So, I know this is SUPER low priority for the devs now. Still, when things quiet down, I’d love to see y’all add more notes, books, and information on the minimap (like a brief history of Maj’Elka, or an excellent description of the sounds and smells of a bustling desert bazaar). I’m a reader, and I love it when a game has optional depth.
For example, Grim Dawn lets you face-tank through content at full speed, but there were sooooooo many cool notes, areas, objects, and mementos lying around you could inspect on your own time. They even gave you a small experience bump. A drop in the bucket, sure… but a small reward and maybe a “Loremaster” achievement or a unique title/pet is good motivation for some decent reading (while taking a break from massacring whole populations). After my 1st rush through GD, I looked at the optional content. I discovered a deep, post-apocalyptic “arcane punk” universe with a tremendous depth in the pantheon, the different factions, and their connections with each other. Knowing the lore made decisions more meaningful in how I responded to NPCs and made me read the quest text. Also, I would have never known about secret boss fights or alternate paths had I not read the lore.
If y’all hire, get a good narrative designer to help with level design or the lead narrative. It’s a small team, so story immersion can fall by the wayside in the rush to get the final release. Still, it would be worth it.
For example, GD also released short stories and custom art on their website, which created more engagement. I even wrote a vignette set in the GD universe. 1,200 hours later, I realized a lot of my continued investment came from the well-crafted lore–my class choices meant something to my character’s history, her faction choices, and even her passive tree (made of constellations). Most narratives in ARPGs are junk. The “Chrono Trigger” angle is unique, so run with it. You have a solid game here, so why not make it the GOAT for next-gen ARPGs?
For example, Monoliths make for an excellent opportunity to let players feel like they are doing a “choose their adventure” by further engaging in alternate storylines and not just the grind. Building out the initial timeline’s lore can provide a unique experience when players run into counternarratives as the LE universe shifts and contorts. Writing cohesive narratives is hard, but good worldbuilding will help keep players in tune with the game, the new seasons, and the new classes. It supports engagement more than you might think–solid mechanics and clever gameplay choices matter most, but a deep fictional world provides even more staying power.
EDIT: The character art and NPC remodels are a great start. Architect Liath is my new crush. Also, the sound and graphic overhauls provide a lot of ambiance. Keep it up!