My experience after completing the game

For Bard's Tale IV gameplay-related discussion. May include gameplay details and spoilers.

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Dyms
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My experience after completing the game

Post by Dyms » September 25th, 2018, 6:37 am

The game is fun and very immersive the scenery is beautiful, the number of details in some of the area is incredible. I would recomend to wait until it is patched, some of the bug can be truly outrageous, fatal errors during battles skill point reseting after loading zones, some things during battle seems to not behave correctly and the game can slow down pretty hard...
The puzzles are pretty varied and fun, the only moment I was feeling frustrated was when you get hit trying to solve puzzles notably on the end game one.

The battle system seems interressing although it's not polished enough to be as good as it could, I played on hard difficulty blind with a rogue that started full utility and no battle skills, and I was rolling through almost every fight in the game almost never feeling a need to save at totems exept during the last part of the game.
Using spell seems pretty powerfull in the early to mid game but at some point I could just one turn kill any packs even some "impossible ones" using some dagger mage with armor shred and if you don't turn 1 kill everything then you turn 2 and you can heal as much as you want anyways with the food system, at this point using spells seems irrelevant, and it takes off alot of the fun of the battles.

Inventory management can be pretty painfull, and the gold marchant seems pretty underwhelming for the most part, during early game I was so far off buying anything, and by the time I had enough gold the items were irrelevant I was getting better progressing the game, and by the end of the game I had way too much gold that I could not spend, I had even trouble finding buyers for my items at some point I was almost deleting things to make space.

I read people complaining about the lack of respects options and I think being able to respect for free any time would not be a very good thing, as the game is already not that hard and making choices meaningfull is good. They is an issue that needs to be addressed in the creating new character token, you are forced to spend all points immediatly if you want to validate the creating, and so if you want to make a cleric you don't have any points to spend on it after, maybe implement that when you make a cleric you get a respect at least.

Finally on replayability as far as I know after beating the last boss you can't go back and complete everything (there is some door which I can't understand the purpose and is locked behind bars even thought opened). You have to load an older save or just complete events at the right time and you can miss things. Considering this is a game where you constantly are in front of problems you can't solve at the time you find them, adding a layer in which you have to solves puzzles during a time window or they will dissapear is pretty unforgiving. I would have liked to go back to see and complete everything but if you tell me for that I have to make a new game, I don't feel that motivated to do it, how about the achievement to beat the final boss with 3 members? Do I have to load back my save for that as well or make a new game?

Overall the game is good it still needs to be polished more.

Lord Azlan
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Re: My experience after completing the game

Post by Lord Azlan » September 26th, 2018, 5:59 am

Thanks for the write-up - it's very interesting.

Don't mind the inconsistent graphics at my end but it was extremely difficult to complete the totem/ sodoku puzzles in Kylearan's Tower because the symbols were very blurry and hard to make out. I thought that was very shoddy work.

Agreed the combat is interesting but unpolished. The whole game could do with a decent clean. Recently I found a new potential member of my party but sent her to the guild because I was happy with what I had. Despite sending her away, the existing party members started welcoming her with various comments - it's crazy.

Combat was a key part of the previous Bards Tale games and indeed, key in most RPG. However, I think we can group BT IV with Tides of Numenera where combat is just another puzzle to be solved. BT IV could do with some random encounters - remember you can always run away from a tough fight. You can also heal by eating food and death of a party member is fixed post combat with a resurrection. Blocked doors are everywhere both above and below and Skara Brae so I reckon some additional combat could be found somewhere. However, the game itself seems quite linear and therefore I assume designed so players don't become too powerful too soon. It's a shame.

I don't understand the fuss about respecs. You couldn't do before and I am not sure how appropriate it is in a blobber type RPG. The first time I ever came across the concept was in a game called Titans Quest - of Diablo type. However, it is a shame you can't form a party of four from the very beginning. Maybe it's because the opening chapter has been dumbed down for console or tablet players.

Agreed with what you said about merchants and inventory. The items now available to buy are slightly better or worse than items I have found so not spend my hard earned cash on anything.

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sear
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Re: My experience after completing the game

Post by sear » September 26th, 2018, 6:54 am

Thanks for the detailed impressions! Super glad to glad to hear you enjoyed the game.

It sounds like at least a couple of the things you pointed out as bugbears are on our list of things to improve in updates, so I'd encourage you to come back for a replay down the line - hopefully we can give you an even better experience once features like an inventory auto-sort are in. :)

Jamey
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Re: My experience after completing the game

Post by Jamey » September 27th, 2018, 1:50 pm

I also just finished the game. Overall, I enjoyed the game a lot and I'm glad that I backed it on Kickstarter.

Here are my thoughts:

Graphics and sound
The visuals and music are great. I was especially wowed at times in the forest with the mountains in the background. I ran on the High preset and the only place I ran into problems with that was at the end of the Barrow under Skara Brae, where there seemed to just be a lot going on to render.

My only criticism of the music is that it could get repetitive when you were in or near the Adventurer's Guild. It would be nice if Rabbie and Fiona rotated their songs more often. Perhaps one thing that could be done easily is that instead of playing the most relevant song (to the story) all the time, they could play that song as well as previous story songs to provide some variance. Also, starting randomly at different points in the song so you aren't always hearing the beginning would provide some variety.


Puzzles
Overall, I enjoyed figuring out the puzzles. Most of them were apparent either from the puzzle itself or from the clues provided and I could just work my way through them. I expected to use the hint book more than I did. Unfortunately, the puzzles I tended to get stuck on were side quest puzzles (e.g. Baron Harkyn) that were not included in the hint book (it really would be nice if they were).

Beyond that, my one major criticism of the puzzles is that I felt like the faerie puzzles were overused in the woods without enough other puzzles to provide a break. I got tired of them because of that.


Combat
I really enjoyed the combat. I admit that I was a bit skeptical of it from what I had seen before launch, but from the point that I had a 4 player party the combat system really worked well. Always hitting with a chance of procs is an excellent way to build a turn based combat system. :)


Skills and Characters
I like the skill trees and the ability to build quite different characters. I have two fighters and two mages with substantially different builds for the characters of the same class (especially for the mages).

I'd like to see respecs, perhaps for mercenary tokens. If I'd had that available, I'd have used them and kept more of the main characters instead of mercenaries.

I'd also suggest keeping all characters at the same experience amount. Otherwise, the characters in the Guild (and newly recruited story characters) fall behind and you're just incentivized to use a fresh mercenary rather than an underleveled character.


Inventory
The inventory is pretty painful to use, largely because of how much stuff accumulates while playing through the game. Some concrete suggestions to improve it:
  • Separate out crafting and consumable items into their own tab. I have nearly 2 pages of ingredients, gems, potions, and food. I'd really prefer them in their own tab.
  • Ensure that all keys wind up in the quest tab. I have a couple in my main inventory (Langskaal and Midden Maw) that I wasn't sure if I'd still need, so they are just taking up space.
  • Allow moving Lore items and Quest items to their second inventory page manually (right now, they only can move to the second page if you pick them up with a full first page). I'd like to have organized some of my items (e.g. the 12 constellation cards) better than I could.
  • Make it easier to sell excess gear. I completely filled the inventory of one merchant before realizing that there were only 3 pages in their inventories. I also took all of the money out of several merchants in Skara Brae.

Vanaril
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Re: My experience after completing the game

Post by Vanaril » September 27th, 2018, 3:35 pm

I just finished as well so here are mine : (I'll steal your point by point tho haha)

Graphics & Sound
I got to say to me, the music is more than great I'll probably buy it.
Fiona's voice is, in my opinion, amazing I love her.
On the other end, even if the graphic are good, I still had some small issues & I don't know where those came from tbh...

Puzzles
I really liked the puzzles, the one which gave me the hardest time was the knight's one from harkyn because I was COMPLETELY oblivious of the actual hint & was totally thinking the hint was the change of pace of the horse as one roam as the other trot :lol: .
Anyway I would say that I really enjoyed them.

Combat (& difficulty)
I'm a bit torn by the combat in this game, I feel that even on hard it was really easy and I stop using my main roster as I felt like it was cheating.
i still liked the system a LOT, just would have wanted real hard mode from the get go as I just couldn't wait.

Skills & Characters

I really liked it, but as Jamey said: Respecs for mercenary tokens would have been perfect because there is a LOAD of it and I would have love to use the main characters more, especially Wringneck, fiona & Dangliesh (I feel I didn't spelt it correctly).

Inventory & Merchants

I didn't have too many issue with the inventory beside the fact that it need a button auto-tidying or something.

For the merchant I agree with Jamey to say that having to find a merchant who still have money & room in the inventory to sell your sh*ts is painful + if you stole from a few merchants & bankrupted them because of it.
A refresh once in a few main missions perhaps would be helpful, what's more I didn't bought any equipment after arriving at the start of Inshriach's forest.

Overall

I've liked the game very much there's pretty much no bad things to say about it.
Except that in my opinion the game was released a month or so too early.
I've had a lot of bugs, including stuff that were supposedly Hotfixed, I had crashed + fatal error which were really harmful to the gameplay.
At first I told myself that I will only consume the pillars and wait for actual 'save only' pillars to save.
This decision was first very soon forgot with my first softblock, then Patch 1 came and I was "oh great" let's do that now it should be fine, Spoilers : It was not.

So yeah, I would say that this game is for now a very solid & enjoyable one and would give it 8.5/10 but it kinda pains me because I know that I would give it more a month later, it really feels like InXile needed only a little more time and it would have been perfect (or close to it) for me.

Hence I'll probably replay the game in a year or so, hoping to have an even better experience. Thanks for the amazing game I had a blast

isteckel
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Re: My experience after completing the game

Post by isteckel » October 8th, 2018, 9:55 am

Well let me pitch in as well, as if you wanna hear my opinion. This is from a person that has never played the bard's Tale series (erhm well the spinoff from 2004, but let's be honest, two very different types of games)

Combat
I enjoyed the combat system and the choices of different abilities that effect the combat differently. However it got stale around before midgame and til the end of the game. At this point I had already figured out an optimal way of dealing with combat, and basically did the same thing over and over again against most encounters, especially since the enemy configuration was very much the same, it felt as the same encounter throughout most of the game.

PC advancement
I liked the way that you are forced to take decisions on what character needs to do what in the team, a certain class can have different roles, and only having a certain amount of skills you can take with you into combat forced me to think about the coming encounters and what I needed. However at a certain point as stated in the combat description, I just found a certain way to do things, that stopped my exploration of abilities alltogether, also was the bow only meant as a side weapon, cause it did not feel fleshed out at all, as I could count, only two abilities that was rather dull?

Exploration and world layout
Again i loved the world and the layout in the begning till mid game, it gave a great feeling of exploration when walking around the different locals, especially in Skara Brae underground, it felt most fleshed out. However when I got around midgame I got the feeling that maps where rushed and not as polished as Skara Brae underground, and the further I got the more I got that feeling.

Puzzles, secrets and loot
Lovely puzzles, a good variation of puzzles, not to hard and not to easy, however secrets did not really feel like secrets since they were very visible. When I found various secrets around the map I felt that I got some great stuff in the begning, but later on I already had so much gold and gear that I had fully equipped my team, and had gold & loot of the same kind coming out my ears. However I did very much enjoy when I finally got an item that was unique, with special properties or got an elven weapon as it could shake up the items that I was using and felt like it actually did something instead of just "boosting numbers".
I won't delve into inventory management as I know you are working on it, kisses to you people working on it.

Story and NPCs
I didn't much feel for it, it was there, it gave reason for the party to venture on, but I did not feel invested. But this is something that is very subjective and I won't say much about it. However the NPCs were wonderful, great writing, extremely good voice acting (kudos voice actors, you are some of my heroes!), the story may have not pulled me forward, but the NPCs very much did. I was always looking forward to see who I would meet next, what my companions would say to a certain situation, or just say to each other. Everybody felt alive and invested in the world, they did'nt as much as setpieces, but more as actual people living there with their own stories.

Music and sound
I find myself singing the songs at work, and humming the tunes to myself. The music is wonderful and never really got dull, even the ambiance music was fitting and wonderful, I especially enjoyed "Across the Seven realms" and the Charn ambiance [EDIT]The Creepy Maiden[/EDIT] was strangely soothing. Heck I could recommend this game alone just because of the music. The sound design was wonderful as well, whenever I cast I spell the sounds that they made gave me a feeling of impact, the various sounds was around the world was nice to listen to as well, the waterfalls, the charn power rays, the stone pushing. Sounds that never got annoying and sounds that was satisfying to hear.

Bugs
Oh so many bugs luckily I only encountered one potential game breaking bug, where I initiated combat, and after the combat I was stationed out of bounds of the map, and I could not walk back in, so I was behind the "invisible walls", however I was lucky to navigate to a door that I could interact with so I could load into another map and that way get back on track. It feels very unpolished, the game is very playable but it is noticeable.

Overall feeling and conclusion
A very enjoyable package that sucks you into the world, and keeps you wanting to explore more, however you feel you can see the knitting and it starts to fall apart the further in you get. It feels as though it was rushed or perhaps the steam fell off? However the game is enjoyable throughout the whole game even with it's faults and it feels like this game could have been so much more if it had been given more time to develop certain areas, same feeling of polish like Skara Brae underground. But it feels as though it has been given alot of love this game, and it shines through, and I enjoyed my time and would recommend this game, but with a small caution.

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