Some more feedback, now that I’ve survived with a party up to day 90+.
I’ve noticed something which concerns me about how the world responds to party growth.
Others have pointed out that having the end of game crisis occur regardless of if the player is ready or not can lead to big problems. Actually, I’ve got this problem right now! Although I’ve survived this long, my party sucks. Basically I’ve struggled a lot, and only just managed to recover a few times from pretty catastrophic losses. As a result, I can handle fighting a few brigand raiders, but I can’t really handle legionnaires etc.
Thing is, this is not actually what has caused me a lot of grief. For the last 30-40 days of the campaign, I’ve struggled more because the world appears to be acting as something like a treadmill. As my team has gotten stronger, it’s not just that more difficult and better paying jobs have become available, but that all the quests have been “upgraded”. The world has gone and become more difficult alongside my party (and in my case, getting stronger has, paradoxically, made me much weaker in the face of what I have to try and do). This is entirely aside from the end of game crisis, which is just what happens to be wiping me out now.
So a one-skull quest, I’ve found later on, is much harder than a one-skull quest initially. In other words, it’s only -relatively- a one-skull quest, based on the game guessing my strength and what would be easy/hard. It’s not absolutely a one-skull quest. That in itself I find annoying, but the real issue is that although quests get harder, the payment doesn’t keep up. I might get 700 crowns for killing a bunch of thugs early on, and then later have to take on a bunch of raiders for the same amount of money. What gives??
To be honest, I really, really dislike the world scaling itself to my level. Obviously, the problem it seeks to address is real. Players need challenges which are suitable. Too hard, and they can’t survive. Too easy, and things get boring. In my opinion having the world adjust itself to you is not a good way to deal with this issue however. It’s not just that the game can get things wrong (for example, as I have gotten stronger, I’ve actually become weaker, relative to the quests I have to do at the moment). This is a technical issue, and some tweaking can help a lot with it. It’s that scaling works to help destroy the illusion that I’m living in this real, fantasy world. This is a shame, because the Battle Brothers world is really cool. All kinds of nice things are simulated that work to make it believable. Having things scale like this though goes in the opposite direction.
In my opinion, the integrity of the world requires that it doesn’t care a jot how strong or weak I am, -unless it makes sense for it to do so-. It makes sense that getting stronger would unlock higher level quests, in that it simply makes them more accessible. Currently I have yet to be able to unlock the noble house quests. Obviously my party are just to weak. And it makes sense. But it doesn’t make sense that getting stronger would turn what are effectively the same quests into “harder versions” of the same quest. When a guy gets his stupid idol stolen I’d like it to be something that is legitimately happening in the world, regardless of how strong I happen to be. The strength of the parties involved should have nothing to do with me. It is up to me to get involved or not.
I assume that the way the Battle Brothers world worked in earlier versions was more like this. As I recall, you were more likely to run into all kinds of nasty creatures that were spawning around and marching about. Is this something that has now been actively moved away from for some reason? I understand that the devs want to have the player enjoy a somewhat more balanced experience, but I hope more of a objective simulation approach to the game can be taken, with player strength only having a minimum influence on overall world difficulty. There are other ways of keeping the player from getting hammered by far superior forces than is reasonable. For example, using geography (few goblins/orcs or undead in human lands).
Here is a quote from the game webpage.
On the procedurally generated worldmap different factions exist with their own agenda and resources, struggling for survival and dominance. A strategic AI leads each faction towards its goal by making use of its resources while staying true to the lore of that faction. Factions own locations on the worldmap – villages, camps, crypts or similar – and send out parties from there with objectives such as patrolling the area, hunting for food or raiding an unsuspecting village.
The player jumps into this living world and affects its balance by his actions – but the simulation works even without the player intervening. This way, the game does not have to rely on pre-scripted or linear events but provides new opportunities of adventure every time based on the dynamic interplay of its inhabitants. Furthermore, the player’s actions make a real difference. Preventing that orc raid on a village has that village able to offer you more in trade, and even just killing a single orc leaves the orc tribe with one less warrior for future encounters.
This all sounds great to me. But I’m not sure I’m seeing that much of it right now. The late game crisis are kind of nice, but it’s the idea of having a real impact on a living, dynamic world that excites me. It seems thought that things have moved more towards using scripts to provide a narrative and challenge to the game at the expense of the simulation.