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Default Wizardry 8 - Swimming with the Psi-Sharks

October 3rd, 2008, 14:00
Can you believe this is the 11th entry in Rampant Coyote's Wizardry 8 adventure? We're up to the Psi-Sharks - some design comments:
Okay. I'm still loving Wizardry 8, but I got some real serious bones to pick with it at this point.

Number one - long, thin zones with lots of patrolling monsters. Like the water caves. And the road. And some other areas. There are monsters here EVERY time. Kill a zillion bandits, and a zillion more return on your return trip. The combats feel like just a way to stretch out the game - by a significant margin. When I'm spending an hour just "getting through" to someplace interesting, there's a problem.

Number two - scaling encounters. I'm actually not opposed to scaling encounters in principle, but it really robs the game of a feeling of progress. When every encounter is roughly the same difficulty level, it also robs the game of a lot of its texture. It robs the player of a chance to simply "come back later" to a too-difficult section, because said section of the game will simply be increased to an even greater difficulty level later. Wizardry 8 isn't quite as bad as Oblivion in this respect, but I'm still not thrilled with the approach. Psi-sharks are wicked-hard, and would be fine as major encounters. But spending forty-five minutes out of every hour fighting them gets really, really tedious.
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October 3rd, 2008, 14:00
Keep 'em coming. Overall, Wiz8 tends to favor charging to melee range and whacking away. When you get close to the psi-sharks, they start to melee, which they're not terribly good at. Magic screen plus soul shield should be enough to keep you out of the worst trouble until you can complete your charge and start the blunt force trauma.

The autoleveler is a major point of contention among players. It's set up by level ranges within any given map, so you can be at the top of a range and be a bit ahead of the critters, gain a level and suddenly find yourself a bit behind the critters. It's not a stark transition, but it's there if you know what to look for. Sure, it's fun to return to an area where you struggled and be able to deal out some uber-malice, but that fun lasts about half way thru the first battle. After that, it's mostly boring drudgery. Keeping critters matched to your party +/- a handful of levels maintains the challenge for me. Definitely a matter of opinion, though.

Axes are a bit under-represented and are often limited to use by rangers. The Beastmaster Axe that Antone will build for you is a major disappointment by the time you get the final ingredient, too. Legit complaint.

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October 3rd, 2008, 18:39
I think he writes very good what made me disliking the game in the end.

I loved Wizardry 8 - especially for the extremely high amount of details in this world (or so it appeared to me), but the combat …

It really gave me a similar "no prograss" feeling …

I'm used to the concept of "clearing an area", that's why I don't like any form of respawn at all.

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October 3rd, 2008, 18:49
Did you like the M&M approach to respawn and opponents? There was a certain joy in coming back to Harmondale and dropping meteor showers on the goblins while flying, but that joy just didn't last long for me. I do think I preferred that version of respawn, though. Once a year, the map repopulates. Maintains a bit of challenge, but doesn't ruin that "mowing the map" feeling.

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October 3rd, 2008, 20:09
Yeah, that respawn thing made my first playthrough of Wiz8 quite a pain.

Without a walkthrough I often wasn´t sure where to go next and for example running back and forth in Trynton looking for the way how to repair that goddamn bridge was, eh, memorable. Or running around certain castle without not knowing that I can make its inhabitants
Spoiler
And those Bayjin related areas were certainly one of the hardest in the whole game. Also, because of Nessie in the way I completely missed a certain tunnel leading to a main quest critical area and only found it by accident a lot later. Ah, memories.

I might add though that Nessie is quite easily dispensable at lower levels than 18 with good spell protections, summoned elemental for occasional distraction and superman cast at melee damage dealers. Well, in my first playthrough I didn´t know all the possibilities properly and in the end never killed her cos I was too scared to return to those evil waters again .

Subsequent runs were much more enjoyable for me since I could plan my routes, place portals more strategically and concentrate more on the character development which is the real meat of the game.

This probably isn´t exactly the best place to mention it, but newest Dodd´s mod, along with Daegan´s tweaks made Wiz8 gameplay much more comfortable.
Of course, it made the game a lot tougher in some places but in some other senses also much easier:
a) diversity of items was raised dramatically so such problems as not having a cool axe for a fighter were significantly reduced
b) there´s A LOT of items with hit point and spell point regenerating attributes, so one almost doesn´t need to rest and thus can avoid respawns
c) offensive spells are much stronger and can wipe out some of the bigger groups in no time

Btw, I´ve played M&M7 with the new mod quite recently and combat was usually a bigger clickfest than minesweeper .

I´m really looking forward to what Coyote will have to say about the rapax areas.
Last edited by DeepO; October 3rd, 2008 at 20:22.
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October 3rd, 2008, 23:53
Sorry, but I didn't play M&M enough to see any significant Respawn-Rate there. So i can't judge.

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October 4th, 2008, 20:43
I'm looking forward to all of that too. The axe thing is really bugging me right now - I've been tempted to start my fighter on swords or something (I think her skill is around 18 or something). But she's a dwarf, goldurnit, and my dwarves like axes!

There's a lot more to like than dislike about this game, certainly. I'm having a blast. But the better a game, the more noticeable its flaws.
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October 5th, 2008, 04:27
I think they simply ran out of time, money and steam. Pity about the axes, but I guess sometimes you have to balance realism with practicality. I always give my chars sword ability since there's usually more swords available than any other weapon.

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October 5th, 2008, 09:11
The guy is gonna love rapax castle……

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