Bards Tale IV announced


I haven’t had that happen since, incidentally. I wonder if it’s because after completing the initial Daeglish quest and then taking on the Green Lady quest the map changes slightly (barriers are introduced to guide you) and this reset the totems?

Anyway, I’m really enjoying this a lot. I’m currently doing Alduin’s tower and it’s everything I wanted from a new Bard’s Tale game, or at least what I imagined I wanted from a new Bard’s Tale game given I hadn’t really played much of the original. I have to admit I turned the subtitles on because I couldn’t understand the thick Scottish brogue that the magic mouths are using! “Gough aest ahnd daah lak a baeest!”


Not sure if I’m going to finish this one. I’d guess I’m about halfway through, and the combats have become pretty rote and trivial, with many over (or nearly so) in a single surprise-attack round.


What difficulty are you playing it on?


What difficulty are you playing on? Just curious.

Plus, you are one of the best tactical, strategic players we have on this entire site, so it doesn’t surprise me you are dominating like that!


Heh, thanks, but I don’t think I can take a huge amount of credit here, given that the critical skills would be hard to miss when making a character. I also may (not sure how much of the loot is randomized vs. fixed) have gotten lucky with a wand that seriously tilts the balance in my favor.

And this is on hard. I started on hard, but turned it down to normal because brand new characters couldn’t quite cut it on hard. Then once it started feeling too easy, i bumped it back up, but didn’t find it to make much difference.


A 3.8 GB patch landed for me today. Notes here.

Mostly stability fixes, though, and nothing in terms of qol improvements that I see. Maybe in a future patch (still waiting on the save system improvements).


Played a lot of this over the weekend. Started over since I wanted to try a different character build and I’d missed some important things in my previous short session (I’d basically made it to the Adventurer’s Guild in SK Below, but missed some helpful stuff along the way).

Playing a fighter instead of a bard this time. Combat seems a little easier, and I was able to make it all the way through the trio of party building quests (Trow theif, Dwarf fighter, Elven practitioner) without wiping. Along the way I uncovered a whole lot of decent equipment upgrades from rooting around in every corner and buying grappling hooks to access otherwise inaccessible areas. It’s been fun so far.

I’m running on High everything except shadows, which I set to Medium. Game looks great, and I have had no framerate issues or graphics problems other than a slight motion blur when I spin around too quickly. Graphics, music and sound are all fantastic, and I haven’t experienced any real bugs thus far. I am annoyed by the frequency with which I can get hung up on landscape objects though. In a game that encourages poking into every corner, you shouldn’t end up stuck on something nearly so often.

I made my fighter with a focus on swords, and it seems like a pretty good skill set. The other fighter, the dwarf smith, doesn’t seem nearly as useful. He came with a blunt cudgel thing, so I tried giving him a nice axe I picked up and trained his two axe skills, but he still seems like he only has a couple of attacks, neither of which does high damage, and his one powerful attack is a concentration one, which unless I root the enemy, never seems to hit. The thief on the other hand is amazing. So many useful combat skills. The practitioner is somewhere in between. It’s nice that she can attack without using up one of my three action points, but all her attacks are fairly low damage. I really need better damage output on my party members as I’m fighting stuff with 30+ hit points and 2-3 armor…scoring 1-2 points per hit after armor reduction isn’t cutting it.

Overall it’s fun and interesting so far. Totally love the voice work and the music. Amazing stuff.


Yeah, the practitioner really hits their stride once you unlock the first tier of advanced skills, and rogues just stay amazing at cutting things to bits. I think it’s been a few hours of play since the last time my fighter attacked, but she remains useful for repositioning, defense, and bonus opportunity.

One thing about the opportunity system is that marginal damage contributions are mostly irrelevant. In a traditional “everybody gets one action” system, a fighter can mostly focus on defense while still chipping in 10 damage per turn, but here, the rogue just rattles off four attacks for 20+ each, and uses up all the opportunity. My original created character was a 2H sword fighter, but she got benched because the damage output per opportunity point just fell way behind the rogue – as far as I can see, there’s no way to spec another class to keep up with rogues for physical attacking, which in practice means that everybody sticks to their specialty. I might have preferred a hybrid system, where everybody gets one opportunity per turn, and then you have a floating pool that can be used on any character.


I just got out of Skara Brae finally, it’s amazing how much better this game looks the more you play it. My first impression was “well I guess it was made on an indie budget” whereas now I’m hitting the screenshot button with increasing regularity.

I stuck with Melody and I couldn’t live without a bard now. The rogue is the main damage dealer, but I’ve two practitioners that can deal massive damage once they get their spell points up, and the bard complements all of them with a combination of buffs and damage, and the “mean drunk” skill is the best thing ever.

I switched the difficulty up to Hard while I was poking around in Mangar’s Tower, and it’s spiced combat up quite a bit. Yellow fights are now a potential rout if I don’t strike first, and even then I often lose a character during combat, so it’s making me think a lot more. I nearly lost a green combat last night because I lost the first strike (and lost my rogue before the first round started).

Last night I spent about 20 minutes re-arranging my messy inventory, all weapons on one page, defense on another, food on another etc. Then I rounded the next corner and blundered into a yellow fight and lost the surprise: two party dead on the first round! Reload. Look at messy inventory again. Cry.

I’d strongly advise turning motion blur off if you haven’t already done so - I found it does more to make the frame-rate feel sluggish than anything else. After the latest patch I have everything on Ultra except Shadows on Medium, and the frame rate sits in the mid 50s most of the time (that’s with a 1060 at 1080p). The last two patches in particular have done wonders for it. I still get the occasional hitching after a while, but that’s also been greatly improved.

I’ve hit a couple of bugs where I couldn’t select a party member during a fight, usually after a knock-back effect reshuffled everyone. I’ve also had no success getting the “Gate” spell to work (summon a wraith). Fairly minor, but annoying nonetheless. Otherwise it’s been pretty smooth sailing and I’m really enjoying the game.


Check for little buttons popping up near the skill button. I had trouble with that too, because I thought I could click on the space I wanted to summon it in and nothing happened. But then I noticed that I had to first pick between an immediate summon with 2 magic points, or channeling for 1 or 2 rounds to get one that starts with more MP.


When I cast the spell, three small icons appeared as though I was being asked to select which one to click, but I clicked on all three fruitlessly, tried dragging them to empty spaces in my party, empty spaces on the enemy side, clicked a space first then an icon, nothing. :(


I just noticed the new hotfix, including this tidbit:

In addition to the fixes, enemy difficulty on hard mode was increased to +60% enemy difficulty over normal mode, up from +40%.


I tried this spell again just now, and it works now. Must have been a bug, because when I moused over the wraith summoning options before there was no info popup, and clicking on it and then a party space had no effect. Now that it works, I like it!

Just had a very challenging three-round fight in the Baedish Lowlands which I couldn’t manage on Hard. The extra 20% difficulty they’ve added makes that fight insurmountable for me, so I dialed it back to Normal and… well, I lost as well. :) That’s when I rejiggered things and included the wraith, and finally succeeded. Fun fight.


You did not get lucky, if you are referring to a certain person’s Puzzle Wand. It’s always there for the taking, and yes Rend is the single greatest ability you can get on an item (there’s another Puzzle Weapon that gets it, and upgrades all the way to, uh, Caustic I think. Which is 2x rend and then some extra damage because 'Merica or something).

Of course Rend isn’t nearly as amazing on a weapon that’s only doing single target stuff. Rend on the wand is double-plus amazing because of all the AOE you can drop. Before a patch - I am not sure which one - Conjurer’s Mark explosions dropped rend on everyone they touched and said wand was even more absurdly busted. But now it only does rend against other people with marks IIRC (so if you shoot row lightning thingy and mark two people in a line, you get 2x rend on each and then when someone triggers a mark they’ll both get rended again but nobody else will; although you realize all of this of course).

Hard stops mattering once you’ve got a full set of Opportunity points (and you can potentially h it 6 before story advancement dolls out the last point). Party composition matters, to a point. But this is an area where the game is a bit odd. As you note you basically have 1-3 characters use up all the opportunity and they poop out damage. It’s still useful to have a shield-using fighter (critical blocking becomes amazing), and a few other types for specific purposes (I like a second caster for an occasional meditate usage/passive SP generation/Sorcerer SP gen passive and then I can occasionally pop off an opportunity free WAST or something even more devastating).

The combat is unusual, and suffers from sort of forcing you to be optimal only to discover that optimality is total and complete mastery and thanks for playing. Like, you could skip that wand if you wanted. But then you’re screwed when dealing with the heavily armored foes that start showing up and unable to efficiently spend all your opportunity (basically using movement/that one rending ability to hack down a single foe before moving on to the next, tediously). And suffers a bit from lack of variety. I quite like the game, but it is quirky. Fortunately they do a good job of having plenty of puzzles (with a number of dungeons having more puzzles than combat, by far).


Sounds like combat balance starts to break down towards the end? Perhaps they’ll tweak this more / nerf the thing you mentioned (the what? never heard of it!). I’m way earlier than that though, right now I’m in the sweet spot where combat is about perfect. On hard if you see a yellow fight, you know you’re in for a challenge. I guess I should stop wishing for more opportunity points, then.

Incidentally, I’ve only found one elven weapon, an axe that you find in the first dungeon. I solved the hilt and shaft puzzle elements straight away, but isn’t there a third one on the head? (there’s certainly an achievement for it). But I can’t find anything else on the weapon to interact with, so at present it just does 1-2 spell point damage on top of its now-mediocre stats. Perhaps this one only has two puzzle elements.


I’m not sure how far I am. 60% into the game, perhaps. I wouldn’t say I am never taxed and there have been a few interesting fights (like me finishing with only a couple of people alive), but generally I can steamroll. I also took the party stealth buff which helps a lot (you can optionally spend a turn setting up for your opening, although I often don’t bother).

The latest patch just added, or is adding, +20% enemy stats to hard difficulty so there’s an effort to spice things up. But it will only go so far. The system is kind of quirky - a super boss with 6 OP isn’t necessarily terrifying (although it can be situationally, but the need to build up MP can limit what a boss can do initially).

There are a lot of secrets in the game, and the devs apparently like to stick Elven weapons in them. Some of them do only get 1 or 2 puzzles. And then there’s matching them with the appropriate shrine (which allegedly isn’t always desirable). You’ll see plenty more.

And you’ll get that wand. It’s impossible to miss (it’s from a fight literally blocking story progression). I think the real problem is that armor as is probably swings from too frustrating to too trivial depending on removing multiple ways of removing Rend and AoE rend. And maybe that suggests the mechanic needs tweaking. At this point in the game if I told you there would be fights with multiple enemies with 30+ armor (or 4+ enemies with 20+) you’d be like “wut” but it’s trivial to deal with thanks to Rend, Conjurer’s Mark, and the fact that you can favor specific characters by loading up on spending Opportunity through them.


Yup, that’s the one I was thinking of. I figured the wand itself would always be there, but wasn’t sure if it might randomize with a different gem/special ability. Just got the third-tier upgrade on it so it starts stacking extra damage vulnerability on anything that isn’t armored. And gave my mage a puzzle dagger in her other hand that gives a guaranteed crit after another crit. So pretty much every fight goes similarly, repositioning the bad guys into a cone with feather and taunt, fire breath to pile up damage/rend/caustic/conjurer’s mark, then alternating a flurry of attacks from the rogue and a few magic missiles, and loads of cascading bonus damage. If anything survives the opening round, the rogue makes very short work of it with a round of attacks boosted by caustic and razor strop.


I started a new playthrough because I got tagged by a nasty gamebreaking bug on the, uh, “Isles” (Stennet? I can’t recall), and every Puzzle weapon turned out as I remembered it. Most notably that one. The first sword you get you know where is burning, the axe with SP damage, etc.

I have mixed feelings about those item abilities being so overridingly dominant. Like right now I have no reason to give my melee thief anything but a sword that adds an attack to Storm of Blades, because 3 hits from that when buffed by Razor Strop is amazing. Eventually I’ll find the right puzzle weapon (with more rend + maybe caustic, or a crit one) and I’ll probably wind up switching to that (especially since crits reset the Storm of Blades cooldown).

It does kinda put a damper on all the different types of characters. I run 6 (Dwarf Fighter specializing in shields, Bard, 2x rogue - melee and ranged - and just went back to 2x mage) but only 3 characters regularly do anything (and again mage #2 occasionally chips in with a WAST that doesn’t cost opportunity. Bard can shield buff for just SP and no OP).

I do like the game, but yeah it’s an unusual combat system. And since enemy variety is apparently a problem through end game (in that there isn’t a lot of it), combat getting repetitive is unsurprising.


Played a little more last night. Figured out my first code wheel shrine (using the very nice HTML version someone created here) and was rewarded with 300 gold, which literally doubled my fortune to that point. I used part of the windfall to purchase a nicer arming sword and a shield for my character (fighter).

I also backtracked through Skara Brae Below and picked up all the trow troves I could find. Mostly just grappling hooks and ingredients from those. I swung by the Guild and exchanged the dwarf fighter character for a mercenary bard, the fighter just didn’t seem useful enough (given that my character’s skill set was already better) and the bard has nice buffs and sword attacks. I used a grappling hook in a hidden spot to rappel down to a chest, and found a nice helmet inside that I stuck on my mercenary bard. Then I finished the quest to reclaim the merchant’s magic store since I was passing by it.

I ended the night by entering the mage’s tower (picking up his familiar as a 4th party member). Solved a puzzle and fought some goblins in the first couple of rooms, then saved for the night.

I took @krayzkrok’s advice from above and turned off the motion blur. It does seem to smooth out the framerate, and I like being able to see clearly when I spin around. Still very much enjoying the game, even if the combat is a little hard to get used to.


This sounds promising. Any sense of when the PS4 version is to arrive?