PQ3 is an excellent Match3 game but a poor RPG

Gaming Background I play RPGs on PC and Console (WoW, FF14, MHR etc.). I played a ton of PQ1 on NDS riding the bus to work every day. Played a lot of P&D and GoW on mobile. I’ve been gaming for 25+ years and I’m in the gaming industry. I’m currently level 40ish and finished up to chapter 14 and unlocked all of followers. I’ve spent on just the daily bundle so far.

An excellent Match3 I really like the two major changes PQ3 has over GoW and PQ1: Having a set amount of time to make as many matches as you can and not having your opponent disrupt board. Having a limited time to make as many matches as you can really amps up the intensity of having to consider the whole board rather than just finding the biggest line to match (although if you were a hardcore player you may have been doing that anyways). Not having the opponent match on the board allows you to setup for big plays and not having to worry about your opponent taking the play from you the next turn. It does make the combat a little bit more predictable since the only big play is when the opponent can cast a spell but it’s nice we can do things like not match certain colors or mana drain to slow them down. I do have some concerns around how mana works, with mana of one color charging all spells equally but I think those are just some tuning issues that can be addressed later on.

A poor RPG Where PQ3 really falters is it’s progression system which is the heart of an RPG. Specifically:

*Power Growth: Getting stronger in PQ3 is nearly all random and almost no system is deterministic. It’s not bad to have some growth be random, it keeps players playing longer and is essential in a F2P mobile game. Even paid titles do it, the item drop from a monster in Diablo, the loot from a chest in a dungeon in World of Warcraft. However it’s important to have deterministic growth as well. Imagine if you didn’t get skill points for leveling up in Diablo or no new talent tiers in WoW or no new weapon/armor sets in Monster Hunter. In PQ3, I estimate 95% of your power come from chests. This is way too high. The player has no volition to chase an upgrade for a specific slot, spell, or aspect of their character growth. This gets extremely frustrating when you hit a difficulty wall and you can’t set a goal for yourself to get stronger by doing X. Right now it’s really just farm more chests and maybe have a chance at upgrading. And by the time we hit late game in the story, upgrades become much harder to come by the higher level your gear. The follower system is suppose to help address some of this but the sources for ore and food again comes from a largely random system.

Level Scaling Right now it feels incredibly punishing to level up. Not only do you not get any additional power for leveling up (you do get a spell at certain milestones but there is a low chance that its an upgrade) but you are actively punished by a more difficult dungeon. I have my complaints about dungeons being too random but I would like to at least play them. For reference at level 43 right now, going to Dungeon 1 (the dungeon you unlock after Chapter 1) sets the power level at 1,527 (vs my gear score of 607). At that power difference, monsters do 92% extra damage to me and will basically 2-3 shot me.

The Stun meta Given the extremely high lethality from monsters, the only way to beat the game is to rely on stuns. This is either through spells or gem generation to get a full row match. Besides being incredibly restrictive on the types of strategies and even class you can bring into the game, this also invalidates a large portion of stats and gear in the game. For example, high damage spells that don’t generate gems are fairly useless right now. Any healing or speed buffs are useless since they don’t scale enough healing late game. I could go on. However, if PQ3 gets rid of the stun meta and doesn’t address my previous points the game will get more frustrating to play, not better.

There are a bunch of other smaller complaints. Storage is pain right now. There’s a lot of missing UI for rewards for doing higher difficulty content. Getting a wooden chest for beating the story dungeon for the first time feels SUPER bad. The chest system encourages you to NOT play the game if it’s full. Party play is difficult to organize right now. However, prior to the game leaving Early Access I really hope the dev team will address at least the 3 points I raised above. I want to see PQ3 succeed, I had such a great time with the game from the previous series. I’m actually excited to see it go F2P because hopefully means that means a steady stream of content similar to GoW. Thanks for making it to the end and I wish the dev team success on improving the game.

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Love what you had to say, but do want to clarify some things on the current state of the game.

There actually is a way to target gear type currently within the game, but it requires doing dungeons. Currently there is no way to target specific colored gear nor specific perks on gear, but types of gear and spells can be targeted.

Leveling up gives a lot more than just spells occasionally. Every level leading up to level 50 gives:

  • More Power
  • More Vitality
  • Higher Masteries

Exp after level 50 and storyline completion also gives various additional stats, many of which makes dungeons and all other content more accessible.

Yes, dungeons scale waaaay beyond what gear can do. They don’t become accessible on the main account until level 50, storyline completion, and gearing up a bit after. However, if you want to still play them, it is possible to have an alt character complete out chapter 1 and then partake in the chapter 1 dungeon. It is really easy from level 5-10 and can be done until about 15 before it becomes more efficient to start up another character to go through the same process. Not ideal, but it gives a much more balanced dungeon experience in the current state of the game.

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The chest system encourages you to NOT play the game if it’s full.

^ This. I only store ruby or diamond chests. Then I stop playing because of FOMO. Salvaging a chest isn’t worth it. Elder Scrolls Blades removed timers from their chests eventually. It was a huge pain point for players and maybe it didn’t turn out to be a good source of monetization.