Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

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Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by Mod » July 10th, 2014, 2:26 pm

Currently I am at the battle between Erubor and Malkur, though I don't think I can finish the game which Is why I am going ahead and making this post before finishing. I cannot complete it because I did not expect the game to end at Karamiklan, and so I had not prepared my character enough to be victorious at the battle. I am a mage that had no mana potions and no alchemy because I was planning on purchasing it later. I did find a mana potion where the caravan was, though it was still not enough and the time taken caused my side to be very behind in the battle. I cannot go back to right before the battle because the save I made right before Karamiklan I accidentally have overwritten. Any previous save is very far away. Autosave still hasn't been implemented?

So I'm going to say that in my opinion Book III was quite a step back from Book II. Above is just one example of why. In Book I and II, you knew what your goal was. There could be surprises, but you always knew you were stepping into something big when you were stepping into something big. But in Book III it feels like there should be more (There is only two main-line quests? Lilith and Karamiklan?) and so I was not able to prepare myself for the final battle and so couldn't complete the game. I didn't even get to finish exploring or go back to finish up quests such as edgar and the flowering tree. The end was much too close to other elements.

The game felt quite a bit more linear. If it wasn't for the loop around Rockhammer it would be. In Book II for example, you can go from Eastwillow to Port Edon if you can (though you can't get to Picaroon), and am pretty sure you can go up North as long as you have a citizen writ before you even make it to Port Kuudad. You could go through Farrock and never even pass through Everdale. In Book III that loop is the only thing sparing it from being linear, and it certainly doesn't feel like it is helping that much. In fact it felt there was a lot less areas than Book II and even less than Book I, which were both small games to begin with.

Book II still remains my favorite musically. Book II was a step up from Book I in the main theme improving the tambre and being less simple, with more to it that fit in extremely well. Book III tried to do that as well, but it ended up deviating away too much and lost a lot from that.

Book III feels like a step back graphically as well. The menu screen of Book II wasn't my favorite. It reminded me of the skull in Tyrian2000; it felt completely out of place. But Book III is worse. It just looks like a picture designed for an MMORPG targeted at 10 year olds with their parent's credit cards. I really don't like it. It doesn't fit in with the traditional fantasy feel of the game. Some of the UI looked like it didn't fit in as well as it did in Book II either.

I really didn't like the whole "You found a secret area!" thing either. I really, really like the secrets and that they were more numerous in Book III. When I find them I think "Ah, clever!" but having that whole secret area thing in Book III makes me not feel like that. Its just "Oh, another one of those secret area things." Feels more like the opening picture that I just mentioned above. It makes me like finding it less. It isn't a subtle detail anymore that I like, and I really like those subtle details like that.

Progression also didn't feel as good. I wasn't aware of which part of the loop I was supposed to travel, how far I should explore other ways before I went to Mirkland, etc. You essentially had to never use quick travel (wish I hadn't abandoned Journeymaster at the very beginning), since you wouldn't heal or recharge mana, or be able to forage (and you have to be able to, since shops don't stock enough food to last for a restock. I can't tell you how many times I spent walking between the rockhammer store and both moonrise stores hoping to find some cabbage to last long enough for the restock). Gold was not a limiting factor because you could always get more of it in Book II if you were willing to spend the time. In Book III, gold is the only limiting factor.

I don't see how one could get the wealthy lord challenge unless there was a lot of gold after the battle kind of like in Book I. In Book II it was possible with foraging. In Book III the only way is to play Lucky, and the entire game I played as a mage never buying meditation and other skills (only mercantile at the very beginning), never buying spells or armor, walking the entire game to forage, went to every area outside of the astral range and looted everything, and never even made 20,000. I would need double that to be able to make the 80,000 I need with Lucky. Is the true healer also impossible? I went for that only to find that I lost it because it isn't possible to not have anyone die in the final battle.

The game had a lot of puzzles, but it missed that big one that both Book I and Book II had. In Book I there were three different ways to get to Crakamir, in Book II three different ways to get into Port Kuudad (more if you count the multiple citizen writs), and Book III only had two different ways to get to the Astral range which didn't feel like a puzzle at all. It just wasn't the same.

No special undead area unless I missed it, because I didn't finish exploring before I want to Alundar. Book I had Tangletree Ossuary which did pretty good at giving a good creepy feeling (and being optional as it should be). Westwillow did much better, being fantastic at setting the mood and having a whole very interesting aspect to it. Book II had cape sorrow also as a bonus, and both were of course optional as they should be. Book III didn't have this. The closest thing was the giant skull, and then you enter and are like "Oh, it's just a tunnel." and the mood is killed.

Things Book III did right:
Lots of secrets (although the "You found a secret!" ruined this point)
Some enemies resistant to certain damage types (I was kind of hoping this would be more pronounced)
Story. You actually learn things, as short as the game is, whereas Book I was a prologue that didn't contribute much story, and Book II felt like it was just a cliffhanger (although it did contribute to story). Problem was the game was too short and progression on story elements didn't feel right.
Music is still great, though not as great as Book II (which has some of my favorite music in any video game)

I guess I generally expect the last game in a series to far surpass the others, since the engine, world design and lore, etc are more ironed out and graphics can be re-used. They are usually the longest and don't make compromises, yet Book III feels shortest which I kind of found disappointing. There are other things I probably forgot about, but this is probably most of the major things.

It is a great game though. But Book II still remains my favorite. Love your games, looking forward to what you do next. I just hope the next game is closer to Book II than Book III, though it is hard to expect a lot out of the first game of a series, especially from an indie developer.

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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by Ssschah » July 10th, 2014, 3:19 pm

I couldn't agree with you more. Book II remains the dominant game in most aspects. Book III is so short, in fact, that one guy speed ran the game in just over an hour (yeah it's a speed run, but still). I think part of the problem with Book III is that BW didn't anticipate how things were going to turn out until he got to the last part of the story. For example, if he knew the things he was going to do in Book III when he started Book I, then the large map of Eschalon in Book II might have matched with the map of Wylderan in the third game. Due to this, we were basically stranded on an island that we could only explore 3/4 of (that, and there was only one way to get from South to North. This "brick wall" situation was what really disappointed me).
But, to be completely honest, Book III is just about the best ending we could hope for. With the knowledge of the previous games in hand, the mysterious "put the pieces together yourself" was glorious. It sets the trilogy up for discussion and adds a bit of replay value. For a small indie game developer's first official series, this is arguably a work of art.
Hopefully in BG's next game(s), he'll think things through a little more thoroughly, but overall I was quite happy with what was produced. Since 2008 I have been enjoying these games more than I should, from being unable to pass the first area in Book I, to finding and completing everything on the hardest difficulty in Book III, Eschalon will be one of the closest things to my heart until the day I die.
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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by Mod » July 10th, 2014, 3:34 pm

Yes, it is definitely an impressive series. I've probably put more hours into Book II than Skyrim, despite the game size difference.

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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by SpottedShroom » July 10th, 2014, 3:44 pm

To your original question: I think you're probably stuck in the final battle. If you don't have an earlier save to go back to, you probably need to start a new character.

But as far as your complaints about Book III being shorter, there are several excellent community mods that add content to the game. The Alchemist's Tower, Expedition into West Mirkland, Mystery of Rockhammer Mine, and Small Dungeons - Rockhammer mods have all been very well reviewed and I would suggest you enable them for your next play through. My own mod, The Sanctum, is only for high-level wizards and is very challenging, but it does offer new options for the ending.

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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by swcarter » July 10th, 2014, 4:47 pm

SpottedShroom wrote:To your original question: I think you're probably stuck in the final battle. If you don't have an earlier save to go back to, you probably need to start a new character.
I did the same thing as the OP. I wasn't in any way prepared for the final battle, and I didn't have nearly enough potions for fighting without being able to rest. BUT it turns out you barely have to fight in the final battle. If you pick off at least one or two guys each wave, then your side should win pretty easily.

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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by IJBall » July 10th, 2014, 9:16 pm

Mod wrote:I guess I generally expect the last game in a series to far surpass the others, since the engine, world design and lore, etc are more ironed out and graphics can be re-used. They are usually the longest and don't make compromises, yet Book III feels shortest which I kind of found disappointing. There are other things I probably forgot about, but this is probably most of the major things.
I think my biggest issue is that in regards to things like certain of the Skills (e.g. Alchemy, Foraging), Book III feels like a step back from Book II.

I know a lot of people complained that certain Skills were "too easy" in Book II (I know I was one of the people people who complained about this in regards to Foraging, specifically), but the "cure" was worse than the "disease" here, and the "fixes" made some of the Skills (Alchemy, especially) basically unplayable in a meaningful way in Book III. A lot of the Skills certainly aren't as enjoyable as they were in Book II.

And honestly, this is compounded by some of the Skill, etc. 'bugs' that were never corrected after Book II, and so ended up in the Book III game engine still completely unfixed.

Honestly, in retrospect, probably the only thing that needed to be seriously "nerfed" after Book II was playing as a Mage, which I still maintain was made too easy after the over-correction to the complaints that playing a Mage in Book I was "too hard" (I personally never found it so...).

That said, I think what I like best about Book III is that it restored (and improved!) some of the graphics (esp. "map grid graphics") that were present in Book I, but missing in Book II - e.g. things like flowers, and flowering trees, etc. If anything, I would like to have seen a lot more of that in Book III. So I can't say I agree with your complaints that Book III graphics are "worse" than Book II's - I feel exactly the opposite: Book III's graphics are the best of the three games.
Ssschah wrote:I couldn't agree with you more. Book II remains the dominant game in most aspects.
Is there no one besides me who is fondest of Book I?! :shock:

I still think Book I has the best overall story. Book II has a more expansive gameworld (and vastly superior gameplay with the introduction of things like hunger and feats), but a lot of the Book II gameworld feels overly "empty" and I don't think the story is nearly as strong as Book I's.

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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by Ssschah » July 10th, 2014, 10:17 pm

IJBall wrote:
Ssschah wrote:I couldn't agree with you more. Book II remains the dominant game in most aspects.
Is there no one besides me who is fondest of Book I?! :shock:

I still think Book I has the best overall story. Book II has a more expansive gameworld (and vastly superior gameplay with the introduction of things like hunger and feats), but a lot of the Book II gameworld feels overly "empty" and I don't think the story is nearly as strong as Book I's.
Book I was a solid game, and I think even better than III. I just think Book II was better overall. The game felt much stronger, faster-paced, more open. While the story was lacking, just about everything else was excellent. My opinion is a little-biased since I struggled on Book I (the game with no hunger/equipment duration ironically enough), and the bad ending struck some sort of fear chord; that horrifying music at the end... *shudders*
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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by Mod » July 10th, 2014, 10:47 pm

I might be a little fonder of Book II considering it was the first that I played in the series. In fact, I didn't play Book I until I decided to play both I and II to prepare myself for the third and remind myself of and fill in on important plot details. So not only played II first, but significantly more play time. Despite a bias that could result from this, I still think that Book II is a better game objectively.

I like the story. It didn't lack anywhere. But it felt very distant from that of Book II and III. It felt like a prologue. The Orakur are mentioned very little, and it doesn't do much but give a reason for the Taurax invasion. Not much toward the parts that are most important to Book II and III. You might have good reasons to disagree, but you can't argue that you can open into Book III as your first game as easily as you can for Book II. I didn't have a problem with it feeling empty like you did.

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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by Ssschah » July 11th, 2014, 10:33 am

Prismatic Maelstrom wrote:I've never understood why people were surprised that meeting with Karamiklan was the end of the game. Were none of you touching the quick travel markers?

I came prepared for a fight but nothing could prepare me for the ending cinematic. :(
Well, a cinematic of a dragon was rather disappointing. I, for one, was expecting a physical unit like in Avernum.
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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by IJBall » July 11th, 2014, 2:55 pm

Ssschah wrote:
Prismatic Maelstrom wrote:I've never understood why people were surprised that meeting with Karamiklan was the end of the game. Were none of you touching the quick travel markers?

I came prepared for a fight but nothing could prepare me for the ending cinematic. :(
Well, a cinematic of a dragon was rather disappointing. I, for one, was expecting a physical unit like in Avernum.
I thought that at first, but I strongly suspected we wouldn't get that after BW removed the "flying dragon" from Book III's opening cinematic painting... :(

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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by MyGameCompany » July 11th, 2014, 3:37 pm

IJBall wrote:Is there no one besides me who is fondest of Book I?! :shock:

I still think Book I has the best overall story. Book II has a more expansive gameworld (and vastly superior gameplay with the introduction of things like hunger and feats), but a lot of the Book II gameworld feels overly "empty" and I don't think the story is nearly as strong as Book I's.
Book I is my favorite, though I'm also very fond of Book II. And I agree with most of your points, though I felt the story in Book II was nearly as good. There were certainly some epic-feeling moments in Book II, like reaching Broken Blade, finding it overrun by boreheads, and learning about Sparrow's betrayal. Or stealing the crux from Hammerlorne. Or being caught camping in the middle of a fierce thunderstorm in the black of night and scrambling to defend myself when I can't see, can't light a torch, and can't shoot my bow straight.
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Check out my Book III mods: The Mystery of Rockhammer Mine and Expedition into West Mirkland

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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by Ssschah » July 11th, 2014, 4:51 pm

MyGameCompany wrote:Or being caught camping in the middle of a fierce thunderstorm in the black of night and scrambling to defend myself when I can't see, can't light a torch, and can't shoot my bow straight.
Better yet, dying of thirst in that very same storm.
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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by Randomizer » July 12th, 2014, 10:59 am

MyGameCompany wrote: Or being caught camping in the middle of a fierce thunderstorm in the black of night and scrambling to defend myself when I can't see, can't light a torch, and can't shoot my bow straight.
Mine was in Book II when I finally got the torch to light only to see slimes coming at my level 3 character. Then extinguishing the torch and trying to runaway when I can't see bushes in my way.

Book III was too short to take advantage of all the skills that I wanted like in Book II. Money wasn't a problem if you had mercantile and repair so you could camp out and repair low quality items to resell. But camping out to gain experience wasn't as much fun.

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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by Lord_P » July 15th, 2014, 12:28 am

It pains me to admit this but I, too, think that Book III was maybe the weakest of the three. It's not bad, it's actually good, but still weaker than the other two.

Book II was the longest, had the largest world (I like big worlds) and most possibilities for fan expansion (I can think of a few places). Maybe, when the dev tools are suitably advanced, someone could recreate Book II in Book III's engine?

P.S. I mean no offense. All the best to you, BW, and may your wrangling be ever bountiful.

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Re: Opinions on Book III (SPOILERS)

Post by Painted Lady » July 15th, 2014, 8:40 am

IJBall wrote: Is there no one besides me who is fondest of Book I?! :shock:

I still think Book I has the best overall story. Book II has a more expansive gameworld (and vastly superior gameplay with the introduction of things like hunger and feats), but a lot of the Book II gameworld feels overly "empty" and I don't think the story is nearly as strong as Book I's.
I really love all of BW's games, but Book I has a special place in my heart. One reason might be that it was my first ever RPG, and it made me fall in love with the genre. But, it's also more than that. Everything from the wonderful music to the story line to the well-balanced skills (even if Hide in Shadows is a tad bit strong) makes it fun to play over and over with different character types.

There were some great modifications to Book II. I particularly enjoy being able to get extra points for the bonus challenges, and I thought the food/water option was a great idea.

I keep hoping someone will do an Ash Island mod for Book I........

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