

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Complexity isn’t much of a problem for WotR anymore, imho. Since the first 5 times or so of respecialization are free of charge to the player. This encourages experimenting with all kinds of character builds without fear of getting punished by the game.

Personally, I am all for Owlcat taking enough time to thoroughly fix the long list of well known bugs. And let beta testers scrutinize the remaining act(s) via at least one more Beta Phase for even less bugs in the final product. Even if this will push the game release past the initial targeted 2nd September. The more polished and bug-free WotR is at release date, the better its reception becomes.

Personally I think you are underestimating the problem. There are of course a number of players who love experimenting with builds and theory craft but they, I believe, are a quite small minority of cRPG players (although of course they probably account for a majority of WotR backers) and Pathfinder is the perfect playground for this.

But I think the majority of cRPG payers mainly want to build a decent party, stick with it and enjoy the story and the adventure. I think some streamer had worked out that the game currently offers (technically) about 200,000 different build options. How do you deal with that when you barely know where to start and have no real means of evaluating these options?

Also the problem with respec is that if you don’t know what to choose when you start there is no reason to expect you’ll know any better if you try to respec.

I know this personally because even though I’ve played thousands of hours of cRPGs since the original release of Baldur’s Gate and played most all of them on max difficulty WotR has me frozen into indecision starting a new game because my first attempt told me I don’t fully understand all the systems, there are too many choices and I have never really multi-classed and am frightened to try becassue I don’t have any feel for how I should go about it.

I agree that the more polsied the whole game is on release the better it will be recieved and that having the beta community do that is likely to make a big difference. The big argument against it is spoilers etc (and possibly finance) but I agree it should be considered.

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Still, I think you are overestimating the problem. I agree that fresh player who never experienced Pathfinder, D&D or any other D20 system before playing WotR will likely be overwhelmed at first. And most likely stick with either one of the pregenerated characters. Or create a single-classed character on their own, yet stick to the “recommended” feats. For the first couple of levels at least. One has not to create the perfect min-max build in this game for enjoying it after all. Even if said customers face a wall in difficult, it’s likely that they will re-adjust the difficulty setting first and foremost. Once such players realize that respecialization is a thing (as well as free for the first couple of times), they’ll become more open to experience on their own.

Not to mention all of the guides and builds that alpha/beta players have already made. A stroll through the class builds area of the forums will give players a good idea of what to focus on. The new tutorial system is a nice addition too. Telling players what spell is needed to remove a debuff, and what bonuses do and don’t stack should make the game a lot more accessible. Even with the insane amount of classes and feats available.

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I agree with that.

I play RPGs since the mid 90s, Kingmaker was the most complex system I have seen and wotr is even more complex (mystic paths, more classes, more feats, some enemies have more inflated stats than ever before)

I believe that wotr will be a success and many fans will love it for this complexity, but many others will be totally confused. My first Kingmaker char was a total desaster and wotr has several classes where I am not sure what I should do with them. To be effective you need the right char, equipment and buffs. I get the feeling that this game is two things at once. A very good role playing game with a good story and a math game about stacking stats to absurd hights by doing things that make no sense to most normal people (aka non nerds).

Please remember that the people who are very active in this forum is not representative for the majority of players, especially once the game is released.
It is nice when a bunch of nerds discuss how to squeeze one more AB out of a monk/magus/dragon/vivi in order to one shot a boss, but many people, even those who played many other RPG before, will understand nothing of what these freaks are talking about.

Edit:
OK, I do admit that wotr did make great effords to explain things better.
You can finally see the differences between base class and archetypes at character creation and the game tells me when things do not stack.
But it still is a very complex system and it takes lots of efford to understand the basics good enough to enjoy the game

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I think that is a very astute comment that speaks to the very heart of the issue.

Unfortunately that, so far at least, is not really true. There are only about 130 threads on the builds board and only a very small number of those, barely a handful are actually useful for new players (even experienced ones like me) trying to make sense of WotR systems. One thread stands out head and shoulders above the others in terms of helpfulness and that’s The_Nighshade911’s excellent contribution:

https://forum.owlcatgames.com/t/my-no-merc-party-composition

but what’s needed is 20 or 30 more like that, of that standard, relating to different build themes.

Others have a lot of stuff like this in it:

I can see why you would think of earth elemental bloodline. But copper dragon? Those metallic pranksters who love to harass and annoy pretty much anyone around them? Sounds more like a Trickster Path candidate to me. :stuck_out_tongue:

Aeon has the strongest synergy with Inquisitor. But there are various other thematically fitting choices as well. Both of the Oracle’s Enlightened Philosopher and Lone Strider archetype fits the “detached” Aeon image quite well. The spell list of the Aeon are almost exclusively Abjuration spells, so things like a Warpriest’s Disenchanter are also interesting. Another thematic fitting choice is the Bard’s Tranquil Whisperer.

Even for someone like me who has played 1000’s of hours of cRPG including 100’s hours or more of 3.5e this is meaningless gobbledygook unless you’ve already got a lot of Pathfinder experience

I also think Discord is part of the problem. Google’s AIs are usually exceptionally good at finding the key threads that answer important questions but I don’t think they can make much sense of Discord, the format just doesn’t lend itself to building an accessible knowledge base. Nor does it lend itself to posts like The_Nightshade911’s.

[edit]: Actually another issue that needs to be considered is the current lack of Youtube build guides out there. Youtube is the go to source for many if not most players who want to learn a difficult complex game. Currently BG3 is a big problem for WotR in this respect because a) it already has a ready made audience with the millions of EA players and b) it’s nothing like as difficult or time consuming to make guide videos for BG3 so it obviously makes more sense to make BG3 vids than it does for WotC.

Owlcat would do well IMHO to ponder what might be done about this well before launch.

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Discord is a big help here. Here’s a link to Scanix’ builds. They’re quite nice imo. There are a few questionable picks here and there. But, it’s still a good route to go in most cases.

Well, to be fair, BG3 is much much simpler regarding game mechanics and builds, and has fewer bugs. I don’t think it makes much sense to create builds for WotR right now because a lot is still not implemented or buggy. And a lot will depend on the enemy and encounter design in the endgame, which we don’t know yet (hint: e.g. the last boss could simply have an AC that is unhittable by straight forward melee and archer builds, wink wink).

This is a huge difference between the Pathfinder games and BG3 and PoE:Deadfire, or Solasta for that matter, regarding builds. In the latter three, you can quickly find out the couple of optimal builds that will carry you to the end, with theory-crafting. With Pathfinder games, you’d need to play the whole game with your builds, to evaluate the performance on every level, which is undoable given the sheer multitude of classes, subclasses, multiclasses, feat selection, party compositions (6 chars versus 5 or 4 also complicates this), unless you do that full time for a year or something :slight_smile:

But there is a lot of material out there for P:K, so that’s a start. The problem I have with a lot of build information is that they only contain the choices made, but no explanation why that is good, and an evaluation of alternatives. Also, you need to take into account party composition, default buffs and tactical advice on how to handle certain enemies and encounter types.

A good example for this would be e.g. this guide:

Gamer Guides for Kingmaker: The Tank

…which explains game mechanics, party composition with the different roles, synergy with equipment and basic tactical advice together with the build.

I don’t need to play Solasta twice to figure out that a Paladin is a much better melee tank than any fighter could ever be, or, for Deadfire, that a Nalpazca monk has one of the highest consistent DPS on level 20, but I don’t see a chance to evaluate if an Azata vital strike sword saint or a Lich melee sorcerer will handle certain boss fights in certain points of the game better unless I play it myself, which means 2 full playthroughs, or someone can explain it. Simply stating the chosen feats for each build will not do that.

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