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cesium

Impressions after finishing Avadon (includes spoliers)

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cesium   

Hi, I've just finished Avadon as a Shadowwalker on Normal/Hard difficulty (started as Normal later switched to Hard), and thought I could share my impressions. Where I'm coming from: I played Exile 3, BoE and one or two Geneforges in the past. Didn't read the FAQ or Strategy Central so far (will do after writing this [Edit: but the edits are after reading those]). The game was bought on humblebundle and run on Linux, so some of the bugs may be specific to that arch.

 

The Good:

  • An interesting skill system which requires choices and allows some variety.
  • Map design makes it clear that people live in certain places without being too busy (e.g. extra homes but not too many).
  • Was interesting enough to play for several days.

 

The Bad:

  • Simple and predictable dungeon/map design. Most dungeons have one or two ways around them. The somewhat sneaky way and the brute force way. Not much use for stealth most of the time. (Btw, on old Exile/Geneforges you could sometimes choose which direction you entered from - I was surprised to see this removed, but it didn't bug me too much). More sequences like the flooding in Jhareth could add variety (but see bugs below). Should have methods for a secret door than the red buttons.
  • The fights', well, structure (which is related to the above issue). A lot of dungeons revolve around single fights with mini-boss(es) followed by another fight with mini-bosses until the fight with the big boss. Leaving aside it makes the enemies look stupid, this is pretty boring especially as the enemies there are typically trivial and boring, but don't die that quickly.

    [**] These two issues are an enormous turn-off. To give an example, the Titan camp fight is fun aboveground, but the dungeon below is boring and annoying. Most of the tower of a certain Wizard is even more annoying. etc.

 

Some bugs (possibly special/specific to Linux version from humblebundle):

  • The raise stats screen is somewhat annoying: Can't see equipment pluses when skill points are available. Can't see/use available skill points when stat points haven't been allocated. Can't undo specialization choice without canceling the entire screen, health addition aren't visible right away when they are a result of increasing a specialization (but changing any skill will make the health addition visible), etc.
  • Yevner can leave the party before you open the gate in the Wretch Warrens if you go too far to the right in the upper map.
  • IIRC, there's a barrel in that fort which isn't placed right. It isn't clickable and there's some stuff below it (get works). I suspect the intent was to use the clickable barrel (not the small one) and place the stuff in the ground in it.
  • One can skip entirely the village in Dhara Stead when going to kill off the Lord (3rd visit). Just go to the left and choose the fort. The fort should really be taken off the map until you manage to cross the village, since otherwise the entire effect of being forced to kill some people there is missed.
  • Harua in the Shima subquest can be abused a bit: Kill off/fight the defence without alerting him too early (can be done with missiles). When he starts to walk towards the party walk back. Harua will follow - without the two sorcerers (IIRC) which accompany him. You can then fight him alone and later the wizards alone (they'll start moving towards you when you start fighting with Harua, but you should have enough time to finish him off).
  • Going off the suggested route in the Beraza Deep Woods can create a weird issue. It goes like this: Do it normally until after the encounter with the 'Wayfairer'. Go down in the tunnel and get to the anvil location. Then try to go north past the Elite warrior squad. Sometimes the squad will notice you but freeze in place - this will now happen with the viscount too if you go north. Once you quaff something or enter combat mode the fight will start (with everyone out to get you).
  • There are two chests in the end of Castle Vebeaux fight which have the same note from Dheless. One requires going through a door using lockpicks and another requires pushing a 'secret' button in the Duke's room. Finding the note in one makes the other empty. Not sure if the lockpicked one really counts when talking to Redbeard later.
  • Redbeard's dialogue assumes Miranda is a traitor even if you haven't told him this when he asks you about it.
  • Not all medals being visible/awarded? I killed Beloch and finished the game on Hard. I guess I should have started the game on Hard also to get these medals? [Edit: Ah, so it uses lowest setting used in game...]
  • Also, not all medals from textcheevos.txt are visible ('Shadow of the Woods', 'Pay your respects' and a few others should definitely have been awareded at the very least but they're not). Are these disabled or is this a bug?
  • Two crashes during playthrough. One case I remember was when crossing the flooding sequence in Jhareth. Don't recall exact sequence, but possibly it didn't like me doing it entirely in combat mode?

 

Other notes:

  • There are some sudden jumps in difficulty, e.g. the fights in the 3rd Kellem visit (after being run out from the castle) are trivial until you get to Viscount Varoche and a much harder fight.
  • No medal for killing all the bandits in the bandit cave without using Harua's key? Tinier acheivements get a medal.
  • No medal for doing all quests? (based on reading textcheevos).
  • Shaman summoning is probably too weak. Only one pet, and a weak one most of the time. By the time one gets Drakes, they don't impact that much either. Perhaps the entire class is weak, but to test that I should try a more destruction focues Shaman.
  • Redbeard fight would probably be easier if I played a Sorcerer. Very doable with this char though, once right strategy was figured out.
  • Maybe will try to figure out what all the inventions are useful for (if they are). I understand what the Blink Pants are useful for [Edit: They can be used to get around the anti-stealing rune in a certain Dragon's library. Apparently the 'real' solution is different. Oh, well] (though not quite understanding why the teleport scarab doesn't also work for that one), and the Wand of Many Guises should be hilarious (I somehow lost it before testing it). Wonder if the Reproducing Block is useful for something...

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Shaman summoning is more powerful on higher difficulties. On Torment, arguably it's one of the better abilities in the game.

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Lilith   

Most of the Nicodemus items are joke items, although a few have actual uses. The Rod of Attraction can be pretty good for tanking, if you don't just end up saving it for exactly the right moment and never using it.

 

Originally Posted By: HOUSE of S
Shaman summoning is more powerful on higher difficulties. On Torment, arguably it's one of the better abilities in the game.

 

Even on Torment, summons in the later parts of the game are mostly useful as meatshields, since their damage output just doesn't keep up with actual party members. Rushing to unlock Call Hellhound early on is still a very viable strategy for Shamans, though, since at the start of the game a summoned hellhound is as good as an extra party member.

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They are meatshields with high HP, though -- and given the limited amount of healing you have available in Avadon, meatshields are far, FAR more useful than in other SW games.

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Lilith   

High HP, sure, but their evasion doesn't really keep up with enemy hit rate either, so that HP wears down pretty fast. They certainly have their uses, but when you make one later on you kind of have to expect it to die in a couple of rounds or so.

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The best uses for summons is spineshield and to cluster enemies so you have an easier time using area effect attacks on them. Since they can only move tile after getting engaged it keeps the monsters from running away.

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I'm in the middle of this, about to run off to Castle Vebeaux for the first time. So far I'm getting some not-so-good feelings from the storyline and I really hope I'm wrong about how it will continue.

 

So far, I haven't been convinced of any character's arguments against Avadon at all. It seems like they want all the benefits of the Pact while not actually changing the structure of their society. The conflict between the old traditions (which constantly seem barbaric, uncivilized, conflict-dependent) and the new ways gives them problems, and then they blame Avadon instead of their own lack of progress to adjust. They also do absolutely nothing to help Avadon do its job and even outright block me from doing my job as a Hand. Is this suppose to garner my sympathy?

 

Furthermore, they are all being incredibly small-minded. Redbeard is right. All indications of the past show that it was barbaric and chaotic. All current problems seem to be remnants of that, rather than something new. So imagine this world without Avadon. All these powerful jerks would be running around without anyone strong enough to stop them. Not only that, but the many powerful people who joined into Avadon's power to help uphold justice may have ended up only being competitors in this chaos.

 

It's not that I agree with every little thing done under Redbeard's rule, but it really vastly outweighs the alternatives being presented. So, thus far, the game seems like a constant series of people making poor cases for me to become disloyal. So what do I do? I remain loyal. What is the payoff? They are kind of upset at me, and I get a barely-heartfelt pat on the back when I return to Avadon. I don't seem to change much in the world, and I don't even get to tell rebellious people how ignorant they're being from my perspective.

 

Hopefully the story gets better than this, but sadly it doesn't seem like it will. So for Avadon 2 I'd like to see more compelling reasons to rebel, a more compelling plan for reform other than simply "overthrow Avadon" and nothing more than that. Then for the loyalty path, to not personally come off as a mindless zealot, but really be able to tell people off. Then, to really see the difference you made in the world, with more than 4 people who are grateful that you did.

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Welcome to Spiderweb Software. Please leave your sanity at the door.

 

You will be glad when you find out that you fears are justified and there is a reason.

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I hope so because now I just did Jenell's quest and I wish I could have killed more of those morons. I truly hate all of these idiots and their stupid justifications. Even if Avadon has something it is doing wrong, what they said is not it and does not justify what they did. Oh well, they're dead now.

 

Click to reveal..
Except Jenell's murderous boyfriend. >_<

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Jerakeen   

Just wait. You're gonna want to slap all your companions before you're done.

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@Dicetrain: I don't see why this is such a problem. A lot of people have strong opinions on which side is right in various Spiderweb games. For instance, I loathe the Shapers, and pretty much always played 'rebel' sides in the Geneforge series. It's impossible to design a scenario that everyone will see as an even-handed and difficult moral quandary, and frankly I'm not sure why one would want to anyway. The measure of choice in a story like this should be at least as much its ability to divide its players as a whole as to divide any individual's mind. Geneforge seems to do this quite well; whether Avadon does, I'm not so sure. I've seen pretty much the gamut of opinions regarding Avadon/the Pact on these forums, but my observation hasn't been nearly rigorous enough to discern whether some are more common than others.

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It would be a lot easier if people weren't killing others for lesser things. Like *spoilers ahead*

 

Ogres killing for money. Uhhhh... so it doesn't matter if someone was paying you. That doesn't let you off the hook. It's not my fault you're immorally greedy.

 

Criminal vigilantes. Okay, so you feel Avadon doesn't do enough, and so you not only murder blindly, you turn into an oppressive [censored]. Way to be justified in your criticisms against Avadon. If you think Avadon can't keep up with the problems, how about, oh, becoming a Hand of Avadon? Because I'm seeing problems and I'm fixing them. You could get in on that action, too.

 

Rebellion leaders. So some stuff changed and you don't like it. Instead of adjusting to the new rules, you murder people over them, knowing it will get you killed as punishment. Wow, you sure accomplished a lot to solve the issues you had. Doesn't help that your original rules were not actually just, hence the constant war in the black age.

 

Rebellion followers. They always want off the hook because their leader told them to do stuff. Uhhh, then I guess you shouldn't have followed them? Plenty of people back in the village hate me, but they didn't take up and start following someone who kills people, and now they will live and you will not.

 

I don't know. We'll see where things go from here, but I don't think I'll ever ever approve of violent solutions to policy issues, and it's probably only violence that will get the attention to send me on a mission, so it seems unlikely. Even if I end up agreeing with the principle of the rebellion, the fact is they have been starting trouble and killing innocent people who have no affiliation with Avadon just to get my attention and I can't let that slide.

 

From what my friends have told me, Avernum sounds like a much more varied climate and an easier circumstance to take many sides, so maybe I will enjoy that more. I own it, but I will finish Avadon before moving on to that.

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cesium   

Dicetrain,

 

While you make a very good point, you'll find out that Redbeard runs Avadon in ways that are guaranteed to awake unnecessary resentment (and enemies) from inside and outside Avadon. By the end game, the game will try to beat you over the head with examples, some defensible and some very much not.

Click to reveal.. (Endgame spoilers)
How did Redbeard ever think employing someone like Miranda in such a position was safe??? And there's the entire plot-against-avadon where it seems nearly everyone outside the Pact and a fair portion of people inside knew in advance...
By the end one wonders whether Avadon could do with new management which doesn't like to create unnecessary fights (or at least, is willing and capable to crush its enemies throughly enough for them not to cause so much trouble).

 

As for your 'comrades', yea they're whiners, but almost all of them are in a way doing something Avadon would have done eventually (or in a certain case, something Avadon would have done and is in your interest except maybe for that thing the Hand didn't know about). I didn't think losing a Hand over being overeager was justified, so I was happy to help them. All of them except Shima,

Click to reveal..
who is dragging you into his private revenge, and
whom I'd told to get lost if it wasn't for videogame completionist 'logic'.

 

@House of S, others:

 

Didn't think of rushing to Hellhound early-game (at the time, didn't know it could breathe every two rounds) - that's a good idea. But still, even at the difficulty I was playing, summoning seemed redundant by mid/late-game - the bait role could be played by scarab/wand of calling/ almost as well, while the pet's damage is negligible. Given that there's no skill for the Shaman's archery damage, and that there are certain annoying cases of immunities to Shaman magical damage by the end, the class still seems a bit weak, and playing one must be a special challenge on Torment...

 

I do find it odd no one else was bothered by the dungeon design. I usually think complaints about 'linearity' are massively overdone, but Avadon was a pretty bad case by the end (complete with the cliche of sending stronger and stronger opponents until fighting with the big bad several times. I'm willing to stomach that once or twice per RPG, not several times in a row. Didn't anyone in the Pact or outside ever read the Evil Overlord List??).

 

[Edit: and another interface annoyance: Not being able to click on the TAB mini-map to direct the party (at least) near a location. It would been more comfortable than the other map]

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I had decided to play the game as a hardcore avadon loyalist, KGB attitudes and all, but I must admit the game made it hard for me to stick the course every time. Haven't finished yet, but looking forward to it.

Just stormed the titan camp, which was a lot of fun

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Originally Posted By: cesium
[Edit: and another interface annoyance: Not being able to click on the TAB mini-map to direct the party (at least) near a location. It would been more comfortable than the other map]

This is a REALLY good idea. I don't normally suggest making suggestions, but I think you should send this one to Spiderweb.

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@Cesium and Dicetrain: Yeah, this is one of those stories in which there aren't many people to really like. Redbeard may make the trains run on time (usually), but he's also corrupt, as violent as most of the people who oppose him, and at times surprisingly inept. For instance,

Click to reveal..
while Shima was probably the companion I liked least, his sidequest actually made the most sense from a 'greater good' standpoint. Yeah, he was mostly in it for revenge, but the fact stands that Harua was building a fortress inside the Beraza woods. A war could easily have started over less. It's not clear whether Redbeard knew about this and allowed it (which shows terrible judgment), or didn't know (which shows he was out of touch). In either case, it doesn't reflect well on Avadon's leadership.

My conclusion, with all said and done, was that Avadon and the Pact were necessary institutions, but Redbeard was seeming more and more like a bad choice to lead them. I didn't see many good alternatives, though.

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Originally Posted By: runequester
I had decided to play the game as a hardcore avadon loyalist, KGB attitudes and all, but I must admit the game made it hard for me to stick the course every time. Haven't finished yet, but looking forward to it.
Just stormed the titan camp, which was a lot of fun


Loyalist? I thought there was only 2 endings. You could join miranda or kill redbeard (which was hard). Am i missing something. There's only 2 endings right?

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Kreador   
Originally Posted By: Death Knight
Originally Posted By: runequester
I had decided to play the game as a hardcore avadon loyalist, KGB attitudes and all, but I must admit the game made it hard for me to stick the course every time. Haven't finished yet, but looking forward to it.
Just stormed the titan camp, which was a lot of fun


Loyalist? I thought there was only 2 endings. You could join miranda or kill redbeard (which was hard). Am i missing something. There's only 2 endings right?

You can't join Miranda. The portal won't let you jump through. She tells you to go kill Redbeard, and you have the choice of doing that and taking over Avadon yourself as Keeper, or siding with Redbeard as Keeper.

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NimoStar   

I know thew discussion is old but I thought the opposite to the loyalists. I haven't even finished the game,

 

But for example Redbeard makes clear in one of his talks that nobody can join the pact ever. So those "evil farlanders" are just people trying to get by ; they can never become part of "peace and order". Also they have to pay tribute and Avadon regularly slaughters them, with or without reason.

 

Hands of Avadon are also corrupt by definition and it is made clear that, the more corrupt the more powerful and they are basically unaccountable.

 

You think "oh, I'm attacking bullies and murderers for hire",

Without taking into account that you ARE a bully and murderer for hire, just a far more powerful and ruthless one.

Take into account many if not most intelligent enemies will offer you a peaceful resolution, which for "Avadon" (or the questgivers) would be treason.

 

So... at least the Wayfarer trats me kindly unlike Redbeard who constantly makes veiled threats to murder me.

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