Beta First Impressions (wall of text incoming)

I just finished my first beta playthrough. Wow, guys. The game feels much more complete now, and I see the foundation of something really wonderful. I’m not a fan of vague sycophantism, however, so allow me to jump right in with specifics.

I did quit before finishing the campaign, due to an annoying wolf/tiger bug (Sarno split this and other bugs from this post into their own individual bug threads; see the bug forums if you are curious) which got too frustrating to deal with, but I plan to finish it once that has been fixed. In any case, I am at level 40, so probably not too far from the end of the game.

I played a Primalist Beastmaster. I enjoy more passive summoner archetypes, but in this case I was usually in there with my pets mixing it up, as the build was clearly designed to be played.

Things I especially enjoyed:

  • The great map/fog-of-war UI makes it very easy to see where you have and have not been. This was one of my earliest alpha requests; thank you for implementing it right away.

  • A wide aggro range on my wolf means that I can hang back at will without worrying overmuch about my own squishiness. Been a long time since I could enjoy that playstyle.

  • Items do not need to be identified. Thank you for removing that pointless busywork.

  • Visceral HtH combat. It’s hard to get this right. Some combination of animations and hitbox size perhaps?

  • And on that note, animation quality.

  • Background graphics. High-quality grass that doesn’t require high-quality grass to appreciate (sorry).

  • The End of Time environment and graphics. Wow.

  • Navigation arrows. This seems like a small thing but isn’t: Full-explore playstyles can do so with much less boring backtracking (more busywork) because they know exactly the direction the eventual path will be. (They need tweaking, imo, but still an excellent idea.)

  • Swipe. More generally, the concept of replacing your default attack with another which costs no mana. You could do very interesting things with this eventually, and I cannot think of any other ARPG which has done this before (though I haven’t played them all); it’s one of those “Why didn’t we ever think of that?” ideas.

  • Thorough and detailed tooltips. (I hate esotericism for its own sake; it encourages a kind of elitism which ultimately encourages bad game design moving forward.)

  • The subtle graphic indicating whether a mod is a prefix or a suffix. Clever! And a very useful affordance.

  • I still love the crafting in this game. It feels worth doing from the very beginning of the game, it is reasonably intuitive, and the fracturing feature limits how much it can be exploited without outright discouraging you from doing it.

  • The (anticipated) replayability and experimentation inherent in having each skill have its own mini skill tree. Seriously, guys, this is quite possibly THE most compelling aspect of your game at present.

  • Good telegraphing of many monster attacks, including lower-class monsters. This makes it feel much fairer when I am killed.

Wishlist for future patches (some requests may be unrealistic):

  • Tighter environmental design. I really hate saying this, but sometimes gameplay was simply boring to me. Smaller areas and more varied environments and monsters will help a lot, but so will environmental design per se: Consider carefully how much backtracking you want players to be doing, for example.

  • The ability to disable sound when the game is alt-tabbed so I can more easily multi-task. Even better would be all sound except in-game chat notifications. I think D2 had this?

  • A pause button (for single-player only, obviously) would be very nice. I realize that’s a fundamental design choice, but the ability to go AFK whenever we like is an increasingly demanded feature for adult gamers with real-life demands, such as doorbells, phones, and babies. This, incidentally, is one of the things I especially enjoy about passive summoner builds: They protect me while I go get that Amazon package. Be nice to have the option with other build types as well.

  • More challenging first stages. (Primalist feels quite overpowered, at least early on.) I realize you don’t want to turn people off right away, but the danger is slightly lower in a pay2play game, and being a bit weaker early on makes being stronger later on that much more satisfying. Ever play any of the early Wizardry games?

  • A more intuitive (plotwise) transition to the Ulatri Cliffs. Why did the shard teleport me there? Is my character also not supposed to understand this?

  • A default behavior for dialogue boxes to close automatically once you have done the prompted action, or in the case of conversations once you have moved X distance from the speaker.

  • Under Skills & Specializations, a tooltip to see exactly what adding a new point will change. This should be easy to add. The current workaround is to understand that each point adds a fixed value (and then simply to divide), but that kind of pre-knowledge fits squarely into the variety of undesirable esotericism that I referenced above.

  • A less abrupt and yet more complete introduction to the world, plotwise. This is tricky to do, since all in-house people are already extremely familiar with all the plot points and lore. (D2 did this right: They started small, and assumed that your in-game character was almost as ignorant as the person controlling it. Making such an assumption when laying out lore is a reliable and easy way to keep information overload in check. PoE’s introduction of Piety in the first act is a good illustration of how not to do it: That game assumes your character knows far more about her than the player actually does.)

  • A reason to break crates. Doesn’t have to be loot: You can make players be slowed down slightly by the crates as they stumble through them. It would just be a nice touch.

  • An item mod variable range tooltip upon pressing alt (e.g., “Z% Increased Stun Chance (X - Y%)”). This will become useful when selecting bases for crafting. The workaround will inevitably be to have to look up these values online, which you presumably want to avoid.

  • A searchbox in the vendor window, so we can find desired mods.

  • A buy-back option for accidental clicks, like in Borderlands.

  • A dialogue box indicating exactly what quest has been completed (both the name of the quest and the information of what you did) upon receiving the Quest Complete box.

  • Map/fog of war preservation when briefly popping between areas (can be timed), especially town areas such as the Last Refuge. This should lower load times as well, since you aren’t generating a brand-new area every time. The status quo actively discourages exploration, since you’ll lose all your progress in the current zone just by poopping into a room to check it out. (Making monsters reappear is fine; making the fog of war reset is frustrating–especially given the large size of the areas and slow speed of your avatar.)

  • Waypoints which are consistently located at either the beginning or the end of areas, so that they act as natural savepoints. I spoke at length about this in the past, and I still feel the same way. With fog of war resetting in particular, having them smack in the middle of a battle zone is quite annoying, and the navigation arrows are only good for “as the crow flies,” limiting their usefulness in this game’s meandering environments. Note that most waypoints are not offenders, but a few still remain which are. The workaround for this is to memorize layouts, which again is absolutely not what you want to require players to do, since it is one of those annoying rather than meaningful challenges. (All things being equal, the waypoints are better placed at the beginning of a new area than at the end, in order to prevent the need to double-load upon entering the game.)

  • The ability to unspend passive points while you are still on the passive point screen. This is particularly important at this stage of the game, as it is not always intuitive to understand where you can and cannot yet place passive points, leading (in my case) to unwanted mistakes. How about a “confirm” button?

  • Nodes in the Specialization tree for your beasts’ secondary abilities.

  • The ability to see the health bar of the enemy I’m fighting without my minions’ health bars stealing focus.

  • An optional clock for the UI.

  • Access to your stash in any area that has a shopkeeper.

  • Portal microtransactions (my favorite kind of MTX, actually).

  • More vacation time for EHG staff.

  • An in-game database (accessible from the crafting tab) of all affixes, whether you possess them or not. Alternatively, have them all listed with an option (enabled by default) to hide those not in your possession.

  • An in-game database of all white items (including their value ranges) to use as a reference while crafting. Optionally, make this start out empty and automatically fill up as you find the new item. Gotta catch 'em all!

  • Quest indicators on the map.

  • Area names for areas which don’t have a waypoint on the map. Optionally, make us find them before labeling them on our map. Also, indicate for us on the map whether we have visited that area yet.

  • The ability to name all my pets manually. (Just imagine how hilarious and fun that would be, especially in multiplayer.)

  • The ability to name MTX pets. (Ditto.)

  • Color-coding for the monsters which are obviously designed to be champion-class.

  • The ability to respec skill trees. I’ve more than once changed my minion to a spellcaster without realizing it, undoing my earlier melee investments and borking the entire tree due to one mistake. Having to start from zero again is frustrating. I would rather spend a ton of gold to pay for my own carelessness than have to do that.

  • A better solution to corpse disposal than “sink into the ground.” Perhaps a decay cycle which ends in disappearance?

Bugs, criticisms, and questions:

  • The crafting materials panel being separate from the crafting panel is all kinds of confusing. Why not integrate them into one panel? (An easy temporary fix would be to make the hotkey for opening the crafting panel also open the crafting materials panel.)

  • What is the difference between the blue and yellow mods while crafting? This doesn’t seem to be made clear anywhere.

  • Your terminology uses both “increased” and “more.” Is there a difference between the two? Are they additive/multiplicative like in PoE? If so, adding that distinction to the tooltip for them would be very helpful.

  • After using the Imperial Seal, and hearing Humsk flee, I could not open the door. I would click on it and nothing would happen. Exiting and re-entering the area did not help, nor did restarting the game. (Hackaloken subsequently told me you need to attack it. Perhaps you can make either be a viable option? Honestly, I think the fact that it turned white when mousing over it was what made me think it must be openable, since that’s a fairly consistent affordance in RPGs. Might be something to consider in regards to doors in general in this game.)

  • You need an explicit indication that there is a 20-point cap on specializations. Seriously, guys. This is vital to a player planning their build. Don’t make players reset and relevel the entire thing upon realizing “Oh shit, I’m 1 point short of that key node and I didn’t know I had a 20-point cap!” It partially ruined my experience in alpha, which is why I made the same feedback then.

  • The relative value of skill nodes varies widely. I assume this will improve with repeated balance passes, however.

  • Claws of Stone summons an unlimited amount of Claws. That’s fine if it is balanced to do so, but I suspect it is not. I recommend an upper limit on the number of summoned Claws.

Finally, I noticed that the few times I die I die very, very suddenly. And that most monsters die very fast as well. While I’m not advocating you turn them into meat sponges, this is an area you will need to consider carefully, and very early on. I assume you are familiar with the rate wars? Here’s a quick example of what I’m talking about: Path of Exile - Gameplay Criticism - YouTube (I actually recommend the entire video and this guy’s other vids, but they presumably go over things with which you are already very familiar.) I personally think that keeping defenses relevant, and not allowing kill-fast-or-be-killed to be the safest option, is the most reliable way not to fall into this trap. But it’s obviously a bit more complicated than that, and you need to keep regen and leech rates in mind at all times as well.

Once again, great work guys. I look forward to seeing where this game goes!

I approve, just for the vacation time for the EHG staff. :slight_smile:
This is a real good write-up, fun to read as well. Hope you can continue soon.

Thank you for an excellent example of a thread which doesn’t make sense to vote on but for which I would give a like.

Though the wall of text could do with some paragraphing :stuck_out_tongue:

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Holy cow :cow: This is a well made feedback thread indeed :cowboy_hat_face:
Downvoted other thread so I can vote this one :sweat_smile: I agree it’d be easier to read with some paragraphing tho.

Paragraphs would make no sense for a list of this nature, but I bolded the headings and added bullets and additional spacing. That should make it easier on the eyes.

Oh yea, much better now :+1:t3:

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