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(I will make many comparisons to Diablo 1 & 2 here, to give an example of what I mean)

So, I've bought Last Epoch a couple of months ago and played through the beginning of it but never felt like pushing all the way to the end. I haven't played it in a couple of weeks by now. Somehow, it just didn't click with me, but I couldn't quite figure out why - after replaying Diablo 1 & 2 recently, I think I know why Last Epoch didn't really grab me:

For me, it's hard to connect to the setting, due to very generic NPCs and frequent location switches. In the span of an hour, we jump through at least 3 very different locations, with some initial plot points that quickly seem irrelevant or dismissed, just to end up in a hub area that feels artificial and not connected to anything. Along the way, I couldn't name (or describe) a single character, except maybe "the edgy chick with an attitude" or "that old wise guy who gives me quests".

If I compare this to a game like Diablo 1 & 2, even side characters are memorable - even without knowing the names. I could give you a few words and you would probably know who I'm describing:

  • A witch with questionable motivations selling you potions outside of town
  • He knows a little bit about everything and identifies your stuff, after you rescue him
  • Little brat who wants your cash before he even shows you his wares and has a leg full of gold
  • Soft-spoken priestess who tasks you to clear out place of evil, heals you on every conversation, likes purple
  • Bathes in the blood of virgins and guards her fortune inside her tower

While I haven't played the entirety of Last Epoch yet, this kind of characterization just wasn't there for me; which makes the world feel empty. The pacing in itself, seems problematic as well: I don't even have the time for this world to grow on me, before I get pulled to the next area with different NPCs in it. There are no stakes for me, because I don't get the time to care about anyone. The whole beginning feels rushed just to get to the "main hub".

If I had to brainstorm ways to improve that:

Slower pacing, the first shard should have been an entire Act in itself

This is about the pacing in general, I'll use this as an example.

The first part, before even meeting Balthas and getting the shard could be used to get a better understanding of the setting. Instead of just running through a camp of fugitives, fight a dozen enemies and meet an injured Balthas and jump into a different setting... why not actually have that camp be our initial hub area, perhaps even with Balthas as a major NPC, with us trying to help in the conflict only for the story to gradually reveal the importance of the shard. Balthas, who we now actually know, gets fatally injured while the whole camp gets destroyed. He gives us (someone he knows and trusts) the important task to save his daughter and the shard. This would make us care about what is lost, about a major character death, etc.

As a thought experiment: replace "Balthas" with "Deckard Cain" - and now imagine how much impact Deckard's death would've had at the end of Act 1.

Currently, the game feels a little bit as if in Diablo 2, the first Act would only consist of us clearing the Den of Evil and then moving on to Act 2.

Add more gossip, give characters something to say about the world, events and each other

One thing that really surprised me when playing LE for the first time: nobody really has anything to say. I expected something similar to Diablo, where every character has something to say, or even something to say about other characters in the same hub. It makes the world feel more alive; these people know each other and each has their own perspective.

I guess this is basically a side-effect of each beginning "hub area" being abandoned so quickly that the game doesn't even have time to really introduce anyone - one more reason to slow down the pacing.

My expectation would be that each character has a list of topics / names, to click on, and hear a little bit of what they have to say on the topic. It doesn't have to be short, either. Even better if it's voice-acted!

More characters with problems (and side quests)

Side quests are an excellent way to do some world building, introduce story elements or character moments, and give us something to do. Even better if these side quests culminate into us killing a bad guy and hear about what he/she did to deserve it. The few side-quests I remember felt rather generic to me, and more in line with what I would expect in WoW than in a plot-driven (still) Singleplayer game.

I'll take "Armoury Aid" as an example: A captain tasks us to save his nameless soldiers. Find the Quartermaster. Now here we would have had an opportunity for some story or mistery, but instead it's just a "go find them" quest. Why not have something more here, like the captain mentioning some monster/beast that they were desperately trying to hold off, telling us how much destruction that thing has brought and his men needing help? Or maybe add an edge to the Captain, who just wants revenge for what the creature did and acts a bit out of line and not in the interest of everyone involved by risking more soldiers than he should? Make things more personal, more interesting - it's the end of the world, people can have faults under that amount pressure. Tell a story. Not just "go check on my men", "go find Quartermaster".

No generic traders, separate each role

Don't just have one trader that does everything; specialize them. It gives each trader a unique job that fits their character and wares (a smith, a tavern owner, a black market, an alchemist, etc). I guess this might get better later on, but the first couple of traders really are just completely generic and forgettable. As far as I recall, they don't even say anything - they are just the "trader NPC", like in an MMORPG.

Make the characters actually interesting or at least recognizable

I'm not saying that each character should be complex and three-dimensional, that would be distracting. But actually making each character distinctive and more than just a "token" to fill a role, would add a lot of depth to the setting. After playing the beginning of LE, I can maybe recall 3-4 characters in total, but couldn't tell you a single thing about their personality or quirks. That just feels off.

As an example, I could bring up PoE Heist: They introduced a dozen characters, but each is memorable: Nerdy engineer chick, Garret, gentle giant with a preference for bubbly baths, an explosives expert with dementia, cliché gay trader, paranoid atheist interrogator, stuck-up actress, a russian scout, professional soldier, etc. Each character is easily recognizable and unique, even if most of them are cliché.

Give named enemies some backstory or foreshadowing, have more "named enemies" as stepping stones

To bring up Diablo 2 as an example again: The first thing everyone talks about, is Bloodraven - then we kill her. On the way, we can read stories about the Countess and what she did - then we kill her. During the whole Act, we hear about how the cloister was corrupted and taken over - then we clean it out. The butcher is another good example of this. Each "named boss" has some lore and is talked about in some way.

Last Epoch could really benefit from more of this too. I can only recall one major villain being mentioned like this, the Immortal Emperor - but that seems like a greater-scope villain, what about the stepping stones on the way there?

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As mentioned, I haven't played through the whole game. This is my experience as a first time player. Maybe all this is fixed in the last chapter, but that doesn't really change my issues here - it should be done well throughout the whole game, not just the last hub area.

Sorry for the rant, I just tried to analyze why I couldn't get into the game despite really wanting to. The gameplay itself is enjoyable and just what I would've expected - I just hope the game reaches a point where the actual world it's set in feels more interesting as well. I hope I didn't upset too many people with this :)

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14 days ago - /u/moxjet200 - Direct link

Hey everyone,

this post has received some updoots so I’ll jump in here with some insight.

First off, what you’re bringing up is something that is very prominently talked about internally and one of our biggest upcoming initiatives to address. There will be quite a lot of changes coming to the campaign to make the world feel better - from dialogue, chapter pacing, NPC visuals

, voice acting, events and more. You’ll see the start of this with things like dialogue visuals
for NPCs in the upcoming Eternal Legends patch on Dec 10.

Most of the campaign was created when we were a much smaller team with a very small budget, and over time we’ve gone back to slap some makeup on the campaign zones as we create new assets and have had small bits of extra time. However, now that Last Epoch is gaining traction and our resources and team are expanding we have a much greater capacity to go back and address the feel of the world. You can see the direction we’re heading if you’ve played the newest chapter in the Sands of Majasa release - but even that chapter lacked some of the voice acting and visuals we were hoping to get in because we’re dead set on releasing content roughly every 12 weeks. We'll be backdating it with those additions. If you play that chapter you can see the new bar and can expect quality to only rise from there.

With that being said, this is a good opportunity to say we’re hiring! If you'd like to join us to bring the world of Eterra to life we'd love to chat with you. You can see open positions here https://lastepoch.com/careers and on our new studio website that we’re launching next week (I’ll come back and update with that URL).

TLDR; We very much agree and with our studio's expanding resources it is a big upcoming initiative to address the "presentation" of game content.

Thank you for your feedback - you guys are the best