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Leaving for awhile - reflection on why this game didn't hook me

First off I want to be clear that I think this game has a lot of really interesting ARPG elements and has a potentially bright future. However, during my 2nd playthrough the campaign I completely lost interest and will be putting this aside likely until 2023. I have tons of fun with games such as D2R and PoE, and while they are much more mature games I just wanted to provide some parting feedback on what obstacles I ran into that can hopefully be improved upon. I fully acknowledge that I might just not be cutout for early access games, and the problem might be more with myself.

  1. The cadence decision points are unlocked
    It is a bit of a design trap to assume all game systems have to progress linearly (i.e. we have 15 skills to introduce and they all must be spread out evenly). Especially early on when levels are not hard to come by it is extremely easy to overload an inexperienced player with too many decisions. Due to the fact that skills are not binned in any meaningful way it is impossible to know from the start what a reasonable combination of skills should be. Do I use 1 primary damage skill or multiple? Is there a clear difference between a single target or AoE ability? Do I need a defensive skill on my bar to not be a glass cannon? Do I need a movement skill to not feel like a slug? As a result it is very easy to pick a combination of skills that don’t make sense together. Really early on you just slaughter everything, but if you have a wonky build you reach a point where you hit a wall seemingly out of nowhere. With so many systems to tweak it becomes daunting to try and fix the situation (do I respec my passives? swap my skills around? perhaps it is the skill specialization I messed up? or maybe my gear is the issue?).

I would look at having skills of a similar nature unlocked together to provide a clear theme on what you are choosing. Plus, introducing a bin focused on movement skills or defense skills would encourage the player to put one on their bar. This brings me to the 2nd point that drove me away.

  1. A campaign that lacks purpose
    ARPG campaigns in general are cancer in my opinion. The whole point should be to teach a player how to play the game, and perhaps offer difficult side areas or shortcuts for experienced players to spice up or speed up the experience. LE does none of these things effectively besides perhaps the dungeons acting as side areas. But since I’m still a noob I honestly don’t understand these at all. My campaign experience consists of nonsense quests that are basically clicking on exclamation points, yet I am never asked to interact with a single game system over the course of completing them.

Want it to be crystal clear that a movement skill should really be included on a skill bar? Attach it to a quest. Either have the goal of the quest be tied to the using of a movement skill, or have the quest reward be unlocking a movement skill. This drives the point home that this is something you want to be using. Same thing with crafting. A new player goes through the campaign collecting all this stuff with zero information on why they should care about the mats. Have it be a quest goal to craft 20% fire res before a fire boss or something.

The combination of an uninspired campaign, decision overload before I even know what direction I want to take my character, and a general lack of balance leading to scuffed build choices has turned me away at this point. Maybe some day such things will be addressed or enough people will disagree with this take and I’ll just move onto other games. Either way I wish the best of luck to EHG. I did have some fun in my brief time playing!

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Hey there MntBrryCrnch,

it is always so interesting to see very fresh feedback.
I really like how you phrased your feedback and while I disagree with you on some points, it is still valueable feedback.

That not only comes from me being a veteran, but I think the pace in which things unlock in LE is the single best across all aRPG, until level 75 you always have “the next thing” unlocking during the next 30-60 minutes playtime. (Early on its obviously even faster).
There is always something that is within reach that is pretty apparent for the player within the next couple of minutes playtime.

I disagree with that, because the respeccing system in LE allows you to try out all these potential decisions without fully committing to a certain choice. Respeccing is very easy and smooth and can be done while still breezing through the story.

But that is part of the learning curve.

May I ask you, what were the walls you encountered yourself? I think most people hit a brick wall at around Lagon if they can’t defeat the boss and get frustrated (partially also because Lagon is the only boss with very punishing checkpoint) But most of that doesn’t necessarily coems from having a bad build, but because Lagon is the first boss with one always lethal and a few more very deadly abilities.

I can’t speak on behalf on EHG here, but that feels like something a dev would not want to do.

Artificially dictating or hinting at a “proper way” to play or distribute your skills seems very arbitrary.

I agree with everything and you not understanding dungeon yet is pretty normal, since dungeon are not meant to be something you interact with during your first playthrough.
And on the second playthrough you only can interact with them if you did play enough on your first character. (Dungeons need a key to access which only drops very rarely during parts of the story or Monolith Of Fate)

I think story presenations and possibly including “teaching quests” is a good way to explain certain systems and always contionously make the plaer aware of the Game Guide (Press G In-Game).
Having certain system explained while tasking the player to do a small interaction with them is very useful.

And I already suggested something similar in the past, where you would get quests that ask yoo to use affix shards and put them onto your gear for the upcoming challange.
At the start of each chapter of the campaign, they play could get a few affix shards with the type of resistance, that is very prominent in that chapter and is asked to put a few of these onto their gear.

I actually disagree with the last point.
I think Last Epoch is one the more easy side in terms of difficulty and you are really not required to playa very optimal build during the campaign, even during normal monolith.

IMO the moment where scuffed builds will face some huge obstacles will be transitioning from normal to empowered monolith.

TL:DR:
No. 1 is something that I hope does not change much, because it is the best of any aRPG IMO
No. 2 is something that I agree with and I am very sure EHG will do this closer to 1.0 or when they have more chapter in.

Really wanted to think through my responses here. Also took another peek at switching up my build completely on the fly to see if I could address the build’s problems with extensive tinkering. TLDR, I could get over the hump but I’m still not a fan of how the options are presented.

That not only comes from me being a veteran, but I think the pace in which things unlock in LE is the single best across all aRPG, until level 75 you always have “the next thing” unlocking during the next 30-60 minutes playtime. (Early on its obviously even faster).
There is always something that is within reach that is pretty apparent for the player within the next couple of minutes playtime.

I really disagree here. If your character gets “awarded” with some new skill you don’t care about this is not something the player feels good about. In PoE, which has this same problem to an extent btw, if a skill gem for a random build drops do you get a dopamine hit? No of course not. In my opinion it is much more preferable to only notify the player when something impactful has happened. While it is impossible to predict what skills each player will care about you can design the reward cadence to make it much more likely the player will be excited by a new option.

Let’s use D2 as an example. Choosing a leveling skill is a very clear and linear choice early on. Not until lvl 6 (1+ hr) or in some cases lvl 12 (2+ hr) will you have any sort of meaningful customization choice. But this is a good thing! The player is still learning how to move around and kill basic monsters. Synergies are clearly noted in the description of base skills from the jump and a basic path forward is outlined, so anticipation builds as you approach the desired level. The “dead time” between levels 2-11 is not wasted since you get access to other smaller power boosting enhancements (attributes + skill points) along the way. But I’ve never heard of someone picking up that game and dropping it early because it “took longer than 30 minutes to get a new cool skill”. That line of thinking feels a little mobile gamey to me.

Even though D2’s system is super basic (there isn’t much nuance to your main skill itself) the min/max decisions come into how you want to build around that skill. Will you spend extra points on utility or focus fully on damage? Do you want a more balanced hybrid or only 1 damage type? There is certainly an optimal way to play, but no matter how you answer the above questions you will still be able to reach nightmare difficulty or so with very little obstacles.

Especially early on when levels are not hard to come by it is extremely easy to overload an inexperienced player with too many decisions.

Again I’ll reference D2 in how a game can be successful even with limited choices early. As a thought experiment lets fully open up D2 at lvl 1 and think of the consequences. What if Frozen Orb was available at lvl 1? Some people would think this is cool, but the unintended consequence is Ice Bolt would basically be useless. It goes from being a fine leveling skill to essentially being a trap for inexperienced players who aren’t aware of the clearly superior option. The point is the skills available very early in the game should be chosen very deliberately, and how new ones are unlocked should also be a conscious choice.

As a different example PoE runs into a bit of the same problem LE has, where it is just a deluge of early skill access. However, the difference is that the Act 1 quest rewards almost always give you an option that you care about a lot regardless of your future plans. The early leveling in PoE can be further improved to not give false choices (i.e. choosing Frozen Orb or Ice Bolt is a false choice), but the quest rewards are basically GGG pointing you in the right direction. If you are picking fire skills it is very likely the quest reward will involve a fire skill that you can either try out or keep your current fire skill.

So at the end of the day I think there is a big middle ground here. I’m just giving the feedback that having 1 skill each level feels lazy to me, opposed to hand picking a more appropriate time to introduce players to certain skills. The goals are to avoid trap build choices whenever possible and allow a sufficient ramp up period of using a limited pool of skills before throwing the kitchen sink at a player. Early on D3 pushed this concept to its limits by forcing the player to use certain skill slots only for a certain type of skill. While a lighter touch can be used (merely offering a suggestion to equip a certain type of skill to complete a quest would be enough) this idea had its desired effect. It taught new players how to have a balanced skill bar organically, and then opened things up later to experimentation once the player knew the basics.

No. 2 is something that I agree with and I am very sure EHG will do this closer to 1.0 or when they have more chapter in.

I hope you’re right. I completely understand why other priorities are higher at the moment, but designing a campaign so it doesn’t feel like a linear chore is extremely important to replayability in my mind. Tbh I don’t think any game has really done it correctly yet (even the great aforementioned D2)

So for the “looking forward to new things” part you are very much focusing on new skills.

While these are probably the most impactful “unlocks”, there are still so much more things that I think are meaningful enough to keep the player interested in playing more and unlocking the next thing.

Skill Experience and unlocking new nodes within a skill spec tree and passives can be pretty imapctful.
A lot of passives are not strong individualls, but still unlocking a new row on the passvie tree and potetnially unlocking some stats that are mastery specific (like Void Knight increased echo chance) and not just generic borign stats can be exciting.
I coudl see makign passive trees across the board a little bit more interesting though.

If you really feel like you get too much chocies early and and feel overloaded, that is totally valid feedback evne though I disagree (not only because I am a veteran player, but I felt like this the very early horus when I started LE).
But thne on the other side LE is particularly easy, especially during the campaign so even with all of these choices you really do not need to worry too much about building the “perfect combinations” already.

Even if you pick skills that “don’t make sense”.
I also think it is very hard for player in LE to build into a “trap build”.

While having a very streamlined early experience with games like these, where there are barely any choices can be very good for tutorialization, I always hate when games do this.

In any type of game, I want to have as many skill/weapon choices as possible early on, to really feel like I can have a huge impact on my early game experiences already.

Especially when thinking about running the same character multiple times for different builds I don’t want the first X levels to be the same all the time. I want these choices early.

Ifinitely linear Open World Game Play with infinite choices is why most people love this game I know all points you made are just you rant on why you cant find a apg that caters to what you want though you like playing them i sugess you either make one or find one better than d2 becuase I already know last epoch is my number 1 game atm even better than path of exile 2 thats gonna be coming out ima still play other games but ill be on last epoch multiplayer online most of the time hehehehehhehehhheheheh no offense ill make sure to help the devs and other people play this also i hope you come back to us when game is matured plenty of good people to play with.

It hasn’t even come out, and wartec knows. He loves LE so damn MUCH… that he has mastered time travel, like… literally.

Apologies for interrupting a fine conversation. Please ignore wartec’s odd post and of course, this one.

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Hmm, this is a really interesting thread. While I disagree with the second point (I really loved that LE had a meaty campaign) I did feel the pacing of major decision points didn’t always work.

My experience (having only run it once) was that many decision points came very early, followed by a lull. I felt I had sort of comfortably got my desired Mage build up and running before getting to the End Times. And there was really only one skill I wanted after that, which I got before Heoborea. The remainder seemed like quite a lull of action.

So not exactly like your experience, but there is something to the general point of pacing that rings true for me as well.

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I think the biggest issue I have with LE (after finally realizing why I stop/start playing so much) is that it’s not as much an ARPG centered around building the ultra powerful character/build… as it is about trying to achieve as much as possible, with what little power LE allows you to have. And to me, that sounds too much like real life…

I’m sorry, but I like to get that god-like power after putting in my 100s or 1000s of hours of game play. But LE is the Judge Smails of ARPGs – “You’ll get nothing, and like it!”

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I think part of the disconnect is that Heoborea was the end for most builds in the campaign since that is where the idol slots were completed. Then Lagon with his areas that are filled with double back pathing is a chore to run, and Majasa was added at a later point to expand the story. That is still yet to be completed.

There are so many plot bunnies running around they have used their own epochs and are multiplying at a prolific rate causing instability in the story’s continuum.

To me, it is a disjointed mess after you return the lance to Heorot and get his blessing. The other two blessings mean nothing other than checking the box that you “completed” the campaign.

The devs very specifically DO NOT want movement skills to be ubiquitous.

As an aside, I got bored with this game really fast mostly due to the way “builds” are made. Builds are so dependent on skill choices and specs, that just come with levels, that it is easy to get to. Item choices usually don’t stack on a build in a way that prolongs the character growth feeling. Sure, gear can always be improved, but it is almost exclusively just stats. If there is an item you are building around, you usually have the item first or you risk not having a functional character. There may be a couple exceptions (the void knight is the deepest, most supported in the game with unique upgrades for every item slot that aren’t required for the character to actually function).

TL:DR - Builds are too easily completed because items aren’t integrated enough in build progression.

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