Diecast #103: GoG Galaxy, Dragon Age Inquisition, Witcher Series

By Shamus Posted Monday May 18, 2015

Filed under: Diecast 149 comments

Last week Rutskarn told a tabletop gaming story about the one time he used poison to kill a whole hive of giant ants and break the campaign. A few people had questions about how this could possibly work, given certain rules that escape me at the moment. Rutskarn wanted to add this for the benefit of the curious rule-sticklers out there:

It is correct that a.) draining Intelligence is not lethal, and b.) it shouldn’t really work like that on ants anyway–except if the GM says it does. But my story was a simplification.

In short: what actually happened was I had my character perform an autopsy on a dead ant, got a great roll, and I asked the GM if using this anatomical survey I could formulate an effective ant poison out of materials or chemicals I knew of (knowing that ants are actually not super hard to kill, as insects go). It was him that prompted that an Int poison would kill them, either not knowing or just not caring how the rules worked.

From there, the crafting and delivery method were down to us. We jacked the dosage up high enough that even diluted from ant to ant it would remain lethal, which wasn’t hard, as the cost of the ingredients was actually very reasonable.

I don’t know what any of that means but it sounds really important. I’ll let you rule lawyers sort this out. Here’s the new episode:

Direct link to this episode.

Hosts: Shamus, Josh, Chris, Rutskarn.

Show notes:
1:00 We discuss the GoG Galaxy Client that just went into beta.

I talked a little bit about it in my column last week when I compared game clients, but here we give it some proper analysis.

18:06 Phrasing!

18:18 Chris is playing Dragon Age: Inquisition.

Yes, Mumbles has a Tumbles.

28:00 Fake mailbag question time!

Dear Diecast,

What is your favorite combat system from a third-person roleplaying game?


Little Baby Rutskarn

34:00 Josh talks about Witcher 2

Nope! We instantly sidetrack to talking about S.T.A.L.K.E.R.

37:00 Okay, NOW Josh will talk about Witcher 2 gameplay and tutorial.

45:00 Joshs talks about the Witcher 2 branching story.



From The Archives:

149 thoughts on “Diecast #103: GoG Galaxy, Dragon Age Inquisition, Witcher Series

  1. Ranneko says:

    It is always those little details that can spoil a story for people, the perils of knowing too much about a subject, even one as esoteric as D&D. Glad Rutskarn clarified, despite it being not even vaguely important.

    1. Matt Downie says:

      There is a distinction (vaguely important or not) to be made between the narratives of ‘clever player finds a cheating solution to short-cut the adventure’ and ‘GM generously allows a PC to do something that is not possible by the rules’.

      The Pathfinder RPG has a fairly comprehensive set of rules for everything, which can make it harder to come up with brilliant plans. Either it says, “No, you can’t summon the rhinoceros fifty feet up in the air and drop it on your enemy – it has to appear on a surface that can support it,” or it says, “you can feed the ants poison, but it will only make them a bit ill”.
      This reduces the risk of players finding an invincible combo that works against everything, but also reduces the opportunities to get creative.

      1. AileTheAlien says:

        Which is why it’s really fun when you have a GM who uses the rules as strong suggestions, but bends or breaks the written rules when it provides a better narrative, or is just plain old more fun! :)

        1. Zukhramm says:

          My first thought when hearing Rustkarn’s original story last week was that I’d just go “Nope! These are actually very intelligent ants!”, though I guess that’s why I might be unfit for the role.

          1. krellen says:

            A good GM should want players to succeed without making it obvious they are doing so.

            1. venatus says:

              exactly, when I’m DM’ing I like to pretend that I’m out to murder them but I usually feel worse then they do when their charecters are actually dying.

              I have the most fun when I see them coming up with creative solutions to stuff that should have been nearly impossible to handle with a more traditional method. so I’d probably be like rutskarn’s DM and let their plan work even if I was fudging the rules just a little bit.

            2. Zukhramm says:

              Nah, it’s about winning.

            3. Humanoid says:

              The idea was to reduce the ants’ intelligence so that the ants wouldn’t remember the rules and be able to dispute it to the DM.

      2. Hal says:

        It’s the “comprehensive” part that hurts things like this. A lot of people playing these systems tend to think, “If there’s a rule for it, I ought to follow it, or else the rules don’t mean anything.”

        For example, I was playing in a Star Wars (d20) game. In the first session, my wookie was being led away by slavers, and the rest of the party was going to (eventually) rescue me. During a bit of commotion, I saw a chance to escape and asked if I could grab my captors and crack their heads together. Seems like an iconic thing for a burly wookie to do, right? GM said no. There was an actual feat to do the thing I wanted to do, and I couldn’t take that feat until I was at least level 9 and had taken several prerequisite feats and talents in a relevant progression tree.

        I’ve often joked that for D&D 3.5 (and the other related d20 systems) you can’t scratch your nose without Dex 14+, three ranks in the scratching skill, and the first two feats of the “relieving an itch” feat tree.

        1. CliveHowlitzer says:

          That is why I liked systems like Numenera, that are much more open. The problem with those systems is sometimes I found it caused my players to be frozen by indecision. They felt if they couldn’t take a skill, they couldn’t do it. Years of playing comprehensive systems had destroyed their ability to be able to just act and do what they want creatively.

  2. krellen says:

    Yay, a Diecast! Just what I need for my 450 mile drive today.

    1. Shamus says:

      Safe travels, Krellen. By my calculations, you’ll still have about five hours of time to fill, but I’m glad we can help. I have no idea how you can stand to drive so much. I hope you enjoy driving, at least.

      1. krellen says:

        I mostly enjoy driving, especially when there aren’t many other cars on the road. I usually listen to the Diecast twice, when I’m in an area with limited radio options (once going, once coming back).

        The fact that about 40% of my pay is mileage reimbursement makes the whole thing a bit easier to take, too.

        Also: about 40% the distance is not on Interstates, so I’ll have to drive slower. Probably 7 hours driving today.

        1. Abnaxis says:

          I find your maths disturbing…

          By Shamus’s estimate, 450/6 = 75 MPH average? That’s pretty quick, for an average speed.

          Even 7 hours by rural highways is 65 MPH. That’s what I would’ve expected Shamus’s estimate to be 0.o

          1. AileTheAlien says:

            75 mph (120 km/h) isn’t that quick, really. Highways up here are 110 km/h (68 mph) limit. :)

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            He does say that 60% of his driving is on interstates though,so its not really that problematic.Even if he drives 40mph when in rural areas,he would only require 90mph average on the interstates which is slower than how fast I drive on the highways in my country,which are way worse than those in the usa.

          3. krellen says:

            I drove for 7.5 hours today, including time stopped to get gas and buy snacks, for a total of 470 miles, making my average speed 62.6666666 mph.

            If anyone is curious, I used one tank of gas for an mpg of 45.89 (I drive a 2007 Honda Civic Hybrid).

    2. Jokerman says:

      That is over half the size of my country, and i feel sick after 5 miles… you are the terminator in my eyes.

      1. krellen says:

        My state is roughly the size of Germany, with the population of Munich spread over that whole area. Most Europeans I interact with cannot comprehend how empty a place I live in because it’s just too much outside their own experience.

        Though today I am travelling to the neighbouring state.

        1. Kylroy says:

          What state?

          1. krellen says:

            I live in New Mexico. Today I am going to Arizona (or more correctly, the Navajo Nation, which is only sort of in a state.)

            1. John says:

              Ouch. In 1998, I drove coast-to-coast, California to Virginia. My car broke down daily for four days on the stretch between Las Vegas and Amarillo. I have sworn never to set foot in either Arizona or New Mexico ever again, because I know that the second I do I will start flashing back to the smell of boiling coolant and I will curl up into a little ball and cry.

              So, two things. First, I salute your bravery. Second, I salute your modern automobile. (I was in a 1987 Ford. No one should ever be in a 1987 Ford.)

              1. krellen says:

                Are you using “stretch between Las Vegas and Amarillo” as a euphamism for the states of New Mexico and Arizona, or were you taking a really weird path through New Mexico?

                (For reference: there is a Las Vegas, New Mexico.)

                1. Humanoid says:

                  Now I know why the other one has been renamed New Vegas then.

                2. John says:

                  I was referring to Las Vegas, Nevada. I had to stop there to visit my in-laws.

    3. RTBones says:

      I regularly drive or train approximately 300 miles r/t, and the Diecast is always pleasant to be with during the journey.

    4. The Rocketeer says:

      I’ve traveled out that way before. Watch out for tumbleweeds! They travel in packs and feel no fear.

      1. krellen says:

        I believe my tumbleweed kill count today was 4.

  3. NoneCallMeTim says:

    Is it me or is the audio really bad quality? Having trouble listening it on the online player, tried downloading it which was slightly better, but still cutting out.

    The intro is fine, but when people are talking, the sound quality fluctuates.

    1. Shamus says:

      Yeah, the audio was a disaster this week. Josh has a constant thumping in his microphone that we can’t figure out. Rutskarn and I both had fans on that I couldn’t completely silence.

  4. DeadlyDark says:

    Actually, you can “import” already installed games to library. Select game in library, More-Manage-Import folder.

  5. Daemian Lucifer says:

    A big advantage gog has is that they are just a store.All the others are stores attached to a publisher/developer.

    1. Artur CalDazar says:

      Like say CD Projekt ?

      1. Squirly says:

        They don’t treat it like their own software peddler, though, the way EA requires Origin for all it’s new games or Ubisoft software comes addled with Uplay malware.

        1. Zukhramm says:

          Meh. I don’t understand how people can complain about EA’s games requiring Origin while happily going along with Valve’s game only being available on Steam.

          1. Cinebeast says:

            Because Origin sucks and Steam is tolerable. That’s pretty much all there is to it.

          2. Corpital says:

            How many games did Valve release on Steam in the last two years? How many did EA release on Origin in the last two years? See? They are totally different!

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:


  6. Ringwraith says:

    If you’re starting with STALKER, probably want to start with Call of Pripyat, because it’s the best game out of the box, it’s actually good in that state. Also helps it gives you an eh assault rifle and a decent suit of armour to start with, instead of a leather jacket and a pistol, and has some properly worked-out side quests.

    The Witcher 2 is a rolling simulator as you can do it infinitely, but the combat’s definitely ropey early on, and the game gets significantly easier as you go on. You have to be careful with attack animations as they can’t be cancelled easily, but I don’t remember having much problem, other than sometimes running out of stamina (vigor) for casting signs and blocking.
    Getting the Whirl sword skill basically makes it feel right, as it makes sword swings actually damage others nearby and not just your target.
    Although even in their version 2.0 patch did add things like not making you so don’t stagger nearly as easily. Still hard though.
    They also added an actual tutorial which exists completely outside of the main game, quickly goes through all the basic options you have in combat, and then shifts to the main game. They did take out the option to talk about the dragon as the first thing, just so you get the idea the things you talk about are playable flashbacks. The reverse difficulty curve’s still present, just not quite as high to start with.

    It’s still a hard game to drop into though, as it sort-of assumes you know about people’s relationships from the first, and it’s really dense and you have to keep up and sometimes delve into journal entries to try and piece what you can together.
    I also like how the third act is still a bit different depending on your chosen act II.
    Although Geralt is mostly just pinged around by politicking, and that’s kind of his life in a nutshell. In fact the only relevant plot point that carries over from the first game to the second is that King Foltest is attacked by a Witcher assassin in an unrelated cutscene at the end. Geralt saves him from that simply by happening to be there, and gets dragged into being his personal bodyguard by the time of the second game as a result.

    The third game is explicitly about Geralt staying out of things, as a war’s already happened and ravaged a wide area, and he’s basically just looking for his supposedly-lost adopted daughter amidst the leftover chaos.

  7. DeadlyDark says:

    I have same experience with STALKER as Josh. Shooting is terrible indeed. I just stopped and uninstalled the game sometime later.

    As for Witcher 2. I do love accent on politics in games. It’s so rare to see, so that was really refreshing and even complexness of the situations is even better for me.

    1. Jarppi says:

      Shooting in vanilla Stalker is horrible but it can be fixed with mods. It is years since I last played it so I don’t remember name of the mod, but there was some weapon mod that made the trick. It got rid of or siginificantly decreased the bullet spread of the weapons and amped up the damage so that just about every human enemy died in 2-3 shots in torso. Including the player characeter. Of course you could (and propably should) negate that with artifacts that multiplied your health so that you didn’t die ten times in every single battle.

      It is interesting how that kind of small change to the weapon stats really changed the game. Without the mod combat was really annoying. With the mod every encounter become extremely tense and they could be over within seconds. It made the combat fun. It was still difficult but it was fair this time.

      1. Yeah, I found Shadow of Chernobyl very frustrating until I installed the STALKER Complete and Realistic Weapons mods. One of them (I forget which) greatly improved the accuracy of all of the weapons and made the SMG in particular much more usable.

      2. Zagzag says:

        It’s been a while since I played any Stalker games, so I may be completely wrong here, but I seem to recall that turning up the difficulty actually reduced the amount of damage foes could take as well as how much you could survive (at least in Clear Sky, my personal favourite). Playing on the highest difficulty with no mods sounds a lot like you’re describing, everyone dies from a few shots, so since you’re almost always outnumbered combats become about making good use of the terrain or sneaking up on foes to get the advantage of surprise.

        1. Jarppi says:

          That’s true. However, even at the highest difficulty unmodded game was annoying to play due to inaccurate and not-so-powerful weapons. That mod which name I can’t remember fixed these issues, even if you still had to play at the highest difficulty level for these modifications to work.

          Also, a protip if you (or anyone reading this) are going to play Stalker games (modded or not): Guns have a semi-auto mode for a reason. Use it.

  8. Grudgeal says:

    Galaxy apparently has an automatic “search for existing games folders and integrate them into the client” function… It just doesn’t work yet for most of its games. It managed to find Don’t Starve on its own accord but so far I’ve had to integrate all my other games manually, which involves re-downloading large patches of files so far.

  9. MichaelGC says:

    I went Iorveth’s path first, so I’d not twigged that about the dragon. Yes, I can certainly see that that might be a problem… Plenty remains confusing if you go with Iorveth first, of course – and I’m with Josh in that I’d personally prefer a bit more obvious explaining* at the end, there, but I do wonder if the confusing way it does play out wasn’t a bit intentional. It seems to fit the character, in that Geraldo isn’t the One True Something (for once) there to sort all this out for everyone, and he doesn’t really understand it all either.

    I’m not certain if that’s what they were going for, though – I guess Witcher 3 should provide additional evidence. If it turns out Geraldo is actually the Long Lost Something and he ends up sorting it all out for everyone, then no.

    *What might be cool is if you got more explained to you if you’d shown an interest in that sort of thing during the game – asking questions about politics, or whatnot. Actually are there games which have done this sort of thing? Might be a bit difficult to do well, I’d imagine.

    1. DeadlyDark says:

      I can think only about Morrowind, but I can not be 100% certain. I played the game, but not thorough (cause 10 years later and I am still not sold to TES game design approach, though I admit, Morrowind miles ahead from Oblivion and that was reasonably enjoyable) and read some things. There are certainly seed of it in that, there are different factions, which are in odds with each other and you can’t be member of every one of them, so there are still some requirements for the maneuvering between them. Well, that’s what I heard, anyway.

  10. Darren says:

    I’m going to have to listen to this after work, but I just want to say that I am pretty down on the Witcher 2’s branching story.

    There is no reason to side with Iorveth. None. Geralt was framed for murdering the Tymerian king. He wants to find the murderer, if only to clear his name. Roche wants to find the murderer. Iorveth knows the murderer, but only in as much as the murderer approached him and their goals aligned. He has no reason to pursue the assassin, and indeed his path has Geralt mostly getting over-involved in a non-human/pro-equality rebellion that has nothing to do with his stated objective. Roche’s path has unrelated quests as well, but they are the result of Geralt getting caught by the whims of a king (which, appropriately, is why he was in a position to be framed in the first place).

    The Witcher 2’s branching plot thus allows the player to decide if they want to pursue the narrative or ignore it for a third of the game, which is a deeply weird decision to make.

    EDIT: Oh, and the Iorveth side of the game dispenses with the Game of Thrones-lite vibe that the series touts so often. We get shape-shifting, intelligent dragons–one of the worst fantasy tropes–lame, mocking Lord of the Rings jokes that imply the game is so much more realistic and believable, and “lesbomancy,” AKA let’s stop the game on at least two occasions so Geralt can act like a sex offender and leer at lesbians like they only exist for straight mens’ amusement.

    For my money, the best branching narrative that I’ve experienced is Tactics Ogre: Let Us Cling Together, and anyone who wants to praise the Witcher’s use of the technique needs to go play that 20 year old game before saying anything else.

    1. JRT says:

      Interestingly enough, CD Projeckt was very surprised at that interpretation–they were really surprised that people seemed more sympathetic to Roche instead of Iorveth. From what I experienced, the Iorveth path seemed to have the happiest ending, IMO. I felt just like Zoltan did when I tried Roche’s path on my second playthru.

      Perhaps it’s because there’s a lot of stuff about his personality that needs to be explained in the books–which in this country we’ve only got 2 novels out of 5 and 1 short story collection out of 2. The books supposedly have humor and several in-jokes as well. It’s not just meant to be a super-serious grimdark GoT clone. I do agree that some of the jokes in the game go overboard–I could use less LoTR jokes, but they do this throughout such as the Operator (Fallout 2), Altair (Assassin’s Creed), etc.

      1. Darren says:

        It’s not that I demand grim and gritty realism. It’s just that Roche’s path is the more logical, integrated, and satisfying within the context of the game, whereas Iorveth’s path feels like the second act to an entirely different story.

        1. Humanoid says:

          It might be as simple as, y’know, Roche arresting and torturing you in the intro. You could sort of view it as a similar situation to the Skyrim intro, if you squint, with Roche playing the Imperial role.

          That said, I did side with Roche in my core playthrough, and after playing both sides also feel like it fits better (though it’s objectively less content). This may or may not have anything to do with my fondness for his turban.

    2. Grudgeal says:

      Iorweth has (initially) at least a reason to lead you to the assassin: The assassin (Letho) killed one of his lieutenants and has been working behind his back. The rest of his storyline does derail completely after that though, what with Triss and everything, but I’d argue that’s as much a problem for both sides of the coin. No matter where you end up in act 2, Triss and the assassin is on the other side of the mist somewhere and you just have to help the side you’re on while working on crossing it.

      What I think CD project failed at was selling the benefit of aiding Iorweth versus betraying the “in-group” in Roche. It’s the same thing as in Skyrim only in reverse: Most players aren’t (initially) going to be very disposed towards helping an Imperium who just tried to decapitate you versus your fellow prisoner stormcloaks, while Roche saved you from execution, believes your story, and continues to help you while Iorweth tried to have you perforated.

      While ultimately Iorweth is working towards a better goal (trying to save the disenfranchised versus revenge/preserving state power) and I think his act 2 story is much stronger (seriously, “dethmold”?! And who’s that bearded git and why should I care for his local politics anyway?), most players won’t see that at the time you have to make a choice. They’ll just see “reasonable bloke who’s been helping me for the last two hours” versus “welsh-named git who tried to kill me that I had to work with all of a sudden for no reason”.

      1. Darren says:

        You’re exactly right, it’s just not setup effectively. Your first opportunity to side with Iorveth is to give him a weapon while you are fighting him. It’s a baffling choice to make. There really needed to be a series of quests in Act I allowing you to interact with Iorveth or at least learn enough positive things about him. I don’t think there’s a single character you meet in Flotsam who has anything good to say about Iorveth or his methods.

        1. Ringwraith says:

          To be fair it’s because you asked him to play along with a situation where he needs to be disarmed for it to work, so you both benefit, if you don’t give him a weapon and punch him out, he is suitably miffed if you talk to him afterwards, saying how you kinda went back on the deal.

    3. ColeusRattus says:

      The branching plot and siding with Iorveth makes more sense if you know the lore,a s in read all the novels and stories and played the first game, as it should make you more sympathetic to the S’coiatel cause. Also, even though Roche helps you, his people still very much want to string you up for regicide.

      The main thing I disliked about the Witcher 2 was, that unlime the first game, you cannot remain neutral at all. In Part one, it was difficult, but possible, but sadly, they forced a decision on you.

      Still, I liked it very much, and I did like the combat :P

      1. Darren says:

        I haven’t read all the books, but I did play through most of the first game. I understand the Scoi’atel perspective, which is, at best, a kind of doomed nobility, going out guns blazing in the face of impossible odds.

        That’s fine, but the game doesn’t do anything to suggest that Iorveth is doing any good, even on principle. The dwarven bookseller notes that Iorveth just inspires retaliation against the law abiding non-humans of Flotsam, and the elves outside the wall don’t seem to be in favor of his actions, either. The few Scoi’atel you interact with really are doing nefarious things, like luring guards to gruesome deaths, and that can’t do anything other than undermine relations between humans and non-humans. And if you do side with Saskia, everyone talks about how much of a violent, counterproductive nutjob he is and how it would be better if the rebellion weren’t tainted by his terrorist activities.

        Iorveth seems like an overwhelmingly negative influence as opposed to Roches’s shade of gray. I think that makes him the weaker choice any way you look at it.

    4. shiroax says:

      Geralt has at least 1 reason to side with Iorveth: fuck Roche.

      Roche saw Geralt save the King several times, all he needed to do was alibi him out and all is good. Instead he gets him into his vendetta against Scoia’tel, and when the kingslayer is almost captured he puts his agenda first and goes for double or nothing and loses the kingslayer and Triss, and then he has the nerve to say you put his guys in danger (that’s later tho).

      In addition, Iorveth has a better idea where Letho is going and better connections in the area.

      I don’t see why anybody wouldn’t kick Roche in the dick, let alone side with him.

      Fuck Roche.

  11. Thomas says:

    Pillars of Eternity has the best top down RPG combat. It’s the only Real Time With Pause I’ve ever enjoyed.

    It’s just _super_ slick and every click feels good. More than that they have a system where once you engage melee combat the characters fighting each other root into place (unless they want to take massive damage). In Planescape: Torment/Baldur’s Gate you’d end up with this huge mess of characters running after each other all over the place and you’d try to protect your ranged guys but people would just run after them…

    In Pillars of Eternity you attack their guys with your melee guys, rooting them into place and you’re ranged guys are protected and your rogue can sneak around for the flank.

    1. Trix2000 says:

      Except for shades which just say “Screw your engagement, I have teleports!”

    2. Humanoid says:

      To be honest, while I’m not very far into the game at all, I’m probably at the point where I’ll drop the combat down to easy. It’s better than the Infinite Engine game combat it draws from, but I never liked the IE games mechanically – they were good games in spite of the engine, not because of it.

      The turn-based KS RPG generation – I’m thinking Divinity, Wasteland and Shadowrun here – have their flaws, but I think I prefer the combat of each of them over PoE’s.

      1. Thomas says:

        Pillars of Eternity honestly feels balanced for easy. I played on easy and there was still plenty of challenge, in particular no-ones stats changes on the difficulty modes in PoE (except the highest) so boss monsters are just as hard to fight. What changes is the types and number of mooks you have to fight on top of all that.

    3. ehlijen says:

      I disagree with your opening statement. It is a good game, and as far as pausable realtime combat goes it’s good, but the best top down RPG combat? No.

      Give me turn based. Give me to the chance to see and experience every command I give and its results. In realtime, even pausable, I never truly get a feel for how good a move is because I have trouble separating it from the other ten things happening at the same time. Particle effects make it even worse. But in XCOM, JA2 or Atari’s Temple of Elemental Evil every action gives you feedback without clutter.

      And ToEE even has a similar attack of opportunity system (though sadly that game needs you to learn DnD3.5 first and then unlearn parts of it before you can succeed well). Still, once mastered, it is a more fun system, I find.

    4. IFS says:

      I haven’t played PoE yet so for me the answer would also be BG2, however I want to mention Divinity: Original Sin as it had a really interesting and creative combat system where you could do some really crazy things. It did seem to suffer from magic being the most useful in combat because it could do all the really crazy stuff, while my melee characters were more about stunning enemies and keeping them in place than actually doing the heavy lifting. Wasteland 2 is fun but a little simple, the older Fallouts were good (though the inability to direct companions always annoys me in those games), but BG2 is really hard to beat for me.

      1. Humanoid says:

        I think D:OS’s might vs magic balance actually inverts as you progress though. I find that physical damage is ramping up a lot fasting than magic is as I approach the last act. Doesn’t help that the top tier magic spells are almost universally rubbish though, some aren’t even worth buying.

        Then again balance is probably the game’s weakest point. Fine by me though, because it’s eminently playable once you naturally sort through the useless abilities to find the good ones.

        1. IFS says:

          Really? That’s like the opposite of how most RPGs go, with magic becoming astronomically powerful while warriors and rogues just get marginally better at stabbing things. I should probably get back to playing the game at some point so I can see how it works out for myself.

          1. Humanoid says:

            Physical damage builds get an additional scaling factor that magic users don’t get, which is the base damage of their weapon. With magic, a better weapon does nothing other than the 1 or 2 points of INT it may happen to have on it.

            A single extra level on a weapon increases its damage by 10% or so, while on the other hand going up multiple levels on a wizard’s staff can give literally no benefit whatsoever to your spells.

            I also feel that enemy magic resistances have a much greater impact on your damage than enemy armour does in general.

    5. Zak McKracken says:

      How come nobody’s mentioned Neverwinter Nights yet?

      I played Baldur’s Gate and a bit Baldur’s Gate II, and found that NWN was an improvement on them, at least in terms of the way combat worked. Other bits of the game I may remember more fondly than I would if I had played it recently, but in terms of combat, that was pretty good, I think.

      On the running-while-fighting topic: In NWN your opponent gets an attack of opportunity if you try to break away from hand-to-hand combat, and that can be really painful. Seems like a good solution to me. Doesn’t make it impossible but discourages it in a way that makes sense.

    6. The Other Matt K says:

      Strangely enough, I felt the exact opposite – the PoE combat system constantly made me consider quiting the game, despite never having a problem with its predecessors or similar systems. Compared to many of those others, it just felt incredibly fiddly and hard to control. Early on, many encounters were extremely hard without using stupid positioning tricks, and all it would take would be one small mistake that would spiral into a party wipe.

      Whereas later on, the complexity stopped mattering as the best solution was to spam debilitating spells that shut the enemies down and let the party kill everything without any thinking required.

      It just felt like I spent the entire game struggling not to best the enemies, but to endure the combat system. Whereas something like Divinity: Original Sin, on the other hand, felt incredibly rewarding to play. It still required some study to figure out how all the pieces fit together (what with the spell-combo system and such), but once you did, the combat moved smoothly. Whereas even when I was at full-power in PoE, the amount of micro-managing required felt more like homework than entertaining gameplay.

  12. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I think the antipathy that people have for DA III’s combat actually validates the backlash against “no combat mode”. Bioware is increasingly using combat as time filler between the narrative parts that they really care about instead of an holistic part of an RPG. They’re including it begrudgingly.

    Instead of the game world being a place that you’re exploring where combat and talking are both things that can happen in that space, they’re designing games with combat mode and talking mode, with areas designed for one of the two. And one of those is clearly favored when looking at the energy that is put toward it.

    It’s a design philosophy that I’ve lost all interest in, and it’s something that would have to be reversed for me to ever spend time or money on another Bioware game.

    On The Witcher 2:

    I hated it. It doesn’t help that the game doesn’t open up for so long. First you’ve got the tutorial, then the prison escape, then the long fight after the prison escape- by the time I got through all of that my patience had been drained too thoroughly to keep going.

    And aside from the combat being janky, the controls with mouse & keyboard were horrific. You couldn’t click on a chest to open it, you had to maneuver your character in front of it with no clear indication of when he’s in the right position, then press a button to open it. It felt like a controller lazily mapped onto K&M.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Anyone else find it funny how Josh constantly berates others about their pronunciation of nevada and compass,and yet he pronounces cd as seedy?

    1. Forty says:


      I see no problem with this.

    2. Humanoid says:

      What is a seedy, if not just a slice of a shffere?

    3. Josh says:

      Is there a… particular way I’m supposed to pronounce it?

      1. Syal says:

        Like ‘cud’.

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Supposed to?Nah,Im not a compass nazi as you.But everyone else pronounces it as ceedee,without accenting the cee,thus making your seedy pronunciation weird.

      3. DIN aDN says:

        “Disque compact”, I believe. Nyah :P

    4. Zak McKracken says:

      No joke: I listened to the compass discussion (for anyone not in the know: that was in some oooold Diecast) four times over and then decided that all of you were just trolling me because I could not hear any differences in pronunciation.

      “CD” is usually emphasized on the “D” in German, so that’s what I choose. I’ve no idea how it would be pronounced in Poland, though.

      1. Warclam says:

        You can’t tell the difference between “calm” and “cum”? That must get awkward.

        It’s “see-DEE” where I live too.

  14. Daemian Lucifer says:

    18:06 Phrasing!

    I was thinking the same thing.Seriously,have we stopped doing phrasing for some reason?

  15. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So should we be calling it gogg now?

    1. AileTheAlien says:

      Hey, I thought of that first! Don’t steal my IP! I’ll sue you! :P

  16. Zukhramm says:

    Rustkarn: “What is your favorite combat system from a third-person roleplaying game?”
    Someone: “Maybe X.”
    Rutskarn: “Doesn’t count!”
    Someone: “Alright, Y.”
    Rutskarn: “Doesn’t count either!”
    Someone: “Z?”
    Rutskarn: “Nope!”
    Someone: “Hmm…”
    Rustkarn: “What is your favorite combat system from a third-person roleplaying game that plays exactly like Baldur’s Gate?”
    Someone: “Baldur’s Gate 2, then.”
    Rustkarn: “Wow, that’s my favorite too!”

    Also: The issue I see with Galaxy is that I already have a game library, download and update managing software, it’s called Steam. I’m not going to abandon that one, not for its superiority but because I’ve already got loads of games on it. And I’m not going to start running multiple at the same time.

    1. AhiyA says:

      A significant fraction of gamers don’t use Steam or have games from multiple stores. For them, a DRM-free client is a great option.

      Galaxy isn’t a DRM client so there’s no need to run it while playing, unlike Steam.

      1. Zukhramm says:

        something something neither is Steam, technically

        Good for them, but as I said in my post: I.

        1. Humanoid says:

          My motivation is the opposite, I see all those games I have on platform and worry about the implications of their market dominance, therefore opting instead to go with a competitor. Trading off a bit of convenience for the sake of the overall health of the industry is a worthwhile sacrifice, I feel.

      2. tmtvl says:

        What no love for Lutis?
        Oh wait, right, Linux…

        Yeah, we’re lucky to have something as awesome as Lutris.

      3. John says:

        I have both a Steam account and a GOG account. Today, I bought a game on GOG (albeit not through Galaxy) that I think was actually slightly cheaper on Steam, just to avoid dealing with Steam. I do not care about achievements. I seldom play multi-player games. I almost never play newly-released games, so I almost never need newly-released patches. I like the Steam Store, but the client has very little to offer me, and the idea that it runs in the background, contributing nothing, as I play my game irks me.

        In other words, I really like the idea of a client that I can set aside and ignore when it is not being useful.

    2. Hitch says:

      I found it interesting that Josh played Balder’s Gate with an all mage party. When I played I tried several mages, got fed up with all of them and eventually settled on no mages allowed.

      1. Merlin says:

        I haven’t actually played the BG games yet (I know, I know) but as a rule of thumb, D&D somewhat favors warriors over mages at low levels, but vastly favors mages at high levels*. An all-mage party would have a fairly rough time of things early on, but would quickly become unstoppable.

        *D&D warrior classes generally gain consistent, small bonuses to accuracy and damage when they level up, and start with more HP & better defense. Mages start flimsy and can only cast a couple weak-ish spells, a couple times per day – but as they level up, they get more daily casts, plus more powerful spells, plus their weaker spells often have some scaling built into them. Essentially, it’s linear versus exponential growth.

  17. Mumbles says:

    hello fans of diecast. my tumblr is mostly cute boys, wrestling cute boys, funny pokemon and stupid things that make me mad.

    and more cute boys. enjoy!

    1. Shamus says:

      Also cute animals. I’d say the ratio of animals-to-boys is nearly even.

      1. Humanoid says:

        Nothing about the consumption of either?

  18. Wulfgar says:

    I liked Witcher 1 fighting mechanics. After unlocking few combo levels it changes into some sort rhythm based combat. Sure you repeat same one all the time, but it left nice.

    1. Eskel says:

      I too liked it more than Wither 2. I prefer RPG combat which depends more on character skills then mine (which are poor :-) Witcher 1 combat wasn’t very intuitive from the start but after a while it felt quite fluid.
      Interestingly, I found it better on hard difficulty, where you don’t have icons for timing and have to actually watch Geralts actions. It was easier for me to get the right this way.

  19. BlackFox says:

    Here’s a thing about Galaxy it looks like no one has mentioned yet – it appears that the distribution is peer-to-peer. I’m at work at the moment, so I can’t tell you exactly where to get to this setting, but there was a setting that controlled the number of settings you would allow. I was consistently getting about 2MiB down, which is at least twice as much as I consistently get from Steam. This while streaming Netflix, too.

  20. 4th Dimension says:

    Oh I love the Witcher 2. Though the difficulty was wierd, I tried it at launch and couldn’t get through the tutorial, because the dragon kept roasting my ass. But using Enhanced Edition I had a lot less trouble, alltohugh I did use a mod that reduced the weight of all items to 0 just so I don’t ned to sell anything, because you never know when something might be usefull.

    About the story, I adore the dev team for being so brave with branching. And even on Iorveth’s path you can get blindsided by things you don’t know, like the events at the Conclave if Triss is not present. I kind of felt sorry for Roche for dumping him. He even helps you once you get captured while infiltrating the Kingdom camp at the end of the II act. Also I adored the fact that even the “bad guys” are never moustache twirling bad. For example the King attacking the lands of the Freedom people, you get the feeling even though he is a bastard, if he succeds the future histories might sing him praises for his wise rule of his country.

    In the end I even let the assasin go. He’s a Witcher like me and was doing it to help refound his Witcher clan, and knowing how often creepy crawlers kill normals the Witchers are certanly necessary.

  21. Christopher says:

    I’m amazed someone brought up the fanservice conversation again. Bioware is an interesting example for me because they’re the only games I’ve played where I date men. Basically this is because of me playing a woman in their games. But what it resulted in was that in Origins I became a women’s romance novel protagonist. My heart was torn between the pathetic and exciting bad boy rogue, Zevran, and the sweet prince who covered his heart of gold behind jokes, Alistair. In Dragon Age Inquisition, I ended up hooking up with the manly, one-eyed, Homestuck troll-looking man who adores his soldiers like a father, and I probably loved him the most of all. This might have happened whichever gender I picked. Everyone in Bioware games look ugly anyway, so just going for personality seems best. Or Tali.

    Dragon Age Inquisition’s combat is better than Origins in my eyes, because it is fully real time. In origins, you’d be in front of an opponent, they wound up their axe, and even if you ran two miles away it would still hit you because you were in front of them when they started it. Instead of stats determining your attack and defense values or unlocking abilities, they would decide if hits would land or not, but you still moved your character around directly in real time and hit the face buttens to launch the attacks that were on cooldowns. I understand the PC was probably better for this style of combat than my console was, both because of the abstractions of clicking to move and the camera that allowed one to zoom out farther. Considering some of the most popular mods apparently remove dungeons I don’t believe it was that much better.

    DAI’s combat system is still not good enough, the animations are all weird and it’s too erratic, floaty and odd to feel good as an action game. But I liked it more than Origins’. I wouldn’t mind a no-combat mode if it’s in a Bioware game, because they don’t seem to get any better at combat and there’s so much of it. Either give it up or actually make it good. I hope more of the Diecast cast play through it! It’s a shame to complain about the Hinterlands still when there’s so many more interesting things to criticise about the plot further in. It’s a very evil corruption/mind control/possession-heavy story.

    (The discussion about the combat in isometric western PC RPGs is the closest listening to the Diecast has been to listening to a foreign language I only vaguely know.)

    1. IFS says:

      Inquisition’s combat really suffers from trying to be an action game, which doesn’t seem to be something Bioware has enough experience with (that or they just wanted to make it both an action game and a tactical game like Origins, and stopped halfway between either). The enemies don’t have good enough tells for their attacks to use the defensive abilities effectively a lot of the time, and in the multiplayer especially archers and wraiths are complete bastards because of how hard it is to avoid their attacks (arrows being just shy of hitscan, and wraith bolts actively homing in on you). Its still a fun combat system in my opinion, it just needed to polish its action side more or give it up and focus more on giving lots of tactical options. The first multiplayer dlc does do some pretty interesting things with the system they have set up, so in that area they do seem to be working to expand on what they have.

      1. IFS says:

        Ah I completely forgot about my other big issue with Inquisition’s combat (likely because I’ve mainly been playing its multiplayer lately) which is how little you have in the way of changing companion AI. In Origins and 2 you had a whole list of options, could set up conditions for various abilities, etc. In Inquisition you basically have ‘use this ability more or less’ and ‘use more or less potions’. The companion AI is basically competent most of the time so its not the biggest issue on normal difficulty, but the moment you go higher you find yourself constantly having to pause battles to tell your archers and mages to not just stand there while enemies attack them.

        1. Thomas says:

          That’s definitely my #1 gripe. I don’t understand why they couldn’t use FFXII’s gambit system like the previous games did.

    2. Thomas says:

      Having played Dragon Age: Origins on PC and Dragon Age: Inquisition on consoles, I did end up preferring Inquisition but I’ll happily admit neither is great.

      DA:I’s combat does noticeably improve as you level up a bit and have some actual abilities but I imagine it’s never 100% fun with a mouse.

      Also DA:I is just balanced in a more fun way. More classes have use and the game isn’t so punishingly hard that you have to care even about the trash mobs. In DA:I you can actually use wacky party combinations just because you like the people in them.

      1. Christopher says:

        I didn’t miss being able to change the party members’ AI that much. I played on hard(Because a review told me to, saying it was overly easy), and unless an enemy outleveled me by a few levels(I which case I would never win without cheesing) my party members always did good enough on their own. The final boss and the various dragons have been the only points in which I paused the game a lot and took direct control of whoever needs to do something. Although for dragons, that “something” is usually Vivienne hitting the dragon with her magic sword ability and gaining lots of magic shield every time she hits it. For the final boss, it involved having three people fight it close-up while my mage with the “revival/full HP in an area-“spell waited behind a rock on the other side of the map until needed. I dealt with being underleveled for a boss at a ball the same way. Something knocked the mage through a locked gate, so he could just stand their reviving.

        The “cheese or go grind a bit” options never feel more fun to me than it would have been to just have a responsive combat system. Like IFS says, the enemies don’t have good tells. Defensive abilities also feel lacking to me. As a dual wielding rogue, the dodge move is ridiculous. I was expecting maybe a roll, to dodge out of the way but stay in the thick of things, but what it does is throw you a long distance. It helps when some demons do are of effect stuff, but it doesn’t let you punish them for it since it takes you so far away from them. I wonder if I could have both a dagger and a bow and arrow equipped to deal with close and long range midcombat. Kingdoms of Amalur and Dragon’s Dogma had those options, but I’m not sure about Inquisition. It might be that in Inquisition, being a knight of some sort is the better option. I did try a few multiplayer matches as a warrior dwarf one night, and it’s not as overwhelming with fewer and more human enemies, a few hits take you out and you have shield/armor. I wouldn’t say it “feels” good, but it’s something.

        1. IFS says:

          Once you get war cry and walking fortress the Legionnaire becomes one of the best tanks in the multiplayer (possibly beaten by the arcane warrior, which is the one class i have yet to unlock there). That said those early levels when you start the multiplayer up are a grind, you need better equipment to start making progress (and for some characters enough levels to get their good abilities) though in general I think the multiplayer does feel pretty good once you get to that point and some of the characters have really fun ability combinations that don’t exist in the single player (for example glitterbombing with the alchemist, that is throwing loads of elemental mines through use of a flask of fire to negate stamina consumption/cooldown, which is sadly more fun than useful but still entertaining).

    3. Cinebeast says:

      I’m going to throw my hat in the ring too and say I’m surprised to hear so many Diecast members say they abhor Inquisition’s combat system. It really is the best of any of the Dragon Ages, by a country mile. Oh well.

      Perhaps it’s a console vs PC thing. I’m a controller type at heart and played DA:I on the PS4, so I had fun. In addition to the combat, the game also has some of the best characters Bioware has ever produced, so I’m glad that Campster is giving the game a second chance.

      1. Sam says:

        I must be some strange anomaly then, everyone talks about how terribad Origins combat was but I enjoyed it and hated Inquisition combat. What really tore me up was their weird new “streamlined” skills. It hurt a lot for me because I love playing mages and Origins gave me four whole schools each with four lines of spells. It really felt like I was actually specializing my mage to attack in certain ways. Generic fireball mage from the Primal school? Or am I a healer from the Creation school? Debuff spells from the Entropy? Toward the end it didn’t really matter, ’cause if you weren’t a mage in massive armor and a sword and shield Arcane Warrior with ridiculous evasion throwing Blood Magic at the enemies that are far away, stabbing melee enemies that get past your team, and Mana Clashing other mages then you are objectively playing the game wrong.

        Then Inquisition, which I jumped into without playing DA2, took all that away and replaced it with standard generic mage skills. Inferno, light enemies on fire with impunity cause your basic skill is an “AOE” just big enough to target two side by side humans. Also, a bunch of junk you’re never going to use because it’s way too fiddly and situational. Storm, was okay I guess. I just never felt like I ever had any “oomph” to my spells. Winter, exactly the same as Inferno. Just blue. And of course, any mage had to use Spirit so they had the barrier to protect them from their tiny HP pools.

        Of course if you’re speccing in Spirit might as well use the specialization that makes it even better, Knight-Enchanter. Which incidentally let me solo High Dragons that were several levels higher than me because Companion AI somehow lost the ability to move away from the near instant death AOE between Origins and Inquisition.

  22. Andy_Panthro says:

    I’ve been really enjoying Shadowrun Returns (and the Dragonfall expansion), and the combat in that is very good. Turn based, very similar to new XCOM, and allows for quite a lot of variety depending on your party and character builds.

    Only just started Pillars of Eternity, but it certainly feels very much like Baldur’s Gate 2 so far. Not keen on the voice acting in the very first area, but that’s a minor gripe. (the main reason I haven’t got far is that I’m testing out a few different characters to see which one I prefer, I think I’ll end up going for druid but not sure).

    1. Humanoid says:

      I don’t mind it, but having played XCOM first, it makes the missing elements all the more glaring. Don’t get me wrong, I neither expect or desire an RPG to have a combat system as deep as a tactical squad game, but I really missed being able to take cover either side of a door, for example. On the other hand, it’s fair that cover is nowhere near as important, so it’s not a crippling omission.

      1. Andy_Panthro says:

        It may be lacking a little with the cover mechanic, but I think it gives you many more options with your squad. Obviously being a different genre gives it more leeway in certain aspects, like character customisation, but this can lead to big changes in how you approach a fight. I never felt quite the same way about XCOM (but again, it’s a different sort of game at heart).

    2. Wide And Nerdy says:

      Its never world class but the voice acting gets better after the first area. Though it also gets more sparse. Quite a bit of the dialog is unvoiced which suits me fine.

      1. Andy_Panthro says:

        I’m glad there’s not too much VA, it can be distracting if it’s not good enough. I’m quite happy to read instead of listen!

  23. Rion says:

    Okay, if Josh is interested in the quick* and dirty run down version of who helped kill the kings and why, here is one (MASSIVE SPOILERS OF COURSE).

    *By Witcher 2 standards, there’s a reason Josh couldn’t find head nor tails in it. “Quick and dirty” here means that it’s the one true version without all the lies and misinformation you are fed in the game, not that it will be short.

    Who characters are, is explained so to help people that may not know as much about the game:

    Emhyr var Emreis (the emperor of Nilfgaard to the south of the Northern Kingdoms) wants to invade, but was defeated at Brenna last time he tried it. He was defeated by a coalition of most of the Northern Kingdoms, but after the victory the alliance has started to disintegrate, and the Kingdoms are slowly sliding into chaos.

    In order to make the next invasion a success, he wants to accelerate the amount of chaos in the North, so that there is basically no resistance, and no possibility of an alliance forming again.

    Next up background lore: there is significant emphasis put on the fact that witchers are starting to die out and not be needed anymore, this occurs both in game and in books preceding them. A lot of the “Witcher Schools” (think dojos for monsterslaying mercenaries rather than monks) they used to organise in have disappeared or died off, and a lot of their knowledge is lost.

    Emhyr var Emreis promises Letho (the witcher that is carrying out the actual kingslaying) and his two fellow witcher companions, that if they use their unique skills to kill as many Northern monarchs as possible, he will reform their witcher school (The School of the Viper, as opposed to the “School of the Wolf” Geralt is part of) and order imperial mages to help them out with regaining their lost knowledge.

    Letho accepts and departs to the Northern Kingdoms, where he gets tangled up in local politics, who I will now describe:

    The Lodge of Sorceresses are basically the “Evil Viziers” commonly seen, and are the power behind many of the thrones of the Northern Kingdoms. However their power is much weakened after a failed coup (that took place in the books), and not only are there a number of Kingdoms where the “Royal Adviser” is instead a mage that is actually loyal to the monarch they are advising, the sorceresses need to be careful and watchful at all times in the courts they do control, or they might lose that power to court intrigue.

    The Lodge wants to accomplish several things: 1) Reform an official organization to govern mages and which will appoint the Royal Advisers, in order to help secure their control over the courts, 2) Take control over the courts where they have no influence and 3) Take revenge for one of their number being executed by the king she was disloyal towards.

    Secondly, you have the “Squirrels” (the violent elf revolutionaries) who want to sow chaos among human realms in order to spread terror, get more volunteers and hopefully accomplish something. They are not really sure (common among guerilla/terrorist groups), but basically they think that enough chaos will help create a sovereign elf and dwarf nation, or improve the lot of nonhumans, or just satisfy their bloodlust. Whatever the revolutionaries in the real world hope to accomplish by bombing and shooting government forces.

    Letho looks like a complete meathead, like a thug who just likes hurting people, and he uses the fact that he looks like this to get the Lodge of Sorceresses to hire him to kill the troublesome kings (while intended to leave the “Good” ones alive) and they provide him with the resources to do so.

    After ridding the sorceresses of one of these kings (NOT the one they actually want revenge on), he realizes the help of the Squirrels (in the form of the secret stashes, hideouts and paths. What terrorists have) would be immensely useful and offers to help, again pretending to be nothing more than a thug who enjoys killing.

    He uses the squirrels help to kill a “Good” king, and the sorceresses think he has gone rogue. He then tries to sow dissent among the Squirrels, while ensuring that his companions are taking care of the king the sorceresses want revenge on (before they take back their support). This is were we are first intended to realize that Letho utilizes his role as pawn for his “allies” for his own ends.

    His companions fail in their task, though in Roche’s path Geralt gets the chance to finish their job.

    In the end everyone meets up at Loc Muinne to discuss the ongoing chaos, this is where the Lodge wants to reveal their intentions of a now “mage organization”, and secretly utilize their resources to both do so, and ensure they would rule the Northern Kingdoms through. Letho has however already thrown a few wrenches in their plan, however the biggest wrench will occur at Loc Muinne, and Geralt gets an opportunity to be the one that deals that wrench.

    If he chooses to save Triss (Josh didn’t mention it, but there’s actually a SECOND major choice in the third act as well as in the first. In the third act you get to choose whether to continue aiding your companion from the second – i.e. Iorveth or Roche – OR to go save Triss.), then Triss will reveal two things to the assembly at Loc Muinne: 1) That the Lodge of Sorceresses have tried to ensure they would be secret rulers of the North through the reestablished mage organization and 2) That it specifically was the Lodge that wanted to do so, a small subset of sorceresses, while the majority (and all sorcerers) stayed either loyal or apolitical.

    This ensures that while the mage organization gets reformed, the Lodge’s plans for ruling are spoiled and they are all hunted down.

    IF Geralt instead chooses to aid either Iorveth or Roche, Letho saves Triss for him as a favor, but deliberately keeps her hidden so she can’t reveal how small the conspiratorial Lodge is, while the Imperials inform the assembly of Kings of their planned treachery and plots. While insinuating that all the sorcerers and sorceresses are in on it.

    The end result is a witch ending in many dead mages, and the political power they held (cross-border and therefore also their not-insignificant ability to broker alliances between the Kingdoms) are shattered.

    Letho’s absolute optimal end result? The Kings of Aedirn, Kaedwen and Temeria are dead, as is the only male (and therefore uncontested) heirs of Temeria and Aedirn. Kaedwen was already heirless by the time the game starts. That means three major Northern Kingdoms in absolute CHAOS. The Lodge’s plan to strengthen the Northern mages have failed, and they have all been killed or maimed. The Squirrels (possibly the single best Light Soldiers and rangers in the North) have been shattered and disorganized. The Northern Mages (and their significant ability both in combat roles and to broker peace and alliances) are mistrusted and hated by royalty, and hunted down by commoners and nobles.

    Thereby creating the absolutely MOST perfect climate possible for a Nilfgaardian invasion, and hopefully pleasing Emhyr var Emreis and get his witcher school revived.

    1. Rion says:

      Would also like to point out that Josh’ point about not learning anything on Roche’s path, isn’t exactly true. Roche’s path will tell you a lot more about the motivations of the Kingslayers, and understand their plans, while Iorveth’s path lets Geralt indulge in activism/believing in an ideal, and understand more of the Lodge’s machinations.

      Witcher 2 might actually be best suited for three playthroughs: one on any path where you don’t learn much, one on the other path where you feel like you learn a lot more because you have base knowledge from the first path (while also feeling like you didn’t really learn anything on it if you pick Roche’s), and a third where you return to the first path and find out all the things you missed the first time because you now have base knowledge from the second path.

      1. MichaelGC says:

        I’d certainly only gleaned bits and pieces of all that from a couple of playthroughs, so you may be right about going through thrice… :D Either way, thanks!

    2. shiroax says:

      Small correction: Letho and his three dudes. Remember the guy from the end cinematic? :)

      That was an excellent wall of spoilers, well done.

  24. krellen says:

    The best top-down third-person RPG combat system is Temple of Elemental Evil by Troika studios. It’s really excellent, especially for 3rd edition grognards.

    Pillars of Eternity is pretty good too, but it’s more-or-less 4th edition.

    1. Ringwraith says:

      Probably the most faithful representation of D&D rules (specifically 3.5) in a game.
      When it’s not being buggy because it never got properly finished.

      1. ehlijen says:

        The Circle of 8 mod is a big improvement and expansion on the game :)

        And yes, it is the best fantasy tactics game I have yet to play. Too bad its roleplaying part is too light, quantity wise. The quality is fine, but it is a tactical combat game, not truly an RPG. Sort of like Fallout Tactics.

        1. Ringwraith says:

          It’s that it sometimes shakes itself apart, rare, but happens.

  25. venatus says:

    Josh’s joke link this week was Uplay? that seems needlessly cruel couldn’t you have linked to something less evil, like jack the riper, or satan?

    1. Josh says:

      Shamus is already Satan, and we can’t be the same person. Probably.

      1. Humanoid says:

        So Shamus is EA?

  26. John says:

    Dear Little Baby Rutskarn,

    Do console-style strategy RPGs count as third person RPGs?

    I once spent a year or two playing JRPGs on my Gameboy Advance. It was my first experience with really heavily story-driven games, and I had a lot of fun–at first. But I eventually got sick of the constant, rote combat encounters: party encounters monsters, party spams strongest attacks, party heals as necessary, party repeats. That’s when I decided that if I was going to play games where I spent most of my time in combat anyway then I was going to choose games where the combat was actually interesting. So I did. I stopped playing games like Lunar and started playing Tactics Ogre, Final Fantasy Tactics, Disgaea, and other SRPGs instead.

    I don’t consider myself an expert on the genre; there are a lot of classic SRPGs that I haven’t played and probably never will. Nevertheless, the most interesting RPG combat system I have encountered so far is in an SRPG called Rondo of Swords for the DS. I actually bought the game based solely on the description of the combat, which is almost entirely movement-based. In most SRPGs, you pick a guy, tell him to walk to an enemy, tell him to hit the enemy, and then his turn is over. In Rondo of Swords, you pick a guy and tell him to walk a certain path. Your guy will automatically attack any enemies in that path. (Magical and ranged attacks are a little more conventional.) Sometimes an enemy will counter-attack as your guy passes, stopping him in his tracks. Some enemies have special abilities that prevent your guys from passing. It’s hard, but reasonably fair, since the game will always tell which abilities an enemy has if you just ask. Oh, and depending on the skills you choose when levelling, your guy may get bonuses from passing a friendly unit.

    I can’t wholeheartedly recommend Rondo of Swords, since the art and story are utterly generic, thoroughly half-assed, and exhibit a couple of anime tropes that I really dislike. But the combat is just so, so interesting. *Sigh*

  27. kanodin says:

    A small note: Cd Project Red actually offers their loyalty discount on witcher 3 for owning 1 and 2 on steam. Which put me in the awkward spot of wanting to buy Witcher 3 on GoG to support them, but not enough to spend an extra 6 bucks by not buying it on steam ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

    1. Josh says:

      I think you can still get the DRM-free GOG version by plugging your product key into the GOG site. It’s not quite the same as buying it from their store I guess, given Steam undoubtedly gets a cut, but it’s still cool they let you do that.

      1. Humanoid says:

        Yes, you can get a GOG copy of the first two games by putting in your CD key here: https://www.gog.com/witcher/backup

        I forget how to see the CD key of a Steam copy but there’s definitely a way.

        EDIT: Bit of a moot point now though because I think the loyalty discount only applied to pre-orders. Cheapest legit option is probably to eBay an nVidia bundle voucher, which redeems on GOG.

      2. Sleeping Dragon says:

        I’ve noticed Steam added a lot of older games that I have on GOG already… ball is in your court Valve*.

        *It’s probably not entirely fair since GOG is directly tied to the developer far as Witcher is concerned… on the other hand I seem to remember they’re doing a similar thing with with at least several other games.

    2. SpiritBearr says:

      I have Witcher 1 on steam and GOG and Witcher 2 on Steam GOG and Xbox. Total cost was $70 thanks to sales and giveaways.

  28. Artur CalDazar says:

    I don’t get how you guys had such a differing experience in that Inqusition scene you’re talking about but they weren’t all static for me in that scene. They were all gawking at my character and saying various things.

    That’s not the town in its normal state, that’s everyone gathering to look at a supposed Saintly figure.

    1. Cinebeast says:

      Yeah, weird reaction from the Diecast crew there. To be fair, all of the characters in DA:I look like they’re molded out of wax.

  29. @Josh

    I stumbled across a Video editor called Edius.
    The review here looks promising http://tubeshooter.co.uk/2013/08/11/review-edius-7/

    And there is a trial download available here http://www.grassvalley.com/products/edius_pro_7

    I haven’t had the chance to look at it myself so no idea how it compares to Premiere or Blender.
    But from the review it looks helluva easier than Blender, and it seems to be better than Vegas.
    Edius has support for multiple audio tracks or so the review say.

    Looking quickly at amazon it seems Edius is in the same price range as the Premiere disc edition?.

    I’m rather surprised to run across what appears to be a very mature editor, I thought I knew the names of the big ones (Premiere, Vegas, Powerdirector, Blender, Lightworks, I’m sure I’m missing a few that I’d recognize the name of).

    1. Apparently I need to surf around more, on the cheap end of the spectrum is this:

  30. Raygereio says:

    I figured people here might be interested in this:

    A graphics programmer is writing a series of articles that talks about how modern graphics works.
    Watch Dogs will be mentioned a lot. That’s because the articles are a companion piece to a Watch Dogs LP.

  31. Sova says:

    I only recently discovered the Diecast a couple of months ago and subsequently listened to every episode since the start. I felt validated for doing that when I found we could all be very uncomfortable again over the conversation about rating male characters, if only for a brief moment.

    This is the first Diecast I’ve actually been up to date for so the shift from binge to drip-feed was a little jarring, not sure how the rest of you manage. Something to get use to I guess.

    It was good to hear we were due another dose of “praise Baldur’s Gate 2”. Equally amusing to see it delivered by a Rutskarn railroad of a question. BG2 was the first game I ever played in that vein and quite frankly the reason that genre is my favourite still today. I went back and played BG1 afterwards but I was a little under-whelmed. I’m not sure if starting with the first would have made it into one of the countless other franchises we play that fall into the “yeah good at the time but entirely unremarkable” bucket.

    A final point about Uplay. It is almost the only reason I keep a console around. I have come to think of my xbox as pretty much a ‘ubisoft game machine’ as anytime Ubisoft publish anything I default to buying the console version just to avoid the DRM. A year ago I would have almost said this wasn’t an issue, with the console you could forgo all the fake incentives of Uplay by just never registering and bypass pretty much the whole shambles together. Unfortunately the most recent Assassin’s Creed seems to be testing this logic. With the in-game Uplay chests and every (decent) piece of equipment Uplay exclusive it is becoming nigh-impossible to justify sacrificing multiplayer (a consequence of no Uplay account) and superior experience of PC just to avoid the hassle of it all.

    Of course with that in mind Josh’s tag seems a little harsh Shammus, even if he does like Dark Souls.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ah,but he likes both darksouls and destiny.Also,he is still not finishing shogun 2 lets play.So he deserved it.

  32. Kdansky says:

    Comparing Witcher combat to Dark Souls is crazy. Dark Souls is built around the Stamina mechanic. Stamina in Dark Souls isn’t just a minor thing, it’s literally the most important core mechanic of the whole game. Witcher’s Stamina system works completely differently, as attacking doesn’t drain it, nor can you block easily, nor does dodging drain it, nor does it recover quickly.

    Those two combat styles are nothing alike, they just use the same basic control scheme (as does Mortal Kombat). Claiming they are the same is ignorant. It’s like saying that Poker is basically identical to Bridge, because they both use the same cards.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      I don’t think Josh was saying they were identical, as evidenced by the fact that he likes one of them and not the other. I reckon the use of the same basic control scheme is sufficient to establish the low level of ‘similar’ which I believe Josh was going for.

  33. Joseph P. Tallylicker says:

    re:Rutskarn/alpha protocol: I’m not entirely sure if you’re talking about Stephen Heck, but if you are – he’s Obsidian’s failsafe. So to put the ground work for this – there are 3 people who can be your handler during the final mission. Heck, SIE and Albatross. You can meet them in any order, and you can kill 2 of them and piss of all of them.

    The way it works is this: if you met SIE or Albatross before meeting Heck, and they are friendly to you, you can piss of Heck and he will throw you under the bus like you are nothing.

    BUT if you haven’t met any of the others yet when you get to the end of Heck’s arc, you can do whatever you want to him and he’ll stay friendly. The same happens if you pissed/killed off the two others.

    So option A: one of the two others are friendly to you – Stephen will be an asshole back to you. option B: everything else – he’ll stay friendly despite your dickishness.

    It’s not elegant (it’s downright ugly), it could definitively be improved, but there are consequences – if the conditions are met.

    1. Thomas says:

      Yeah I was kind of surprised to hear Rutskarn use that example because Alpha Protocol is one of the games that does it least. Almost all the cast can be alive or dead at the end of the game depending on your actions and whole boss fights change or are removed entirely depending on what you did.

      There are characters who are meant to be a boss fight at the end of the game, but you can piss them off so much that they fight to the death in what was meant to be a “you’ll never stop my evil plans haha” encounter. Or you can convince them to side with you at the end of the game and actively fight the people you’re meant to be fighting.

      It changes so much that even after 4-5 playthroughs I was still learning new things about what can happen in the game when Disclosure Alert were doing their thing.

    2. Humanoid says:

      It's not elegant (it's downright ugly), it could definitively be improved, but there are consequences ““ if the conditions are met.

      And the name of that improvement was the Yes Man.

    3. Rutskarn says:

      I’m talking about Albatross.

      I shot Sister, I told him he was an asshole, I hung up on him repeatedly, I turned down his (by this point inexplicable) offer of help…and he still sends a squad to assist me when I raid the manor. What?

      1. Joseph P. Tallylicker says:

        Oh dear. Yeah, that’s … not good. To be honest, a lot of G22/Albatross stuff seems unfinished – before the final mission you can taunt albatross to the point of “this is your last chance to kill me, also remember that time I killed your sister?” but … they never showed up?

        Also Sis seems like a character that would have had an arc at some point that got scrapped – she’s effectively set dressing in the current game.

  34. ColeusRattus says:

    “The Witcher 2 is worse than Hitler!”… NOOOOOOOOOO I love all the witcher games (except the moba and board game), that can’t be true! Is everything the diecast ever said wrong? Possibly, if they say something like that!

    More seriously, I do know they’re flawed, but I still think they’re all way better than anything Bioware has published post KotOR.

    Also, in Part 3, the dialogues are really well directed. I do remember mumbles and the guys talking on how bioware should improve dialogue scenes nd the witcher 3 does it pretty good.

    Some more in depth thoughts in my video, which I’ll shamelessly plug, and which is being procesed at the moment, so it’s not yet viewable.: http://youtu.be/4Dn6PxiT9E4

  35. RTBones says:

    For me, I can say the branching story in the Witcher 2 is something I enjoy. Very few games give you any political feel at all. On top of that – this series feels like there may have been a writing ‘plan’ (I dont know that there was, but it feels that way), unlike the Mass Effect series. While some of the mechanics are a bit wonky to me, I enjoy the overall feel of the game. Granted, I have the Enhanced Edition which may rectify some of the problems in the original release. I had what I’ll call a proper tutorial, and I never saw a dragon until the end of the Prologue. In fact, the tutorial didnt seem to be part of the proper game at all.

    I am looking forward to 3.

  36. p_johnston says:

    To Chris, have you considered just cheating at inquisition? Your playing on PC so you could probably easily mod it to the point where combat is trivial and over in seconds or just use console commands. Honestly that’s what I do with the first Mass Effect game, glossing over the terrible combat to get to the juicy story bits.

  37. WWWebb says:

    Now if only someone would make a “Humble Galaxy” so I could keep track of all the games in my Humble Library. I can’t be the only one who’s purchased more games through Humble than through Steam and Gog combined.

    Things are at least a little better now that they have separate tabs for the direct download library, Steam keys, and bundle purchases (I’d regret that Origin Bundle if Burnout Paradise wasn’t the most fun racing game ever).

    If they had their own Torrent-favoring client, they could stop offering Steam keys (which I always assumed were more expensive) for games where they also have a DRM free version.

  38. psivamp says:

    I liked the Witcher — I think. I played it a bunch, but then I never finished and I couldn’t get back into it.

    I didn’t like the Witcher 2 — I don’t even think I made it out of the tutorial because they told me to do something in combat that I couldn’t make work.

    And now the Witcher 3 is available for $40 and some part of my brain is telling me to buy it.

  39. Zak McKracken says:

    The moment Shamus mentioned that Galaxy’s only feature outside of downloading and launching games so far was achievements … that’s the first moment when I started doubting whether it was for me. Why would those be a priority? Can I turn them off? Can I turn all of the data-collecting off that is necessary to have them?

    While I think that the answer to at least one of the last two questions is yes, why does GOG think that their customers were into that sort of thing?

  40. Sam says:

    Having played DAI all the way through getting as close to 100% as I could, I agree with the diecast entirely. I hated the combat, felt very removed from almost all the non Inquisition NPCs(and even a few of them), and worst of all didn’t particularly feel motivated to explore the environments for the sake of exploring. Just like Chris, the only thing keeping me in the world was the characters. But only just by a thread.

    My problem was that as a straight white male I came into the game expecting the usual Bioware thing of about two or three romanceable squadmembers varying for player character gender. Then I found out that almost the entire cast was a potential romance option but there were only two straight options for males. My options were limited to the most wooden squad member imo, Cassandra, or Josephine, who turned out better than expected for me.

    If you go to the wiki and look, all but three of the main squad can be romanced. Of those six, two are strictly gay Dorian and Sera, and three are strictly straight Cassandra, Blackwall, and Solas. The Iron Bull will go both ways. Of those six a straight male gets precisely one romance option. A straight female would however, get two, or depending on race three romance options.

    If you take into account romance options outside the team members, those numbers jump to two options for straight males, and depending on race again, four options for straight females. Bi or gay males get 4 if bi or 2 if gay. Of those 4, one of them, Cassandra, is the most wooden, uninspired, boring, flat character I’ve seen in a while.

    Bi or gay females get, depending on race, six options if bi, and two if gay. Or lesbian, or whatever is the proper term to not get flamed into my own realm of Oblivion.

  41. Axion741 says:

    Off topic, relates to last Diecast;


    Listening to you talk about how sick you are of Roll 20 combat, and given your larger knowledge of RPGs than me in general, I'd be interested in your opinion on the King Arthur Pendragon system from Greg Stafford? I've been playing around with it recently and found it to be a very refreshing system.
    Good for long narratives too with family lines, permadeath/succession etc too.

    General opinions from a more experienced player/DM would be welcome.

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