It's like watching typical Linux desktop Distro development. For instance, for more than a decade, developers and OEMs have struggling with proper ALSA support. Just when we finally got a stable, nearly fully supported audio system for Linux, BOOM! Suddenly Pulseaudio comes out nowhere because apparently someone needs some features that 99.5% of people won't use ever, making the whole investment on Linux audio moot. The best thing is that the features which are actually so badly needed for people (like, as a just average computer person, I have no knowledge and unwilling to re-compile Kernel or install specific distro just for low-latency support for productive work or just listening to high-quality music.) are ignored to oblivion.
And very surprisingly, despite being developed by a company very familiar with Windows development, LH follows the above example.
1. Reinventing the wheel.... by breaking it further.
By no means the whole RPG system in FE is perfect. There are some glare flaws here and there, but it has still far better than 'improved' Legendary Heroes's RPG system. Yes, RNG element is indeed double-edged sword, and I am pretty sure some people still prefer randomized traits over pre-defined paths. From my personal opinion, it is actually a step in right direction, but this is very subjective matter. At best we can say it is 'tweaked', but no way we can claim the current LH system as 'improved'.
The problem is with very short release time, those 'tweaked' features are hardly complete. An example would be removal of encumbrance. Instead of further refine the current system, Stardock decides to remove it entirely and made heroes and troops depended on specific traits. By doing so, a lot of hero items and balance features are completely out of whack.
Sure, these can be fixed later, but my point is that Stardock did not have to do this in the first place. Like, instead of making pre-defined paths and introducing yet another large amount of hard-coded features that making the game further un-moddable as if current state is not enough to troll modders, they could slightly tweak current RNG system and enhance encumbrance system.
Really, those two are probably only needed for the whole hero/RPG system from FE. Other than it needed more contents, the system itself was the most completed feature in FE. There are far more broken things that absolutely need to be fixed, yet Stardock chooses the most finished element and decides to re-invent. And of course, with shorter period it is just mess and half-finished. I mean like outdated XP split system. Please let D&D rules die already and move on to more modern system... like the one FE kinda has.
I am so shocked that somehow LH turned out to be far less completed game than FE, despite further man-power and assets have been poured.
2. Ignored crucial aspects..... get ignored, AGAIN.
There are issues that are as old as WOM days, only to be never fixed and properly ignored, while new problems keep coming out, only to be (again) not fixed. One of the biggest problem is that AI never plays with same rule as player. Yes, no way AI can handle quests as human players do, but that's not my point. There are things AI simply ignores while players cannot ignore, such as....
Treaties and pretty much the whole diplomacy as whole.
Resources and research bonuses (probably byproduct of diplomacy issue)
Glitches caused by the game engine (infamous city raze issue.)
No, I don't expect AI to be good in the first place. With current technologies, AI sucks and will be bad for my lifetime. What I want is that AIs should follow the same rules that applied upon players. Currently it does not happen at all. Today I see the resource stat of AIs again.... and AGAIN I see negative resources such as -245 metal and -100 mana. Why a human player cannot have negative resources when AI can. Either a human player should have access to go negative resource or AIs should not allow to have go negative resources. There are more issues such as broken modding and never-fulfilled promises on illusive python conversation, and dry 4X elements as well.
3. Some get actually improved/fixed/added. But do they outweigh negative points?
Sure, we got a new campaign. While it is really nothing more than a custom game with pre-defined positions and quests, but I do see some efforts are done on the campaign. I also see there are some new quests a.k.a random events to sauce the game with new items, which I like. But there are just too few to say LH is better than FE. If Stardock did not waste effort and money on reinventing hero parts, and instead focused on adding more quests, more items and more new monsters, LH would had been actually worthwhile to buy it.
4. The problems of Elemental... From least problematic to the most severe issue that making the game not-worthwhile.
Currently, I say LH worth probably 20 bucks or less IF a buyer is a first buyer for Elemental series. For those who bought FE already, even upgrade price is not really worth it.... if the prices go below 5 bucks, do consider picking it up for added contents alone. FE is still the most wise/best choice and it is definitely worth for current price (30 bucks) Those who have not picked up EF yet, you guys should pick up FE already. FE is far better than WoM and definitely better than LH despite having less contents.
Now, in order to make LH to be worth for 40 bucks, and making following expansions/DLC/new games Stardock worth to consider buying, following things should happen, to the least important to the most important.
(6) There needs to be the whole balance overhaul. Thanks to unnecessary tweaks, the game balance is just... destroyed. Someone needs to pick the pieces and put it together to match the quality of FE.
Why this is no.6 : Balance is also a subjective matter, and can be fixed/tweaked to good extent, even with bare-minimum modding capability the game has.
(5) The game needs more contents. For example, we need crapload of 'Epic' quests, some more 'Deadly' quests and a few 'Strong' quests. And a new item or two.
Why this is no.5 : Like balance issue, adding things aren't hard except asset parts. And the game already has a lot of contents.... only problem is the concentration of contents distributed is unbalanced.
(4) There are just so many bugs it is not even funny (almost as bad as Minecraft case). We need to fix the game before add any more stuffs.
Why this is no.4 : Fortunately, the game is definitely well-playable for most of people, and most of bugs are only recognizable only when players get used to the game and know the mechanics.
(3) AIs : No I don't mean making AIs smarter. What I want is AIs should follow the same rules as human player forced to follow. Otherwise a human player and AIs play different game. This completely breaks immersion of the game. Seriously no more negative resources, ridiculous diplomacy please.
Why this is no.3 : Other games aren't that better. Only problem is that Elemental's AIs are not playing same rules. Otherwise thanks to Brad's skill, other parts of AIs are quite decent.
(2) Modding : Seriously, there is a reason why almost all of old-timers and prominent modders stopped working on the game. DLCs and expansion packs in this age won't save your game and restore your company's reputation, but good modding support will.
Why this is no.2 : Modding alone can fix all above 4 problems by itself. If we can mod the AI and mod without bugs, hard-coded stuffs and inconsistencies, I would be modding the game right now instead of making this another whining post, and modding section would had been much more vivid. Still, I must admit even modding is not the most severe problem of this game... so here no.1 comes...
(1) Boring early game : My opinion on early game of ALL of Stardock's 4X games, with few reservations : unbelievably bad.
Just go play games like even... heck, Warlock : Master Of Arcane. The difference is so huge in this aspect that makes people wonder whether Stardock is intentionally trying to make a boring game.
Actually this early game issue has been kept improving (yes, WoM has much worse early game. Believe it or not), but still, the early game is like a chore which is supposed to be attract players to play the game more. Yes, quests really helped this issue, among with all of tweaks being done, but we still need MORE early game spells, MORE choices, and MORE interesting stuffs to explore about. Make base movement allowance to 3 from 2, and buff ALL professions, including even so-called overpowered BeastLord and Armorer. And all factions should be able to make more interesting units other than spearmen, militia, scout and pioneer.
Why this is no.1 : Despite it is also can be fixed by modding (wow, modding is indeed a magic wand, isn't it?) the issue has been so overdue yet so severe that needs immediate fixes before the interests in this game dies away.
Last thought before I finish this post : Stardock complains people whine too much compared to other forums. I choked myself when I first read such statement. This is the most stupid comment/claim I've ever heard from both the Internet and real life.
People whine at something because they like it and want something more, and willing to pay if the company delivers. If people decide the company won't do it and lost faith, they will simply walk away, not whine. I mean, why they have to waste their time when it is just not worth to do so? Like Demigod forum pretty much dead after 3 months of the release, and pitiful post counts on SupCom 2 related forums, people will stop whine and stop paying attention to the company. Do you see any forums still discussing about Dragon Age 2? No, you actually see more posts about Dragon Age Origin. If the amount of whining posts has declined in forums, it means that customers lost interests in your products, and they are probably not going to come back (and everyone probably knows getting a new customer is several times harder than retaining a current customer, right?)
I bought Elemental : Limited Edition and also bought FE on steam despite I did not have to. And I pretty much bought all of Stardock's games til this point. After how modding support went and incidents happened here and there, I am not sure if I buy any Stardock's games in future. Sure, I will be probably buy some more Elemental DLC/Expansions since I have already invested in Elemental, but no way I will buy any new games right away after all of these problems.