I'm posting this message to give my opinion on the playtest of Pathfinder 2.0. I have not been very vocal on this forum because I really wanted to have an opinion of my own and not influenced whatsoever.
My experience in the game
Before I start, I have to tell you what I played and how I played it so you know where my experience comes from. Here are the characters I have theory crafted (to the 10th level minimum) and sometimes actually played:
- Sorcerer full spell caster: This build was more oriented towards blast even though I quickly realized it’s not very efficient…
- Sorcerer / Fighter: This is the build I have read about lately in the forum, it is oriented towards casting spells then attacking with a weapon. That was my main character for chapters 1 ; 4 and 7
- Rogue Dual Wield melee : I played it for chapter 2
- Druid melee with Animal companion: The build was oriented towards having an animal companion that was more of a support to my melee damage than a true damage dealer.
- Cleric / Fighter / Healer: The idea is to make a combatant capable of surviving almost anything while still doing a lot of damage to the monsters. I’m playing it for chapter 3
- Warrior Tank (weapon and shield): This build is more oriented towards the group; the idea is to stop any enemy from approaching my allies with “reach” and with the attack of opportunity. I play it for chapter 4
- Wizard Versatile: This build was created to really reproduce the wizard we are all used to. It was revolving around having the correct spell at the correct time either in combat or out of combat.
- Paladin: This build was created as a level 4 character. I did not have time to make it level 10 but it was very similar to the one above “Cleric / Fighter / healer”. The idea was to create the perfectly balanced combatant. I turned to the cleric pretty quickly
So now to the interesting part: my conclusions on this playtest will be organized in the three following sections:
I. Feedback on the character creation
Overall, I liked the character creation, I find that for a new system, taking in consideration that it only includes a part of what the final rulebook will be, it allows for amazing combinations. And, even if many options from Pathfinder 1.0 are, understandably, not here, this playtest satisfied me enough to keep going. I heard the ancestry system is a subject of discordance, but I found it refreshing. The way it is done lets you play almost any race with any class, you can even create a gnome barbarian! How awesome is that! ^^ The way characteristics work is great because now you don’t have to create a smelly asocial to be effective in combat. Moreover, the background is tied to your score now, you are even more encouraged to think through your roleplay while building your character.
The character creation is, however, hindered by a big problem in my opinion: the class balance. Overall, every class is playable and can be useful to a group of player, but my problem with the balance as it is right now is that many classes only allow for ONE possible option to be played effectively. Some class have been well done in this new system, I enjoyed playing the rogue and the fighter, I saw the monk in action as well and they each have their own flavour and style. But, some other classes just lack the options and the flavour like the wizard, the sorcerer, the druid and the ranger for instance. Arcane spellcasters are globally bad in the current state of the game, they serve nothing and the only way to optimise them right now is to multiclass Fighter. I think the problem can be solved easily and there are multiple ways to improve them. For example, just giving them more spell slots per day would be sufficient to give them the versatility they cruelly lack right now. I have not been exploring every class but the worst probably is the alchemist: I don’t even know what it can be used for and that is sad… I hope the devs have some ideas to make it right.
Another bad thing about character creation in my opinion is the loot system. I just have to put my most ugly thumb down on this, it is horrible and frustrating. The loot tables (from which we are supposed to buy our starting equipment) are unbalanced and not thought through. Some items just feel like they have been squeezed here for the sake of making the list bigger. So every Magic Item level you have a list of mostly worthless items. So for example on the level 6 list you have the choice between a superb dancing scarf allowing you to dance better and be stealthier! Yay! Alternatively, you might choose the Ring of Lies with its magnificent +2 bonus on deception and a very situational 1rst level spell… Of course I’m not going to extend on every item in the least and I’m not saying that all items are useless in the treasure tables, far from it, but seriously, just get everything useless out of it and there is way too few interesting or badass items. I like that you have to choose only one characteristic enhancement item though.
Last but not least about character creation, the skill feats. I just find them too situational, and some skills are just forgotten in the process. Why become master / legendary in arcana, nature, religion or society except for a little +1/+2 bonus on the skill. Additionally, Skill feats are a pain to choose each time I create a character. Maybe improve the way the table reads with a column concisely resuming what the feat does because searching in the book a specific feat and ending up disappointed by the effect repeatedly is frustrating!
II. Feedback on the game’s systems
I think the game’s system are fine right now. Sure, there are some balance that needs to be done, and I won’t repeat everything people already say on the forums. I find that the action economy is action-oriented and dynamic, which is good. The only thing I would say about the game’s systems is that it uses “the DC is dependent on the GM appreciation” too many times, A rule should be simple, written and understood by everyone in the same manner. So either the devs should state exactly the type of DC everything refers to compared to the table page 336 (table 10-2 Skills DCS by level and difficulty), or they should just put an arbitrary DC for every action in the game.
III. Feedback on the module
The module felt pretty good. I like the difficulty of the game even though sometimes it was pretty hard. I like that players now have to think to win a fight, and yes, hot-headed players might die quickly. I especially like the fact that the current difficulty forces you to think of the consumables and actually use them more often.
The current dying system is very weak though because if players just play in team, it is almost impossible to really die. The only thing this system encourages is that players stay on the ground longer and play less… Oh and it is even more random than before!^^ I expect the devs to have 3rd system we can test rather quickly and that will prove more solid.
The module lacks opportunities for roleplay but that was to be expected in a playtest module. Overall the story is interesting and it feels good to play many different characters to test the system and its limits.
Overall I am mitigated about this new system. I like what they did with the martial classes, but the spellcasters feel pretty useless and boring right now. they are generally just cantrip spammers and if you optimize a little bit you will often find yourself just attacking monsters in melee with every class. But what I like about this system is many little improvments that make the game flow much better. I think if I have to go back to Pathfinder 1.0 to find the balance I liked so much, I will miss all these little improvements they’ve made in Pathfinder 2.0.
Creating a character has never been so much fun ! Moreover, combat has never been so rythmic and demanding ; I don’t feel like Fighter combat can be summarized by “I… move and I hit hard!” anymore. I just hope they correct the imbalances and the problems related to character progression.