[1.5.16] Shield Guardian feedback

Hello, I hope you’ve had breakfast,

So, promises must be kept, and here I am after hitting R50 on my Shield Guardian. I decided not to write this feedback before reaching R50 in order to have experience in as much content as I could and to acquire improved knowledge of any particularities of London 2038 while I refreshed what I remembered from the 2007 game. Also, some of what I wanted to bring you today included ideas that change skills, so gathering the best understanding I could of the game and the class was in order to try to foresee the possible implications and adopt the best approach in each case.

I will try to remain as concise as possible and format the post as clean and readable as I can despite Markdown formatting limitations - no colors, no underline, etc. But first, I would like to express my most admiring acknowledgment to the London 2038 team.


:top: Thank you SO much for your time, dedication and patience. :top:


Preliminary notes

  • My knowledge of the innards of the game equals zero. I don’t know if my suggestions are technically feasible in coding or if the engine can handle them. I also don’t know the amount of work they would entail for the L2038 team, I may be asking for too much unknowingly.
  • The purpose of this feedback is to:
    • Make the Shield Guardian more capable while solo.
    • Make the Shield Guardian feel useful in any party.
    • Make the Guardian smoother to play using certain skills.
    • Make specific skills attractive.
    • Try to achieve all of the above while preserving the identity of the Guardian, avoiding drastic changes to skills or mechanics and proposing changes that stay in line with the nature of each topic being discussed.
  • I have been an L2038 Hellgater for around a month, roughly. It is possible that some of what I propose had already been talked about and rejected in the past. If I bring such topics back, I do it unknowingly and I apologize in advance.
  • I support the idea of the Guardian dealing the least DPS among all classes in the game. It is the reality at the moment, and it should remain that way. But I also think the gap in that regard is notorious, particularly in party scaling content.
  • I have completed DoD and Emissaries (1/4) in party and Abyss and Catacombs solo.
  • I will list my proposals in list form with their reasoning in square bullets. It is possible that more than one proposal is presented for a single element and unless I mention it, they would all be inclusive and have been thought to be implement together.
  • Although the numbers I would provide for a given proposal are subjectively reasonable and cautious to me, I lack the vision to suggest correct ones nor the means to carry tests out properly. In such cases, and as long as the concept is found to be sound, I would kindly ask to find a suitable number instead of opposing the whole suggestion.

Skills

16 out of the 32 skills the Guardian offers are support skills - most Auras, Boosts, Taunts-Curses, 1 Prayer- and the other 16 are damage related skills. We may safely assume the Guardian is designed to largely fulfill a supporter role in parties. However, some key support skills are currently limited in applicability, cannot fulfill their duty and bar the Guardian from providing what he is expected to in parties.

Skills without proposals, I find them to be fine or are irrelevant for the Shield Guardian.

   Shield Tree Proposals

  • The biggest issues in the tree are the skill point sinks to reach Shield Throw and Stampede on one hand, and the purpose vs practical application of Shield Throw on the other. The skill point sink is annoying but not dramatic, but Shield Throw, as I see it, should be taken under review and establish another skill for Single Target scenarios, namely Shield Bash.

  • Shield Bash

    • Add +10% base skill damage increased per skill level.
      • There is a need for a proper single target damage source for Shield Guardians and Shield Bash is the best bet to replace the currently used skill for that purpose - Shield Throw (discussed later). The most obvious path is to increase the damage it yields.
      • Makes +level to Shield Bash affixes somewhat beneficial instead of a wasted affix slot, mostly.
    • Add Synergy - each level of Shield Turn = x1.1 Shield Bash damage multiplier.
      • Increasing the damage of Shield Bash by adding synergies is an interesting option since the Guardian has none whatsoever.
      • Every Shield Guardian must spend 2 points on Shield Turn to reach further into the Shield Tree, so some gain is guaranteed but further hard investment on it would be something to think about very much (Shield Guardian is very skill investment heavy).
      • This option also also makes +level to Shield Turn affixes somewhat beneficial instead of a wasted affix slot.
    • Add Synergy - each level of Shield Master = +1% Critical Chance Bonus.
      • This synergy would stay in line with the nature of Shield Master and would provide a maximum of +7% Critical Chance Bonus for Shield Bash. It’s an RNG-ish manner of increasing its damage but also a good approach to keep final damage in check.
    • Make Shield Bash split its total damage among all targets hit.
      • Splitting the damage among all targets avoids a situation where the revamped Shield Bash would be used for every case scenario, including AoE. This proposal is with Splash and Field damage in mind.
  • Shield of Faith

    • Make the skill casting instant, the same as Prayer of Healing.
      • For smoothness and fluidity’s sake.
    • Add Prayer skill category and remove Shield category.
      • It is cast-able without a shield equipped, it refers to and empowers the Shields Gauge and not the equipped shield, and as per the definition of the skill, it is an invocation.
  • Stampede

    • Add Distance Travelled +1m per skill level.
    • Reduce the Sfx Attack Strengths gained per skill level by 50%.
      • Stampede is a mobility skill and every skill level should improve that quality accordingly. Reducing the current Sfx Attack Strengths increased gain per level by a x0.5 factor seems like a fair trade-off.
  • Shield Throw

    • Make the skill cast-able without interrupting movement.
      • For smoothness and fluidity’s sake. Right now we are forced to Jump-Throw to achieve a dynamic experience.
    • Add Group Attack skill category.
      • Shield Throw, in practice, is an AoE skill that is only thought otherwise due to its chaining behavior among the individual entities it targets. It is intended to be used against a group of at least 2 enemies.
      • It would be a step forward into setting Single Target and AoE Shield skills apart for the Shield Guardian.
      • It would also open the door to using underused and undervalued items, including uniques such as Leitner’s Legacy, possibly.
    • Make the skill ignore breakables.
      • This change should alleviate some of Shield Throw’s occasional arbitrary behavior that results in bug-like experience.
    • :arrow_down_small:Exclusive with the proposals for Shield Bash:arrow_down_small:: If used for Single Target purposes, make the projectile stationary on enemy contact and perform all rebounds on the same target.
      • In case Shield Bash remains untouched, Shield Throw should behave properly in Single Target scenarios. Forcing Shield Throw to ignore further entities beyond the first it hits might be the correct approach, provided that there is only one enemy in the projectile’s line of sight, and that the skill ignores breakables. This would ensure behavioral consistency for the skill.

   Devotion Tree Proposals

  • The Auras tree. Beneficial Aura… that toggled AoE effect with an innate supportive nature that, for whatever reason, does not support the party in Hellgate - besides Aura of Deflection and Aura of Vengeance. Guardians are expected to protect and preserve the party, but how are they going to manage if they are stripped from their most iconic skill set from a supportive point of view?

  • My proposals for Auras have the following basis:

    • Introduce party support with beneficial effects that would not apply to the Guardian providing the Aura. That is, a given Aura skill would have two components if you will, a) effects that would affect the Guardian - Auras as we know them right now - and b) effects that would ignore the Guardian but affect other party members. These two components would be exclusive for a unique Guardian providing a particular Aura but may coexist if c) several Guardians in the party bring the same Aura:
      • a) The effects that affect only the Guardian are Auras as we know them right now, both in effects and behavior. Core Aura if you will.
      • b) The effects that affect only party members - excluding the Guardian providing the Aura - would apply to each party member equally for as long as they remain within the Holy Aura.
      • c) If several Guardians with the same Aura join the party, only the Guardian with the highest level Aura would provide the beneficial effect for all other Guardians and other party members. Then, that Guardian would receive the party beneficial effect of that Aura from the Guardian who brings the second highest Aura skill level. All Guardians in the party, as long as they have their own Auras toggled on, will always get their own Core effects - a) - but not the other Guardian’s - like now.
      • The party component - b) - would not scale with either enemies or party members within the Guardian’s Holy Aura, only with Aura skill levels. Scaling with party size within the Holy Aura would be the mint option here, but for simplicity’s sake, I would suggest leaving it just at skill level scaling.
      • Since it’s the Guardian who brings along the Aura to a party, I find their stats to be the defining factor for the Auras’ party effects to be the best approach.
  • When considering the numbers I propose, please have in mind that the Shield Guardian is extremely restrictive in skill point allocation at the moment and, generally, will not spend more than 1-3 points on any single Aura skill.

  • All of the following proposals are b), beneficial party components of Auras. If a proposal for the Core - a) - functionality of an Aura is presented, I will indicate it.

  • Aura of Renewal

    • Make the Guardian regenerate party members’ Health by X Health per Minute - provided that they are within Holy Aura’s range -, where X equals 7% of the Guardian’s Maximum Health at skill level 1, increased by +33% per skill level. Poison on the beneficiaries would nullify the effect while Poison on the Guardian would not prevent them from the effect - as long as they are not poisoned.
      • The proposed numbers would result in a Guardian with 2,000 Max HP heal each party member for 140 Health per Minute at skill level 1 and 556 Health per Minute at skill level 10.
      • I wouldn’t change the effect being nullified by Poison. Aura of Renewal, or any beneficial Aura as matter of fact, should provide the party with something, but bypassing a Sfx may be an overstep. The skill is a toggle, has no cooldown and it would affect the whole party, so let’s stay moderate.
  • Aura of Power - Proposal exclusively for Guardian’s AoP

    • Make the Guardian regenerate party members’ Power by X Power per Minute - provided that they are within Holy Aura’s range -, where X equals 33% of the Guardian’s Maximum Power at skill level 1, increased by +33% per skill level.
      • The proposed numbers would result in a Guardian with 300 Max Power restoring each party member’s Power for 99 Power per Minute at skill level 1 and 393 Power per Minute at skill level 10.
    • This proposal would only apply to the Guardian’s Aura of Power and not the Blademaster’s. The goal is to empower the Guardian’s role in a party, the Blademaster already brings impeccable DPS to it. It would also reinforce the support role of Guardians, setting it apart from the pure damage-oriented party role of their Templar peers.
  • Aura of Defense

    • Make the Guardian increase party members’ Armor by X - provided that they are within Holy Aura’s range -, where X equals 5% of the Guardian’s Armor at skill level 1, increased by +33% per skill level.
      • The proposed numbers would result in a Guardian with 1,600 Armor providing each party member with 80 Armor at skill level 1 and 317 Armor at skill level 10.
  • Aura of Salvation

    • Make the Guardian increase party members’ Sfx Defenses by X - provided that they are within Holy Aura’s range -, where X equals 21% of the Guardian’s Sfx Defenses at skill level 1, increased by +33% per skill level.
      • The proposed numbers would result in a Guardian with 3,000 Sfx Defenses providing each party member with 630 Sfx Defenses at skill level 1 and 2,501 Sfx Defenses at skill level 10.
      • While how the Sfx system really works is somewhat of a mystery - there is more to it than E/(E+D) - and even though I have come up with other, more appealing, solutions to make Aura of Salvation worth using, I ended up simply proposing the party component increase raw Sfx Defenses.
        • It would work in consonance with the Core Aura effect - a) - of the Aura.
        • Staying in line with the nature of the skillt ensures a very low-impact scenario if the whole Sfx system undergoes modifications.
        • Changing the Aura effect to something like reducing the Sfx debuff durations or applying virtual extra character levels, while arguably more effective against Sfx attacks, it may be going too far, both in overpowerness and game-mechanics-related implications - let alone the coding nightmare I imagine it could be.
    • :arrow_down_small: Core change proposal :arrow_down_small:- All Sfx Defenses of the Guardian increased by X per enemy within the Holy Aura, where X equals 324 at level 1 increased by +5% per skill level.
      • Aura of Salvation is not being used for a simple reason, the amount of Sfx Defenses it offers is not worth either the skill-point allocation or 1 of the 3 potential active Aura slots it would occupy. However, Sfx is a very potent game mechanic that can arguably put even the toughest characters at risk. This brilliant, unique, skill should be revamped and make it appealing again. Note that it would only affect the Guardian themselves.
      • To keep things simple, I would only propose increasing the values it offers. I propose increasing the amount of Sfx Defenses from the early skill levels considerably while drastically reducing the scaling at subsequent levels.
  • Prayer of Healing

    • Make the skill heal through Poison at a x0.33% effectiveness.
      • One of the very things a Guardian is expected to do in a party is cast Prayer of Healing. The problem is that it does not work when the recipients are poisoned. I think it should, but I also think that it should not completely bypass the Sfx. Reducing the healing rate by -66% in such cases would be a middle-ground solution, allowing the party to survive long enough to inject - possibly another - antivenom, but it shouldn’t remove their need.
  • Great Defender

    • Make the skill casting instant.
      • Great Defender is sort of an ultimate support skill that should be used in case of emergencies to safeguard the lives of the party. It is of no use if the Guardian must spend 3 seconds casting it. For solo, well, the same is true but for oneself.
    • Reduce the duration to 6s.
      • The skill’s duration should be just the necessary to stabilize the party during heated moments, but not more.
    • Increase the cooldown to 120s.
      • Avoids spamming the skill on cooldown for a semi-permanent effect. It should be a panic button, if you will.
    • Add Prayer skill category.
      • Great Defender requires level 3 Prayer of Healing and the skill sounds angelic trumpets. :innocent:
      • It would open the door to using underused and undervalued items with
        Prayer affixes and/or random implicits.

   Retribution Tree Proposals

  • At this point, I would like to remember that, while it’s true that some of the proposals I have suggested until now affect Guardians irrespective of the build, this feedback is focused on the Shield Guardian. I would like very much to comment with great detail on how Swordsmanship attack skills such as Sword of Justice, Sword of Reckoning or Sweeping Strike fail to deliver results for the Shield Guardian. I can only say that unfortunately they do not fit in the build, neither skill-point allocation-wise nor regarding smoothness during skill executions/chaining nor damage-wise.

  • With the above explained, you may remember I mentioned that the Guardian had two key support skill mechanics that are currently limited by the game and bar the class from delivering what they are expected to. We talked about Auras, and the Retribution tree has the second point, Taunting.

  • Denounce

    • Make Denounce ignore the Indomitable affix or remove Taunt from the Indomitable AI-altering immunity list.
      • Indomitable bosses make me straight up angry as a Guardian. Guardians are supposed bring Taunts to a party at the expense of greater damage, but when they are needed, they simply do not work. If the Guardian has points invested in Heavenly Condemnation, the issue worsens considerably as it cannot be applied, again, in an effort to aid the party.
      • Note: Given its AoE nature, I would not include Challenge for the change proposed. It would be best if both skills were to have clearly differentiated purposes, with Denounce for heavy duty taunting and Challenge for generic AoE field duty.
  • Heavenly Condemnation

    • Make Heavenly Condemnation reduce enemy Armor by x0.90% at skill level 1, reduced by -5% per skill level.
      • The proposed numbers would result in a monster with 5,000 Armor having it reduced to 4,500 at skill level 1 and 3,600 at skill level 5.
      • By making the Armor reduction multiplicative, relative effectiveness is guaranteed. The proposal would yield an effective -10% Armor reduction at skill level 1 and a -28% Armor reduction at skill level 5.
  • Hamper - Proposal exclusively for the Guardian’s Hamper

    • Remove the Armor reduction component from Guardian’s Hamper.
      • I don’t see the point in having two Armor reducing skills, particularly if one of them is the Blademaster’s repertoire. This change would preserve the movement speed reduction debuff.
    • :arrow_down_small: Proposal exclusive with the previous one :arrow_down_small:- Remove Hamper from the Guardian’s skill tree.
      • I personally think the movement speed reduction component alone is not worth a 3 skill-point invesment - it is already questionable right now.

That’s it for the skills. There is still much to talk about, specifically regarding Prayer of Retribution and Prayer of Smiting, but the topic does not fit here in this feedback. If I find the time and the will to fight against Markdown formatting, I will make another post about those skills and how I would bring the Prayer Guardian to life.

Items

Worry not, this section is going to be more brief than the Skill’s.

   Shield

  • There are two main topics I would like to bring to attention regarding the Shield Guardian’s most important item: practical shield variety and mods.

    • Practical Shield Variety: Yes, there is a decent variety of shield types available in the game, but for end-game, unless you find a unicorn - a really really godlike, godly affixed Mythic - you are bound to two types of shields: Sun Shields and Dissector Shields. The different in damage between this couple and the rest of the shields is notorious. Also, shields with no Splash are automatically disregarded - except for maybe some unicorns.

    • Mods: All shields should be able to slot in up to 3 mods. This change would put Guardians on par with the other classes with a potential maximum of 8 mods to be equipped - currently they can only do so with Imperial Shields. Using firearms allow for up to 9 mods, but the feed requirements do not make it worth it.
      Additionally, shields should be able to slot in Relic mods. Relics offer innate melee bonuses in the form Strength, and also critical bonuses to synergize with Shield Master.

   Swords / Firearms / Nova Guns

  • At the moment, the item that is paired with the shield is stat sticks. These items should have more weight towards shield performance. Making the Sword / Firearm / Nova Gun provide a fraction of their combat performance to the shield could be an answer.

   Armor Pieces

  • An armor set with a Shield Use Rate implicits would reinforce the build’s identity and bring new itemization choices. Order's armor set could be changed to serve the purpose, the current implicit bonuses are negligible.

That would be all for the time being. If need be, I would add tables illustrating the proposed skill change progressions level by level - somehow. If you have read this all from beginning to end, thank you.
Like my Literature teacher used to say in a somber tone,
-Discuss.

3 Likes

(Copy-pasted from Discord to not have my rudimentary take lost there.)

Much appreciated, thank you for sharing. It’s honestly refreshing to get feedback of this size and with clear due care.

Now, it’ll likely be a long time before I can properly address each and every suggestion and note there. So, just for note-keeping for when I do - and perhaps to get some discussions going.
Some I mostly agree with (eg some shield skill synergies), but would like to discuss benchmarks (eg Bash).
Some I agree with in principle, to varying extents, but would be technically extremely hard or impossible to implement in the suggested forms (eg Auras) or would require tweaks of a nature we haven’t explored yet (eg cast animations).
A few, like Auras, I also want to discuss in other regards; eg the intent to have Auras provide passive support when PoH and GD serve/can serve this role. Here, especially given the technical challenges (and especially managing to limit multiple Guardians’ Auras), I’d much rather try to get these skills to serve this purpose - and them not being passive should, I imagine, help make for more active gameplay.
(There’s also the broader discussion of role, since the Guardian was meant to be less supportive than what’s outlined here; think tank first, support second. But that’s a very broad discussion, before even considering the Exemplar’s role.)
And a couple I disagree with, on grounds of either skill transformation (ie GD; it is an “ultimate” support skill, but it is designed to not be a panic button but a support state with a duration - mirroring eg Medpak) or effect on gameplay (ie Denounce; there’s a reason Indomitable blocks taunts, and so I believe the Guardian should be able to bring something else of value). For such cases I’d rather find alternatives that can still achieve these purposes (ie a valuable GD and a Guardian bringing value to untauntable encounters).

In a nutshell anyway, since the item front is vast too.

The discussion can indeed be very long in many aspect, isn’t it beautiful?

Regarding benchmarks, I can try to record some videos for comparisons. But the true problem that is concerning, is not pumping up Bash itself, but having to. Otherwise we can still exploit Shield Throw and kill Moloch in two Throws or obliterate Errgoth reaching 17k DPS. I don’t think the last examples are what is expected from a Guardian, or Shield Throw in single target.

Regarding Auras, yeah I expected as much. I was under the impression it would be a lot to ask, despite making sense.

The “Tank first, support second”, I disagree and most arguments in favor of that statement, I get the impression they are beaten by the Indomitable problem. If a Tank cannot Taunt Bosses, how does he do it then?

But thank you for the reply, even as quick reply I didn’t expect any so soon. It’s nice to see the message I wanted to transmit has been delivered.

On the topic of taunts and Indomitable, I suppose, there’s a need for short explanation, since afaik you’re relatively new and might be missing “historical” perspective.

Indomitable as affix is a recent addition that was introduced with 1.5.15 :

Bosses which are immune to AI changes (Fear, Taunt, Mind Control, Blind, Stop) will now have a new monster affix, Indomitable, to communicate this to the player.

The AI immunity itself was there way before that and has a long history of iterations, including but not limited to changes made in
1.3.0

All bosses have had their immunity to Taunt removed, and should now be tauntable, with the following exceptions still being untauntable:

  • Wurm
  • Destructible Hellrifts
  • Talox

and 1.5.0

Fulcrum became immune to taunt again to prevent a bug with his Master Totem spawning.

The later one is especially indicative of the wide variety of issues, that having tauntable bosses presents - it breaks their AI scripts. At best it leads to complete trivialisation of encounter, and at worst it completely bugs it out, due to how Taunts and AI scripts interact with each other on the fundamental level.

The best case scenario could be observed during Squadro and Desiccator fight, where one could interrupt any ability with cast time of theirs, by using taunts with right timing, thus allowing to bypass majority of encounter mechanics and turning it into static beatdown of loot piñata.

Overall, on the history of taunt changes and the thought process behind these I’m probably not the right person to talk, but Bryan could elaborate further, if my explanation is not sufficient.

Now there are of course other ways to make taunts usable in boss encounters specifically, for example by increasing the amount of adds, their sturdiness and damage or extra mechanics, but it runs into two immediate issues:

  • the power level of players currently is still way too high, making majority of mechanics in non-Emissary encounters mostly pointless, if the boss could be simply nuked in 5-20 seconds
  • it would require a massive overhaul of encounters both stats and mechanics wise
2 Likes

Thank you for the detailed answer, if was most informative and it made see the whole picture. It appears a to be a complex matter indeed, probably the Guardian needing to taunt not being reason enough to delve in there. What you describe would explain why many times I taunt, some enemies like Liches are basically made punchbags as they stop attacking.

There is however something that has crossed my mind. The taunts force enemies into melee, is it possible that geography pathing or otherwise mobs not having appropriate melee attacks/skills breaks their AI scripts? It would explain why Liches stop attacking, maybe. If that happens to be case, would it be possible that making subject NPCs focus on the taunter but without forcing a melee engagement?

Thank you again!