Pillars of Eternity


I unlocked the White March content by completing the quest in Defiance Bay, cleared a bunch of mobs in the first town and then proceeded to get squashed multiple times by the boss mob. I guess at level 5 I’m not ready for this content. I could drop the difficulty to normal - not sure if that would be enough to make this content doable. It appears that you need to change the difficulty level before visiting a map for it to take effect.

So, I could load a save prior to starting the White March content, or I can go do some more questing to gain some levels.


From what I remember the first part of White March (the town, not Concelhault) is meant for parties that are level 7+.


I went in at level 6, nearly 7, at hard difficulty and found it challenging but fun at that level.


Scott, I know this is one of your favorite games of the past year or so. I’m curious. How do you deal with combat dissolving into a blob? Are there certain pause settings that you find help? Do you just micro positioning a lot? Does it just not bother you?

Anyone else feel free to share their opinions too. I just know how favorable Scott views this game. To be clear, I do like it. I just don’t find it holds the same allure replaying the content.


I definitely don’t get on with the combat, particularly the blob you describe. I have cheesed a couple of fights that I was struggling with by sneaking a character in, alerting only a couple of the nearest enemies, then luring them back out to the rest of the party. No way I would have finished White March Part I otherwise as I was getting slaughtered.


Yeah, they should have set all members of a desired encounter to activate at once to avoid cheese like that-- and to tune the encounters properly, as they’re tuned too challenging if you’re forced to take “tactics” like that.


Nah, I’m just not very good :)


Let me preface this by saying PoE, and games like it, will almost always be more fun to me on a personal level if they utilized a turn-based, Temple of Elemental Evil type combat system.

That said, I’ve often felt that real-time with pause offers higher “highs” such as pausing, formulating a strategy, setting said strategy in motion, and then unpausing the game and watching it all come together. That stuff can feel just incredibly satisfying when it works like you planned.

Unfortunately, there are also greater dips in “fun” as well, such as what you are talking about when it feels like a blast of special effects just went off, two of your guys are down, and the enemies aren’t even hurt. WTF? What happened there? Also, one pet peeve of mine, is when I want to watch and savor a cool ability in action but don’t have time to do it - I love all the little passive and active abilities ALL the classes can learn, and it’s really fun when things like Rogue backstabbing works, and seeing in the log all the great details that derived the damage from something, but it’s impossible to watch and enjoy ALL your characters abilities just because so many actors are on the screen.

Now, I tend to find playing on Normal and Hard that I can generally get more of those [I]highs[/I] than the lows, but not always. One thing I to do is auto-slow combat speed down so I can better absorb what’s happening. In fact, I’d love an option to go even MORE slowly if I could! I also have auto-pause set to when enemies appear, which presents its own set of problems because that’s NOT when combat starts, so many abilities aren’t ready to roll yet. But having it set to “when combat starts” is either annoying immediately after when enemies are spotted OR not early enough when you don’t want to be detected (but don’t want to run around everywhere in double-speed while in stealth). So I stick with “when enemies appear” and pause the game again as needed after that.

I have auto-pause set only to when a character is low on health, and I have everyone set to be aggressive and take on any targets of opportunity, but no one save me uses per-rest abilities/spells because to me that’s the only bit of micro (auto attacking nearby enemies) that I needed before. In big fights I found the AI using spells and abilities to actually compound the issue of not knowing what was going on - because all the crazy shit going on wasn’t even me picking it! That alone might be of help in answering your question, Rob?

I do love PoE, I like it more than Baldur’s Gate (and as much as Baldur’s Gate 2), but I actually had the same issues with combat in those venerable classics, too. I like the RPG system/mechanics enough and get enough of those “highs” that the net result is hours of awesome moments whenever I sit down to play, though.


And that’s why I like WEGO turn-based games. If well executed, they combine the best parts of the turn-based and real-time approaches.


This was one of my favorite games last year as well. I quite like the blobs in the game, though I can see how they could be off-putting. I feel like a big part of the positioning strategy is about getting the blobs to fall into the space you want them to, and trying to figure out how to do safe re-positions when they don’t. In battles that are tough, I tend to pause every few seconds for the first half of the battle. Due to its real-time format, moves at the beginning of battles are way more important, so I’m especially careful there, and will reload a couple seconds in if I can already tell it’s not going well. Once a battle is halfway over, I tend to play it without pausing. At this point it’s mostly about priority targeting and keeping allies standing, less about the super-careful positioning and correctly placed crowd-control.

A big part of what I like about POE’s combat system is that when the intensity increases, the in game-time length of battles can often decrease, but the real-time I spend in battles (due to pausing) is much higher. In simpler battles, they play out like the second half of hard battles, requiring just enough attention to be exciting but not exhausting, so they play it very quickly. If they were turn-based, these more trivial battles would be more frustrating because they’d require a lot more input and time to resolve (in my experience).

So I guess the difference is that I really enjoy the part you’re not enjoying (directed at robc04) which is too bad because I think your feeling is more common then mine and I think they’d serve a bigger audience if the focus on micro-positioning was lessened.

To counter Scott, I’d also add that I don’t like Infinity Engine games. I’ve tried to play them a bunch. I’ve started BG2 probably 4 or 5 times, and both Icewind Dales at least 3 times, but I never get more then a few hours in. I find Infinity Engine games to be infuriatingly confusing, with far too many options to make sense of. But I find POE much easier to understand due to its smaller number of class-options, spells, skills, and its really fantastic battle log. I reference the battle log constantly to figure out what’s working and what isn’t. The visualized art just doesn’t give enough info. It’s way easier to compare two spells effects by mousing over their mention in the logs and getting really specific feedback on hits, misses, damages, grazes, etc. Anytime I feel overwhelmed, I just glance through the last few seconds in there and feel totally comfortable with what’s going on which, for whatever reason, never gelled for me in Infinity Engine games.


Then you should drop the difficulty to easy, not cheese encounters. But you won’t do that for whatever reason, and by allowing the cheese, the devs are making you play in a way that isn’t as fun.

Regarding the combat, I don’t mind the “blobs” at all. All the infinity engine games worked that way. I’m perfectly happy with PoE now that it has party AI. I really did see the game as [I]incomplete[/I] without AI.


The thing that tripped me up is the Party AI defaults to on but nobody has default AI profiles set so it doesn’t actually activate.


I agree Scott, I wish auto slow was slower or configurable. The blob problem may be less of one if the battles could tick by a little slower. I had more auto pause options than you did, including the timer. I played the last battle with the timer autopause off and I like that better. Too many times it would pause as I was trying to pause, so I would unpause it. I had the AI set to only defend so they wouldn’t wander off on me, especially since I have a rogue and I try to use her in tandem with the fighter’s knockdown skill.

I think we probably play in a similar fashion. One problem I think PoE has is that it puts too many separate lines in the combat log, so it doesn’t take much to have the information scroll out of view. I could make it bigger, but then it obscures a lot of the screen.

These issues are why I like the Divinity OS combat system better, even if I think it’s the lesser of the games and I don’t think its content is as well done.


porousnapkin, at the time I loved BG1 and BG2 but I wonder if that would be true now. I did buy the HD remakes and haven’t tried them yet. I’m curious as to whether I’ll find they have the same problem for me now with blobs. I knew the DnD rules going in, so the complexity didn’t throw me off at the time.

The blobs may be bothering me more now than in my first playthrough because then I had 2 fighters. They probably did a much better job controlling the battlefield. I’m only running with 5 characters now, 1 of them being a fighter.


I forget that you can do that. Anyway, I’ve only had to do it a couple of times on battles I was struggling with in White March Part I. I can live with myself for it I think. In fact I was pretty excited when I figured out that I could win that way. I WAS OUTSMARTING THIS DUMB GAME AT LAST HAHA!


BG/IWD are easier to handle because you just have way less shit happening all the time. I mean, D&D fighters basically go in and hit things and pop a potion in particularly tough fights. No such thing as “encounter” powers. Spells much more preciously hoarded.

I love POE, but it’s very much an RPG system design by nerds, for nerds. I totally get the impulse to make every class more interactive, but it does end up with a lot more buttons to push, particles going off, and things to keep track of as a player.


Oh. OK then, if you were enjoying yourself that’s all good.

@Adam: My feeling is it would work much better with much smaller groups. With 6 characters, it’s just a terrible [I]grind[/I] without AI. And even then, they should convert many of the per-rest powers to per-encounter. Using a per-rest power should be a deliberate decision by the player, and always hugely impactful. Each character shouldn’t have many of those.


Yeah! I think that’s probably true. My first playthrough also had two fighters, and my current second playthrough has a fighter and 2 off-tanks (a Barbarian and a Monk). This second playthrough is harder in some respects because if one of my off-tanks gets focused it can end the fight abruptly, but the Barbarian and Monk seem to have good escape options and at least decent survive-ability.


I’m ashamed to admit that this took me way too long to figure out.


FWIW, I still like the way POE handles supplies and per-rest powers and health/endurance. I just think the combat is a little spammy, like others have said, and opined as to why I don’t feel that way in BG/IWD.

My larger problem – I don’t think “a little spammy” is all that terrible to be honest – is that their spellcasting/buff/debuff system is waaaaay too complex. It’s gotten more reasonable as I’ve committed more spells to memory and they’ve (dramatically) improved tooltips and usability in patches, but I still think it’d be a better game with fewer but more impactful states. Do we really need four different versions of “misses more often” and “is weaker to Will attacks”?

I’d be absolutely shocked if the vast majority of players don’t pick 6-10 spells they like for their party and mostly ignore the rest. Lord knows I do.

It ain’t just you guys.