Currently playing: Avadon 2 - The Corruption, Wolfenstein - The new order

March 17, 2017

Avadon 2 - The Corruption - Ploughing through

It was a long time since my last post but I can assure you that I have played Avadon 2 since. According to Steam I have played for at least 35 hours. I have no idea how far I have have come but I would guess somewhere halfway and my party is at level 19.

In the Avadon series you play yourself but on every adventure you are allowed to bring two other followers from a list of all those you have met and befriended. For me, that means I have around five other members to choose from and depending on the task I can take those most suitable. That is for the most part impossible to know in advance but you could get back to the Avadon fortress and repick your party. The good thing is that all gain experience points even those that are not participating so you don´t need to train each and every one like in the old Bars´s Tale.

Since last time I have become a Hand of Avadon and have been sent out on various missions that  belong to the mainquest. I have either helped out allies with local problems like cleaning an ogre lair or investigate things or follow the traitor Miranda - a former highranking Hand of Avadon - that collaborates with the rebels in the land. My quests have taken me to the lands of corruption where the evil and chaotic influence is particularly strong and impossible to understand or contain. Avadon have some bases there to keep track of this phenomenon to be able to better understand it but with no success and some of them have already been overrun. I have been part of missions sent there to investigate what is happening and also to give advice of which policy Avadon should take on that. Everywhere you meeet NPC:s that are willing to give you sidequests.

The mainstory is quite good and even though the side quests are very cliché there are some original ones as well. But what really distinguishes Avadon from other similar games is that the dialogues and texts are not boring or tiresome to read. Often the texts are intelligent in the way that they describe what you actually would want to know and questions you would like to have asked. You often have several dialogue options but most of them does not affect much and you can go back to the NPC to repeat them all. For me this is a major thing because I felt that the texts in Pillars of Eternity was just boring to read. Here I don´t tire as easily and the writer manage to keep up the interest. I suppose that is what differs a poor from a good writer.

What I also like is that there are atmospheric texts that elaborate on what you see, feel and hear. They are often really well written and add to the immersion of the game.

I have read opinions that Avadon 2 contains too much fights and gets repetitive and I am inclined to agree to some extent. But there is not more fighting here than in any other Bioware title.

Combat is turnbased and you have action points (AP) to spend on movements, attacking, using abilities or items. The number of AP is derived from your dexterity but if you attack you immediately end your round. There is no flanking bonuses as such but your movement is hindered if you pass into enemies zone of control. Enemy A.I is generally quite good and tries to take out your weakest characters first and surround you. I have found that you can use the environment to your advantage by blocking small passageways or fighting at doors so enemy number superiority won´t count as much.

Enemy spellcasters could be really tough and often I try to take them out as soon as possible. Especially if they summon creatures to fight at their side. Enemies also have a lot of different resistances and abilities like fire breathing or raining poisions so there is some diversity involved.

Looting in the game is not as rewarding as I have hoped. You will find chests here and there but they often contain only potions or some valuables. The merchants in the game have limited stocks and powerful weapons is hard to come by. Most of my weapons have been dropped by bosses. This makes exploration less fun than it could be.

At every level you gain one point to put into an attribute and two skill points. Every character class generally have three different branches in their skill tree. The more you put into one skill the more effective it gets. At level 3 and level 6 it adds another bonus. That causes motivation for specialising. The skills further away on the tree is more powerful but you can only put as many points in a tree node as you have put in the immediate previous skill node which forces you to some careful planning. Fortunately you will meet persons later in the game where you can respend your skill points.

We will see if I have the patience to get through to the end with this game. The fights have generally become harder and harder the further I get. When I first met Miranda in a fight and was held hostage at a demons mercy I thought I had got stuck. I had to change difficulty one step below normal to be able to survive that fight. I had to do that at the ogre boss fight as well. I feel I lack the offensive spells I would like and while my fighters are good there are no better weapons to buy for them despite me having enough gold.

Next post will probably be my review....

February 14, 2017

Avadon 2 - The Corruption: A new beginning

In my desperate attempt to find new and old crpgs to play I tried out several ones during the last months that I didn´t like. I stumbled across a newly released game called Mines of Grimvale that I payed for, only to feel cheated by getting a freeware Dungeon Master 2 clone from 2001 with only 2 levels, no story and no manual. The game was obviously not built from scratch but a package built from existing modules.

I also bought Gods: Lands of infinity SE which was a huge disappointment and a blend between a trade simulator and an RPG but with a lifeless world. Too bad.

A few years ago, actually before starting up this blog, I played Avadon the Black Fortress which I liked very much. A stable, solid partybased RPG with turn-based combat and an interesting story. So when the successor was on sale not too long ago I bought it to have in reserve in my game library and now was the time to start it up. One hour into the game I felt once again sucked into this world and game engine.

The gameworld is quite elaborate with the Pact being a confederation of allied countries that try to cooperate to keep an external threat at bay: The Farlands. To oversee that no kingdom in the alliance takes more power than granted or abuse the alliance there is a council called Avadon, a sort of police/military organisation that keep the order and are led by the legendary Redbeard.

You begin the game at one of the Pacts outposts in an area with bitter feuds between the locl tribes which both claim the lands. You are on a patrol together with a scout and you discover some very strange things happening. Something is going on. Advanced mines are found in the vegetation and giant rats have infested the area. Soon you discover tracks of humanoids and rebels which you have to fight. This is clearly not just skirmishes of unorganized raiders.

During this first hour the game plays out like an tutorial. I learn a lot by my scout wingman and togheter we investigate the area until we have to split up and take different roads to shake of followers. Unfortunately things are not getting as well for my scout as for me. He is hunted down by a Titan that smash him down and carry him away. I have no idea if he is dead or not and cannot intervene because of the bitter odds.

I have to return back to the fort and tell the commander of what has happened. When I arrive the fort have just survived an attack itself and bodies lies everywhere but the fort still holds. I examine the whole fort and find out more about what is happening in these parts of the lands. The outpost is clearly in dire need of reinforcements and the commander wish me to send a report of what is happening to Avadon about this.

In the fort I stumble across all basic structures in a small community like a blacksmith and different shops. I also get to know a few other collegues which happen to be hands of Avalon (a fine and honorary title) which are willing to join me to report back to Avadon. You control the other characters just as your own character and develop them when they level up. This is of course one of the major highlights in a roleplaying game.

At each level up you are given one attribute point and two skill points to spend. Each class have different skill trees with abilitites that you can use during combat. Each use drain your vitality which can only be restored back in the Avadon fortress or by using potions. Also, each ability must cooldown a number of turns before you can use it again. The good thing is that you can increase the power of each skill by spending more points in it, gaining even stronger effects. To plan your skilltree advancement is also one of the stimulating but challenging things in this game.

Planning the skilltree

Back to my adventures. To reach Avadon I needed to go to a stone portal far out from the outpost and the road was blocked by rebels and roaming creatures. Eventually I come across a small village and heard terrible tales from the few inhabitants still there. I helped out scaring away a mercenary band camped just outside a farm and I destroyed several nests of spiders and other creatures that had begun to inhabit this area. In the end my progress are stopped by evil forces belonging to the rebels. They knew messengers were on the way to Avadon and one of their semileaders tried to stop me. This resultet in several fights against him and his minions but eventually I got to the teleporter stones and could get back to Avadon for a report.

Avadon is a huge fortress on several levels and it took me some time to explore it and talk to all the NPC:s. It was possible to get some sidequests here before I made my report to one of Redbeards lieutentants. It was decided I should return back to the outpost to help out the commander personally and act as the reinforcement. While at the fort you are alone but as soon as you use the teleporter stones to different areas you are allowed to bring two or more allies. Even if you don´t bring some of them they will still get the same amount of experience as the ones you take so you won´t feel you have to choose early which will be your permanent followers. This is a good thing.

I won´t spoil much more of what has happened except that the story is one of the strong points. The texts and dialogues are well written without feeling like they are too long or boring. That was the case for me in Pillars of Eternity. I am now at level 11 and have done at least a dozen sidequests and progressed in the mainquest. The game still feels fresh after around 6 hours into it but I have no idea how big the game will turn out to be.

I will return in another post about how the combat and magic works in the game.