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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Crimson Tides of Tethyr - Part IV


Darromar - Temple Quarter


Temples dedicated to Oghma, Chauntea and Talos dominate this quarter,  the first of which hosts a library containing four books on Tethyrian history and geography. A beautiful but emotional melody plays in the background - a little too repetitively for my liking, but whatevs. Roaming around the square are clerics from different faiths: Mystra, Lathander, Oghma, Talos, Chauntea - you can have flavor convos with them if you like. Anyway, the Temple Quarter offers two optional quests which I'll be doing now for the sake of thoroughness. So let's dive into them, shall we?
 

An unnamed bard stands before the statue of a dragon, clearly grieving and too distressed to even speak. A receipt for an amulet falls from his person onto the ground. Having read it, we decide to seek out the jeweler who issued it. [Opt: A Bard's Tale]


Caravan Quarter - The Wheel Market

We learn from the market jeweller that the bard bought the amulet to gift to his girlfriend; also that he was due to play at the Anvil's Ring tavern.


Black Quarter - The Anvil's Ring

At the tavern, we learn from Red Nazala that this girlfriend's father is a Chandler, who runs a shop in the northwest Black Quarter.


Black Quarter - Chandler

We arrive at the chandler's shop to find the chandler inside, dead on the floor.

The chandler seems to have met a grisly end. I wonder who is responsible? - Neremul.

The body of the chandler. One half of his face has simply been torn off. - DM.

Murther!


We creep upstairs...

Black Quarter - Chandler's - Upstairs

A scene of absolute horror greets you as you enter the room. In the corner of the room, facing away from the carnage, sits a woman. - DM.

The bard's girlfriend, Andrea, is found crying in the corner, hiding her face. The head of her mother is impaled on a pike sticking up out of the bed. Moar bruthal murther!

I just wanted to chat, but Andrea projectile-vomits blood all over me, possessed as she is by an evil spirit (which had lain dormant in the amulet) and in dire need of an exorcism, which I gladly perform on her now - and free of charge!


Sigh. The poor dear.

Andrea (Undead [8]): Amulet of Souls (+2 AC nat, Spell Immunity: Sunbeam).


Carvavan Quarter

I return to the jeweler, but he's no longer at the Wheel Market. What a pity, I so wanted to wring his neck.

The mysterious jeweller has disappeared completely. Whoever or whatever he was, you won't be finding answers anytime soon.

Heads held low, we stroll back to the Bard to break the tragic news.

Temple Quarter

Informed of Andrea's death, the devastated Bard now takes his own life.


The Bard (Human Bard [8]): Rapier +1, Lesser Greenleaf +3 light armor (Hide +5), Instrument of the Winds (Summon Air Elemental 1/day).

So ends this quest, which can hardly be called uplifting. [/Opt: A Bard's Tale]

Anyway, we're not gonna let a bruthal murther dampen our spirits! Exploring the quarter further, we spot two priests having a little to-do. 

An intense argument is ensuing between two priests of different faiths, which you guess to be Talos and Chauntea judging from the robes they are wearing. - DM.


The Priestess takes refuge in the nearby Temple of Chauntea; the Talonite threatens us and then runs off, too. We follow the Priestess into "the Rose in Bloom".

Gah! Paleskins and their gods... Arrk has faith only in his sword. - Arrk. 

The blessings of the Grain Goddess upon you, my child. - Priestess of Chauntea.

Cynthia Bloomfield has issues with the Talonites; we agree to speak to them on her behalf in an attempt to calm things down before there's some sort of Holy War in Darromar. [Opt: Matters of Faith]


We march over to and enter the Talonite Temple, "The Gathering Storm". Surprisingly, I manage to convince the imposing Garguth and Kazu to call off the feud - "for now" (100 Exp).

We return to the Chaunteans to tell them the good news, but our high-fiving is cut short when the treacherous Talonites barge in to catch us off-guard. The threatening dialogue quickly escalates into violence in which the motley trio are glad to take part - on the side of the Chaunteans, of course!


Garguth Stormbringer (Human Cleric [10]): Lightning's Edge + 1 spear (+1d6 electrical), Banded Mail +2.

Karuz the Illuminator (Half-Orc Sorcerer [8]): Staff of Power (Fireball, Magic Missile, Ray of Enfeeblement charges), Ring of the Tyrant (Dominate Person [7] single use), Mage's Battle Robe (SR 10, Spellcraft/Concentration +2), Potion of Cure Serious Wounds.

Priest of Talos (Human Cleric [5]) (x5): Masterwork Morningstar.

Cynthia now rewards us: +500 Exp , Lesser Ioun Stone: Blue (Wis +2, 1/day) [/Opt: Matters of Faith]

The motley trio now feel they have milked Darromar for all its worth, so they head back to the Grand Barracks in the Royal Quarter to answer the summons (you'll remember the bells have already tolled). 

Royal Quarter - Grand Barracks 

Scouts have confirmed that the Sythillisian force is marching south to the elven city of Suldanessellar. Tethyr's 20,000 strong army - composed of soldiers, conscripts, mercs & knightly orders - is ready to march north to the same, hopefully to arrive before the ogre warlord's monstrous horde!

+3000 Exp


Next Up - Crimson Tides of Tethyr - Part V

Part II begins! The March North

22 comments:

  1. If you're curious...

    A cleric or paladin with Turn Undead can save the possessed girl without killing her.

    Someone will spellcraft can peacefully resolve the religious feud.

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    1. Nice! Always good to see multiple solutions to quests.

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  2. " A beautiful but emotional melody plays in the background"

    Kill Bill soundrack...in my opinion was more indicated for an oriental setting (like the Kunoichi mod).but always better than hearing the same music (like in Morrowind)

    Noooo..I totally missed the Matters of Faith quest...never noticed the quarrel even if I entered both temples looking for healing & potions. I always try to find and finish every little quest...at least I had the happy ending for the bard's tragedy.(no big reward for that anyway)

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    1. I'm not sure if I presented all the quests before leaving Darromar - do you know? I try to be more thorough for the recountings...

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    2. I also turned that music off after a while, because every time you enter the area, from a building or something, it starts back up from the start...

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    3. Hm.. when I played I assumed there was a quest linked to the circle of statues in this area...I was wrong!
      I try to avoid looking at walkthroughts (or recountings) because I won't have so much fun...but at the same time I hate missing subquest. Some are difficult to find, I spoke with many priests in that area but it seems I missed the only quest givers! :)

      Best music (so far) in Nwn mod was Fairloch theme in Aielund chapter two

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    4. Aielund's music was magnificent, yes. I think it reduce me to tears once (I wonder where it's from?)... but my fave track of all NWN is the one that plays in HotU when you first reach Lith My'athar; swept me away. ;)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ygw99BBL6io

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    5. I believe Aielund Saga had a walk-through (incomplete, but apparently well-written?), but I could not find it. Have you heard of it, or do you know who has it? I just sort of referenced Savant's site for the tips he gives there, and they were enough for me to be fairly completionist in my recounting.

      Not sure if there was a walk-through for CToT; probably not, it's comparatively pretty simple compared to something like Swordflight 2!

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    6. Nice song! I'll probably play HotU someday when I'll have finished some more mods.

      Never heard of an Aielund walkthrough, I too used the tips on the official site for the first chapter but it seems I do not need them. Maybe the walkthrough was lost while transporting the mod from the Ign site to the Neverwinter Vault?

      Not a problem, I'll try to do without guides, I get more satisfaction. I know that CToT is simple but I was able to miss a sidequest also in SoS! (and, most important, a useful magic items for my char).

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    7. I think that's what happened to the Aielund walk-through, yeah. The link I found was broken, or something. Someone must have it, but you're right in that it really isn't needed.

      I highly recommend HotU, though the combat is fairly easy - too easy, I would say. But that might change, one of these days:

      http://forum.bioware.com/topic/545316-considering-doing-a-revamp-of-hotu-thoughts/

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    8. I think Savant did a great work with the notes: you always know what to do and where to go (while I got stuck at the beginning of Blackguard... luckily walkthroughs are available). I had only a problem finding Hasrinaxx in chapter three since it was dark and seeing a path on the left I totally missed him. I went back and I found him (Tab key is my best friend)

      HotU easier than Aielund? I find Aielund well balanced, low-medium difficulty. I like these settings infact I find many modern rpgs (Skyrim, DivinityOS, DA2, and many others) too easy to play, not to mention the simplicity of the systems. So I welcome some old style revamping of the old classics.

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    9. HotU and Aielund are both pretty easy, yeah.

      If you're after a tactical challenge post-Swordflight, I recommend this:
      http://lilura1.blogspot.com/2014/10/modding-dragon-age-origins_26.html

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    10. I would do that but... I already played DAO too much! It was the only Dragon Age I liked... anyway my friends hate that game because of the camera (they say it's not like NWN1 and 2, too closed on the characters as Skyrim and not meant to be played with the tactical camera, but I really didn't had any trouble).

      I even tried the Ishar trilogy, a very old rpg, but that's the hardest game ever played (there is a map but doesn't show your position, npcs vote if you try to dismiss/hire another character, etc..)

      HotU, Aielund, Swordflight, Blackguard and Shadowlords/Dreamcatcher are enough for now. Oh and Tyrants of the Moonsea of course! (And maybe even the Gladiatrix trilogy, just for a change! :D )
      Doesn't matter if they are quite easy, I enjoy a good story. I'm so easy to please! :D

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    11. I don't really understand people who dislike the Origins cam; it snaps out to tactical view - but whatevs. Origins is more tactical than NWN, NWN2 or even the IE RPGs, imo. ;)

      Ishar I think I played once, but it was too oldskool for me.

      I agree though, don't get into it if you have a lot on your plate. I'm the same, have like a dozen different installs of NWN with different mods, haks etc.

      Not sure if I'll bother continuing CToT either. I just think it's a bit old and outdated (like SoS was, but SoS was mercifully brief), I don't particularly like the personalities, and Swordflight is much more worthy of my time.



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    12. The Fairloch theme is awesome, yes.

      I think the walkthrough was more or less lost with the vault crash, yeah.

      How exactly does that DA:O thing up the challenge? One massive frustration I had with Origins is that despite giving Alistair all the tank talents and the heaviest armor, he still couldn't tank worth a damn (on Nightmare). And since spells healed for flat amounts, simply upping his HP wouldn't help in that regard. Wound up just having him Taunt and then Force Fielded constantly as a result.

      "I like these settings infact I find many modern rpgs (Skyrim, DivinityOS, DA2, and many others) too easy to play, not to mention the simplicity of the systems."

      How exactly was DA2 easier and simpler than DA:O? I found the complete opposite to be true (talking Nightmare)...though I didn't find either particularly difficult. How was D:OS easier to play and simple at the start? Or anything it was billed as being "old school" with hard difficulty and unnecessarily complex and confusing systems.

      "I enjoy a good story."

      Probably could/should check out the HeX Coda, Elegia/Excurio Eternum, and the Penultima/Penultima Rerolled series. Weak on combat (and sometimes options) but excellent and interesting stories...though not to everyone's tastes.

      "Origins is more tactical than NWN, NWN2 or even the IE RPGs, imo. ;)"

      Why is that? I'd have guessed "controlling all party members" but you can do that in NWN2 I believe?

      "Swordflight is much more worthy of my time."

      Amen!

      Though I do think CToT was still the best of that "trilogy."

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    13. "I don't really understand people who dislike the Origins cam"

      Nor do I. I'll force my friends to play Nwn1 since we had a lot of fun playing Nwn2 together. Even if he probably finished the original campaign (besides great classics like Bg, Bg2, Toee), they never tried the mods.

      "Ishar I think I played once, but it was too oldskool for me."

      Yes, too much, but I was inspired from the graphic and atmosphere. Instead I replayed The Aethra Chronicles, and well it was better.

      I like CToT ... well first time I played it so it's something new to me, I'll finish that even if it's really easy. Swordflight is surely a lot better but I'll force myself to finish both, I don't like stopping in the middle of the scenario, also I like trying different character builds (so far I enjoy a lot my monk in Shadowlords.. combat is difficult at low levels when you find undeads with damage reduction besides being already immune to crits and stunning fists)

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    14. "How exactly was DA2 easier and simpler than DA:O?"

      It was simpler because there is less choices for the customization of the main character: in Nwn1 you have a lots of races and classes to choose from (not to mention feats, items, skills) and I felt limited when I had to choose from three classes only.
      Also felt simpler because of the "dialogue wheel", that doesn't let me know what my character will say. I prefer reading more and having more choices to choose from (a la Torment/Bg/Bg2 ) during the roleplay moments. In DAO you had more control on the story so I was disappointed by DA2 changes.
      I had also more problems finishing DAO, probably because I didn't chose a mage the first time I played. I found combat very hard in some situations, but it was really easier playing a mage.

      D:OS is very good at the beginning, but after getting some levels, the opponents became an easier challenge. I admit that here there was more strategy and character creation/building was well developed so yeah, it was good, but I became overpowered around level 10-11 (I also loved Divinity 2 even if the last parts were quite easy)

      Morrowind had a really difficult final combat, not to mention the expansions... Skyrim was really easier and you felt like a demigod after some levels. Here too we had less choice when building a character (no classes), less spells (limited to combat, no levitation or anything), and also not only combat was easier, but you could become head of a guild just doing the quests (in Morrowind you also had to develop your skills to become archmage), not to mention fast-travel (that means less exploration).

      I use the term "old school" for games like Wasteland 2 (that reminded Fallout to me) and Pillars of Eternity (well, when I'll play it I'll can say if it's true or not), so no, it's not about hard difficulty or complex and confusing systems, it's about challenge and deep customization and choices, something I felt a bit lacking on those recent titles, probably made for new players.
      Or maybe not... I know, these are just my opinions and I admit that I'm not a hardcore player, as I said I play mainly for the story. Maybe I should just increase the difficulty but I usually start new games at "medium difficulty" and I seldom wanto to replay them for lack of time (but hey Kingdoms of Amalur was easy even at max difficulty)

      "Probably could/should check out the HeX Coda, Elegia/Excurio Eternum, and the Penultima/Penultima Rerolled series"

      I never understood if Penultima/Penultima Rerolled are two mods or just one (re-done).
      I'll surely try them someday, I had lot of fun with Aielund, The Prophet and this wasn't expected.

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    15. "It was simpler because there is less choices for the customization of the main character"

      I would say that you're confusing lots of options with lots of choices.

      In other words, you may be able to customize "more" things in terms of quantity...but nearly all of them either don't matter or are incredibly obvious. DA2 has less options in terms of quantity but you're actually making decisions that matter -- especially when you're having to work your way through the various trees (and considering when the "upgrades" are worth it) versus being able to "snipe" the best spells really, really easily.

      Think of it this way if you'd like:

      Game 1...

      Choice 1: 1% more damage or 1% more crit
      Choice 2: 1% more damage or 1% more health
      Choice 3: 1% more health or 1% more damage
      Choice 4: 1% more damage or 1% more armor
      Choice 5: 1% more armor or 1% more crit

      Game 2...

      Choice 1: Chain Lightning that stuns a group of enemies or a defensive Barrier that protects against damage

      Game 2 has more customization here.

      "I felt limited when I had to choose from three classes only."

      ...how is that different from DA:O?

      "but I became overpowered around level 10-11"

      Three friends and I are sort of playing it in our spare time and we're only level 5-6 right now, so I can't speak for what happens later. On "Hard" difficulty it's pretty brutal to start, though.

      "Or maybe not... I know, these are just my opinions and I admit that I'm not a hardcore player, as I said I play mainly for the story."

      It's actually a pleasant surprise to hear you say that. And that's not being sarcastic. You see, I am a rather hardcore player who plays on the hardest difficulties, obsesses about the last percent or two in character power, and worries about optimizing my playstyle. A large chunk of my free time is spent dying over and over to 20 person bosses on the hardest difficulty in WoW -- despite my group being rated in the top 0.5% in the world, we've still died as a group over 300 times (as in, 300 separate tries) for the hardest bosses (so have all the other groups at our level, to be clear)...and that's for EACH boss, meaning a dungeon with 10 bosses would probably cause us to take 1000+ attempts total. Something like 300 for final boss, 150 each for bosses 8 and 9, 100 each for bosses 6 and 7, 50 each for bosses 3, 4, and 5, and then 25 each for bosses 1 and 2 (because the bosses get harder).

      And from that "super hardcore" perspective I much preferred DA2 over DA:O, in large part due to the combat.

      I do find it interesting how you drew the opposite conclusion, but I doubt many "hardcore" people would agree with you. And that says a lot about perspectives and how things appear to people, I think.

      "Maybe I should just increase the difficulty but I usually start new games at "medium difficulty""

      This may have been part of the problem with DA2 -- the "normal" difficulty was deliberately made easier as a lot of people had problems with DA:O in that regard. In other words...

      DA:O

      Easy: 5
      Normal: 6
      Hard: 8
      Nightmare: 10

      DA2

      Easy: 2
      Normal: 4
      Hard: 7
      Nightmare: 10

      You might find this article interesting: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/7.267923-BioWare-Dev-Explains-Why-Dragon-Age-II-Is-Easier-Than-Origins

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    16. "...how is that different from DA:O?"

      Well DA:O has three classes but more Sub-Classes (12+6) than DA2 (9)
      You can choose your race (with minor bonuses)
      No dialogue wheel, more choices that influence the story. From a roleplay point of view.
      But here I agree with you, DA:O has a semplified system too, compared to Nwn or other games I like much more.

      "And from that "super hardcore" perspective I much preferred DA2 over DA:O, in large part due to the combat."

      I absolutely agree. Combat is far better. But I prefer rpgs with more than that: exploration & roleplay. Choices: I like when in Nwn I can sneak past an enemy (playing Shadowlords I had to do that, wasn't able to beat last dungeon opponen), use diplomacy, find a secred door... find alternate solution in a quest.

      Aren't all the dungeons in DA2 very similar, almost copy-pasted?
      Isn't combat the only choice, be it done with sword or magic?
      I find more variety of challenges and obstacles in Aielund and Swordflight, not to mention a more varied exploration of the world and different situations (even if they are "just mods").

      But yes, DA2 it is a great action-rpg. Can I say hack and slash?
      True that "simpler system" doesn't always mean "easier game", just focused.
      Unfortunately I played tabletop rpgs before these games so I always expect much from an rpg!

      "This may have been part of the problem with DA2 -- the "normal" difficulty was deliberately made easier as a lot of people had problems with DA:O in that regard. In other words.."

      Well most old rpgs had only one difficulty. Start easy and become harder as you go.
      So I do not spend much time over the same game after I finished it. If I am able to finish.

      "It's actually a pleasant surprise to hear you say that."

      Really? Aha this is normal.
      I have friends that love Wow, Diablo, Dungeon Siege...
      I loved New Vegas and everyone said it's full of bugs. Played twice from the beginning to the end with no problems, including expansions.
      Different tastes lead to different experiences.

      By the way I finished CToT! I Liked it especially the last part. Easy but very good.

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    17. Keep in mind the original claim was "too easy to play, not to mention the simplicity of the systems." So we're talking about difficulty and complexity/depth of the combat systems.

      "Well DA:O has three classes but more Sub-Classes (12+6) than DA2 (9)"

      The +6 only applies for Awakening, so that's hardly a fair comparison. And the talent trees with improvements of DA2 offer far more variety and customization within classes/sub-classes than DA:O did.

      "You can choose your race (with minor bonuses)"

      As in very minor bonuses. As in it's essentially irrelevant in terms of mechanics. Meaning it has no impact on difficulty or complexity/depth.

      "No dialogue wheel, more choices that influence the story. From a roleplay point of view."

      Frankly I preferred the dialogue wheel, in large part because it made it clear how you'd say something and clear when you were making a choice. In DA:O I ran into problems a lot where the tone was apparently vastly different than how I pictured it and when I unexpectedly made a choice.

      Like you say, though, this isn't relevant to your original point and is far more personal preference.

      "But I prefer rpgs with more than that: exploration & roleplay."

      Not to beat a dead horse, but that wasn't your original claim ;)

      "Aren't all the dungeons in DA2 very similar, almost copy-pasted?"

      Sort of, which is one of the game's main flaws. Except for some special plot important missions, there's basically half a dozen unique "dungeon" environments. But you wind up seeing each of those unique environments half a dozen or more times with the difference being where you start, where the exit is, and what paths are blocked off.

      It happened due to the very short development time -- Bioware wasn't happy with it but they didn't have time to do the dungeons "properly." And their DLC for DA2 had extremely unique environments in large part due to Bioware saying "Look, we know most of the dungeons in DA2 were repeated, we didn't want to do it, look how awesome we can be when we aren't forced to release the game."

      "Isn't combat the only choice, be it done with sword or magic?"

      No more than DA:O. Can talk your way out of (or into) some situations.

      "But yes, DA2 it is a great action-rpg. Can I say hack and slash?"

      Only if you want to apply the same standard to DA:O. If anything DA:O was worse -- insane amounts of tedious, tedious fighting. If someone showed me a map of the Deep Roads from DA:O in real life I might strangle them without thinking due to emotional scarring.

      "So I do not spend much time over the same game after I finished it."

      Fair enough, my point was that "normal" on DA:O was intentionally much harder than "normal" on DA2. But "nightmare" was about the same for both (or slightly harder in DA2). If you enjoyed normal in DA:O then it was meant for you to play hard in DA2. DA:O just didn't have enough space between its difficulties.

      "Really? Aha this is normal."

      Sadly, it's not. I've met many people who, despite playing on casual/normal difficulty, insist that THEY know best about the "hardcoreness" and system design. And that there's no way the people playing on the highest difficulties may be in a better position to judge the game mechanics.

      Delete
  3. "Keep in mind the original claim was "too easy to play, not to mention the simplicity of the systems." So we're talking about difficulty and complexity/depth of the combat systems."

    Did I say "combat"? No I said "system", meaning game/rpg system whole and this is not limited exclusively to combat, I said...
    "I prefer rpgs with more than that: exploration & roleplay."

    Exactly! Featured in the rules of the game I play: diplomacy skills, trap detection, item use, abilities... hey Wasteland 2 has also a skill for avoiding the random encounters (so yes, exploration)...doesn't this makes the game harder?
    Try playing Fallout 2 with a killing machine that is dumb/uncarismatic... the game will be harder in some parts.
    In Morrowind you had to plan carefully your trips, isn't that an additional difficuly to face? (still linked to "exploration", not combat, still part of the rpg system)

    "Like you say, though, this isn't relevant to your original point and is far more personal preference."

    Again, social skills provides new lines to use and new way to solve quests. And also new obstacles (more combats/less rewards) if your diplomacy skill is low, isn't this more depth of the system? And ok, maybe in DA:2 I could avoid minor fights, but I was speaking of games in which you could really do some meaningful choices. In New Vegas you can even avoid some boss fights (a hard combat won without fighting).

    "No more than DA:O. Can talk your way out of (or into) some situations."
    "Only if you want to apply the same standard to DA:O. If anything DA:O was worse"

    I agree. Really. I never compared specifically DA:O to DA:2

    "Isn't combat the only choice, be it done with sword or magic?"

    Ok let's bring Nwn. I played a mod that had:

    - combat underwater (slower, drowning risk included)
    - statues that attacked when not looked at
    - an opponent that shifted his immunity to the damage received (but had a weakness)
    - a corridoor with resurrecting enemies that became bigger and bigger
    - an enemy living near a volcano able to regenerate when in flames

    so yeah, these challenges were hard no matter of the game difficulty. See? You have to know the (complex) system, the usable items, you can't win just setting the game to easy.
    But there are many other examples, like the regenerating Trolls, the traps, etc..

    I don't think DA:2 had similar combat challenges. Now yes, I'm talking about combat, varied challenges...and difficulty itself, not difficulty level.

    " it was meant for you to play hard in DA2"

    Well... that's it! Too bad!

    "And that there's no way the people playing on the highest difficulties may be in a better position to judge the game mechanics."

    Correct, I know I am not an expert and it's ok. I liked many games I mentioned despite clunky/unbalanced game mechanics and probably could be re-done better. Morrowind was pretty terrible even for the time. Nwn isn't the best game. But like the challenges, the dungeon exploration and situations presented.

    ReplyDelete

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