Part 0: Gameplay Mechanics and other stuffGameplay Mechanics and other stuff
If you don't care about all this, and there really isn't any good reason why you should care, skip to the next post.
The Battlefields are a really unique mechanic, and it's too much information for this post, so it's in a separate post.
Special Feature: The Battlefields
Special Feature: The Battlefields, Part 2
As you can see, there are a crapload of stats and attributes. It's crazy. *sigh* Alright, let's go over this *briefly*.
- Strength - You need this to wear equipment. 50 should be enough to equip most equipment. It also affects how much you can carry.
- Agility - Some items have agility requirements, 50 should be enough. More importantly, though it affects your accuracy and evasion. Raising this in Act I will be really vital to surviving to reach the end of the act. This is probably the most important attribute in the entire game. If you want to be able to hit things with a bow or in melee, you will need to keep putting points into this throughout the entire game.
- Constitution - Raises hit points and stamina, and helps raise poison resistance.
- Intelligence - Increases the amount of mana you have, and helps raise spiritual resistance. Only mages should put points into this.
- Survival - Influences Luck, Regeneration, and Initiative, which determines who attacks first in battle. Helps raise elemental resistances.
- Speed - Influences evasion, Initiative, attack speed and hit recovery.
In Divine Divinity, resistances were simple - Fire, Lightning, Poison and Spiritual. It's since been over-complicated. Now you have Fire, Water, Earth and Air, along with Ethereal, Spiritual, Shadow and Bone resistances, and physical resistances to Crushing, Piercing and Slashing weapons. Don't ask me what the difference between Ethereal and Spiritual is, I don't know. Enemies resistances and weaknesses are listed in the Bestiary after you kill one, and if you like you can try to swap weapons to do optimal damage, but there's really no point, as enemies will usually die quickly to physical attacks. If an enemy has "Earth/Air/Fire/Water/Shadow/Bone" in their name, you probably shouldn't use that kind of attack on it, but other than that it doesn't matter much. Earth is the opposite of Air, Fire is the opposite of water, if that's helpful.
The Skill System
There is a reason why I chose the "Stupid" tag for this thread. The skill system in the game is quite possibly one of the worst skill systems in any game, ever. Larian decided to move away from the Diablo-style skill system, and into crafting territory. Yes, you can craft your own skills. Unfortunately, the crafting system sucks.
Here is an example of why:
1. One-Handed Weapon
1.A.1. Improved Accuracy
1.A.2. Improved Damage
1.A.3. Improved Weapon Durability
1.A.4. Critical Hits
(1 = Weapon Type, 1.A = Damage Type, 1.A.? = Skill Modifiers)
If I put a point into Improved Accuracy, that is one skill point. If you want your weapon to do more damage, you need to spend another skill point into Improved Damage.
It's not like skill points grow on trees. You get one per level-up, an extra one when the level is a multiple of 5, and on hardcore skill, there's a 30% chance for a character to get an extra skill point when levelling up (a 9% chance for both to get the extra point). Doing everything, you can expect to reach about level 33 or so, so that's 39 skill points per character, total.
All 5 of the 1.A.X types can go under one skill icon. Improved Weapon Durability is not worth the skill points on melee weapons. It would be worth upgrading Improved Weapon Durability on Bows/crossbows, however… except that skill is not available on bows/crossbows, the only place where it would be useful!
One-Handed Weapon, Two-Handed Weapon, and One-Handed Weapon + Shield are completely different skills which require individual skill points into the sub-skills.
Slashing is the damage type. There are 5 damage types in the game: Slashing (Swords and Axes), Piercing (Spears and Bows, maybe some swords), Crushing (Hammers and Maces), Shadow, and Bone (the last two are some new damage types to go with the Needlessly Overcomplicated Revamped Resistance System, and we won't be seeing those until Act 2 or 3).
Ranged Weapons are also complicated, although a bit less so.
1.A Improved Accuracy
1.B Improved Reload Time
1.C Improved Point-blank Damage
1.D Critical Hits
1.E Improved Piercing Damage
The major complication with ranged weapons is because there are 12 different kinds of arrow types: Air, Bone, Earth, Ethereal, Explosive, Fire, Poison, Power, Shadow, Spiritual, Splitting, and Water arrows. Each arrow type has its own proficiency which increases damage, and there are skills that let you recover arrows from targets or convert arrows into a different type.
Unlike Divine Divinity or Divinity 2, you now need ammo for your ranged weapons. This is because of the multiple different types of arrows. Fortunately, after the first 20 minutes of the game, running out of the basic normal arrows won't be a problem.
Magic in Beyond Divinity, AKA Screw This
In Divine Divinity, the most expensive single spell you could cast took 48 mana a shot and did 40-180 EACH of Fire, Poison and Lightning Damage to a target. In Beyond Divinity, the most BASIC elemental damage spell does 9-20 (for a missile) or 7-16 (for an instant-hit) attack of either Fire, Lightning, Earth or Air damage for the LOW, LOW price of 47 mana a shot.
That's not a typo. In Beyond Divinity, the weakest possible magic spell costs one-point of mana less than the most powerful magic spell in Divine Divinity.
"That can't be the whole story," I hear you saying. "They must have changed something else to compensate." Well, sort-of. In Divine Divinity, depending on your character class (Warrior/Survivor/Mage), you got 3/4/6 mana per point into Intelligence. In Beyond Divinity, that's been upped to a flat 15 mana per point across the board. Unlike Divine Divinity, your mana regenerates constantly as well, at a rate based on your Intelligence, so with 20 points into Intelligence, you get back 7 points of mana per second, which is OK.
But despite this, the fact remains that you get only 5 attribute points per level, enemies scale with you slightly as you level up, and you would need to put in 4 of the 5 points you get each level-up into Intelligence just to get ONE extra cast of the MOST BASIC SPELL you can get. And even 5 points into said basic spell does only a pathetic 43-90 damage, which isn't enough to one-shot level 2 skeletons on Hardcore.
Mort, set up as a default Wizard can try to kill a pair of level 1 rats with magic. He can get off three casts before his 145 mana runs out, and can only reduce ONE rat to 50% health.
Magic is TERRIBLE
If I customize Mort's attributes, giving him 9 points into Intelligence and 1 point into everything else, that raises his maximum mana to a whopping 205.
That lets me cast my most basic spell FOUR times.
I missed the rat once. The other three shots hit it, but only took it down to about 40% health. Now my contribution to combat is effectively zero until I get mana back. Wizards are completely worthless in Act 1.
Formerly Useful, Now Useless Skills
Repair - In Divine Divinity, the Repair skill could repair 60-100% of the durability dependent on the skill points spent. In BD, Each item has a repair quality, so you need to increase your repair skill if you want to repair a certain quality of equipment. This eats up skill points you can't afford, so it's simpler to just pay for all repairs.
Identify - Same deal, there are now 10 quality levels of items, and it's even harder to tell what's worthwhile or not. Making Identify truly worthless is the fact that every single merchant will all ID items for a flat fee of 100 gold each, and pretty much all magic items sell for at least 1000 gold. It's actually a benefit for you to NOT put points into Identify, because that gold you pay merchants to identify will end up back in your pocket when you sell the item.
Lockpick - In Divine Divinity there were tons of pre-placed locked doors and chests which had no keys. In this game, the only lockpickable things are randomly placed. There are keys or levers for most lockpickable things. What's worse is that even on the very first level of the game, I haven't seen anything that could be lockpicked with less than 4 points. Random-locked items are also very rare and contain the equivalent of two unlocked containers worth of random material.
EDIT: I went back and checked, and I found 5 locked barrels. None could be opened with rank 1 Lockpick, 2 or 3 could be opened with rank 2 lockpick, 1 or 2 could be opened with rank 4 lockpick, and 2 could be opened with rank 4 lockpick. It seems that the contents of containers are generated when you mouse-over them. Only one of the containers had anything worthwhile in it, most had a potion and a meager amount of gold.
Learning New Skills
This is completely different from Divine Divinity.
You need to pay gold, or much more rarely, find skill books to learn new skills. But learning new skills or finding a skill book doesn't give you any skill points, it only lets you know. Skill books are always found in specific places and give out specific skills. Once you have learned a skill from a teacher/book however, it is available for both party members to use.
Trainers and skill books also come in different sizes, so some skills can only be learned up to a certain point until you find another trainer and fork out some MORE gold. Also, some skills are rare and only appear on one or two trainers in the entire game. Some skills only appear ONCE in the game, and that trainer appears about 10 minutes before the end of the damn game.
Example of how training works: Let's say that I have reached my cap of 5 into, One-handed->Slashing->Increased Damage, but I still have 3 skill points remaining. If I purchase Level 10 "One-handed->Slashing" from a trainer, I still have only 3 skill points, but I can now increase my One-handed->Slashing->Increased Damage from 5 to 8.
The real kicker is that I think that this skill system could actually have worked, if only you always got at least 3 skill points per level. There are just too few skillpoints available.
Trap Components drop like candy in Battlefield dungeons. It's actually really annoying if you're not playing a trap-using character, because they're heavy, so you need to be stopping to deal with your inventory all the time. If you are using a trap-using character, you might not find *quite* enough to use Traps as your only weapon if you try and use them all the time, but for purposes of this LP, I won't be using them much in Battlefields, so I should theoretically have a LOT.
In the second level of the Citadel, you can find this in a locked chest.
Bedrolls are somewhat helpful, but I don't use them too much. They do provide a full party heal and mana restore for an item of food from your inventory, but they only work out of combat, and healing mid-combat is when healing is most desperately needed. After you get it, you'll never stand around waiting for health to regenerate ever again.
Sneaking was in Divine Divinity as well, and this is an area where Beyond Divinity notably improved on the previous game.
In Divine Divinity, only Survivors could sneak, but not in the presence of light (like daylight), and it was hard to figure out how close an enemy had to be to see you. In Beyond Divinity, both characters can sneak by default.
This is what it looks like when you're sneaking, with no points into the Sneak skill. The enemy sight radius is helpfully shown in red. This is too large of a sight radius to actually be helpful, though. Let's put a single point into Sneak.
That's a really dramatic difference, the enemy sight radius has been cut in half.
With a second point into Sneak, the difference is less dramatic, but I might end up putting a third point in anyway.
Enemies can't see you if you're outside their sight radius, but they will move around randomly and head in your direction if you shoot at them with arrows, and the sound of fighting will draw in other enemies even if they're outside sight radius of you.
You can sneak outside now, but the lighting remains the same - you don't have the helpful sight radius that you get indoors.
Sneaking is mandatory at pretty much all times in Hardcore mode, because the enemy numbers are doubled. I should note that sneaking is NOT needed for pick-pocketing.
Summoning dolls are a new mechanic for this game. There is one in each act of the game.
They're sort-of like expendable party members, except worse. At their default level they are too weak to be more than a momentary distraction in combat, and they die within seconds of an enemy attacking them. They are heavily restricted in what equipment they can use - most can't use any, in fact, and the ones which can use equipment usually can't because their attributes are too low to equip it.
Oh, and they can't stray very far from the location they're first summoned or else they disappear. You can re-summon soon after they die, but there's a secret cooldown, and if you summon a doll before the cooldown has expired, they suffer a penalty to their stats and attributes.
You CAN give them skill points and levels, and extend the radius in which they can operate, but to do that you need to spend your OWN skill points, and you don't get that many for yourself, much less summons. I can only think of one circumstance where this would be a good investment.
The skeleton starts off with 4 free skill points of its own, which is excellent. As soon as I am able, I will purchase 4 ranks in "Alchemy - Extract", and transform the skeleton into the designated potion-maker, instead of using the precious skill points of a main character. (Alchemy only has 4 ranks total, so you can make every potion possible.)
However, there is an even better use for summons. In this game you can fill your inventory well past the point where you can even move. If you get overburdened, you can fill a summons' inventory with all your stuff so you can keep going in the dungeon. It doesn't matter that it can't move, all inventory is shared, so I just have to have it summoned when I go talk to a merchant (although the dolls themselves can't interact with NPC's.)
This is especially handy for clearing Battlefield dungeons, which are full of enemies and chests. Whenever I get overloaded, I just pop it out and fill it up.