As per the title, the following is Emilia’s feedback and testing summary. I am only posting it at Emilia’s request, and am in no other way related to the following text.
so I’ve been testing a lot of stuff the last couple of days and now I want to give my two cents about the current state of the classes and some other mechanics. This is going to be the only reminder that everything I now talk about is purely subjective and you might not perceive it this way and I am fine with that. I am not expecting anything to change the way I want it to; actually I am sure other people have even better ideas for some fixes. Still I feel like I need to put down my thoughts:
Table of content:
- Other mechanics
2.2 Elemental attack strength modifier and defense
2.3 Endgame content and Seasons
Not a big fan here. But what did I expect after the shrapnel nerf that was the only viable build at that time (not that it wasn’t broken). Ever since that day the guardian got two new changes in form of Bloodletter and updated shield skills. Bloodletter is indeed a nice addition because it works favourably without crit. For some reason, the dot that supposedly lasts 2 seconds sometimes takes like 4 seconds to actually stop – some inconsistency there. I don’t like the idea of fighting mobs and waiting for a dot to finish ticking on a mob that I focus all my damage on, it just feels sluggish in general. Maybe reduce the dot to 1 second.
Shield skills are very underwhelming and a build surrounding it isn’t viable with mid game gear (stuff like TC set, Merkhaba and Bloodletter – without perfect augments or mythic heavenly gear +AA). The major issue lies within shields themselves. Their damage is just too low; looking at Merkhaba it is something like 20-60, which is nothing compared to swords and don’t forget we can’t really get that much crit damage that we would need to take advantage of the 50% cc from shield throw. I would suggest to remove the cc from shield throw and try to make it viable without crit. An possible solution:
- remove cooldowns from all shield skills to make them spamable
- drastically increase shield damage found on shields (200-400%)
There isn’t really much to talk about otherwise. If there’s anything, it would be an idea I came up with a few days ago: Ever since all TC sets items have been improved (for Cabalists and Hunters), I thought about adding at least some thorns damage to the Templar set. This would improve both Templar’s AoE damage capabilities (compared to other classes) and fit the playstyle/lore. Additionally, with more base thorns damage, aura of thorns becomes valuable again. The thorns skill of Blademasters needs to be tweaked, but it should follow the general idea of helping him ST (single target) while being worse than an aura of thorns that has been buffed by 8 enemies in AoE situations. If game mechanics allow it, you could try to implement a skill that applies all your thorns damage to the target you are hitting (in addition to the damage of the sword itself) or maybe to all surrounding enemies. Also: decrease all auras in the skilltree from 10 skillpoints to 5 or 7 and rescale them. – Guardians already need +1 head and +1 shield to get anything going.
SoJ has been nerfed, but it is still viable and probably the best build right now. Thanks to the strength buff, the damage is probably overall the same minus the increased power cost. However, since added ele/inc damage mods now always cost willpower, you should have a big enough power pool to sustain SoJ when making use of power and hybrid pots. Even pre-nerf I don’t remember being able to spam SoJ without power pots anyways, so maybe the nerf went a little overboard.
The other semi viable build right now is crosscutter and sword typhoon. Especially crosscutter makes for a very unique playstyle that falls short due to the 2 seconds cooldown. I tried to use 2 Bloodletters and “increased swordsmanship skills usage” in an offhand/gloves/mods, but the cooldown was still something like 1.2 seconds, which felt very slow and unsatisfying to play. The damage was alright because you can skill 50% cc for these skills, but sadly neither crosscutter nor sword typhoon procs and surges, so you are back to SoJ for that (thorns help too, but not much). Sword typhoon looks cool and has a short cooldown with all that increased usage on gear, but still falls short due to bad mechanics. It is very unreliable and often misses targets that a practically right in front of you. Same goes for the piercing of crosscutter. Possible solutions for this build:
- Remove cooldown of crosscutter
- Increase the hitbox of the swords thrown by crosscutter and sword typhoon
- make them be able to proc surges
A skill that people always wanted to be viable is Whirlwind. Sadly, it is one of the worst skills right now. I would suggest turning it into a channelling skills such as evoker’s firestorm with a power point cost similar to SoJ. It should keep its mechanics, where you get 100% movement speed and hit everything around you twice per second with both swords for 50% (100% if maxed out). The range should be increased to a massive radius of like 5-6meters. It should accel in killing hordes, while being worse than SoJ in ST fights.
Some notes: Surges are too difficult to proc in my opinion, and this gets even harder with two or more different surges. I would suggest to massively increase the bonus that surge mastery provides. Also, I think we could use a surge that provides a shield regeneration buff as an alternative for BM that want to rely on shields, but have no way of recharging them (use-items excluded). A second idea for a surge would increase the elemental attack strength. Lower the skill points required to max a single surge from 10 to 5 and rescale them. And: remove any way of monsters dealing more damage to your shields by means like shield overload. It is already not affected by armor.
Overall: Guardians and Blademasters have decent single target damage, but lack AoE capabilities compared to some other classes and therefore have a hard time clearing a room in catacombs. Blademasters are squishy without surge of healing, because his 3k-4k shields are done in an instant and he can’t refill it. Compared to them, evokers and summoners are immortal tanks. In groups they are easily outdamaged by Marksmen and probably even Engineers in ST and even AoE situations.
Drone: First of all, the drone is significantly squishier than options other classes have access to such as evoker’s ember or everything a summoner summons. You can semi counter that by using the melee weapon that provides 650+ armor etc., but the idea behind the drone has always been a supportive one (in my opinion). I don’t know if a drone can dish out any relevant damage (with minion damage gear), but it can surely provide decent elemental effect support. Similar to summoner’s warper, the drone has never seen a buff to its survivability iirc, so you might wanna consider it.
Bots: Do they scale with minion damage? If not - they should, but I haven’t tested it. Also, I don’t really like how mandatory haste bot feels. Why not allow Engineers to use all bots at once? Their usefulness is capped by skillpoints.
Strikes: The only way to increase the damage I know of is Ravager. In Catacombs they have a hard time killing trash, because they don’t inherent your damage buffs or shield penetration. I would suggest to buff the damage by about 50-100%, if you wanna pursue your idea of non critting strikes, which I can support. Also: they take way too long to actually do anything after being thrown. I would suggest to let them explode immediately once they bounced and have stopped moving.
Grenades: Engi only has phase grenade and I don’t know why. Add all other grenade to the skilltree and rework Hu’s Hypershot, so it provies +2-3 to all Grenades. Additionally, increase the cooldown of all grenades and make them worth using (even stop shooting for that matter). If game mechanics allow it, maybe turn all of them into some sort of cluster grenade, where they explode multiple times with a higher radius. The damage needs to be increased too, as you cannot do it with gear (maybe add an augment such as +combat damage to the table on every gear piece). They should act similar to strikes, but with a more concentrated area of effect. Damage, radius and elemental attacks strength should be scaled with grenade skill synergies in mind. Reduce the maximum skill levels of all grenades to 7.
Overall: Engi has a hard time soloing cata (compared to to other classes) and the drone dies far too quickly. However, soloing content is easier than Marksman in my opinion and Engi sure deals less damage, but it enhanced teamdamage, so it fulfils its supportive role.
If you think Engineers have a hard time soloing content, imagine having no meatshield at all. Marksmen need to kill almost every single enemy in cata to not get randomly killed when fighting a boss etc. However, they do have the highest single target damage and the ability to throw 3 strikes at once. So basically, they are a good boss killer when being in a party with an engi (haste bot) and a tank (summoner, maybe guardian with taunts and hamper) and technically have decent AoE capabilities aswell. The gameplay is very similar to Engineers; therefore, they share the same problems I talked about.
-Strikes could hurt a little more and be quicker to get going.
-Grenades could use a rework.
Not much else to say there, I just realized that hunters are probably the fraction that has the most in common between both classes.
This is the class you play if you want to have some fun. They have always been very dynamic and versatile but the recent buffs made them killing machines. Let me say this: they are super tanky, deal the highest AoE damage in terms of being able to clear a room in cata and they have multiple valid options for skills/builds depending on your gear. In mid-game gear (TC gear no rare augments) ember and spectral serpent can really carry when stacking some minion damage, which is quite easy to get and can be shared with a summoner. In late-game when near BiS gear, you probably go all out yourself and just spam flame shards, hellfire and maybe bone spear and tempest (I still don’t know how good tempest is compared to serpents once your gear is optimal, since serpents don’t scale with anything but minion damage and foci power, while tempest does scale). However, there are certain mechanics and skills that need to be addressed:
Spectral serpents: They usually need 2-3 seconds to start attacking at all, which is just very irritating. It feels like every head has its own RNG. Sometimes, mostly when there is just a single enemy or boss left, they can’t seem to see the enemy and do nothing, which is very frustrating. So in order to fix this skill, they just need to attack as soon as they spawn and keep doing that – all there is to it.
Spectral bolt: Has received a mechanical change, but the damage is still underwhelming to say the least. Same goes for Spectral lash. Buff spectral bolt; spectral lash could be a spectral tree alternative to the omnipresent hellfire, if the explosion triggered by spectral lash would just wipe out surrounding enemies. To be competitive, both skills needs severe damage buffs, but the mechanics are quite decent (increase explosion range on lash).
Boneshards/Skullsplitter: Still bad in terms of damage and mechanic (unreliable). Hard to make viable and I’ve got not real solution to this as both skills would need a mechanical change and severe damage boost. Maybe Skullsplitter could work similar to a reworked grenade, where it explodes like a cluster and deal many high damaging explosions in a certain, smaller area on a high cooldown.
Venomous spirit: Remove fear and add poison multiplier. Poison as a status effect is still very bad but I will talk about this one at a later stage.
Spectral curse: Increase amount of enemies hit and duration. Severely increase damage of explosion. No need for a super high radius, but the damage needs to deliver.
Overall: Probably the best class overall in terms of diversity, fun, solo and party performance, easy to gear etc. The aforementioned skills could use some tweaks and would result in a class with lots of great skillchoices and builds.
Similar to Evokers, they are easy to get going (probably the easiest class to get mid-game gear), are masters of soloing content and are just as useful in parties. End-game gear can become very hard to get, as you would need several mythic pieces with the domination affix and a second minion damage augment. However, I’ve got some cube recipes to tackle that issue (see below). It is to no surprise that this class is in a good state, since it has received the most changes/buffs until now.
Warper: Hasn’t received any buffs out of all elementals and minions until now. The damage is and has always been fine, but nowadays it feels as I need to recast it way too often, because it was standing in some random AoE ground or was standing right next to a mob. Even with decent minion armor + health on my gear and summoning circle, it only has around 1600HP and sometimes dies in an instant. Recasting any minion takes a while so I feel like buffing its base HP and armor by 100% would be acceptable.
Dark offering: Should deal more damage and have a higher radius. This change would benefit melee summoners the most.
Bloodlink: Pretty sure the last time I used this skill it did not work as intended.
Elemental Drain: The same skill as the Evoker version. Pretty sure this skill hardly makes a difference when trying to apply elemental effects. However, I don’t think buffing the numbers would be the right choice. I would rather see it mechanically changed into a skill that either works like a curse and being able to hit multiple enemies (spectral curse as an example) or be faster in its animation. Also: I will talk about elemental attack/defense changes, so this skill might be in a good spot once the changes are in place (this skill would effectively increase elemental status effect duration).
Overall: Not much to say about summoners. They can do it all and have an easy time getting mid-game gear (end-game is harder to get so that is the tradeoff). Tons of changes in the past means not much work left.
2.0 Other mechanics
I really enjoy the recent changes to the cube and it made me realize that the cube is a key factor in endgame motivation. I am going to list some potential cube recipes that allow progress by crafting random items out of materials that you get by simply playing and some other ideas:
100 nanos, 2000 of all rare components + 3x swords OR 3x shields OR 3x 1h guns(hunter) OR 3x 2h(hunter) guns OR 3x foci OR 3x 1h guns (cabalist) OR 3x 2h gun (cabalist)
= Random mythic sword OR shield etc. with random amount of sockets (10% change to get a TC item for the respective type)
100 nanos, 1000 of all rare components + 3x armor piece of the same type (e.g. 3x head piece of cabalist OR 3x head piece of hunter OR 3x chest of templar etc.)
= Random mythic of the same type e.g. cabalist head etc. (10% change to get a TC item for the respective type)
3 random mythic mods + 10 nanos
= random mythic mod lvl 50
10000 (a stack) of any non rare material
= 1-200 nanos
10000 (a stack) of rare material
= 1-300 nanoshards
100 nano + 1 expertise retrainer
= Add a random augment to a mythic mod that only has a single affix (the mythic one)
5000 nano + 3 expertise retrainer
= add maximum amount of sockets to a weapon (should make expertise retrainer, that are always low in demand compared to others, be valuable again) the idea is that this recipe is used when getting a well rolled mythic weapon of your choice with less than maximum amount of socket. Perfect augments will still be very hard to get and 5000 nanos means, this cannot be used frequently.
2.2 Elemental attack strength modifier and defense
There is no denying that both affixes are in a weird state. Strength modifier are usually only useful when they appear as a secondary roll on a mythic mod (e.g. +11% fire damage, + 12% spectral damage, + 177 phase attack strength). Elemental defense seems to be useless right now as the numbers are way too small on gear to make a difference and enemies with heavy elemental attack pressure (e.g. talox minions) don’t really care how high your resistances are anyways. There is no doubt that SFX needs a rework.
First of all, I would rework elemental attack strength in a way, where it is always relative to your attack speed. A gun that hits 10 times per second with 100 ignite strength should have the same percentage based chance to ignite as a sword that can hit around once a second (a sword with 100 ignite). I know this is already how it works (kinda), but ever since certain weapon’s RoF has been buffed, the expected chance to apply certain effects feel random.
Elemental defense should no longer affect the chance to receive an elemental effect, but decrease the debuff time, starting at something like 5 seconds and down to 2 seconds with high def. So basically, your chance to apply an elemental effect is always the same on every enemy, but they sometimes burn for 5 seconds and sometimes for just 2 (bosses). This way elemental attacks become much more reliable and a better alternative to flat added damage. Once we know how much attack strength results in what kind of percentage based chance to apply an effect and how much we need to get incoming status effect debuffs down to a certain number, it becomes very intuitive and easy to balance (for players and monster’s stats). Monsters could always have low defense against shock and therefore have a duration of 5 seconds, because it is not as useful as ignite or phase. On the other hand, certain skills come with modifier not only increasing the chance to apply an effect but increasing the duration as well (mostly for shock and poison). Monsters should not have such multipliers.
Of course stacking elemental attack strength and defense should come naturally with diminishing returns. If 100 ignite means 10% chance to ignite 200 ignite should result in less than 20% to avoid 100% ignite rate outcomes at 1000 etc. Furthermore, once we know how long certain bosses burn taking 5% damage each second, it becomes easy math to determine, if another 20% added ele/inc damage or a chance to ignite results in better overall dps and kill speeds. To put things short: reworking the mechanics will result in an easier time balancing elemental attacks vs. pure damage and give player an idea what to expect from elemental strength mod(x) in their weapon.
Poison: The only elemental status effect that makes me worry. The idea behind this one is, to stop any healing of a mob or (boss for that matter). Sadly, most bosses that have access to some sort of healing are unaffected by poison rendering it completely useless. For bosses with inherent healing such a Dessy, it’s quite decent. Bosses that get healed by minions such as Moloch, it appears to do nothing. Even stacking poison strength and using swarm + elemental drain, actually poisoning Dessy was a different matter. Luckily the swam multi also affects the duration so it’s not super bad. Since it only really affects 2 or 3 bosses in the game, it’s still quite useless. You could improve the effect by giving it an additional mechanic such as decreased enemy armor and damage similar to phase so it works like a poor man’s version of ignite and phase combined.
2.3 Endgame content and Seasons
The current endgame isn’t bad after all the changes, but it’s still improvable.
First of all, I like to talk about shiny crystals: The idea is good enough, it’s basically a new currency to craft stuff and progress gear, but the way to acquire them is bad in my opinion. Currently you do some sort of repeatable quest that results in running for 2-3mins and oneshotting a named mob (didn’t do much of those so I might be wrong). I would appreciate it, if there were repeatable quests in parliament street, where you would visit the different areas nearby and kill bosses with decently high HP (maybe even a quest that leads to an ancient blood). These quests should have different difficulties and rewards (1-3 shines). Furthermore, you could add shiny crystals to the droptable of catacomb bosses with increasing odds (e.g. cata 1 boss 1%; cata 15 boss 15%).
Rifts: I would love to see the system of PoE integrated into hgl. We could have 10 different maptypes such as: forest, streets, cave, catacombs, river, park, arena (molochs place) etc. The enemies are randomised but the required items to create the rift could be changed in the cube with essences to spawn mainly demon or beast enemies, or add affixes such as “more rare enemies” “enemies deal more damage” etc. Upon killing x enemies in the rift a random boss spawns that is either random or matches the general map (e.g. necro mobs = necro boss). You should be awarded with palladium and experience upon completion. Every map (in terms of area of location), should come with a difficulty multiplier called “tier 1,2,3,4 or 5” that also increases itemfrequency, palla and maybe experience if possible (if not just grant a higher reward for finishing a higher tiered map). You can use items to enhance the tier of a map or just clear a rift and inside the rift you find other map-items that lead to the same tiered rifts or +1.
Seasons: Once everything is in place (content-wise), we could introduce seasons as a means to get people back to playing after a break and also use this time to introduce new content ideas or balance patches. If a skill was underwhelming the first seasons, that could be the reason to buff it and let people run wild in the next one (that’s basically how PoE does it). To complement this, we could also introduce new weapons or armors that benefit certain playstyles.
If you are reading this, you probably read all of the above and thanks for doing so. After a little hiatus from hellgate I did some testing the last couple of days and some general ideas came to mind that I tried to explain within this wall of text. This isn’t by any means a list of demands I need to see fulfilled in order to play or enjoy hellgate, but It was something I wanted to do for myself in order to sort my thoughts about hellgate’s future. If there is only one thing on this list that helped the game advance in a better direction, that would make me happy.
(I wrote this rather quickly; I didn’t really proofread it; English isn’t my native tongue)