Topic: Post Release Feedback

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  • #20928
    Avatar photoSekata

    Firstly, congratulations to the devs. Battle Brothers has easily become one of my favorite games of all time. I’ve been a gamer since I could string a sentence together, so I’m hyper critical. I do not love let alone like most games, but battle brothers has gotten me more hours per dollar in beta than plenty of AAA titles.. It’s not perfect, it has problems, but the game-play is fun, and the world is interesting. Make no mistake, the critiques here come from a place of love for this game. I very rarely participate in forum talk for any IP. I’m here because I want to help if you guys are still actively working off of forum critiques.

    Now for the actual feedback.

    The Good:

    *This game has several layers, and learning how to get each one to work for you is a challenge all its own. I like the fact that missions can be taken to manipulate world-map conditions for more lucrative trade.
    *I love how the current perk system, unlike the old tree, makes for more robust build experimentation, even if I do miss a few of the old perks.
    *Combat has been balanced in such a way that I rarely feel like losing a brother was not preventable. Sure there’s the stray arrow every now and again, but usually it’s that the player didn’t properly invest in good protective gear, or forgot to do something important on the inventory screen before combat started, or didn’t spec trained brothers to deal with a particular situation. This isn’t to say that combat is perfect, but it is to say that the opportunity for planning and counter play outweighs the flaws. Usually.
    *Every weapon has its place and utility. No class of weapon seems like a throw-away or a non-option.
    *The events are absolutely great and give an amazing organic feeling to the world.
    *Worldmap generation makes the game fresh every time the player starts a new play through. Each map manages to be new and somehow distinct. Between that and the events system, no play through seems the same.

    If this section seems short, it’s because it is hard to praise things when they work well. I hope the 400+ hours spent playing can assure you that the text is shorter here than in the bad section, but I’ve spent much more time enjoying the good than dwelling on the bad.

    The Bad:

    Problem: Tonal inconsistency
    *I’ve put 400+ hours into this game across several playthroughs (mostly pre-1.0) and I’ve yet to be convinced that tackling the challenges in the borderlands is worthwhile. Contracts and loot from combat provides plenty of coin. I can buy named weapons from well-stocked armories. I’m not sure there’s proper incentive to pick a fight with a city of orc warriors if I’m not being paid for it. Unless you’ve got 100,000+ gold to burn on rebuilding and just want the challenge. The risk is fine for a casual game, but the stakes are a bit higher on Iron Man mode.
    *This goes with the previous critique. There’s a bit of competing philosophy in the design. The speed of leveling means that the player puts hours into building a fully capable company of mercs, meaning a group that can competently handle most contracts. However, some of the tips/tavern talk/achievements imply that the player should be perfectly ok seeing that golden team go down in a single bad fight full of ancient honor guards or 10+ orc warriors. It is suggested that the game is meant to be played on Veteran Difficulty with Iron Man Enabled. Should I be ok losing 10+ 20 hour games to a single fight gone bad? The achievement says I should. Maybe losing is fun, but maybe it’s not after a 40 hour game goes sour when the fifth geist scream routs what was left of my front line. Does the game want to be a rougelike? Does it want to be M&B Warband with the open map and trade? In M&B no death is permanent and the player can recover from just about anything. Does it want to be like Xcom? Xcom games don’t go for 40+ hours, and the game is designed so that the loss of a team is a little bit more palatable. As far as narrative tone, both games make loss seem somewhat inevitable, but there’s much more roster space to stock good soldiers in xcom. Chances are this is exactly as intended, and I should just take it or leave it. Just seems like a bit of a disconnect to me when considering the inspirations and leveling design.

    Suggested Solution: None, just an observation.

    *Problem: Maps.
    Swamp/Forest battles are incredibly slow. You can have even more (read less) fun with Swamp/Forest battles at night. I think this would be a bit more acceptable if environments were generally more varied. Castle/graveyard/city combat environments are completely non-existent. Their inclusion would do wonders to add texture to the game and make fights seem much more varied. Their absence makes a bit of a mockery of the world map where the player swears they chose to fight among gravestones or some other crumbling ruin.

    Suggested solution:
    To be fair, I understand that coding this may be an insane amount of work. Art assets have to be designed, and then incorporated into your procedural map generation system. Or you could design absolute unchanging maps for castles and have them randomly assigned to castle locations when the map starts. Procedural generation could only apply to the re spawning pieces, like graveyards and green skin settlements.

    *Problem: Perks.
    I love that the system encourages experimentation, but some perks just seem like non-options and some seem like no-brainers for every single brother. It could simply be that I don’t have a point of reference though, so you tell me. Does anyone not take recover? Does anyone ever take Hold out, or Taunt?

    Suggested solution: No idea honestly. I think it’s a bit inevitable in a game like this to have some perks more desirable than others. Just an observation.

    *Problem: Ambush generation.
    Spawning/positioning needs to be revamped. Iron man mode is perfectly defensible when the player can prevent most if not all problems with capable play, but the current ambush system leaves a lot to be desired in that department as it currently exists. Losing a really good archer to a dire wolf rush in an ambush? I can live with that. I didn’t have an issue with it before a caravan ambush in the swamp generated all characters far away from the cart and the donkey, which was off the road and conveniently close to a bandit leader and several of his raider pals. What exactly was the counter play here?
    Suggested solution: Maybe create marching order configuration UI that can be configured for the band to be used during ambushes.

    *Problem: Negotiation system.
    The negotiation system is flat. More than everything else, this is my biggest problem with the game currently. As a player, I don’t feel like I have much control over contract price, and the screen just seems like flavor text. An illusion of choice. Chances are that the amount the quest will pay is absolutely written in stone and the several negotiating “options” do nothing. It may be that I just completely misunderstand the system. There does not seem to be the real leverage that should go with a negotiation that involves saving a town from a terror in the forests.

    Suggested Solution: If a set list of competing merc companies are generated on world creation, then functions for changing their standing and renown with settlements over time could be used to give real context for negotiations to take place. Maybe Wolfhaiden uses the Silver Claw as their band of choice, but the player attacked Silver Claw and destroyed their current roster. They can’t take the contract. If Wolfhaiden is about to be raided by a band of Orcs and your group is the only game in town, then the player holds all the chips. A setup like that would allow for some really interesting interplay between mercenary companies and make the negotiation screen seem meaningful. Perhaps Silver Claw becomes hostile to the player whenever the two cross paths on the world map. Maybe there could even be events where the leader of a mercenary company approaches the PC to try and establish territory. Failure to come to terms might lead to a fight on its own. Maybe something as simple as the system that tracks soldier morale, but for settlements, where contracts completed for the settlements are a plus in your favor and you can use them to get more for a contract. It seems so odd when an allied settlement NPC turns the player away after refusing a single counter offer. Come on Councilor, I saved your city from certain doom. I think 2000 crowns is perfectly reasonable for a cross country caravan run.

    Those are my thoughts on the current state of the game. If one of my fellow players can explain some of the things I’m not understanding, then that would be great. I never much felt like feedback was useful on the forums, but If the devs find any of this helpful, then this was time well spent.

    Avatar photoRusBear

    I would like to add this.
    If sales will be successful, please do not rush to make new content, horses, sisters and legs… The battle morale mechanics and crises are still extremely weak. I’m sure you can much better.

    Avatar photoSekata

    I would like to add this.
    If sales will be successful, please do not rush to make new content, horses, sisters and legs… The battle morale mechanics and crises are still extremely weak. I’m sure you can much better.

    I second this. I bought the game on early access and would gladly pay another $20+ to support further refinement of the bare bones over bells and whistles in dlc.

    Avatar photoNamespace

    Hey. I agree that taking on Orcs and Goblins without quests seems like ridiculously high risk for basically no reward once there are shamans/orc warriors.
    The only times I go and destroy those camps is when I get a tip for a named Item there (from tavern) or during patrol quests for extra heads and there is basically no real threat there.

    As for perks: I always use recover. It helps a lot in long battles and especially against those pesky zombies. And it is even more important now imo since getting attacked builds up extra fatigue. I also always dagger enemies with good armors (Leaders, Hedge Knights, Fallen Heroes) and that takes tons of fatigue.
    As for the rest: I have never used Nine-Lives, Adrenaline, Taunt, Indomitable, Hold Out. Since the “last beta” I have not even used Lone Wolf, Nimble, Fearsome, Executioner. I simply never have enough perk points to use any of those.

    Avatar photoSekata

    I take back the solution for the tonal inconsistency. Battle Brothers feels like it’s not entirely sure what it wants to be. I think you guys have a strong game that stands on it’s own merits. Combat is already deep and rewarding, and I don’t think you can go wrong by expanding on the mercenary-specific elements that make the game fun.

    If the player is meant to play through many loses, it shouldn’t take 5+ hours to get a brother up to level 11. Much easier to let go like you would in a rogue-like if wiping the board clean doesn’t come with such a high investment. I want to play the game in Iron-Mode if that’s how it’s meant to be played. At this point, the obituary screen in my current campaign is longer than a movie credits reel, so I’m not suggesting this because I can’t take a loss. I just think that save scumming is perfectly justifiable where the player has not been given a fair shake. Fair does not mean avoiding every loss. Conflicting design philosophies (leveling speed vs lethality/”losing is fun”) and incomplete systems (ambushes) make being save scummy justifiable.

    Failing that, balance the game to where it’s impossible to justify save scumming, the game would need to feel like the player is given a fair shake to anticipate and outplay possible pitfalls (I’m looking at you ambushes). Maybe there should be flavor text to tell you when a contract is not worth the associated price. If i’m allied with a city, then the guildmaster’s aide should take me aside and tell me flat out that I’m about to escort goods that were stolen from a noble house. Where relations are cold, or the town doesn’t know my company, they probably would try to screw me on crowns or not give me all the information that I need. Hell, it would be great if a noble giving me a quest for greenskins could give me a “scout report” on enemy unit size and composition if we’re allied. Accuracy shouldn’t be perfect, but the player is screwed far too often with no means of counter-play. One of the first feedback threads I wrote here panned the game (unfairly) for being an rng heavy gambling sim. It was an unfair critique in the context then, but I don’t at all think it’s unfair when leveled at the current contract system. I believe contracts, negotiations, and town relationships could do with a more detailed overhaul.

    Or make roster space much larger. Maybe after a while of campaigning and a significant investment of gold the band can set up a permanent base in an allied city. Brothers left at the home base might get paid a much smaller fee to account for the larger roster and payroll. It could even come with its own benefits, like brothers appreciating the paid time off, and the city offering a different set of contracts or paying better.

    : One thing I do love about the game is how much debate there is about perks being viable or not. I would like the game less if there was a very clear optimal path. There’s a surprising amount of allowance for play-style development and experimentation. It’s interesting that you don’t use Indomitable. I’ve always loved it because it helps my front line troll/tank orc warriors. What’s your strategy for dealing with the giant bastards in larger groups?

    Avatar photoNamespace

    @namespace: One thing I do love about the game is how much debate there is about perks being viable or not. I would like the game less if there was a very clear optimal path. There’s a surprising amount of allowance for play-style development and experimentation. It’s interesting that you don’t use Indomitable. I’ve always loved it because it helps my front line troll/tank orc warriors. What’s your strategy for dealing with the giant bastards?

    Kill before be killed. I also take them with 2-handed guys. They all have reach-advantage and 35-50 melee defense. High armor and HP with Steel Brow and Battleforged. As soon as I get some reach advantage stacks they are almost immortal. When they are fatigued and can’t use an AOE attack anymore usually their initiative is very low, so Orc warriors attack first (while RA is still in effect). I then use recover, which brings their initiative back up and I can attack before the orc warriors in the next turn again and get RA stacks back. Ofc they get supported by archers and 2-3 shielders with hammers. Generally since the last beta I try and only have them get surrounded by 3-4 orcs at once (instead of 6 before) because getting attacked builds up fatigue. I have to say though, I don’t engage orcs if I don’t have to because it’s high risk for little reward. Even if they pay ~4-5k, I will get the same or more from daggering hedge knights, leaders and fallen heroes. Decayed plate armor sells for 700-900c, Helmets for 300-500 and Hedge knight armors usually for around 1k+.
    Indomitable sounds like a good skill tbh but I never have the perk points. Since I had a guy of mine get oneshot by orc warlord with 2-h axe in beta I now take Steel Brow. It didn’t even break his helmet, durability went down from 330 to 150 and apparently 60+ dmg went through). Now they have 80+ hp and Steel Brow I just hope this is enough.

    Avatar photoSekata

    @Namespace So that’s something that needs to be fixed as well imo. What’s the real point of taking contracts with orcs if you can get the same money elsewhere? To be fair, there is some incentive to remove the marauding green skin condition on a settlement. Not sure it’s enough though, especially if the settlement doesn’t produce something vital to the company, and few settlements do. Most items can be acquired elsewhere with no issue.

    Sounds like 2 things need to be incentivized:
    *Orc combat- not worth the risk currently
    *Borderland location sites- not work the risk currently

    Usually when I destroy one of those sites I might, maybe, perhaps get a gold coin or an ancient tome. That’s hardly worth having to replace a level 7 brother that got his head cut off, and again, named weapons/armor can be purchased from armories. They’re even more common after a caravan run.

    Also, it makes sense that traveling in difficult terrain should cost more food. Camping on a mountainside for a better view during the night should not.

    On an unrelated note, are fallen heroes supposed to get back up after having their heads removed? I thought it was meant to be that way for a second, but then a headless fallen hero used bite…

    Avatar photoNamespace

    @Sekata I hardly even get named stuff from orcs in general. And yes, I do sometimes clear orc camps if an important town has the greenskin status. However mostly those camps are easier to take on without a contract, so I go scout the area and kill them without a contract when there are only a few warriors. Or, wait until I get a 1-skull contract that changes the enemy composition if I don’t think I can take them on otherwise.

    Fallen heroes should get up even if decapitated. Pretty sure they are not supposed to use bite though. They should still have the basic punch ability if you take away their weapons, no?

    I also think they should not be able to get wounded during an event while camping in the mountains.

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